Archive for How To

Why and How to Clean Your LinkedIn Connections

If you’re like most early adopters of LinkedIn, you may have utilized the platform for your job search, recruiting or connecting with old coworkers. Over the years, the platform has changed quite a bit, evolving into a robust professional networking and social selling machine. You may find yourself connected to people that no longer serve you and your objectives. Examples include:

  • People you’ve worked with in the past that aren’t relevant to your current situation
  • Other people in the same industry that could be viewed as your competitors
  • Recruiters for an industry which you are no longer a part of
  • Colleagues, suppliers, partners or competitors from an industry that you are no longer a part of

Whatever the case is for you, in order for LinkedIn to be a valuable networking and selling tool for you, you’ll want your first level connections to be high quality and relevant to your objectives.

Here’s how to evaluate a connection to see if you should remain connected at the first level. Ask yourself:

  • Can I be of service to this individual from a professional networking standpoint which will benefit both parties?
  • Can he/she be of service to ME from a professional networking standpoint?
  • Do I compete with this person for business?
  • Does this person want to sell me something that I’m not interested in?
  • Do I want this person to see what I’m doing to market myself or my business on LinkedIn?
  • Can I learn from this connection and if so, what?
  • Can they introduce me to someone of value to my network and business?
  • Is there a personal reason why I want to stay connected to this person?

Answers to these questions will be the determining factor for your decision to remain connected or not. I suggest removing connections that are not serving your higher purpose. This is NOT personal. You can always connect with them on any of other social networks, such as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Always keep in mind that LinkedIn is for business networking, not socially hanging out.

Once you’ve cleaned your LinkedIn connection list, you can now build it with the type of network that WILL serve your higher purpose and help you grow your business.

To learn how to remove unwanted connections, watch this two minute video I made for you, and be sure to check out our LinkedIn Lead Generation services to help you generate more business! (link to LinkedIn services)

How to Choose the Right Social Media Platform

These days, there are many avenues for you to share your message with the world. So many, in fact, it can be overwhelming when you’re first starting out or when you are too busy to manage many platforms. If you have to pick only one social media platform, below is a general guideline for choosing the right one for your messages.

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Which Social Media Platform is Right for Your Business?

  • LinkedIn – Our number one choice for nearly ALL businesses. This is a professional network where people come expecting to talk business. Whether you are in B2B or B2C, LinkedIn is a MUST. Here you will find professional groups for every interest, business topic and industry. You start with a professional business profile, then you can create a company page where you showcase your products/services. People can connect with you directly or they can follow your company. There is less fluff on LinkedIn and the members expect to make introductions and network.
  • Facebook – number one for business to consumer (B2C). If you have retail products, personal development, consumer services or information, this is a great platform for you! This platform is third choice for us for B2B because it is highly consumer based. Don’t get me wrong – you should still have a presence on Facebook if you are a business to business company, but more for a branding perspective than for client acquisition.
  • Twitter – Twitter is also good for both B2B and B2C, but there is a science to using it. If you think you can just tweet once in a while, you are not maximizing the beauty of Twitter. Everything moves very quickly on Twitter, particularly if you follow a lot of people that follow a lot of people. Your message needs to be sent many times per day to have the widest reach. However, if you do it right, you will be amazed at the engagement (and new customers!) that you get.
  • YouTube – Who doesn’t like a quick, entertaining and informational video? 52% of marketers worldwide say that video produces the highest ROI for both B2B and B2C (syndcast). You don’t have to have a big budget to produce videos these days. Really, all you need is a smartphone and some creativity. If this overwhelms you, we recommend producing one video per month and sharing it on your other social media platforms just to get started. Keep in mind that when you have a YouTube video embedded in your website, Google looks more favorably on your site when it comes to search results.
  • Google+ – If you’re trying to reach a male audience, Google+ could be a good platform for you. 74% of the users are male and age 18-29 (SproutSocial). It’s great for information sharing and like YouTube, Google loves it when you post actively to Google+ (because it’s THEIR platform).
  • Pinterest – if you have visual products, Pinterest should be your first choice for social media (then link your Facebook and Twitter accounts to it!). Pinterest is particularly good for B2C markets and the demographic is still mainly women.

If you’re new to using social media for your business, we suggest picking one to start with. If you have the budget to pay someone to professionally manage it for you, then you can have a much more robust social media presence, which will, naturally, increase your results.

Don’t miss out on the great opportunity that social media offers your business. The potential reach far outweighs that of traditional marketing if you nurture and grow it over time.

Social Media Tip of the Week – Just START!

Does This Sound Like You?

Do you have a Facebook page for your business that is sitting idle and lonely…it’s measly few followers gathering dust by the day? Isn’t it time you gave it a little love?

