Using LinkedIn

As someone who prefers the lines of personal and professional to stay as clear cut as possible I find myself utilizing LinkedIn a lot more than others in my Generation Y group. LinkedIn provides so many great opportunities for both businesses and individual professionals to make the connections necessary to grow your business, as well as find resources based on your industry, position or other professional interests.
For those that don’t know what LinkedIn is, it’s the “World’s largest professional network” or a chamber of commerce on digital steroids. Below are some tips on how to use it and features of the site.

• Be informed when someone changes positions or companies
• Follow influential business leaders and learn from their updates
• Receive regular updates on your Home page regarding areas of professional interests
• Have an online resume
• Apply for a new position
• Grow your recommendations with an easy request recommendation feature
• Stay up to date on industry trends
• See who has viewed your profile, which may indicate an interest in your products or services
• Have a virtual rolodex
• Network with your connections online or contact them to set up something offline
• See how you’re connected to someone you are interested in meeting then ask your mutual connection for a warm introduction
• Set yourself up as an expert with informative posts about your industry or position
• Join online networking groups that relate to your position, industry or professional interests to grow your connections

Networking is not dead, but rather has been reinvented. Certainly chamber mixers, educational seminars and lunch meetings are still a necessary part of life, but they aren’t our only options any more. Through LinkedIn you can save time, create warm introductions and fast track some connections that may have taken you years to make otherwise. LinkedIn does not replace face time or phone time, but it is a great complement to those activities and is a resource I highly encourage one takes advantage of.

Kids Access to Digital Marketing

With each new form of media there’s been a way for it to appeal to children. Digital media is no different. Kids are going to have access to, understand how to use and want to enjoy the internet through lap tops, gaming systems, mobile phones and tablets. These technologies often get a bad rap, but children must learn how to use them to be successful at school and later at work.

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Like everything else in life moderation for a child’s use of media is necessary and there have been some aggressive recommendations made by the American Academy of Pediatrics as to what those should be.

These younger generations are considered digital natives, which is a term that implies there is no learning curve when it comes to technology and this person is born or brought up in the age of digital technology and familiar with the internet and multiple ways to access it from an early age. According to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project about the future of the internet, technology experts and stakeholders were split about the how being always connected will impact future generations lives.

On the one hand, they thought that these younger generations will use the internet like an extension of their own brain and will be “nimble, quick-acting multi-taskers”. The other half surveyed, thought that constant connectedness would “drive them to thirst for instant gratification, settle for quick choices, and lack patience”.

Like most things in life there is no clear cut answer as to the implications of a fasts-paced, constantly connected world. Only time will tell how digital natives convert into contributors of society.

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Social Media Options

So I wanted to break down social media for you to make it feel a little bit more manageable and to help you make the right decision for your business. After much research, I decided this breakdown of social media types best fit what I hoped to accomplish.

Social Networks
These are services that allow you to connect with other people of similar interests and background. Usually they consist of a profile, various ways to interact with other users, ability to setup groups, etc. Examples: Facebook, LinkedIn, google+

Bookmarking Sites
These allow you to save, organize and manage links to various websites and resources around the internet. Most allow you to “tag” your links to make them easy to search and share.
Examples: Delicious, StumbleUpon, Pinterest

Social News
This is where people can post news items or links to other articles and other users then vote on the items. The items that receive the most votes are given more prominent space.
Examples: Digg, Reddit, Newsvine

Media Sharing
These would include sites where a user shares media they’ve captured such as pictures and video.
Examples: YouTube, Flickr, Instagram, Vine
*Watch this category. It will continue to rise as users are looking for less verbiage and more media than previously.

Microblogging
Microblogging is exactly what it sounds like – uber short blog posts.
Example: Twitter

Blog Comments and Forums
Blogs are often focuses around theme or single topic. There is a main contributor (or primary contributors) and then others can post responses to their post. It’s a little less interactive than other forms of social media, but has been and continues to be a popular resource for those looking for experts on specific topics.
Here is a link to the 15 most popular blogs as of January 2014.

I didn’t want to leave you without a complete picture of the social web. This infographic is another way to sort the social media world.

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And, last but not least, there are different types of users. I really like this blog post about how to both categorize them and engage them. The 7 Types of Social Media Users and How to Engage Them.

