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Thursday, September 16, 2010

LinkedIn Advanced on TalkFloor Social Media Marketing Interview Series

LinkedIn Advanced on TalkFloor Social Media Marketing Interview Series
The social media marketing series on TalkFloor continues with Advanced LinkedIn! Here is a link to the three interviews in this Advanced LinkedIn segment.

In the last session, we did an introduction and overview of LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a powerful social networking platform as we discussed in the last session.  It's considered the #1 resource for marketing your business.

In Advanced LinkedIn, we cover some of the advanced features – Groups, Answers, Event, Search.

Dave and I are both on LinkedIn, so please do connect with us.

Dave Foster
Christine B. Whittemore

As a reminder, you should definitely set up a profile on LinkedIn – it’s free. Complete it 100% paying attention to using relevant keywords and include a photo. Claim your personalized URL; link your website and blog to your profile. Connect your Twitter account if you have one. Then, update your status regularly – I use Outlook to remind myself. Connect with people you meet and share relevant links and resources.

*** Note: this is true for all of the social networking tools we discuss, remember to focus on offering others value. Don’t self-promote or you’ll turn people off.***

LinkedIn Groups

Within your individual LinkedIn profile, you can join up to 50 groups.  Groups are a great opportunity to reach and engage with potential customers online.

The first step is to search existing groups based on keywords your consider relevant to determine if one already exists. If yes, join it. Familiarize yourself with the group’s guidelines; read through existing conversation threads; do some research on those who actively participate and start getting involved.

Definitely consider researching successful groups so you understand what makes them work, what kinds of questions does the moderator ask? How frequently do new discussions start? What are the group’s dynamics? Just a few people or a wide range of perspectives? What is the tone of the discussion?

If a group doesn’t exist, create one!

+ pick a name with keywords relevant to your audience
+ make it an industry group rather than a company group
+ add a logo
+ invite coworkers, friends, colleagues to join
+ be sure to promote it online and offline

For a group to be successful, it’s important to actively manage it and encourage discussion. If you don’t it will become overrun with spammy self-promotion rather than valuable insights.

It’s a good idea to develop and post guidelines for group interaction [be respectful, no self-promotion, what topics are acceptable, etc.]. Post those as a featured discussion so everyone can find them. When you welcome new members, send them a link to the guidelines. By the way, you can send announcements to the members of the group; you can import your blog feed into the News section. You can also directly message group members even if you aren’t connected to them. LinkedIn has added a lot of rich functionality to groups.

Please note: as with all social media and social networking tools, this will take focused time and effort to generate success. You are building a community.

It’s a good idea to spend time beforehand determining what your objective is and how you will add value. You can then prepare a content plan and develop a content calendar.

For example, let’s take the TalkFloor group which has ~ 518 members. You'll notice a wide range of flooring related conversations: from green cleaning, to window treatments in flooring stores, to some self-promotion. You have prominent industry people engaged [e.g., Warren Tyler], but it isn’t actively managed.

What you might do is develop guidelines and post them as a featured discussion. You might add a feed from TalkFloor. You might go through all 518 existing members and says thanks for being part of the group, here are the guidelines for discussion and what would you like to hear more about. Going forward, you might welcome new members with a note and the guidelines. For those who are self-promotional you would want to remind them that this isn’t the forum…

Then, consider one new industry topic per month. Let’s say for September it’s ‘Cash for Caulkers”; develop 4 subthemes for each week of September related to Cash for Caulkers.

1. Recap legislation. How does this affect you?

2. Implications for consumers? How can you benefit?

3. Environmental repercussions. How can you benefit?

4. How does it relate to the flooring industry reports on the state of the flooring industry?

Perhaps each theme/subtheme relates to TalkFloor interviews that Dave has done.

Dave might invite industry experts to help ask and answer questions with each sub-theme. Possibly CRI Government Affairs can give a big picture overview of Cash for Caulkers from a legislative perspective?

Dave might invite Stuart Hirschhorn to answer data questions about the flooring industry.

By the way, you can make your group private and use it as an ongoing focus group discussion. You can also ‘follow’ individuals within a group [as you can companies now].

LinkedIn Answers

These are particularly effective for lead generation, demonstrating expertise.

Access Answers from the “MORE” tab.

Interestingly, you won’t find much that is recent relating to carpet or floors. That suggests to me an opportunity – especially given that there are plenty of groups related to floor, floors, flooring…

When you respond to relevant questions, your answers will appear in your network updates.

You gain expertise points

You can include links to relevant articles, blogposts, etc. [e.g., you can add value].

LinkedIn Groups & Answers Reminders

Don’t spam
Be helpful.
Don’t self-promote.
Be aware of rules of behavior
Do your homework so you know who’s asking the question.

You can also ask your own questions for research; you can make your questions private.

LinkedIn Events

You can use LinkedIn Events to promote your activities and invite your connections. When they RSVP, it shows up in their home profile so all their connections see it.

To access, go to MORE and follow the steps/answer questions to Add an Event.

LinkedIn Search

Search is powerful in LinkedIn. You can search people and companies [as well as groups, jobs, answers…].

Other LinkedIn Features:

LinkedIn now offers Direct Ads. Access them through MORE. Allows you to target specific parameters with ads.

Your Advanced LinkedIn Assignment:

Go explore groups; pick one to get involved in. [Maybe TalkFloor?] Get involved in the conversation.

Explore Answers and pick one to answer.

Additional LinkedIn Resources:

LinkedIn Takes Groups To The Next Level With Likes, Follows And More
How to Use LinkedIn for Business from Hubspot
17 Invisible LinkedIn Tricks Revealed
3 ways to expand your reach on LinkedIn
10 Ways to Leverage LinkedIn to Generate Business
6-Step Corporate LinedIn Strategy
Top 5 Ways to Market Your Business With LinkedIn
11 Tips for LinkedIn Business Development

Let me know of any questions.

Next:  LinkedIn Success Stories

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Reminder: Please, no self-promotional or SPAM comments. Don't bother if you're simply trying to build inauthentic link juice. Finally, don't be anonymous: it's too hard to have a conversation. Thanks, CB

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