Is LinkedIn a Tool of Choice?






























































With all the raving about Facebook, Twitter, and Google+, the redheaded stepchild is often LinkedIn. Too few business folks know how to make good use of this powerful tool. Some have a profile because they have been told it is a good idea. Others, because they have heard it is a good job search tool. Yet, there are so many ways that LinkedIn can help you become a better marketer.

As the leading social media tool aimed at business executives, LinkedIn boasts 150 million users. As indicated in the infographic, most users subscribe only to the free version, with only about 8% who use the paid version with additional bells & whistles. Much has been written about the almost addictive level of engagement social networks enjoy; 12% of LinkedIn users spend 5-6 hours a week on the system, 26% are moderately engaged at 3-4 hours/week, and about 48% fall into the 0-2 hours category.

When people use a social media tool, one of the primary motivators is to connect and network. However, about 30% of subscribers have 100 connections or less. Another 30% have 300 or more; approximately 40% have between 100 and 300. While we could get into a point/counterpoint discussion for hours on the value of quality versus quantity of contacts, that conversation would seem to apply only to the choice of LinkedIn strategy between the two groups with the largest number of connections. The larger question looms as to why some, claiming that they have created a profile on LinkedIn in order to connect, have only made 100 connections or less.

Among favorite features, the Groups capability ranks highest, followed by the ability to search for people and the ability to be reminded of people we may know. Again, of those who join groups, fully 45% are members of 10 groups or less. It is important here to distinguish between members and participants. Most who are not “power users” of LinkedIn do not make the most of the Groups feature. By choosing not to read and respond to discussion board posts, the user decreases the value of the tool to themselves. When someone does use the search or people known features, they may not take the next step and ask for an introduction by someone who is able to help build the “triangle of trust” to the targeted contact.

The ways that LinkedIn has been most helpful to subscribers are numerous, but the top three are:

  1. Researching people and companies
  2. Reconnecting with past associates
  3. Networking to find prospects

If it is not your habit of using LinkedIn for these important business functions, you are missing out on a great opportunity. LinkedIn is a tool of choice for those who understand its value. For it to become powerful for you, learn it better and explore ways to make the features work for you.

Pick 7 Marketing Trends for 2012

Lists can be so helpful for us to get our minds around the critical messages for a given subject. In a deliberate play on words, I wanted to juxtapose a “Pick 7” lottery concept with a “7 Marketing Trends” informational piece. Collectively, we can agree that any “list” is one person’s opinion and that it really is a “luck of the draw” as to whether applying someone else’s  recommended best practices will make a difference in your given market. Yet…simply attacking the subject matter sharpens our minds, encourages us to support our strategies with sound arguments, and generally makes for better decision-making! So…the list:

  • Location, Location, Location: Check-ins match message with timing
  • People are People: Listen, observe & match individualized message to feedback
  • Not One Size Fits All: Designing for multiple devices
  • Customers for Life: Customer retention through engaging multiple times
  • Behavior Speaks: Connect individuals based on how they interact with you
  • “Mocial”: Email, mobile, local & social
  • Dynamic Email: Static content is passe’; modernize!

With help from the folks at Silverpop, we hope to help you understand what’s at stake in each of these trends so that you may consider the impact to your marketing strategy and implementation. Location: think Facebook, Twitter & Foursquare–it’s important to help your customers share your brand with their friends. By combining incentives for people to let others know they frequent your business with intention in making it easy for your story to be told via email or social networks, you are able to create a user experience that keeps them coming back.

People: King Arthur Flour found that, by simply including quotes from customers in its emails, it was able to increase open rates, orders, and sales by 30%. What are you doing to move away from a generic message to a highly tailored one with a human element that is more engaging?

Device-specific: Smartphones and tablets are overtaking the computer world. Design with this in mind. If someone’s finger has to do the “clicking,” then spread clickable items out from one another and create “buttons” that are easy to use. Think about what you do/don’t like about viewing a website on a smaller device; make changes accordingly.

