Sunday Musings w/ Shore Branding – 1-18-15

Sunday Musings w/ Shore Branding focusing on LinkedIn (Photo credit: PowerFormula.net)

Sunday Musings w/ Shore Branding focusing on #CES2015 (Photo credit: PowerFormula.net)

This week’s #SundayMusings takes a look at the top news and stories from last week’s #CES2015 event in Las Vegas.  Here are a couple stories that I found to be of particular interest and then we’ve changed things up this week a bit.  Below that are a number of summary articles from around the web and what their respective highlights were from CES this year.

Did you make it to #CES2015?  What did you think?

#1 – “The Five Most Disruptions Innovations at CES 2015” – via Forbes.com

Premise: At each CES show Forbes puts together their “Big Bang Disruptors” that help move an existing market/product to new heights.  From self-driving cars to the continued evolution of health and fitness and into “augmented reality”, a number of companies moved the needle into areas that aren’t that far off into the future anymore.

Thoughts: CES help brought self-driving cars another step closer to reality.  Virtual reality gaming is essentially here.  What did you think was the most amazing or jaw-dropping innovation at CES?

What caught my eye in this article wasn’t even on Forbes’ list.  It was early in the article when they described Google Nest’s ecosystem and partner companies that are helping bring everyday chores, activities, etc. to the 21st century.  Nest will work with lightbulbs, washer and dryers, and more in an effort to make your life that much easier.

#2 – “Sharp unveils new Android TV-based SmartCentral 4.0 smart TV’s” via androidcentral.com

Premise: Sharp announced a number of updates to their TV lineup at #CES2015.  This included a 4K UHD TV, with several models adding Android TV features.  The company also announced 70, 85, and 120 inch TV’s.

Thoughts: We’ll talk more about this in the next article as well, but we’re in the market for a new TV for our living room.  I/We need a few more HDMI plugs in our next TV.  If you replaced “Sharp” with “Samsung”, there is no doubt in my mind that this would be the next TV in our living room at some point in 2015.  Unfortunately, Samsung is not aligning with Android TV, which is quite a bit surprising … and disappointing.

#3 – “Samsung’s 105-inch Bendable TV is the World’s Largest” via popularmechanics.com

Premise: Looking for the latest and greatest 4K TV?  Enter Samsung’s UN105S9B model, which is a 105 inch screen that is bendable.  The price tag?  A “modest” $260K.

Thoughts: Many times there are articles I wish I didn’t see or read.  This is one of them.  There is absolutely no reason to have a bendable TV in my house.  None.  But reading this article gave me TV-envy.  Will we be purchasing a bendable TV?  I’m pretty sure the answer is no.  Will it be half the size of this one if we do?  Yes.

TV’s made quite the impression at #CES2015.  Which company made the most noise in the category?

#4 – Summary articles from #CES2015 that are worth your time:

  1. The Guardian
  2. The Next Web
  3. eBay
  4. engadget
  5. Mashable
  6. Digital Trends

Tweet of the Week:

First, an amazing number of attempts at finding the right wearable at #CES2015.  If you take a look at the article, the author nails it on the head.  There is a lot to like about wearables, and in particular smartwatches.  However, no one has really perfected usability, style, and more.  We will all see what Apple does in this market and how competition reacts.

Finally, for those considering attending CES for the first time in 2016, here are a few tips from Mashable worth considering:

Have a great week!  Our next #SundayMusings in two weeks will focus on the Super Bowl!

 

Pin of the Month – Social Media

January's "Pin of the Month" on Social Media Pin originally from ticsyformacion.com

January’s “Pin of the Month” on Social Media
Pin originally from ticsyformacion.com

Happy 2015 everyone and welcome to another year of our “Pin of the Month” here on ShoreBranding.com.  January’s “Pin of the Month” takes a look at several key social media numbers and statistics across several of the key players in social media.  The infographic itself was found on Pinterest and originated from this article.

So what exactly are we looking at here?  As we enter 2015, the numbers across the more popular social media networks continue to amaze.  With numbers and figures from multiple sources, let’s dive into some of the facts seen in the above infographic, specifically those that caught my attention:

  • Facebook’s log-in page is now available on over one million web sites.  That’s amazing!
  • 91% of Fortune 100 companies use LinkedIn to search out job candidates.
  • I’m not sure how they got to the fact that eBay is the “most engaging” brand on Twitter.  (Your thoughts on the most engaging brands on the site?)
  • 1 billion Google+ accounts … but only 359 million of them are “monthly active users”.

What platform are you planning to focus on in 2015?  With the continued growth of social media in branding efforts, have you set goals for each?

For those unfamiliar with our “Pin of the Month”, every month we post one of the better infographics, pictures, etc. that we find on our Pinterest page and (over-) analyzing it in our “Pin of the Month”.  If you have an infographic that you would like to promote here on Shore Branding, just let us know.