Most business owners that I work with fall into one of these categories:

  1. They don’t understand Facebook or how to use it
  2. They don’t have time to curate tons of content
  3. They  have no clue what to post, so they just don’t

My advice to them is to either:

Hire someone (like us!) to do it for them or just…

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Why not start small and commit to posting ONCE per day? You don’t have to be a ninja Facebooker – just start with a single post each day. Tell us your favorite quote. Tell us something about your business. Share an image you took over the weekend. Share a link to a favorite website or tool you use. Offer a piece of advice relative to your industry.

My point is to just start and make yourself a promise that you will push yourself a little more each week. For additional tips, read this post “You Have Your Social Media Business Page Set up – Now What?”

I also want to let you know that we’ll be holding a series of training videos to help you. Be sure to sign up for our Social Media Tip Sheet and we will email you when the series is ready!

You Have Your Social Media Business Page Set Up – Now What?

Your Social Media Business Page – What You Need To Do Next

18cbceee092c863d9f5dac22 640 - You Have Your Social Media Business Page Set Up - Now What?I’m always surprised at how many people will set up, or pay someone to set up their social media business pages and then don’t do anything with them. In fact, Twitter reports that 44% of people with Twitter accounts have NEVER posted a Tweet! Why would one go to the trouble to set it up and then not use it?

Perhaps it’s because once the page is set up they are left to ask themselves… now what?

The fact is, it’s easy to set up a business page. The difficult part is creating an engaging, entertaining and educational page that will benefit your followers.

Here are some tips for getting started using your new social media business page.

Identify your target audience. Before you can come up with a content strategy for your business page, you need to know whom you are trying to reach. It’s similar to asking yourself who is your ideal client? Don’t just identify your usual client, shoot for the moon and identify your IDEAL client. Know the demographic of this client, such as average age, gender, marital status, income level, etc. Then you create content that would attract them and keep them interested.

Start posting! I’m not a big fan of businesses just sharing what other people write, but if that’s all you can do right now, go for it! The idea is to just get started posting relevant items on your page.

Visit your competitor’s pages. Look at what your competitors are doing. Do you like what they are doing or not? Consider this when designing your own content strategy. It’s perfectly fine to get ideas from them and put your own business twist on it.

Like other pages. When using a business page as your business, not your personal page, be sure to like pages that are synergistic with yours. For example, if you are a local business, “like” or follow your area chamber of commerce and city pages. “Like” or follow local communities, churches, schools – any community or business page where your ideal client is likely to hang out. If you’re a restaurant, “like” or follow food blog pages – get the idea?

Engage with other pages. Now that you’re following other pages, share their posts on your page. Comment or “like” their posts. This will get your business name in front of THEIR followers and possibly lead them to follow you too.

78bbf6578c90b01edcd483f7 640 - You Have Your Social Media Business Page Set Up - Now What?Create a campaign for a paid ad. When we created an advertisement on Facebook to “like” our page, we didn’t get very good results. But when we created a campaign that said “for social media tips of the day, like our page” we got over 1000 genuine likes in about 3 weeks. The daily spend was $5 per day – pretty darn cheap when you add it up! Create something worthwhile which will appeal to your ideal client and offer that in your paid ad campaign. (We’ll write more about paid advertising later!)

Be mindful of self promotion. Self promotion is expected on social media. However, you have to remember that your fans are not there to be sold to every day. An occasional news piece about your business, a new product or service or a special you are running are all fine to share. But you should primarily focus on content that your audience wants, not what you want from them. Make it fun. Make it interesting. Make it something THEY would share with their friends. That’s the beauty of social media!

Spend thirty minutes per day. You don’t have make this a major endeavor, but you should do something with your business pages every day. Share a tip, thought, event or product every day. Like someone’s post every day. And always reply to comments and likes on your own page every day. Frankly, the more active you are on your business pages, the more visibility you will receive.

If all of this seems too overwhelming, then consider either buying content or hiring someone to create content and manage your pages. The investment will be worth saving you the time and energy it requires to truly get the most out of your social media business pages.

 

Where to Get Images to Share on Your Social Media

 

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The Age of “The Visual” in Social Media

When it comes to social media, it is the age of The Visual. Whether it’s images or video, people respond better to a visual medium. For example, on Facebook posts with images get shared two times more than just text (HootSuite, 2013).