Retention: We’ve always heard that the customers we already have are the best ones and that soliciting a new one takes a ton of effort. Whether you are emailing those who have abandoned their online shopping carts, or reaching out with special campaigns to those who don’t usually open your emails, it’s important to think about getting as high a return as possible on the relationships we already have.

Behavior: Create a marketing database to track who visits your website, blog, online store, etc, what they do while there, whether they share your brand, and so on. Use tools like CRM to help track and segment your targets into smaller groups to whom you can send very tailored messages. Observe the response to the custom communications and refine what you send out.

“Mocial”: is a phrase used at Silverpop to explain the inter-connectedness of media and communications. What the connectivity means for you as a marketer is that thought must be given to how messages flow across platforms, how brand leadership can be stimulated and captured, and how to get users to check you out in as many formats as you are active.

Dynamic email: That should be enough to say on this subject, but some of us are thick-skinned (and -headed!) Consider: Air New Zealand sends customized pre-flight emails to passengers with information about booked destinations, crew members who will be serving on the flight, and social media buttons to share cultural articles, photos, videos etc about the local weather, itinerary or other matters of interest.

Challenging to think about? You bet! Determine to become a stronger marketer in 2012.

Who Moved My Marketing?

If a traveling salesman from the early 20th century were to be transported in time into modern day, he would have to be astounded at how marketing messages are conveyed. No longer is the day’s work measured by how many individual presentations were made. No–the world has changed quite a bit and we now have access to prospects around the clock through the power of the internet. Printed materials have given away to digital versions, the materials themselves have become flexible tools that are dynamic rather than static, and the information is disseminated through a variety of methods including the ubiquitous social media.

The information in the described value chain is referred to as “content.” The field of content marketing is now the dominant topic in marketing conversations around the world. The infographic below has a lot of messages. Briefly, thought leadership is the goal and may be accomplished through a variety of means. Increased visibility, wider reach, and improved sales are the outcomes of a well-executed content strategy. Credibility is built and enhanced through well-written pieces online that are disseminated via popular applications such as LinkedIn and Twitter.

As you read through the information in the infographic, we suspect it challenges you to think about your own business promotional strategy in new ways. How do you generate content? Who is responsible for amassing it? Through what means do you share your content? Do you have strategies for niche markets? What is your budget (of financial and human capital) for all of this?

Whew! That’s a lot to consider. Think on it. Develop a plan. Get some help if you need to. But, it’s time to stop putting it off. Your company needs a content strategy–because it has become a primary marketing strategy!






































































Content With No Content

Does your professional services firm have a strategy to produce, distribute and repurpose content for multiple market segments? If it does, you are in the minority. Best practices are to create and disseminate content to enhance search engine rankings. Philosophically, billable professionals have insights to share and there are numerous venues for thought leadership to be established. The fact of the matter is, sadly, that the professionals simply are not easily engaged to sit down and generate the content.

The almighty billable hour, the internal metrics, and the likelihood that most would prefer to do the work than to write about it, are all reasons one may choose not to blog, write articles or white papers, or post updates ad tweets. Simply put, very few firms have much experience creating an environment that acknowledges and rewards contributions to thought leadership that do not produce an immediate return. Performance measurement and incentive compensation practices will need to be revised in order to encourage content production as a preferred behavior within the daily, weekly, etc schedule.

If, like other forms of outsourcing, the firm were to contract with a contractor to produce content on behalf of the billable professionals, it would most likely lack the technical acumen and personal passion necessary to be an intriguing, gripping read. However, contract content editors may be a very good idea. Either a staff person or outsider could help to determine themes, subjects, and nuances that would make the content more readable in layman terminology.

Revise & Refine


Become discontent with unsatisfactory content–both in terms of volume and quality. Find ways to change the corporate culture to celebrate the content revolution. Articulate the increased stature and visibility that authors enjoy. Recruit firm leaders to demonstrate their personal commitment to writing–even when it produces no immediate revenues. Finally, make writing an assignment. Section/niche leaders should have a scheduled slot for covering their “beats.” Those aspiring to become partners can demonstrate their drive by taking on writing responsibilities. With content editors, these activities can be managed to successfully produce great content, repurpose it for other social media uses, and promote firm expertise.