 

Sunday Musings w/ Shore Branding – 1/4/15

Sunday Musings w/ Shore Branding - Happy New Year / 2015! (Credit: wallpaperput.com)

Sunday Musings w/ Shore Branding – Happy New Year / 2015!
(Credit: wallpaperput.com)

 

Happy new year everyone and welcome to the first #SundayMusings of 2015!  I hope everyone had a great, safe holiday season and that you are ready to make 2015 bigger and better!  Why not start with the top stories that caught my eye in branding and digital marketing as they relate to entering the new year?  Done and done …

#1 – “The Top 7 Content Marketing Trends That Will Dominate 2015” – via Forbes.com

Premise: “Content marketing” continues to grow.  The author has spent time in the past putting together predictions and outcomes of content marketing (links within the article).  Now he takes a look at how content marketing will shift/progress into the new year.

Thoughts: A few of the highlighted trends caught my eye, specifically #2 – “Content marketing will become inextricably linked with social media marketing” and #5 – “The reputation of guest blogging as a content marketing strategy will be repaired”.

It is hard to argue with #2, as this trend continues to grow seemingly month to month.  However, #5 is an item that is important here on ShoreBranding.com.  We have openly embraced guest posts in the past, but willingness to do so weakened in the second half of 2014.  Again, if you are interested in being a guest writer here on the site, please just let me know via our Contact page (or reach out via email / social media).

#2 – “Hey, TV Guys! Facebook’s NFL Deal Means Facebook Is Getting Serious About Video” via recode.net

Premise: Facebook has signed a deal with the NFL to put clips in its ads.  The deal suggests that Facebook is going in the right direction when it comes to online video and how it continues to grow.  For example, your profile and/or posts tell Facebook that you are a fan of a particular team.  With this deal, Facebook will be able to target you with relevant ads or clips of said team.

Thoughts: The NFL continues to surge ahead of the other US sports leagues when it comes to transitioning to online platforms.  Working with Facebook (and Twitter) is now commonplace for the NFL.

Note that there are similar discussions between Facebook and the NBA in order to get a deal in place.  It feels like my Facebook feed is in for an overhaul in the coming months.

#3 – “2015 Social Media Predictions: 10 Forecasts You Need” via HeidiCohen.com

Premise: Aside from the 10 tips/forecasts, the article links to several other “Tips”-related articles when thinking about putting together or revitalizing your social media efforts.  The write-up predicts what is next for the big players in the social space – Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, and more.

Thoughts: A few items caught my attention quickly.  First, similar to the article above, it seems like a foregone conclusion that Facebook is going to be deeply cutting into YouTube’s online video space.  Second, it is said to see what Heidi predicts for Twitter … as the company continues to focus on revenue and meeting Wall Street’s demands, it will start to lose steam and interest with users.  I’m not sure I see that happening … yet.  However, I do agree that Vine’s popularity has become much more niche than mainstream.  The final item that I wanted to point out is the reference to the importance of Google+ to businesses.

#4 – “The 7 Top Social Media Trends That Will Impact Your Marketing In 2015” via JeffBullas.com

Premise: Jeff Bullas provides his own take on what 2015 will look like in social media.  These focus items include continued growth in mobile, vlogging, and social wallets.  With each, Bullas provides context as to why and/or how each will continue to rise as we enter 2015.

Thoughts: We have spent a good amount of time talking about the continued rise of mobile, so this shouldn’t be a surprise.  The first statistic in Bullas’ “Paid amplification” trend is mind-numbing – the organic reach on Facebook is terribly low.  That is reason enough to reconsider your Facebook strategy and effort.

“Social shopping” and “Social wallets” have started to rise in 2014 and brands / retailers are beginning to see the power of social sharing for consumers.  Social wallets and cards have started to pop up.

Are you using a social card yet?  I literally just signed up for one last week and am waiting for it to arrive.  If so, what do you think?

#5 – “What Does your 2015 Twitter Strategy Look Like?” via MediaBistro.com

Premise: The change of the calendar year affords you the opportunity to evaluate and establish your social media strategy, with the focus of this article on Twitter.  This strategy should include goal setting, execution, and measurement.  From there you will want to reevaluate your plan to see what is and is not working and go from there.

Thoughts: For the first time, I spent a little money in 2014 to help build our SaveThanksgiving.net following on Twitter.  We gained ~100 followers from those efforts and it is likely something that I’ll re-establish in the latter stages of 2015.

Do you have a strategy that is specific for each social media site that you are on?  How did you perform in 2014 relative to your goals?

Tweet of the Week:

Hopefully, you take #5 above to heart and don’t fall into the trap of our ‘Tweet of the Week’.  The good ole marketing / Twitter fails of 2014.  I can’t even pick one of these five as the worst … they are all … just … painful.  Do yourself a favor and make sure you don’t land on this list in 2015.  Please.

Again, happy new year to all of our readers and subscribers!  I hope you make 2015 great!

Brand in Focus – Bolthouse Farms

Bolthouse Farms Logo (Bolthouse.com)

Bolthouse Farms Logo (Bolthouse.com)

This quarter’s “Brand in Focus” takes a look at the branding and digital marketing efforts of Bolthouse Farms.  The company’s web page promotes their Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages.  Noticeably missing from the links at the top for me, is the brand’s Vine page as that is how Bolthouse Farms originally caught my attention.

Visit Bolthouse.com to see the latest and greatest from Bolthouse Farms!

Visit Bolthouse.com to see the latest and greatest from Bolthouse Farms!

