TAG | LinkedIn

Sales In LinkedIn

With 135M+ users and 11k new members every 90min, Linkedin has dominated the professional social media space as we all know it.

A question that’s come up from the sales side of business is “what can a sales person do on LinkedIn?”  How should one sell via LinkedIn? Using an MBA framework, consider “The 5Cs” of How to Sales-In LinkedIn:


CONNECT: Just as a sales person needs to leave the office to meet new prospects, he or she also needs to connect with new prospects on-line.

CREATE: In the era where “Content is King,” a sales professional also needs to be a source of knowledge and information. A well-crafted editorial agenda comprised of engaging & “non-salesy” content can position you and your sales team as a credible resource in your industry.

COLD-CALL: Rule #1 is to never cold call on LinkedIn, i.e., sending a request to someone you don’t know. However, finding a prospect’s Twitter handle/username, for example, and then following them and eventually replying to one of their clever tweets can be a very classy way to develop a relationship.

COLLABORATE: Get your sales team to cooperate and collaborate on LinkedIn. Develop discussion groups for teammates to exchange contacts, information and insights. Use the team’s collective LinkedIn connections to generate more leads and don’t forget to recommend one another.

CLOSE: Considering that any given prospect has a never-ending number of options at their fingertips, so focus on being an expert and educating the prospects before they have a need for a solution. If you manage the process correctly, the prospects will be closing on you instead of the other way around!

As Aristotle once said, “A friend to all is a friend to none.” With that in mind, go out there and focus on making relevant LinkedIn connections and sharing your knowledge and the sales will follow.



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Which Platform Do I Get On? Part I

*This is the first of a two-part series on social media platforms.

The key to navigating the ever-growing world of social media is to divide and conquer. With three main types of social media platforms– those that help you network, the ones that help you promote, and those that help you share- ease of navigation is a necessity.

A platform that allows you to network, like Facebook or LinkedIn, is the most commonly used. Whether you’re interested in getting back in touch with an old flame or making new contacts in the business world, using a social networking site is the easiest way to do so.

Promoting platforms, like YouTube or personal blogs, allow you to do just that: promote. Oftentimes, it isn’t even clear what someone is promoting; personal-style blogs, for example, seem to be promoting nothing more than daily outfits. Upon closer look, however, many of these blogs feature the latest fashions, both in clothing form and through ads, and bloggers can be compensated, whether with money or gifts of clothing, etc.

Lastly, we have platforms that allow you to share, like Digg and Delicious. These platforms operate through closely-knit communities that are not easy to infiltrate. Try to get voted up on Digg and you’ll realize instantly that it takes months of interaction with other users to build up the trust needed to share within the community

If you’re a networker and you like sites like Twitter and LinkedIn, check out Quora. This platform is a sort of best-of the Q&A platform format; a combination of LinkedIn Answers or Yahoo Answers with the look, feel and simplicity of Twitter.

Also check out Color. The platform uses location-based services like GPS to allow users to share the photos on their handsets with people—both strangers and friends—nearby (within a 150-foot radius of a user). Users can also create albums and social groups for photos from a specific event, and can also comment on photos and shoot video.

If you like YouTube and WordPress, try Instagram. This is heaven for tech-junkies and social networking addicts. Snap a photo with your iPhone and then edit the photo as you like, choosing a filter to transform the look and feel. Then, send to Facebook, Twitter or Flickr – it’s photo sharing, reinvented.

If you like sites like Delicious because you enjoy the thrill of sharing sites with like-minded web users, try a social shopping experience in 2011. Sites like Svpply and Polyvore allow users to create inspiration boards, generate user feedback, and ultimately, mimic a real-time shopping experience, minus the long lines and annoying interactions.

Next week, we’ll discuss some more business-oriented social platforms, like Wildfire and Buddy Media.


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The World of Social Media

With 2011 fast approaching, it is time for a social media recap of 2010, global-style. This was the year that Facebook took over the globe, and we end the year with almost 600 million users around the world. While Facebook might be the most popular social network, however, it certainly isn’t the only one with worldwide appeal.

Italian blogger Vincenzo Cosenza has, for the second time, published a visual map that portrays the most popular social networks around the world. The map is based on the most recent traffic data (December 2010) as measured by Alexa & Google Trends for Websites.