One thing to note is that despite the “sharing” nature of the Internet these days, you can’t just grab anyone’s photo and claim it as your own. Copyright rules still apply. So how do you get images for sharing on social media? Here are three ideas for you:dog in phone 3 257x280 - Where to Get Images to Share on Your Social Media

  1. Take and use your own photos. When you’re out and about, consider using your smart phone to snap a shot of an amazing sunset or street scene. You can post these as is or you can use it as a base beneath a quote you like. (Tools like www.fotor.com are great for this!). Just look at the types of images people are sharing – the sky’s the limit! If you have a visual business, take pictures of your products, location, customers or activities to share.
  2. Use public domain images. “Public domain” refers to images that are available without copyright infringement. Sites such as www.pixabay.com and www.everystockphoto.com are free to use to find such pictures.
  3. Stock graphic subscriptions. If you aren’t able to find high quality public domain images to represent your subject, you can buy subscriptions to stock image sites. Here photographers submit a wide variety of high quality images that you are allowed to use for your business (be sure to read the license agreement!) I personally like Graphic Stock and Big Stock Photo.

So get creative with images to increase your engagement on your social media sites. Be sure to “pin” them to your Pinterest boards and share them on Twitter as well.

 

How to Get a Vanity URL for Google+

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Ugh, Another Long Ugly URL to Remember? Maybe Not!

Did you know that Google+ allows you to set a vanity URL just like Facebook does?  A vanity URL allows you to name your business page, which makes it easier to find and also easier for you to share with your network. For example, prior to setting my vanity URL for my Social For Real Estate page, this was the URL:

https:/plus.google.com/113769313648741448026

Pretty ugly, right?

After a little tweaking, now the URL that I can refer people to is:

google.com/+wordflirtsocialmediadesign

I find this much easier to use in promotions, email, on my website and just in general. “Plus” it looks much more pleasing to the eye!

Want to know how to get your Google+ vanity URL?

Follow these steps:

– Log in to your personal Google+ account

– On the left side of the page, click on the drop down menu that is connected with the “Home” button and choose “pages”

– If your page has complete information (this is key) you will see this:

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– If you do not see that, you will need to make sure your profile is complete, including contact information, a web address, a description and preferably a logo.

– Click on the “Get URL” (or learn more if you want to learn more)

– You will then see:

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– Complete the requested information. Sometimes it asks you to “add a few characters” and sometimes not. When it does, it could be because there is already a similar page and they want you to have a unique URL. So add characters if it requires it, but make sure it relates to your brand. For example, I already have one Wordflirt page, so in this example it was asking for some additional characters. Design fits with what I do so that is what I chose. It looks like this:

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– Agree to the terms of service and save. At the next screen it gives you one more chance to change your mind. If you are happy with the new URL, click “confirm choice”.

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– After that, you will see:

screenshot G+ URL 5 300x178 - How to Get a Vanity URL for Google+– It’s confirmed and you may now use this URL to direct people to your page.  Hopefully, this makes it easier to manage and ultimately, helps you grow your circles.

Email me if you have any questions and be sure to follow Wordflirt:

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Your LinkedIn Homework Assignments

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Your LinkedIn Homework

A client of mine is struggling with her social media. We talked about which networks would be best for her to grow and I thought, based upon her industry that LinkedIn would be a good one with which to start. I told her that I would give her some homework to help her get started and thought that perhaps this is something that others could use as well. Therefore, I am making it a blog post.

If you are interested in growing YOUR LinkedIn Network, then here is your homework too.

  1. Gather all the business cards from other people that you’ve while networking at conferences, meetings and in general.
  2. Look them up on LinkedIn and if you’re not already connected, send them an invitation to connect. Be sure to remind them from where you met, if you can remember.
  3. Look up and join LinkedIn Groups where you can find people in your target market. For my client, she should look up women’s groups, inspirational and coaching groups, author groups and speaking groups.
  4. Go to the LinkedIn Group discussions and participate. You don’t have to start a discussion to participate. But you can “Like” and “Comment” on various discussions. This will get you noticed.
  5. If you see someone in particular that you feel is a good match and you like their discussions and comments, invite them to connect. TELL them you like their discussions and comments – it will ensure they won’t IDK (I Don’t Know) you.
  6. You can also introduce yourself in the group and ask others to connect with you for networking. An example could be “Hi I’m Claudia Loens. I’m a Writer, Social Media Consultant and WordPress designer. Let’s get connected! My email is Claudia@thewordflirt.com.” Post it as a new discussion.
  7. You can do an advanced search to determine which individuals you wish to have in your network. Use the search tool to search for people based upon a lot of different criteria, including location, title, level of connection or other things. Pick what is important to you and search on it.
  8. When the “People You May Know” list comes up, scroll through it and connect with people that look like a good connection for you. You’d be surprised at how many you will recognize.

If you do these things on a weekly basis, your network will grow quickly. And overall, that should help your business grow too!