Bolthouse Farms’ web site is appealing to the eye, presenting a colorful display that draws your eyes to particular areas of the landing page.  Links at the top direct you to the company’s blog, information about the company itself and its products, and a store locator for where you will be able to purchase Bolthouse Farms’ products.  As you will quickly notice on the home page, Bolthouse Farms has committed itself to social media, as under the rotating images are updates across their Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages.

Let’s dive into each one of these pages …

Facebook:

With over 450,000 Likes, the Bolthouse Farms Facebook page is the company’s leading social media page in terms of total audience.  Once a day, the owner of the Facebook page drops in an update for their followers.  With each update you will typically see somewhere between 100-250 “Likes” and at least a handful of comments.

The latter really caught my eye as Bolthouse Farms is responsive to the comments that are put on their page.  Rather than deleting negative comments/feedback, the page owners address the customers’ concerns and personalizes the message.  Below you will see the team address a false concern about their products.  Not only does it clear the air, you can see that others on the page now know the truth about Bolthouse Farms’ products and state they are willing to buy their products once again.

Address customer concerns openly on your Facebook page, just like this example from Bolthouse Farms

Address customer concerns openly on your Facebook page, just like this example from Bolthouse Farms

Every post has a colorful image to go with it, but you will also find the occasional, short video as well.  These short videos help change things up on the page and, to me at least, help build that engagement between the brand and its customers/followers.

The final item that caught my attention was Bolthouse Farms’ events that they carry over on Twitter.  The company sets up Facebook Events to invite people over to their “Twitter Party” and promotes the hashtags to use for each.

Facebook Events are a good way to draw people over to your Twitter Party

Facebook Events are a good way to draw people over to your Twitter Party

Twitter:

Again, the first thing you notice on the Bolthouse Farms’ Twitter landing page is the vibrant colors and banner image at the top of the page.  What I really like about their efforts on Twitter are the RT’s they send out to their entire audience.  If a customer mentions Bolthouse in their own feed, the owner of the Twitter page is likely to RT that message.  These efforts bring a little extra engagement with the audience.

Aside from the RT’s, you will typically see one tweet per day from the Bolthouse Farms account itself.  Occasionally you will find a Twitter chat with others on a pertinent/relevant topic like the one here from 12/17 that brings in the #holidayveggies hashtag (or similar):

Bolthouse Farms' Twitter Chats like with the #HolidayVeggies hashtag also help engage with their audience

Bolthouse Farms’ Twitter Chats like with the #HolidayVeggies hashtag also help engage with their audience

Bolthouse Farms has over 13.6K followers on Twitter (at the time of this writing), which is significantly less than their Facebook audience.  I’m actually a little surprised at the gap between the two given that efforts are consistent between the two platforms.  You will find ~10 Favorites and/or RT’s for each message the page sends out to its audience.  Something feels off on the “ROI” on their Twitter efforts but I can’t put my finger on it.

Instagram:

In fact, Bolthouse Farms sees a larger audience on their Instagram page (16.3K followers) vs. Twitter and engagement levels are much stronger.  With the visual appeal that the brand brings to the table across social media, maybe it isn’t too surprising to see the stronger level of engagement on the more visually-driven Instagram.

The fan base’s level of engagement on Instagram is solid as well – as you will typically see ~200 Instagram “Likes” on their daily update on the site, along with at least a handful of comments per update.

Bolthouse Farms' Instagram page continues to build strong engagement with its followers

Bolthouse Farms’ Instagram page continues to build strong engagement with its followers

Instagram is (or at least feels like) a perfect compliment for Bolthouse Farms’ SM strategy given how eye-catching the majority of their updates are.

Vine:

Vine took social media by storm when it was officially launched at the beginning of 2013 under the Twitter umbrella and one of the brands winning on Vine was most certainly Bolthouse Farms.  However, the site’s momentum has slowed down over the course of 2014 and the company is no exception, as this is the last Vine that Bolthouse Farms has posted … back on 1/15/14

I certainly don’t blame the company for shifting its social media focus away from Vine.  However, it was doing a great job on the site.  As mentioned at the beginning, Vine was actually the platform that put my attention on Bolthouse.  It was a nice point of difference for the brand but there is likely data that suggested it wasn’t worth the efforts it was making (at least that is my hypothesis).

Overall Summary:

If there is one point of difference for Bolthouse Farms vs. other food/grocery brands that come to mind, it is certainly the visual appeal.  Its efforts across platforms leverage this across banner images on their profile pages and daily updates to their respective audiences.  Instagram is a perfect platform for the company to work with and the efforts seem to show.

Where do you think Bolthouse Farms is strong across social media?  Where do you see room for improvement?

Let us know in the Comments section below.

Happy 2015 everyone!

Sunday Musings w/ Shore Branding – 12-7-14

Branding and Digital Marketing

Branding and Digital Marketing

Welcome to the latest edition of #SundayMusings!  This week we are going back to Black Friday to take a look at some of the brands that made news for “that day” after Thanksgiving.  Here are the stories that caught my attention:

#1 – “Thanksgiving Sets Historic Milestone as Mobile Drives More Than Half of All Shopping Traffic, Reports IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark” – via IBM.com

Premise: IBM’s Digital Analytics Benchmark found that more shopping was done via mobile on Thanksgiving and Black Friday than in any year past.  In addition, mobile outpaced PC’s for the first time and hit 52.1% of all online traffic.  On Saturday, IBM released a number of interesting statistics and breakdowns in the article.

