Tag Archives: linkedin

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Maricopa Community Colleges hit big on social media

Maricopa Community Colleges have reached a milestone in connecting with the community through social media. To date, Maricopa Community Colleges has been “liked” or “followed” upwards of 50,000 times across their top three platforms, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Facebook makes up the bulk of engaged community members, having just reached 40,000 followers today. By comparison, the Facebook page had fewer than 1,000 followers in mid-2012.

“People respond most positively to good, relevant content,” said Natalie Vaughn, Online Marketing and Social Media Manager for Maricopa Community Colleges. For instance, many people flocked to the social media pages around the time that the District celebrated its 50th Anniversary. “The majority of people in Maricopa County have either been a student or know a student of a Maricopa Community College. So we give people easy access to important, fun, historical, and current information about what’s going on right around them.”

Social media is an increasingly successful way for public agencies and private companies to do business because it allows direct interaction with customers. “We continue to see a high volume of engagements (e.g., likes, shares, retweets) so we know our social community is engaged,” said Vaughn.

Connect with the Maricopa Community Colleges and all of the ten colleges on Facebook, Twitter (@mcccd), and LinkedIn.

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Facebook Is Top Social Media Site for Marketing Spend

What are the hot spots for social media marketing in the coming year?

According to a new survey by The Creative Group, more than six in 10 (62 percent) advertising and marketing executives interviewed said they expect companies to increase their spending on Facebook marketing in the next 12 months. This is up from 53 percent who planned to boost their Facebook budget one year ago. Executives also anticipate companies will channel more marketing dollars toward LinkedIn (51 percent) and Google Plus (50 percent), up from 38 percent and 41 percent of respondents, respectively, last year.

The national survey was developed by The Creative Group, a specialized staffing service for interactive, design, marketing, advertising and public relations professionals. It was conducted by an independent research firm.

online

Top 3 Tips for Running a Successful Local PPC Campaign

Most businesses understand and embrace the value of building their organic search rankings on Google, but the value of pay-per-click or PPC advertising is often misunderstood and underestimated. While high organic search rankings are a great way to drive traffic and increase exposure for any business, there are only 10-16 spots available on the first page of Google for any given search term. In most industries, hundreds of businesses will be vying for those coveted first page Google results, and PPC ads give all businesses the ability to gain exposure on the first page of Google for local search terms.

Businesses can also run PPC ads through a variety of other mediums like Bing, Yahoo, Facebook, and LinkedIn. This makes it possible to target your ideal customers and experiment with different platforms to see which one generates the highest click through and conversion rates.

Reasons to Consider Utilizing Pay-Per-Click Advertising  

PPC is a powerful marketing tool for all businesses. For companies that don’t have high organic rankings for relevant local search terms, PPC can provide a way to achieve better visibility and leverage your online assets. For start-ups or businesses that are just beginning to ramp up their SEO efforts, PPC can provide an additional revenue stream, and even businesses with an established presence on search engines can generate additional revenue through PPC ads.

Another great reason to consider running a PPC campaign is because you can set the budget, which means you can start small to analyze your return and then grow it once you find a strategy that works for you. Most businesses hire an experienced search engine marketer to help them set up and manage their PPC campaign, as these marketers know the ins and outs of PPC advertising and can establish cost-effective and successful ad campaigns.

Search engine marketing may also play a role in organic search rankings due to the increase in clicks and exposure a website will get from PPC advertising. Since organic rankings are based on relevance and popularity, PPC ads can help improve the website’s popularity score through Google and bolster search engine optimization efforts.

Top Tips for Running a PPC Campaign

Beginning a PPC campaign can be a little confusing at first if you’ve never worked with the programs before, but by utilizing the following tips, you can get the most from your paid advertising efforts.

#1. Keep it Local

For local businesses, bidding on key phrases that are targeted to your geographic area can be extremely beneficial in driving traffic that will eventually lead to a conversion. Location specific keywords often have less competition, so marketers can get more bang for their buck by choosing a geographically targeted keyword as opposed to a generic keyword. If you need assistance selecting the keyword phrases that will result in the highest ROI, consult a PPC marketer to help you establish your campaign and perform appropriate keyword research.