Better Know Facebook

Facebook is still the dominant social media platform available, even with a decrease in its relevancy with younger audiences, specifically the coveted age group of 18 to 29.

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Facebook offers an opportunity to connect with people in their “natural” setting. In other words, it’s a place where people are already spending time and looking to make connections and learn about new topics. Through Facebook advertisers can create multiple advertisements and target other Facebook users based on locations, demographics and interests. There are also more natural ways to promote your business, which include posting quality updates and then potentially promoting those posts to reach a broader audience.

The goals of Facebook advertising are not unlike other traditional and non-traditional media outlets. A business can increase online traffic and conversations; drive local sales; and, promote mobile apps.

Social Media Monitoring

Now that you’ve decided to embark on a social media plan how do you best measure and stay on top of it. My recommendation is to get in touch with a company that will help you coordinate and measure your efforts.

There are over 200 companies to choose from to help you track and assess the mentions of your business and brand on social media. Fortunately for you there are options that have evolved beyond monitoring and instead can help you create integrated approaches to product development, customer support, public outreach, lead generation, market research and campaign measurement.

To learn more about the top 20 social media monitoring services, click here.

To truly engage and take advantage of the wealth of information that can be gleamed from social media hiring a social media monitoring service is a necessity. It will help take the burden off of you and your employees though it is still necessary to have an educated marketing professional know how to interpret and act on this data.

Does my business have to be on social media?

That answer is simple. No. If none of your target or secondary audiences are utilizing any forms of social media then obviously you should not allocate resources like time and money to that outlet.  That said, the likelihood that none of your existing or potential customers aren’t utilizing social media in 2014 is highly unlikely.  Utilize this tool by Forrester research to determine if your target market is on social media.

According to a Pew Research Center study, as of September 2013:

  • 71% of online adults use Facebook
  • 18% of online adults use Twitter
  • 17% use Instagram
  • 21% use Pinterest
  • 22% use LinkedIn

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Social media adopters leveled off in 2012, but are back on the rise as seen by the graph below. 

 

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This research, put together by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, shows that 43% of internet users aged 65 and older reported being social networking site users as of May, a large jump from 32% at the end of 2012; and 60% of internet users aged 50-64 used social networks as of May, up from 52% in December. 

If you still don’t think your customers are on social media – ask them.  Conduct your own survey (I recommend including an incentive for completion) and find out if they’re using it, how often and via what sites and media (tablet, phone, desktop). If the answers tell you it’s time to join social media don’t panic and join every site. Start with one and start with a plan. Know what you hope to achieve through a social media presence and make sure all of your social media actions reflect those goals.

Why Web Advertising is WAY Better

1. You can target and easily segment groups and even individuals in ways unlike any other medium. Target these potential or previous consumers at certain times of day, when they’re in certain locations or when they’re visiting specific sites.

Targeting means you know your customer and now you have immediate access to them.

2. They have money to spend! According to the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project study, By the numbers: technology’s place in our lives 98% of the internet population is in households earning more than $75,000, which far surpasses the median U.S. household income of $53,046.

This means the internet has a population that has money to spend and is spending time in a place where you can easily reach them.

3. You have a dedicated audience. Over two-thirds of the adult populations were content creators, which means that they did activities such as visit social networking sites, share photos, contribute to rankings and ratings, and comment on sites and blogs. What this means to advertisers when two-thirds of people are on the internet they are fully engaged with it and not distracted by other activities.

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The Evolution of the World Wide Web

Web 1.0
This is the beginning of the internet. There were static websites and these websites were not interactive. In other words, the dynamic and engaging websites that are used to today did not exist. The websites were good for providing information, but not for interacting with those on the website.

Web 2.0
Web 2.0 came along after the dot com bust and represents the second generation of the web that occurred when people could finally collaborate and share information online. Webpages are now dynamic, host communities and provide users with the ability to share information. Some examples of Web 2.0 would be blogs and other social media and wikis.

Web 3.0
While we’re not there yet, Web 3.0 is said to be on the horizon. It has also been called the Semantic Web, a term that refers to a place where machines can read Web pages similar to how humans read them and where search engines and software agents can better troll the internet and find what we’re looking for. In other words, the machines we create will become more intelligent and able to make the type of connections and discriminate among the wealth of information in a manner similar, equal to and possibly better than people.