Thoughts: A few tidbits from the final results caught my attention:

  1. While phones drove traffic, tablets drove sales – more people were purchasing on a tablet device this year.
  2. Thanksgiving sales continue to be more prevalent and are eating into Black Friday sales.  If you have been reading our articles over the past month or so, you know how I feel about this.  (Stay home on Thanksgiving also means talking to your friends and family, not staring at the computer.  SaveThanksgiving.net)
  3. Apple outpaced Android across three different metrics in Black Friday sales.  Here is a second article from Fortune focusing a little bit more on these numbers.

#2 – “Macy’s Black Friday Marketing Now Includes Facebook Video Ads” via AdWeek.com

Premise: On Thanksgiving evening, Macy’s started running video ads on Facebook to add to its marketing mix over the holiday.  This is an added effort to keep the retailer in mind after the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade ended (live and the replay).

Thoughts: Macy’s has one of the strongest branded events across the calendar year with its Thanksgiving Parade.  As Facebook users update their status and say “Happy Thanksgiving” the ad is more than likely going to be yet another reminder to do their holiday shopping at Macy’s.

What also caught my attention was the very last blurb in the article – Facebook says that over 100 million videos are uploaded to the site each month.  Astonishing numbers as online video continues to grow.

#3 – “Black Friday or Bust: Making Your Brand Stand Out” via Business2Community.com

Premise: The ‘event’ known as Black Friday has turned into a week long event.  With the continued rise of online and mobile shopping, consumers are spending more money shopping on Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and what has become Cyber Monday.  Instead of focusing on an “earlier is better” approach, the author provides several tips for brands to consider in order to stand out from the crowd, including email and content marketing planning.

Thoughts: Honestly, simply looking at pictures of people stampeding into stores is starting to make me feel sick to stomach.  It is far too common.  That said, there are a few good tips to keep in mind here and I like the overall idea of moving away from the “earlier is better” approach.  Brands (and retailers) don’t have to be open on Thanksgiving Day if they knew how to better deliver their point of difference or unique selling proposition to consumers.  “We have the best XYZ, but you are going to have to wait until 10am on Black Friday when our doors open.”  How inhumane is that?  (Note: the sarcasm is dripping off this edition of #SundayMusings)

#4 – “One-third of Black Friday Online Revenue Was Mobile” via Finance.Yahoo.com

Premise: The company Branding Brand released its MCI results for Black Friday and reported significant increases in mobile shopping.  There are 35 retailers included in the numbers and the number of visits, purchases, and revenue are all up significantly vs. 2013.  There is an accompanying infographic that illustrates the results within the link above.

Thoughts: The results from this research and platform are another data point suggesting the continued growth of mobile devices and usage.  Updated information from the entire holiday weekend can be found on Branding Brand’s blog which also includes an update on Cyber Monday data/results.

Tweet of the Week:

What exactly is the point of Black Friday and/or Cyber Monday if the sales from either or are going to be continued throughout the entire week?  The marketing behind these days seems to have grown so much that the point of either day is completely lost.  Please refer to #3 above if you are running a brand or retailer and enjoy a day off here or there over the course of the holiday weekend.  I’m relatively positive this is only going to get worse next year.

Those are our #SundayMusings for the week.  What Black Friday / Cyber Monday stories (or viral videos) caught your attention?  Have a great week!

Eight Tips When Leveraging LinkedIn Company Pages

LinkedIn Company Pages

As we close #LinkedInMonth (plus) here on Shore Branding, it is time to look at several LinkedIn Tips for building your company page on the network.  We previously looked at improving your own, personal page on LinkedIn but now it is time to focus on business pages.  Several tips are similar in concept, but LinkedIn has rolled out new features that only business pages can take advantage of.

Here are eight tips to improving your business/company page on LinkedIn.

#1 – Maximize the information you put on your profile & consider some of LinkedIn’s special offerings

Provide all of the pertinent information in your company description – who you are and what you do, your company history, corporate portfolio, and a link to your web site.  List your specialties to help with appearing in search within LinkedIn and provide any type of unique selling point (USP) that you would typically promote anywhere else.

Are you looking to hire?  Post your job opening(s) directly on your LinkedIn page and track who and how many people are responding to each posting.

LinkedIn used to have “Products” and “Services” tabs as well but they have since removed this information from company pages.  However, they now provide a “Showcase page” where you can focus your message and target others with your core capabilities.  Take your USP’s and build pages for them, providing enough depth and breadth for others to notice.

LinkedIn Showcase Page

#2 – Publish regularly scheduled content on LinkedIn

Whether or not your company has a blog page, leverage your LinkedIn network to promote your work, white papers, PR, etc.  Update your status on some type of regular basis … whether you commit yourself to a daily, weekly, or monthly update/post, stay true to form over time.  Publishing your material to LinkedIn allows you another avenue to promote your expertise.

Beyond this, make sure you have some type of consistent branding on your posts.  It can be as simple as your brand logo at the top of each page/slide or you can leverage an appropriate color scheme, hashtag, etc.  Add some consistency for your audience.