#2. Expand Beyond Google

When most people think of PPC advertising, they think of Google AdWords. While Google AdWords is a great tool to gain exposure and visibility for your business, there may be other venues that offer advertising in the pay-per-click model that could yield better results. Some companies have success advertising on Bing, Yahoo, Facebook, and even LinkedIn. Assess where your target market spends their time and how they would search for your business to determine whether you should branch out to other PPC advertising mediums.

#3. Measure Your Success

Once you start your PPC campaign, make sure to keep track of your progress so that you can make adjustments and improvements where necessary. This may include testing your ads using different keywords, experimenting with different ad text, and utilizing advanced targeting options so that you can reach the customers that will be most interested in what you have to offer. An expert in search engine marketing can help to analyze your metrics to determine the best strategy for your campaign’s success.

By implementing a few of these key tips and reaching out for help from an experienced search engine marketing firm, you can harness the power of paid advertising to increase sales, drive more website traffic, and improve conversion rates.

If you would like to learn more about how to implement a local Pay-Per-Click campaign for your business, please contact Net-Craft.com at 480-563-0558 for a free PPC consultation.

social.media

Social Media Changes Driving Some Marketers Buggy

Social media is the most rapidly changing aspect of communications to begin with. Throw in an IPO (Facebook) and a major overhaul (LinkedIn) and modifications are barreling ahead so fast, even the techies seem unable to keep up.

“I’m a big believer in social media marketing for my business, so when I started having a lot of problems with LinkedIn, I didn’t wait – I sent an email to the Help Center,” says Marsha Friedman, CEO of EMSI Public Relations, (www.emsincorporated.com), in Wesley Chapel, Fla.

“Last week, a ‘customer experience advocate’ finally emailed me back. He wrote, ‘I apologize taking so long to get back to you. We are currently experiencing an unusual high volume of requests due to our recent site enhancements.’ “

Many of the changes were implemented Oct. 16 and, as EMSI’s social media specialist, Jeni Hinojosa, observes, “It’s a great overhaul.”

But, she adds, “It must not have gotten much of a test run because the site has been very buggy.”

Over on Facebook, Friedman says she’s noticed advertisements popping up everywhere – even in her news feed.

“Now that the site has gone public, it’s trying all sorts of new tricks to make money for shareholders, but it’s creating some problems,” she says.

One of her employees got this error message while trying to post to her wall: “The server found your request confusing and isn’t sure how to proceed.”

Hinojosa offered a brief overview of some of the changes and a solution people are turning to – at least in the case of Facebook.

LinkedIn: “One of the new features I like is that you can check for comments and other activity without getting notices sent to your email,” Hinojosa says. “Just go to your LinkedIn page and you’ll see the notifications at the top, just like on Facebook.”

“The bugs I and others have encountered include being unable to check private messages; sporadically unable to get into groups; and being notified that invitations to join others’ networks are waiting – but when I look, I don’t see any,” Hinojosa says. “When we report the problems, the responses we’re getting sound like they’re working on them but they’re overwhelmed.

“Hopefully, they’ll get them worked out soon. The good news is, they’re aware.”

Facebook: “Sadly, I’ve been down this road before – and it didn’t lead to a good place,” Hinojosa says. “Remember MySpace?”

Since its initial public offering in May, Facebook has been making a lot of changes designed to add revenue. The newest of these are a $7 fee for “promoted posts” from your personal page and a $5 to $15 fee to promote posts from your fan page. They’re not yet available to all 166 million U.S. Facebook users, according to tech bloggers, because it’s still experimental.

Now, those with the option will see a “promote” button next to the “like,” “comment” and “share” buttons. Click “promote,” put the appropriate fee on your charge card, and that post will go to the top of your followers’ news feeds a few times in the days ahead. (It will also wear the Scarlet S label of “sponsored post.”) The promise is that more of your followers will see it.

“It doesn’t make a lot of sense when applied to personal pages,” Hinojosa says. “How many people will pay to show off their vacation photos? But people using Facebook as a marketing tool may be motivated to pay for more reach.