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Tips for a Successful Corporate Website

In a world where user generated content is king and social media can shape brand perception more than your public relations team can there is still one place that you have some control – your corporate website.  This is your opportunity to share who you are and what you’re all about without comments, feedback or having a competitor breathing down your neck.

I  think of websites in two different ways…first, as a front window to your business. Imagine if you were a retail shop on a busy store wouldn’t you take the time to set up your front window so that it displayed clearly what you sold inside and set it up so that it was inviting and aesthetically pleasing? And, second, as a first impression. Many people will visit your website before picking up the phone to call your business so making sure it provides the right first impression is crucial.

I am NOT a website designer. In fact, I am not any type of designer.  Now that that’s out of the way, let me tell you what I believe is important for your website.  To read what more experienced web designers have to say about web design you can find a list of articles, along with links at the bottom of this post.  The articles were pulled together by me and my classmates and provide a well-rounded point of view on how to create a good (make that great) corporate website.

  • Content is king. This is a place to really tell your story. There should be opportunities for visitors to get more in-depth with your company/brand than they could on Facebook.
  • Websites legitimize businesses. If a business doesn’t have a website I don’t believe they really exist.
  • Invite your social media into your website.  It’s a way to show connectivity among all of your media outlets.
  • Make sure it’s easy to contact someone for more information and that users aren’t searching too long for a way to speak to a human.
  • Websites must be easy to navigate. If they aren’t people will become frustrated and leave.
  • Second to content is the visual component. Make it visually appealing yet reflective of your industry, brand and company. The look, feel and tone of your website should mesh well with your other marketing tools.  I would go so far as to say that you’re website is the centerpiece of your branding in many cases.
  • Don’t go too long without updates. This goes for both content and design.  Keep in mind your website isn’t a library either. If information is outdated or irrelevant, remove it.
  • Finally, though this is possibly the most important, set goals for your website and align the content and design with those goals.

Mastering Digital Project Management.

Designing for different age groups.  Six Revisions.

Know your audience. Know their device. Serve the right impression.

Defining a Vision: Making Sure Your Work Matters.

Mobile device compatiable web site design.

Mobile Design Guide.

What’s the best font for your site?

Say no to faux bold.

“Like”-able content: Spread your message with third party meta data.

Top 7 Web Design Mistakes Small Businesses Make.

A List Apart. Put Your Content in My Pocket.

Being Real Builds Trust. Content Strategy, Writing, User Research.

Designing Fun. A List Apart.

Client Relationships and the Multi-Device Web.

Benefits of Responsive Design for eCommerce Websites.

Responsive Design Won’t Fix Your Content Problem.

 5 Ways Ecommerce Sites Are Killing it With Content Marketing.

Discover the 10 hottest trends in website design.

Defining a vision: Making sure your work matters.

Getting to Flow.

Mobile-optimized Website Versus the Stand-alone App

A mobile-optimized website is one that is consistent among platforms, but that will be sure to perform well on mobile (smart phone or tablet) devices.  This may include touch screen features, abbreviated content and the utilization of more visual elements such as video and photos. 

Tips for making your website mobile-optimized.

A stand-alone app is like a website that operates outside of the product or company’s website and is specifically designed for mobile device usage.

Tips for building your first web app.

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With more people accessing the internet through their mobile devices, along with the fact this trend is on the rise a decision has be to made one way or the other.  Currently, more Americans still use their browser versus applications according to ComScore 2010 press release. My advice – know your audience. If they are often visiting you across multiple channels then having a mobile optimized website that provides a consistent look and feel may be more important than having an application. Also, know your product. If your product or service can’t bring a lot of value to a consumer through your own app then it’s not worth the time and investment it takes to build one.   For instance, if you sell vacuum cleaners a stand-alone application may not be the way to go. People aren’t buying new vacuums on a regular basis and therefore probably don’t need regular updates on vacuum trends. On the other hand, if you’re a cleaning supplies retailer a stand-alone app might make sense. People are constantly purchasing new cleaning products and are searching for better, safer, cheaper products, as well as would benefit from knowing an evolutions or tips in the home cleaning area.