#3 – Target your status updates 

Have a fragmented audience or do you offer up a number of services?  LinkedIn now allows you to target your status updates by company size, industries, job functions and more.  This obviously says a lot about the data available on the LinkedIn servers and your ability to target down to the right audience.

Targeting your audience on LinkedIn has never been easier!

Targeting your audience on LinkedIn has never been easier!

#4 – Start a LinkedIn group and participate in others 

Vastly similar to what is recommended for personal branding on LinkedIn, this is yet another area and opportunity to promote your core competencies and expertise.  Groups are an invaluable resource for many LinkedIn users and you can find/connect with like minds, while also seeing what your competitors might be suggesting in your space.

Starting a group is another aspect for consideration, allowing you to regularly moderate the group, initiate and steer discussions, etc.

#5 – Leverage SlideShare

Have sales sheets, infographics, training materials, business goals, and more?  Drop any shareable information into SlideShare and upload the information to your profile – whether it be part of your regularly scheduled updates or within your company description, SlideShare adds a level of visual appeal and helps break up the text on your business profile.

#6 – Stay up to date on the latest LinkedIn innovations

As mentioned above, LinkedIn is continually tweaking their offering on both personal and business pages.  As these options are deployed, figured out what makes the most sense for your business page and what you are most comfortable with.

For the latest and greatest news, bookmark this page on LinkedIn.  As you will see in that link, occasionally there isn’t an update to company pages for weeks and months.  However, looking at April and May 2014, there are also times where LinkedIn is continually updating their features.

#7 – Use LinkedIn’s analytics tools

LinkedIn continues to update and improve its analytics offering.  This will allow you to help track your audience on a daily/weekly basis and to begin to understand how your efforts on the platform are paying off (or aren’t).  You’ll understand both reach and engagement on each of your updates and in total.  One of the more powerful pieces of the analytics tool is the ability to understand the success rates of LinkedIn’s advertising platform – sponsored links/updates, advertising your company page itself, etc.

Know your audience better with LinkedIn Analytics

Know your audience better with LinkedIn Analytics

Speaking of …

#8 – Consider leveraging LinkedIn’s advertising platform 

LinkedIn’s advertising platform is easy to understand and incredibly easy to use.  Pick the type of ad that you want to use – text/image, video – and where you want it to appear on the network.  Then, start targeting your message appropriately.  Finally, set your budget.  You can set per day limits and pay by the number of clicks you receive or on the number of impressions out there.

A bevy of options with LinkedIn Advertising

A bevy of options with LinkedIn Advertising

There you have it – eight tips to improving your company’s LinkedIn page and to help with your branding and digital marketing efforts on the platform.

If you have any other tips for running a company page on LinkedIn, let us know in the comments below.  If something has (or has not) worked really well for your business, let us know as well.  Thanks!

Sunday Musings w/ Shore Branding – 9-28-14

Sunday Musings w/ Shore Branding focusing on LinkedIn (Photo credit: PowerFormula.net)

Sunday Musings w/ Shore Branding focusing on LinkedIn (Photo credit: PowerFormula.net)

Our last #SundayMusings that focuses on LinkedIn as we close out “LinkedInMonth” – which turned into two months given the amount of content.  We have focused our #SundayMusings efforts on the professional network over the past few weeks and have our last two “Pin of the Month” entries on the platform as well.  Next week will wrap up our efforts with a new “Tips” article focusing on business/company page recommendations, which follows our personal branding Tips for the network.

Here are the stories that caught our attention over the past few weeks:

#1 – LinkedIn takes steps toward an ad network – via DigiDay.com

Premise: LinkedIn’s recent acquisition of Bizo will help the network vastly improve its business-to-business marketing and will serve as another source of revenue for the platform.  While LinkedIn will not call Bizo a pure ‘ad network’ play, the site will soon be able to sell B2B ads that are more targeted on-site, but also off-site.  The July acquisition takes LinkedIn another giant step forward from past efforts in building ad revenue with more powerful targeting.

Thoughts: LinkedIn’s CEO Jeffrey Weiner seems to continue pushing all the right buttons in moving the platform to the next level.  With a need to now answer to shareholders, the acquisition of Bizo represents another huge opportunity for revenue growth.  Targeted marketing continues to become more and more prevalent, while at the same time, becoming stronger and more efficient thanks to companies like Bizo.

#2 – “33 Tweet-Size LinkedIn Tips You Need to Try” via themuse.com 

Premise: An infographic from Ethos3 provides 33 tips for consideration when looking for improvements to your LinkedIn profile.  Each tip is a quote from someone else’s thoughts and gives credit to said person or company.

Thoughts: There are a lot of good ideas within the infographic.  However, I do want to point out one that doesn’t jive with others here.  I do not agree with #6 – although I am guilty of doing this myself in the past – in the recommendation “Skip the “How do you know this person” step.  Click “Connect” from search results, instead of profiles. @SylvanLane”.  Why do I disagree with this?  Simply scroll down to #19 – “Don’t use automated invitation messages … @dailymuse”.  There isn’t a way to do both and I would strongly recommend personalizing each invitation that you send out.

#3 – 5 Reasons Sales Professionals Should Publish on LinkedIn via Jeff L. Herrmann on LinkedIn.com 

Premise: The author provides more rationale to use LinkedIn as a publishing platform vs. just using it for your job search.  The five reasons are straightforward, including the ability to position yourself as an expert in your sector and building trust with others.