“Soon, everyone will be scrolling through a bunch of ‘sponsored’ posts before they get to the ‘free’ ones. If you want someone to actually see your post, you’ll have to pay.”

That’s why, she says, people are jumping to …

Google+: “If Facebook and Twitter had a baby, it would be Google+,” Hinojosa says.

This toddler network, which launched in June 2011, combines Facebook’s capabilities for sharing news and photos and Twitter’s searchability.

“It allows you to designate one or more “circles” for your friends,” Hinojosa says. “One co-worker might be ‘business’ and ‘close friends’ while another could be just ‘business.’ So everyone sees what’s appropriate for them based on your relationship.”

“Like Twitter, Google+ uses hashtags to help sort information and allow people to search for posts on particular topics,” she says. “For instance, if you type #cutecats into the search box at the top of your page, you’ll see everything with that hashtag – including comments that incorporate the label.

“What makes me happiest is, Google had its IPO way back in 2004,” Hinojosa says. “So we shouldn’t have to worry about this company suddenly drumming up ways to make us pay for what we previously got for free.”

social media marketing

Moving Forward: Social Media Marketing In 2012

Moving forward: Thoughts on social media marketing in 2012

With the holidays upon us, the realities of the year’s end have set in. It’s time to begin clearing out inboxes, archiving 2011 files and preparing for 2012. It’s time for reflection and anticipation.

When it comes to social media marketing in 2012, the first step is looking back at what worked during the past 12 months and then, based on those results and the business goals for 2012, developing a plan for the upcoming year. For many companies, 2011 was the year for implementing social media.

Those still questioning the point of social media, should consider the facts provided by Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn:

  • Facebook has more than 800 million active users.
  • Fifty percent of Facebook’s active users log on in any given day.
  • The average Facebook user is connected to 80 community pages, groups and events.
  • More than 350 million active users currently access Facebook through their mobile devices.
  • Twitter currently has about 110 million users.
  • On Twitter, there are more than 600 million searches done every single day.
  • Twitter is accessed by more than 30 percent of users via their mobile phone.
  • Twitter is now serving a quarter billion tweets each day — more than one million tweets every six minutes.
  • LinkedIn’s members have reached 119 million, although this figure is an approximation provided by LinkedIn.
  • The standard user of LinkedIn is male (58.5 percent) and between the ages of 25 and 54 (70 percent).

Why followers and fans matter

With a majority of the population now visiting social media sites like Facebook and Twitter on a daily basis, creating a brand presence on these sites is becoming an essential part of doing business. Customers will turn to social media to learn more about products and services in real time.

Unlike any other marketing tool, social media allows companies to speak to customers in a more personal way, as if they are talking to a friend not a company, which helps build trust and rapport. It also assists in building online visibility to drive traffic to your website and ultimately through your doors, much like a word-of-mouth referral.

Social media can also help leverage public relations efforts by pushing press coverage out to a larger audience and pulling media people in, enticing them to learn more about your company and its brand.

Social media marketing in 2012: How to improve your pages

If your company already has established Facebook and Twitter pages, it is important to examine the content you are posting to make sure that you are providing value. For example, if you have a retail store or restaurant, post photos of products or dishes and utilize social media to let your customers know the specials of the day.

If you have a company that provides a service to other businesses, post helpful tips and educational articles related to your field. Remember, social media engagement is not one-sided.

As well as posting content, it is important to reach out and follow others and “Like” business-related Facebook pages. Then, they in turn may follow or like your page and interact by commenting on your posts. The other crucial factor in integrating social media into marketing is frequency and consistency.

Strategic planning and implementation

While it sounds simple in concept, before launching a social media campaign, companies need to remember, these pages are a voice for the company and represent the brand, it is not something that should be taken lightly. You should establish internal guidelines and a strategic plan specifying how your organization is going to manage the social media sites.

Figure out who is going to be responsible for the actual posting and what kind of information you want to share. In some cases, an in-house marketing or communications person is best. If there is no one in-house equipped to handle things, enlisting a public relations firm to manage an integrated public relations and social media campaign is the best approach. A public relations firm will know how to create online messaging and content that speaks to the public.