How to Grow Your Network on LinkedIn With Groups

LinkedIn – Groups

No matter what your intentions are when you use LinkedIn, it can only help you when you grow your network of connections. I like to use LinkedIn Groups to enhance my network with people that have common interests and business goals. Here’s what I do:

Search for groups based on the topic that I wish to pursue. For example, when I wish to grow my network of contacts in Social Media Marketing, I search for groups of this nature.

Join the groups that look like a good fit. It doesn’t make sense for me to join a group that is for…say Airplane Mechanics, for example. I am not, nor do I know anything about Airplane Mechanics! So, I choose the groups that resonate with my world. For me those are LinkedIn Groups focused on writing, social media, recruiting, blogging, WordPress, etc.

Read and contribute to Discussions. This is where you begin to develop your network. I Like and Comment on the discussions that interest me. If you have expert advice to add, share it! Be sincere and do promote yourself.

Social media people with speech bubbles 300x205 - How to Grow Your Network on LinkedIn With GroupsMake connections. When I see someone that looks like a mutual fit, I send them an invitation to connect. You do not need their email to do this because you belong to the same group. I recommend personalizing your invitation and letting them know why you wish to connect. Your acceptance rate will be higher if you offer a friendly introduction.

Grow, baby, grow! I’ve been able to double my first level of LinkedIn connections fairly quickly with this method.

Regardless of what you hope to achieve with expanding your LinkedIn network, this method is a great way to grow it!

Please share your success or tips in using LinkedIn Groups here in the Comments section. We’re always looking for good ideas to share with our friends!

Six EASY Steps to Creating A Blog

Get Your Blog Up and Running with Six Easy Steps

Consider this:  companies that publish new blog posts just 1-2 times each month generate 70% more leads than companies that don’t blog at all (source: www.business2community.com).

If that doesn’t make you want to start blogging for your business, then you may as well not continue reading this BLOG post.

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But if it does interest you, then you may be wondering where you should start?  Here are six steps to help you get going.

1.    Determine Your Platform

There are ways to get a blog up and running with little or no cost.  How fancy you wish to make your blog is up to you.   There are free options, such as www.wordpress.com or www.blogger.com.  You can use a generic template and focus your efforts on the written material.

If you already have a website and someone to maintain it, then you could ask that person to add a blog feature.  Believe me, they will know what to do!

Or, if you are starting from scratch and want a full fledged website that includes a blog area, you may need to hire someone to create a WordPress site for you (ask us!).  Or you could learn how to do it yourself.

2. Create a Plan

While you are getting your blog set up, you should take some time to plan out your blogging topics and a schedule.

Before you begin, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. How often can you (or one of your team members) realistically write a blog article?
  2. Whom do you wish to reach?
  3. What do you wish to communicate?
  4. What does your target audience wish to know or hear about from you?

3. Create a List

Once you’ve answered these questions, brainstorm on article ideas. Brainstorm on as many ideas as you can during this phase.  You can always add or remove ideas as you go.

Break up your ideas into common topics.  For example, if you are an Insurance Agent, you could break the topics up the following ways:

  • Home Insurance
  • Auto Insurance
  • Health Insurance
  • Life Insurance
  • Disability Insurance
  • Long Term Care Insurance

Depending, of course, on which areas are your specialty.

A word of caution:  when you are writing your list of topics, steer away from those which are self-serving.  If you only write about your business and how awesome you are, your readers will not stay on your site long, nor will they be back.  Consider what your reader wants to know about, not what you want them to know about you.

4. Create a Schedule

Since you asked yourself how often you can realistically write, plot out the dates on the calendar and assign blog post topics to each entry.   If you’re worried about not getting around to it, also block out a couple of hours on your actual calendar that you will dedicate to writing your blog posts.  I find I am much more productive when I have a plan AND a schedule before I write one word!

5. Writing Blitz

It’s also helpful to block out a few hours each month to write 3 or 4 blog articles to publish during that month.  If you can write more, great!  But tackling several articles at one sitting checks it off the list until the next month.

Be sure to include your key words in your article titles so that you can rank higher in the search engines (SEO).  Also, by naturally using your key words throughout your blog post, you will rank higher.

6. Share it!

Now that you have a blog set up and you’ve begun writing, be sure to share it!  Even though you will get organic traffic to your blog post when people run a search on your key words, you still want to get it out to your audience.  Post a link on all of your social media sites.  Tweet about it and schedule additional tweets for the rest of the week.  If you belong to any groups on LinkedIn or Facebook, be sure to post a link to your article there as well.

Put sharing options on the actual blog so that others can share it too.  You can also set up an RSS feed whereby others can sign up to receive notification automatically whenever you write a new post.

Hopefully you can see that while maintaining a blog can be an effort, it is completely possible to break it down into 6 steps in order to get started.

Happy Blogging!

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