Thoughts: The one ‘reason’ that caught my attention and got me thinking was Jeff’s last point: “Comments, likes, and views on your published content are a much better endorsement than the skills boxes.”  I thought about this a little bit and it’s an interesting POV.  Specifically to sales professionals, which this article is focused on, this makes a lot of sense.  To the general job seeker, etc. you are going to need those skills listed out on your profile and endorsements from your network.

#4 – “LinkedIn Sales Navigator Goes Mobile and Adds Redesigned Salesforce Features” via Sales.LinkedIn.com 

Premise: LinkedIn launched Sales Navigator earlier this year and have already announced an upgrade with the release of its iOS mobile app.  Following general behaviors in the marketplace, the shift to mobile continues and LinkedIn continues to invest in the platform.  The new LinkedIn Sales Navigator app provides several key benefits: Real-time updates, TeamLink, and Saved accounts and leads.  The app also works directly with Salesforce and includes new features there as well.

Thoughts: A couple of items caught my attention beyond the announcement itself.  First, it drives me crazy when companies release an iOS version of something only.  I completely understand why they do it, but it still drives me a bit batty.  Second, it didn’t go unnoticed that LinkedIn’s own posts continue to drop in Slideshare presentations.

Tweet of the Week:

What I really like about Pam’s podcasts is that she provides an in-depth summary and corresponding write-up with them.  This allows you to read up on what is covered in the podcast and decide whether or not you want to listen, skip around, etc.  The highlights towards the end of article is a quick list of benefits of leveraging LinkedIn.  If you have been following “LinkedIn Month” here on Shore Branding, you know we’re aligned with a lot of these areas.

OK, so this is a little dated at this point, but I wanted to bring the focus to company pages on LinkedIn as this will be the focus of next weekend’s “Tips” write-up.  I couldn’t find an updated Slideshare for 2014 (yet?) but many of the strengths highlighted in the above presentation still exist.  I really like what Dell has done visually on their company page.  Their image has since been updated, with the new Dell page promoting a “#DoMore” campaign.

That wraps up our LinkedIn-geared #SundayMusings for another week!  What caught your attention on the network?  Have a great week!

Sunday Musings w/ Shore Branding – 9-14-14

Sunday Musings w/ Shore Branding focusing on LinkedIn (Photo credit: PowerFormula.net)

Sunday Musings w/ Shore Branding focusing on LinkedIn (Photo credit: PowerFormula.net)

We continue with our “#LinkedInMonth” today with our second #SundayMusings that focuses on the business social network.  Similar to two weeks ago, here are the top stories of the past few weeks regarding LinkedIn.  Again, if you have an article or recommendations for stories to cover on LinkedIn, let me know and we’ll share in the future.

#1 – How Millennials Can Use LinkedIn – via VirtualSocialMedia.com

Premise: Millennials know all about social media and how to use it, but the one site they should be paying attention to is LinkedIn.  The author offers up several tips on completing a profile and what not to include.  LinkedIn is a powerful tool/resource that can help millennials land their first job.        

Thoughts: This past weekend we covered off on several tips in improving your personal brand on LinkedIn.  Many of said thoughts are highly applicable to millennials entering the work force.  However, you must realize that the network is used by professionals and is much, much different than updating your Twitter and Facebook profiles.      

#2 – “Does your LinkedIn profile lack curb appeal?  Add images and links!” via thesocialmediahat.com 

Premise: If your LinkedIn profile looks like your resume from a Word document, you aren’t leveraging the platform correctly.  The latest updates from LinkedIn allow anyone to make their profile shine.  LinkedIn now allows you to personalize the order of your profile from top to bottom. 

Thoughts: Anyone looking to use LinkedIn for their job search must stay on top of all of the latest and greatest from LinkedIn, as they are continuously updating what is possible for your profile.  There is a great slideshare within the link above as well, providing several tips and examples on how to optimize your profile.    

#3 – The 3 Biggest Mistakes People Make on Twitter and LinkedIn (And How to Fix Them) via blog.hubspot.com 

Premise: The author provides three mistakes that are commonly seen being made on Twitter and LinkedIn and recommendations on how to fix them.  Link baiting and blasting LinkedIn Groups with your thoughts and feedback is one common mistake; instead, join in other conversations and spread your knowledge.  The second LinkedIn mistake commonly made is sending the generic message in invitations to new connections.  Personalizing said message goes a long way to distinguishing yourself vs. others.     

Thoughts: Both LinkedIn-specific recommendations are hard to argue against.  Nothing drives me crazier than the link baiting that goes on under comments and updates in Groups.  People that simply add a “Hi” or “Thanks” and a link to their site underneath a popular status update is a great way to annoy your audience and get blocked. 

I also believe in customizing the text in your connection invitation.  Personalize your message to something that is more relevant for each individual person.  The 90 seconds it takes to do this will go a long way.  

#4 – “8 Brilliant Ways To Get Your LinkedIn Account Restricted/Suspended” via exploreB2B.com 

Premise: LinkedIn is one of the greatest ways for businesses to build their leads and contacts.  In a somewhat sarcastic way, the writer puts together eight ways to ruin your business’ reputation on the network.  Building off of #3 above at the personal level, using your business page to spam your audience is a great way to draw negative attention to yourself.    