Mix it up

With the push to build a presence in social media clearly on the rise, it is tough to know where to focus your marketing efforts. The key to any marketing plan is developing a strong consistent message that reaches your target audience — social media is one tool to help make that happen.

Marketing plans must still incorporate a mix of more traditional sales and advertising efforts like targeted print, radio and online ads, along with public relations outreach to increase visibility and generate sales. While social media will continue to evolve and remain a powerful tool, an integrated campaign is optimal for any successful business.

For more information about social media marketing for your business in 2012 and how to implement a marketing plan, visit marketingworxpr.com.

Social Media Employment

Social Media Series: Using Social Media In Hiring And Firing Employees

This article is part of an on-going, social media series.


With an estimated 34,000 Google searches every second, the Internet is most assuredly a source of information for employers when making hiring and firing decisions. Given the inevitable use of the Internet to make these decisions, there are a number of questions that employers should consider:

  • Should an employer use the Internet to investigate prospective employees?
  • What liability could there be if an employer uses the Internet in this manner?
  • Should an employer affirmatively address, in its practices or procedures, the use of the Internet to investigate prospective employees?
  • May an employer terminate an employee for online content posted during non-work hours?
  • Does it matter whether the employee’s online content is or is not about work-related topics?
  • What recourse, if any, does an employer have in disciplining an employee for inappropriate conduct on social media?

 

Prospective employees generally know that they should scrutinize their online presence so as not to have their resume hit the trashcan due to one weekend of debauchery posted on a Facebook photo album. Employers, on the other hand, too often fail to scrutinize their use of social media in hiring. Whether there is an official policy to run an online search of a prospective employee or informal protocol of the hiring manager, an employer’s practices and procedures should address the use of social media to investigate prospective employees.

Businesses should be aware of the potential liability in searching the online content of prospective employees. For example, a human resources representative decides to look up a prospective employee on Facebook and discovers that the individual is two months pregnant. She decides not to hire that candidate. Now, the business is vulnerable to an employment discrimination lawsuit if the candidate finds out about the human resources representative’s online activity and links the decision not to hire to the candidate’s pregnancy.

If a business wants to affirmatively use social media in evaluating the candidate and in hiring decisions, then it should express this practice in a social media policy and remind interviewers of the pertinent laws prohibiting discrimination in employment decisions.

Firing

In a survey conducted by the Health Care Compliance Association and the Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics, almost 25 percent of respondents reported that the employer had disciplined an employee for conduct on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. In November 2010, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) initiated an unfair labor practice action on an employer for terminating an employee who posted personal negative comments about her supervisor on Facebook. The NLRB argued that the employer’s termination was unlawful under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) in that it was based on a policy that prohibited employees from engaging in “protected concerted activities” — discussing the terms and conditions of their workplace with each other.

In an effort to avoid common traps in cyberspace, employers should seek legal counsel when developing a policy that outlines the accepted use of social media in hiring decisions, as well as firing decisions. For instance, while there may be certain circumstances where an employer can terminate an employee for his personal online communication performed off the clock and outside the office, there are other circumstances where an employer cannot take such adverse action. A public employer generally cannot prohibit its employees from engaging in private communication that is protected by their First Amendment right to free speech. Similarly, an employer generally cannot fire employees for online discussions with co-workers about the terms and conditions of work, such as how much pay each employee at the office earns.

Such a social media policy has two important benefits: it helps employees to align their conduct with the company’s expectations and it helps the company to support a decision to reprimand an employee as appropriate under the expressed standard. Employees left to question the cause of their termination are often the ones who also decide to visit the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to explore filing a discrimination charge and/or the NLRB to file an unfair labor practice charge against their employer.

Carrie Pixler, an associate with Fennemore Craig and a member of the firm’s Litigation Section, co-authored this story.

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What are your thoughts regarding this article?
Your comments won’t go unheard! (Or unread for that matter.)
The authors of this on-going social media series will be back monthly to answer any questions you may have and/or to continue the discussion. So let us know!