According to Cosenza, since June of this year, Facebook has “stolen” important nations from previously strong competitors, so much so that 115 out of 132 countries analyzed name Facebook as their market leader. Notably, Hungary, Poland, and even Mongolia have switched over from local strongholds to the global site.

We’re also seeing a rise of interest in Twitter and not surprisingly, in LinkedIn. While Facebook spans generations, however, Twitter has previously been identified as a “younger” social networking tool. Its growth against MySpace in Australia, Germany, Italy and Canada, then, doesn’t do much to prove that Twitter has gained the all-ages following it needs to compete with Facebook in global market domination.

Twitter’s appeal is undeniable: The visibility of its most frequent users, celebrities, excites “normal” users. Then, even for non-celebrity tweeters, a sense of voyeurism continues to remain with the site. The site is more energetic and fast-paced than MySpace, and while “tweets” can give away crucial information about participants, the site isn’t as sleazy as Myspace was in its heyday.

LinkedIn’s rise was inevitable. Why wouldn’t other countries jump to embrace a site that provides free networking in a career-oriented atmosphere? LinkedIn gives employers the benefit of screening employees before they even request an interview and in this way, it tightens up the hiring process. It also gives employees the chance to present themselves in a professional manner online, and countries like Australia, Canada, and the UK have embraced this.

Ultimately, while Facebook, Twitter and MySpace continue to dominate most of the world’s social networking market, there is tremendous room for growth in the new media sector.

New Media expert Brian Solis breaks down social web involvement by country, and the results prove that each country has a unique dynamic within their social networks.

17.6 million Americans blog, compared to the Netherlands 1.3 million and China’s 89.7 million. Are these numbers surprising to you?
World Map of Social Networks


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Facebook Fan Pages

As Facebook continues to grow, businesses, both small and large, are also learning how to best use the site in terms of business growth. Despite public dissatisfaction regarding Facebook’s privacy controls and shared information, most users can ultimately find satisfaction with the site, because it is an essential addition to any web working toolbox. The Facebook social networking experience is customizable, so it can be exactly what you need it to be. For a college student, this might mean that Facebook becomes the easiest way to meet people in the dorm, but for a company like Gap or Starbucks, Facebook offers an inexpensive way to attract new customers and interact with old ones.

The first step to Facebook success, in terms of business usage, is to understand the difference between a Facebook Page and a Facebook Group.

Facebook Fan Pages, unlike groups, are visible to unregistered people and are thus indexed. Groups, however, allow the user to send out “bulk” invites, inviting all of your friends to join the group in one time-saving swoop. While many users have figured out ways to get around this feature by using a simple, google-able code to send mass invites on pages, this feature (or lack thereof) on pages often leads to complaints.

Both pages and groups lend themselves well to hosting discussions, messaging to all members, and video and photo exchange. In terms of social media, however, pages seem to be more useful. On a page, users can promote their business using social, targeted ads, and a page administrator also has access to “page insights,” which chart visitor statistics and prove useful to anyone looking to grow a larger Facebook following.

Read more on the difference between Facebook pages and groups.

Facebook users can promote a Facebook page in a variety of ways. Below, we suggest five tactics:

  1. Have Good Content: This should go unsaid, but it is surprising how many businesses try to promote Facebook Pages that are…lacking. No matter how many ads you buy, or how often you tweet special deals on your FB page and mention it on your LinkedIn account, if the content on your page is stale, no one will be interested. Look at it this way: You can find basic information about Starbucks on their main website, right? If you’re interested in the drinks they serve and how much they cost, or if you’re looking for a drive-thru location, look no further than the main site. The Starbucks Facebook Page, however, which is “Liked” by almost 19 million people, allows fans to virtually “check in” to Starbucks. It features photos of Starbucks fans from around the world, it allows fans of the coffee company to suggest their ideas, and it features oft-updated deals and specials. In other words, it has become a community that isn’t frequented by only die-hard fans. It’s a place that someone who may not even like coffee visits because of the fun material.
  2. Cross Promote: Once you have exciting material on your Page, don’t be afraid to cross promote. Whether you want to link to your Twitter account or your LinkedIn page, or you want to link to your YouTube account, take advantage of the multiple social networks you have access to. Some businesses will Tweet about special deals they have available only on their Facebook Page, leading Twitter followers to check out the page. In order to have access to the special deal, these users must then “Like” the page and viola, another follower is gained. Post YouTube videos on your Facebook as well, and you’ll be surprised at the new followers you’ll gain.
  3. Update Frequently: Say you start out with great content and cross promote, and you end up being “liked” by 20,000 people. That’s a great start, and although there isn’t a maximum number of pages a person can “like,” most businesses are surprised to find that Facebook users are fickle. They “unlike” pages (oh yes, they can do that) just as quickly as they like them, and while it is more difficult to gain followers than to lose them, disengaged users are the kiss of death. By updating frequently, you give people a reason not just to visit your site, but to look forward to new content, new images, maybe even new deals.
  4. Incentivize Your Page: You’ll be facing competition from mega-companies like Fusion Beauty, who can afford to offer the first 10,000 “likes” on their page a free tube of lip gloss. Not every incentive has to be a free product, however. Whether you’re offering ten percent off of a cup of coffee or access to a behind-the-scenes video, your followers want to feel like they are getting something exclusive.
  5. Personalize It: Facebook Fan Pages in the beauty sector, such as the page for MAC Cosmetics , often feature a section dedicated solely to user photo uploads. Now, this personalizes the MAC page in many ways; most effectively, it allows users to feel personally connected to the giant cosmetic company through the simple act of uploading their own photo. The page for Eat Pray Love doesn’t feature that perk, but it asks users, “What is one thing in life your friends said you could/would never do, but you did it anyway?” It starts conversations, and that is what makes it special to the people who “like” it.

Also check out 12 Ways to Use Facebook Professionally and 7 Reasons Why You NEED A Facebook Fan Page.

And once you’re really comfortable using the Facebook Fan Page, post on other user’s walls AS the page, not as yourself.


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ROE the new ROI

Social media has become part of our life. Today, pretty much everyone is using some form of it. Every local store, cafe, club and event has a Facebook page. Every brand has a Twitter account and every white paper ever written has been turned into a SlideShare presentation, for some self-proclaimed thought leader in a Linkedin group to share.

In this completely connected, totally viral, absolutely transparent, geo-targeted, digital world we live and work in… you have to be social. But how do you justify the time and expense it takes to maintain that presence?

Now that social media has passed the point of “why do I need it” to “what do I do with it” the quest to determine the ROI of social media has become more complex.

Since you are asking people to put numeric quantities around human interactions and conversations, which are difficult to quantify, trying to determine the exact return on your investment is not easy and in the long run, may not a good idea. To really understand the impact of social media and social technology on an event, promotion, brand awareness or even product sales, people need to measure the “ROE” … return on engagement.

At Medial Needle, we have been finding valuable “returns” manifesting themselves in ways not always anticipated at the onset as a result of our marketing efforts. More and more, we’ve come to see these unexpected fruits and proverbial rewards only appear because social media was strategically integrated into a marketing agenda.

For example, Media Needle recently executed a food campaign outreach program. While servicing a very small, archaic and insular cooking listserv, we uncovered a hive of influential webmasters; each with robust email lists and social media profiles. So what at first appeared initially to be a seemingly insignificant target community mushroomed into one of the campaigns top case studies. Clearly social media bears the markings of what we once more readily called “viral marketing”. Another campaign had us establish a quality dialog with a key target community. Despite a lull in activity on the client’s end, we maintained the relationship. Six months later, the two partnered successfully for a robust promotion. Anticipating these in conventional ROI terms, especially at the onset of the campaigns would have been impossible.

Thinking about social media in terms of a simple bottom line number puts the whole thing on an old school path of problems and risks, missing great opportunities. Essentially, you have to stop relying solely on the numbers. With social media the trick is to focus on what your numbers end up leading to. ROI is an effect of quality ROE.

If your goal is to participate in the conversation, to enhance your relationship with your audience and become a trusted member of the community that surrounds your brand; then your ROE has been set into motion. Once you’ve paved this foundation, the more conventional ROI models of sales, registrations, new followers and fans etc. will begin to kick-in, proving the benefits of a well-engaged social media agenda versus a dry and uninspired one.

Finally, ROE like everything else social media related, has a variety of definitions. Here are two good ones: We wish to cite Jason Falls’ here http://www.socialmediaexplorer.com/2008/10/28/what-is-the-roi-for-social-media/

Sarah Evans’ different but complimentary tome here: http://prsarahevans.com/2009/05/15-ways-to-measure-return-on-engagement-roe-of-social-media/ as a valuable point of reference.


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