Thoughts: The eight examples provided by the writer are all “fun” ways to annoy an audience.  Sadly, you likely see examples of each every time you check into the network.  Tip number 3 – “Clone yourself” – is one of the most confusing elements I have seen on LinkedIn and it simply drives me crazy when I do.  Which of these are your “favorite”?    

#5 – “The One New LinkedIn Feature That Will Make Your Profile Stand Out” via William Arruda on LinkedIn.com 

Premise: LinkedIn rolled out a new feature for Premium members in recent months – the ability to add a background image to your profile.  This feature will eventually become available to all users and is a great way to distinguish yourself from others with an eye catching visual.  If you want to build/improve your personal brand on the network, this is certainly one of the best features to do so.    

Thoughts: The author provides the appropriate specs (1400*425 pixels) for your background image and several other recommendations to improve your branding efforts on your profile.  For my background I actually went ahead and created a word cloud based on my work experience and expertise areas.  Think about what works for you and get started with a new background image on your profile – it truly does/will set you apart right now on the network.    

Tweet of the Week:

Author Barry Moltz has a new book called “How to Get Unstuck: 25 Ways to Get Your Business Growing Again” and LinkedIn Influencer Dave Kerpen – CEO of Likeable Media – spoke with Moltz on his ideation of how to get your business growing again, avoiding drop-offs and plateaus. 

First, these are very solid ideas for growing your business.  Second, Kerpen is a ‘must follow’ on LinkedIn if you aren’t already.  

That’s it for this week’s musings.  If you have or see a write-up on LinkedIn and you think it be helpful for others, send it my way and I’ll include it in the next #SundayMusings!

Six Tips When Leveraging LinkedIn for Your Personal Brand

LinkedIn Tips for Your Brand

LinkedIn Tips for Your Brand

Founded in 2002 and launched in 2003, the social network for business professionals has done nothing but continue to grow exponentially over the past decade-plus.  In 2011 the company went public, taking the network into another stratosphere in popularity.  Given the uniqueness of LinkedIn, we’re going to break up our Tips into two groups – one for your personal brand and one for your business.  This week’s edition focuses on the former.

Here are six (loaded) tips to improving your personal brand on LinkedIn.

#1 – Creatively fill in your profile

First and foremost, upload a clear, professional image of yourself.  I don’t think anything else really needs to be said here beyond the following …

14 times more likely to be viewed!  Yes, please add an image to your LinkedIn

14 times more likely to be viewed! Yes, please add an image to your LinkedIn

There are several other items that you want to take care of as well:

  • Customize your URL to your name or something unique
  • Within the summary at the top of your profile, after a paragraph or two of detail, list out “Specialties” or “Core Focus” items that quickly summarize what you bring to the table
  • For each position/job you have held, provide detail and perspective of what your role entailed
  • Include your contact information (phone and email at least) within the “Additional Info” section of the profile

#2 – Leverage “Endorsements” 

On your own profile, add key words and tags that describe your experience and expertise.  This will allow other connections to endorse you for said skills.

Struggling to earn/receive endorsements from others?  An easy way to improve these numbers is to start endorsing others.  A good percentage of your connections will reciprocate.

#3 – Join and Participate in Groups 

LinkedIn has the second strongest Group/Community feature available across social media networks in my opinion – trailing only Google+.  Join Groups that are relevant to your expertise and more importantly, engage within these communities to build your presence and increase your network.

A second element to Groups that many people choose not to do is to show these communities that you have joined on your profile.  The more information and detail you can provide about yourself and your background, the better.

#4 – Join LinkedIn Premium

LinkedIn Premium is a revenue source for the company but is well worth it.  If you are looking for a new job, Premium is essential.  There are a number of benefits to signing up for LinkedIn Premium, including:

  • InMail messaging – allowing you to send contact emails to LinkedIn members that you are not connected to
  • Analytics – See how your profile compares to others, who is viewing your page, etc.
  • Premium accounts are currently the only profiles able to create a banner image on your profile.  Be creative and visual with your banner image, drawing that much more attention to your page.
LinkedIn Premium Benefits

LinkedIn Premium Benefits

 #5 – Link and Incorporate SlideShare

In 2012 LinkedIn acquired SlideShare.net and now allows members to easily incorporate SlideShare presentations into your profile and company pages.  Have a sales pitch or visual component that you want to show off?  Upload said material to SlideShare and drop it right into your LinkedIn Profile.

#6 – Publish Content on LinkedIn

While it used to be only available to “celebrities” and those with thousands of followers, LinkedIn has opened up its publishing platform to all users several months ago.  Publishing posts directly on LinkedIn opens up another avenue for you to share your material.  It also allows your material to become part of your portfolio and online resume.  These posts can further prove/improve your expertise in a particular area.  Another benefit … SEO … take a look at the video below!

Those are six tips for improving your personal brand via LinkedIn.  Have you updated your LinkedIn profile recently?  Keep these tips in mind and keep up with the latest and greatest being rolled out by the network to ensure you have the latest features on your profile.

What has your LinkedIn experience been like?  What has worked for you?