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AZ Snowbowl

3rd Rail Jam Hits The Slopes Of Arizona Snowbowl

Combine equal parts live hip-hop music, art, fashion, technology, culture and snow sport, and what unique concoction is left brewing in one of the lucky six cities?

The 3rd Rail Jam.

3rd Rail Jam is a grassroots snow sport competition where participants and attendees take part in a mixture of urban culture and adrenaline — unlike any event held on various slopes across the nation — and it’s coming to Flagstaff, AZ.

This year marks the 4th annual event where skiers and snowboarders attempt tricks on and off nontraditional railings — including tires & stairwells.

Simultaneously, hip-hop music will be pulsating through the mountain as graffiti artists add a bit more visual vibrancy to the already lively atmosphere. Oh, and don’t forget to crowd around the catwalk for the fashion show and catch the break dancers, too.

Originated by Patrick Hession and Timmy Grins, the 3rd Rail Jam all began on the slopes of Mountain Creek in Vernon, New Jersey — aiming to slap the snow sport industry across its figurative face and shake things up a bit, to “upset the setup.”

Arizonans, are you interested? Well, the 3rd Rail Jam will be making a stop on their nationwide tour at Arizona Snowbowl in Flagstaff, AZ on Feb. 5, 2011. Gift of Gab of Blackalicious is confirmed as the live hip-hop artist for the Snowbowl event.

The other cities on the tour include Chicago, Denver, Boise, Los Angeles and Beech Mountain in North Carolina.

Participants can take part in one of four divisions including ages 15 and under, women, best of breed and skiers. Skiers and snowboarders are judged on style/composure, consistency, use of the entire course, creativity, magnitude of tricks and attitude.

But wait; there’s more.

Of every $25 paid to enter the competition, $5 goes to Amped 4-A-Cure, a non-profit organization aimed to “raise funds to support cancer research through the universal language of music.” The money raised goes towards many organizations and research facilities — including The American Association for Cancer Research — specializing in medical advancements of different types of cancer, according to Amped 4-A-Cure’s website.


Social media sites are no longer just places to reconnect with childhood friends or college roommates.

Social Media And The Hiring Process: Your Profile Can Sink Or Save You

Social media has set up camp in the professional world and is there to stay.

Social media sites are no longer just places to reconnect with childhood friends or college roommates. Companies now use social media websites to do unofficial background checks on potential employees.

A Cross-Tab Marketing Service study, released earlier this year, reveals that 70 percent of companies have rejected a candidate based on an inappropriate social media website posting.

This is a scary reality for everyone who uses these sites as a harmless way to catch up with friends, but may have crossed the line by uploading funny, yet work-inappropriate pictures. In today’s world, a world inextricably tied to the Internet, anything posted on a public page can and will be found by potential employers, says Lew Clark, an attorney with Squire, Sanders and Dempsey.

However, there are ways to prevent shooting yourself in the social media foot and, if you’re smart, work the system.

There are a few obvious things not to have on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, YouTube or other social media websites — including inappropriate photos or conversations. Poor grammar, spelling or writing skills, use of profanity, and poor people skills also can turn off a potential employer, Clark says.

“One of the huge no-nos that we discuss with folks … is to never, ever post anything negative about a former boss, co-worker, employer. It creates the wrong image. No matter if it’s true, valid, anything else, you just do not want to go there,” says Cindy Jones, vice president of human resources at Synergy Seven.

Don’t despair. Companies aren’t just looking for reasons to disqualify you. They’re also looking for reasons why you’re perfect for the job, Jones says. Especially on professional social media sites, such as Linkedin, companies look to see prospective employees’ connections.

If used properly, social media can be an effective marketing tool, Jones adds, providing a real-world example of how to use social media as an advantage.

When a woman decided to switch careers from Realtor to sommelier, she changed both her professional — Linkedin — and personal — Facebook — social media pages to reflect her new career path. She posted her excitement about passing tests toward receiving sommelier certification and changed her main picture to one of her toasting with a glass of wine.

While this type of online makeover won’t work for all fields, Jones says it’s an example of using social media to one’s advantage.

“There’s nothing at all improper with a prospective employer (looking) on someone’s public Facebook page, their public Twitter page, or any other online networking website that you can access publicly,” Clark says.

However, accessing a potential employee’s private page by figuring out the password, accessing it through someone else’s page or by pretending to be someone else is illegal, he adds.

Aside from accessing a page illegally, employers can find themselves in other sticky situations.

Employers may find information about a person’s religion, health, age or personal life that they wouldn’t otherwise learn and can’t legally take into consideration in the hiring process, Clark and Jones say.

“The risk to the employer is that someone could allege that you used information that is legally protected to decide whether to hire somebody or not,” Jones says. “Our guidance with most companies starts at the place of there’s nothing illegal about it, but be careful.”

Clark adds: “Employers are looking for whatever resource they can to try to get information about candidates so they can make a good hire.”

Background checks, including checking social media websites, can reduce costs, encourage honesty among employees and ensure the best person gets the job, says Marcia Rhodes from WorldatWork, a global human resource association.

Although using social media in the hiring process offers many perks, Jones and Rhodes say they’ve seen a trend in which companies are limiting social media background checks on possible employees, contrary to the report previously cited.

Kim Magyar, an attorney with Snell and Wilmer, says she doesn’t see the number of companies using social media decreasing, but companies are being more targeted and cautious with their searches.

Some companies wait until they’ve already interviewed a candidate to check social media, while others check before they conduct an interview, says Magyar, who has given presentations on social networking and the workplace.

Many companies believe social media can be a treasure trove of information; information that might not always be accurate, Magyar says.

“There’s nothing to prevent an employer from making decisions based upon what they see (on social media sites),” Clark says.

Nothing, except the awareness that public social media pages are fair game and the preparedness of prospective employees to maintain their pages in a way that represents them in a respectable, hire-able way.

Social Media

How To Get The Most Out Of Social Media

“Are you taking advantage of Web 2.0?” This question has been circulating throughout the business world regarding the online world of mass collaboration and consumer-generated content. Web 2.0 is redefining public relations, marketing, communications and branding for businesses worldwide.

Nielsen’s 2009 Global Faces and Networked Places report states that two-thirds of the world’s Internet population visits a social network or blogging site, and the sector accounts for 10 percent of all Internet time. “Consequently, the global media and advertising industries are faced with new challenges around the opportunities and risks this new consumer medium creates,” the report states.

Ken Reaser, a partner at Spin Six Strategic Marketing Design in Scottsdale, agrees. “People’s opinion is going to be out there,” he says. “You can attempt to influence it, but you can’t control it.”

Gabriel Shaoolian, founder of New York-based Blue Fountain Media, says social media can be tough to navigate at first, but once a company starts talking to its customers, “that dialogue is priceless. The persistent nature of online interaction means that (social media) has the long-lasting effects of traditional advertising, but the immediate interaction means it also has the revenue-driving power of traditional sales.” However, Shaoolian cautions that social media marketing is not for every business or marketer — but its impact is hard to ignore.

Businesses are all at some level of using social media networks, says Anthony Helmstetter, a partner at Spin Six. “Some are using it for reputation management, where social media is used as a function of customer service,” he explains. “However, 90 percent of the businesses out there will not stop using other marketing outlets.”

Forrester Research released its five-year forecast in July 2009, which states that spending on interactive marketing in the United States will reach almost $55 billion and represent 21 percent of all marketing spending by 2014. The report shows that social media spending alone will increase to $3.1 billion in 2014 from $716 million in 2009, representing a compound annual growth rate of 34 percent — the highest percentage gain in the marketing mix. This spending activity ranks social media as the third most prominent program behind search marketing and display advertising.

“Social media has its place, and we do find it to be a helpful tool, but only when it’s used correctly. … Be cautious with it.”

— Ken Reaser, partner at Spin Six Strategic Marketing Design in Scottsdale


The following is a look at the top social networking sites on the Web:

Link it Up: Optimizing LinkedIn for the Business Owner

LinkedIn helps people manage and make connections with other industry professionals, and expand beyond boundaries companies have been unable to reach. The site is relatively easy to use and provides a helpful breadth of information, as well as multiple ways to expand small businesses.