Sunday Musings w/ Shore Branding – 8-31-14

Sunday Musings w/ Shore Branding focusing on LinkedIn (Photo credit: PowerFormula.net)

Sunday Musings w/ Shore Branding focusing on LinkedIn (Photo credit: PowerFormula.net)

Today is our first of two #SundayMusings that will focus squarely on LinkedIn as we continue our unofficial “LinkedIn month” here on Shore Branding. As we started in last weekend’s “Pin of the Month”, each of the next few weeks’ worth of blog entries will focus on LinkedIn, including forthcoming “Tips” articles for individuals and businesses. If you have an article or recommendations on LinkedIn, send it our way over the next few weeks, as the next #SundayMusings in two weeks will also focus on the professional networking site.

For now, here are the stories that caught my attention over the past few weeks:

#1 – The 5 Most Important LinkedIn Features You Aren’t Using Correctly – via Forbes.com 

Premise: As LinkedIn continues to evolve, new features and benefits are made available. However, users fail to keep up with these updates to optimize their LinkedIn profiles. The author offers up five features that are commonly being misused, or not used at all. Each tip is followed up with a recommendation or prime example on how to make the most of your profile/account.

Thoughts: As mentioned in several other #SundayMusings, LinkedIn offers up the second strongest Groups / Communities feature on social media, second to only Google+. At the very least, you should be joining these LinkedIn Groups to find relevant/pertinent information that relates directly to your field of work.

The second of the author’s five tips that I wanted to call out is the use of multi-media. When LinkedIn started, you couldn’t do a lot with multi-media … OK, you couldn’t do anything in this realm. However, now you have the ability to link to web sites, videos, SlideShare presentations, etc. Take advantage of these opportunities on your profile.

#2 – “10 LinkedIn tips Every Business Can Benefit From” via impactbnd.com 

Premise: Businesses often create their LinkedIn page … and then walk away from it and let it exist on its own. The author puts together a list of tips and thoughts on how to better use the platform from a business page perspective. Each tip is followed by a relevant quote from various sources and publications.

Thoughts: I have purposefully focused the first two articles here on personal and business-related tips, as this is how we will be breaking down our own Tips articles in the coming weeks.

The first two tips here – “connect with a purpose” and “employ consistent branding” should be the backbone to your efforts on LinkedIn. The one tip here to be careful/cautious on, “involve your employees”. We have seen this bite company pages in the collective … too often. It is incredibly easy to add and remove access to your business page, but it is easier to set guidelines with employees that you have the utmost trust in ahead of time to ensure there are no fires that need to be put out because of someone saying/publishing something dumb or controversial on behalf of your company name.

#3 – 10 Reasons Why You Should Publish Content on LinkedIn via TopDogSocialMedia.com  

Premise: For some time, only LinkedIn Influencers were able to publish their content on the network. However, that has changed and anyone with a profile can use the platform to publish their work, which in turn creates a number of benefits and value for users. The author has created a list of reasons to consider publishing your content on LinkedIn.

Thoughts: This is a fantastic, in-depth look at a specific part of LinkedIn that you or your business can focus on. The third (“LinkedIn might promote you”) and fourth (“Reach your 2nd and 3rd level connection”) really stood out to me as the added benefit and value of using LinkedIn.

Are you using the publishing platform? If so, what is your opinion of it?

#4 – “LinkedIn vs. Facebook for Professionals: A Social Media Smackdown” via Inc.com 

Premise: While Facebook may have approximately three times as many users vs. LinkedIn (900 million vs. 300 million respectively), the latter is clearly the better network for business professionals. The author provides a rundown of why and how LinkedIn is superior to Facebook when thinking about attracting right audience, in this case, business professionals.

Thoughts: I personally liked the head to head comparisons on each of the points. I also give credit to the author for giving a tie to LinkedIn and Facebook on the company pages aspect and not just giving LinkedIn the advantage because that was the overall tone/point of the article.

#5 – “Top Content Marketers Call On LinkedIn” via SocialMediaFrontiers.com  

Premise: The push towards content and current news stories (LinkedIn Today) have become more prevalent on the network in recent months. The UK based company Collective Content has been monitoring these changes and provides perspective on how important LinkedIn is becoming to businesses.

Between LinkedIn Today and the page’s Influencer program, the potential for the platform continues to grow. Collective Content believes that LinkedIn can be a publishing powerhouse and prime news source for its members.

Thoughts: Again, we find more information and detail on how LinkedIn can be leveraged as a prime source for news and relevant content. It is quite amazing how LinkedIn has moved away from being simply an online resume to a content curator and relevant source of information across businesses and markets.

Tweet of the Week:

We couldn’t get through this #SundayMusings without a mention of SlideShare. The LinkedIn-owned site is now free to use for everyone. Beginning in September, they will be rolling out “Pro” features to everyone at a one per month rate for new users, while Pro members/subscribers will no longer be charged beginning next month.

With that in mind, below you will find one of the best SlideShare presentations I’ve seen on the basics of LinkedIn. I thought it was important to start with the basics in our first #SundayMusings dedicated to the platform. While a couple of these slides are no longer relevant due to the changes made on the network, this provides a strong grounding of what to expect when you first sign up on the site and where you can find the most relevant information.

 

Again, if you have or see a write-up on LinkedIn and you think it be helpful for others, send it my way and I’ll include it in the next #SundayMusings! Have a great week!