Mashable, an online social media guide, posted “How to Build Your Company’s Profile on LinkedIn” in August 2009. Adam Ostrow, a regular Mashable commentator, writes that LinkedIn separates itself from other social media networks with its company profiles. Company profiles allow a business owner to provide potential candidates with a lot more information about the company and the people who work there.

Here are Ostrow’s tips on how to set up a company profile:

  • Go to the “Companies” menu on LinkedIn. Select “Add Company.”
  • Enter the company’s basic information, such as a description, number of employees and industry in which it operates.
  • Follow LinkedIn’s wizard for creating your company profile, which allows you to add a logo, locations and feed for your company blog/newsletter.

LinkedIn will pull data about your company from around the Web site to further enhance the company profile that already has been established. For example, all of the company’s job listings will show up automatically on the profile, along with links to profiles for current, former, new hires and recent promotions regarding company employees.

Inovedia Marketing provides several tips for small business owners when utilizing LinkedIn, such as:

  • Connect with customers and vendors.
  • Improve a company’s image by requesting LinkedIn recommendations from happy customers.
  • Answer LinkedIn questions to build the company’s brand and promote it within the LinkedIn community.
  • Keep track of all contacts. You never know when you’ll need them.
  • Test a company’s ideas by joining marketing groups and utilize the “Start a Discussion” feature to act as a focus group.
  • Connect with fellow small business owners and find multiple small business resources.

All of this aggregate data about the company provides potential candidates information to determine if the company is a good fit for them. If a company is concerned about the information available online, LinkedIn does allow edits to the company’s basic profile information.

According to Ostrow’s post, LinkedIn recently added a premium product, Custom Company Profiles, that allows a business owner to add more features such as videos about the company, positions, interactive polls and several customized options for recruiting. Ostrow adds: “These are worth considering for larger companies (they come at a price), but for small businesses, a basic LinkedIn company profile should be enough to add lots of efficiency to the recruiting process — both for candidates and for you.”

www.linkedin.com

Face Off: Putting a Face to Your Business through Facebook

Facebook has become the largest player on the global social networking stage. In September, the company announced it had 300 million active users.

“Based on a simple design, broad demographic appeal and a focus on connecting, Facebook has become the most popular social network measured by Nielsen Online.” — Nielsen’s 2009 Global Faces and Networked Places report

Facebook started out as a service for university students, but now one-third of its global audience is aged 35-49 years, and one-quarter is over 50. In July 2009 alone, Facebook attracted 87.7 million unique visitors in the U.S., which was 14 percent higher than the previous month, according to comScore. In absolute terms, Facebook added about 10 million new visitors in July 2009 versus roughly 1 million new visitors for Twitter.

In August 2009, Facebook purchased FriendFeed for just under $50 million, which cost one-tenth as much as Twitter would have, had Facebook gone through with its plans to purchase the site.

So how can businesses capitalize on this growing social network empire? HubSpot, an inbound marketing system specifically for the Internet, published a report called “How to Use Facebook for Business.” The report outlines the difference between Facebook Profiles and Pages — the latter being specifically for business use.

  • Facebook Pages allow a company to designate multiple administrators to help manage the account.
  • Pages are by default made public and will start ranking in Facebook and public search results, and engines such as Google.
  • Pages are split into different categories to help the company get listed in more relevant search results.

For companies worried about privacy, Facebook is flexible in letting administrators control a business’ exposure. The creation of a Page is very similar to a user profile, except that you choose a category (i.e. brand or product) and a name for your Page (usually the company’s name). Once the creator is done setting up the Page, be sure to hit “Publish” to make it public.

Ken Reaser, a partner with Spin Six, strongly warns Facebook users to keep their personal profiles separate from their company pages. “You are now becoming a participant in a community where you no longer have control — be cautious,” he says.

There are various ways to promote company Facebook Pages, such as leveraging the viral nature of Facebook via the news feed, drawing on the administrator’s personal existing network, making the Page publicly searchable, and using Facebook Ads for an extra push, according to HubSpot.

Other areas Facebook excels at include:

  • Facebook Groups: Similar to Pages, but meant to be built around a group of people rather than an individual business or a brand.
  • Applications: Developers may write software to help promote a business on Facebook.
  • Polls: Marketers can use them to get quick answers about a particular feature, or find out information and opinions from specific demographics.
  • Facebook Connect: Helps integrate a company Web site with Facebook.
  • Facebook Ads: You can choose a specific demographic target, see how many people that demographic will hit and advertise to that demographic.

This point spotlights the biggest challenge for Facebook — turning its network into a revenue-producing mechanism. In 2008, Facebook earned around $300 million in ad revenue compared to MySpace’s estimated $1 billion. MySpace has primarily become an entertainment site. In September 2009, Facebook said it achieved positive cash flow for the first time since its founding six years ago.

Still, the fact that content supplied by the social network’s members is of a highly personal nature creates a Catch-22. The personal data is potentially one of the network’s most valuable assets, yet it provides a major obstacle in generating revenue as members see highly targeted ads as an invasion of privacy.

“If Facebook were a country, it would be the 8th most-populated in the world, just ahead of Japan.”

— Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder, January 2009

www.facebook.com

A Birdie Told Me: Utilizing Twitter’s Real-Time Potential

The first reaction many people have to Twitter is bewilderment, which matches the reason for the name of the micro-blogging site.

“Twittering is the sound birds make when they communicate with each other — an apt description of the conversations held on Twitter,” says site co-founder Biz Stone on the Twitter 101 site. “Every day, millions of people use Twitter to create, discover and share ideas with others. Businesses can use the outlet to quickly share information with people interested in the company, gather real-time market intelligence and feedback, and build relationships with customers, partners and other people who care about the company.”

Evan Williams, Twitter’s CEO and co-founder, says that in the best cases, Twitter makes the public smarter, faster and more efficient. However, not everyone believes in the Twitter-hype.

Anthony Helmstetter, a partner at Spin Six Strategic Marketing Design, says Twitter, despite being hot right now, sees a less than 40 percent retention rate after someone has had an account for 30 days.

“What this shows is that this exuberant hype is short-lived,” Helmstetter explains. “What Twitter lacks is a ‘sticky’ component. There’s nothing to make people keep using it.”

He clarifies that Twitter is better for real-time information, but not to build legacy content. But that’s not stopping major brands across the nation from tuning into the world’s mind. Mashable’s commentator Ostrow reported in August 2009 that big brands are embracing social media, with Fortune 100 companies selecting Twitter as their choice of venue. According to recent study by the global public relations firm Burson-Marsteller:

  • Among Fortune 100 companies, 54 percent have a Twitter presence, 32 percent have a blog, and 29 percent have an active Facebook Page.
  • Of companies using only one of these tools, at least 76 percent of them choose Twitter.
  • Of the Fortune 100 companies on Twitter, 94 percent use it for news/announcements, 67 percent for customer service, and 57 percent for deals/promotions.
  • The average Fortune 100 Twitter account has 5,234 followers. The median is 674 followers.
  • Many companies are simply avoiding blogs and going directly to Twitter instead.

One of the most well-known brands on Twitter is Starbucks. According to the Twitter 101 Web site, Brad Nelson tweets on behalf of Starbucks Coffee, and says he “loves” the 140 character limits for tweets. He manages it through a third-party application called TweetDeck that allows him to group his followers and see everything at once, from DMs (direct messages) and replies to searches and trending topics.

What a company chooses to post about depends on its goals for using Twitter.

“Listen regularly for comments about your company, brand and products — and be prepared to address concerns, offer customer service and thank people for praise,” Twitter’s co-founders say. But most importantly, don’t spam people.

“There’s the idea that social media is free, but it’s not free,” Spin Six Partner Ken Reaser says.

He adds that businesses looking to go into social media, especially sites such as Twitter, need to be consulted as to why they want to get involved, what their goals and expectations are, what they want to get out of it, how much money they have budgeted for it and the cost to manage it.

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