Is It Really That Important To Have 500+ Connections On LinkedIn?

500. That’s the golden number when it comes to LinkedIn. Pretty much every professional on the site is trying to get to that number connecting with friends, family, coworkers, even coworker’s friends and families. LinkedIn has set the bar that 500 connections makes you a great networker and someone with influence on their website. But how much weight does that 500+ on your profile really hold?

Image source: Flickr

Image source: Flickr

Well, none if you don’t do anything to interact or take advantage of those 500 plus connections. Having that distinction on your profile is just that, it’s just a status symbol that only works as hard as you do. Those 500 connections could be the key to your next job, client or referral. Are you taking full advantage of them?

Sharing interesting articles with your network is a great way to communicate and stay on connection’s radars. Best-case scenario, they share your article and spark more connections with people in your industry. When your connections share a good article, engage with them. Comment on it, thank them for sharing it or even share it with your connections. This is a great way to start a conversation with a former coworker or potential hiring employee at a company you would love to get the chance to work for.

Look through your 500 plus connections to see what groups they are a part of and what they are saying. Don’t go crazy joining hundreds of groups, join just a few that are interesting to you and that you could realistically interact within. Then actually spend time each week interacting, not selling, with the group members. There is a group for anything on LinkedIn so whether you’re a member of the C-Suite or an entry-level marketing assistant, there’s a place for you to meet and network with likeminded professionals.

Having 500+ connections on LinkedIn is just the beginning. Staying connected and influencing through communications are what really make those 500 plus connections worth the time and energy it took to get them in the first place. There’s no doubt that out of those 500 people you have connected with, at least a few could help your professional or personal goals.

How often do you connect and communicate with your LinkedIn connections?

Twitter: Making Your Business Feed Better

Every day more and more businesses are adding Twitter to their marketing portfolio. Along with Facebook and LinkedIn, Twitter is a great way to reach potential customers, share industry knowledge and connect with experts (or become one). But Twitter is more than sharing what’s on your mind or spreading a link to your webpage six times a day. There are proven ways to make your business Twitter feed better – and here they are.

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When you create your Twitter profile, pick a communication objective. What kind of information do you want to share with your audience? And what kind of audience do you want? Some industries can be very specific and coming up with tweets might seem pretty difficult. In that case, try and create a broader objective. For example, a company that sells cloud technology to other businesses could pick a wider topic like office efficiency and productivity. These topics apply to virtually any professional, including the ones in your target market.

Along with your objective, it’s crucial to have a strategy. There are specific times that are best to tweet, when you will get the most viewers, interactions and shares. Since this varies by industry and location, there’s no blanket time to tweet, but a quick Google search can provide a good guide specific to your sector. With that information, plan when you are going to tweet and what you are going to say. Also decide how many tweets will link to your website and how many will link to other industry websites. It’s important to share both types of links so you aren’t seen as completely self-serving. Again, there is no magic answer for every industry; you will need to plan, execute your strategy, review what works and what doesn’t and make changes along the way.

When you’re at the next step, which is creating your content, remember to make it readable and relatable. Even though it’s a company account, it can still have personality. Ask questions, make comments and even crack jokes if it’s appropriate. In other words, be human! Try to create content that you think your audience will want to share. Why? More exposure for your company from peers instead of via advertising. Don’t tweet at people, tweet to them. With your objective and strategy, this will be easy and you’re sure to see results.

My secret weapon when it comes to making the Twitter feed better is social network scheduling services, like Hootsuite. This service will let you create and schedule your tweets in advance. Instead of meticulously watching the clock and tweeting every hour on the hour, you can plan days, weeks or months in advance. This also allows you the opportunity to focus on interacting day-to-day instead of creating and sending content. These platforms can also help with your Twitter analytics.

Tracking retweets will help you gauge how shareable your content is. In Hootsuite, you can use one of your columns to do this, it’s called My Tweets Retweeted. Keeping an eye on how your follower base increases (or decreases) will give you an accurate feel for what you’re doing right (or wrong). You can even count the amount of favorites your content gets so you can create similar content. While ‘favoriting’ a tweet isn’t as impactful as retweeting it, it still shows that a member of your audience liked the content, agreed with the content or at the very least appreciated it. Implementing these tactics is a step in the right direction, towards a popular, well-followed, retweeted Twitter account, which really results in leads, sales and increased profit for your company.

If you are in charge of the Twitter account for your company, remember, people connect with humans, not logos or brands. While the strategy for a business Twitter account should be an intregal part of an overall marketing and business strategy, it still needs to have a human voice and interact with followers as a person, not a business.

What Twitter tips would you offer?

Facebook Privacy Basics

In an effort to make their terms and policies easier to understand and to control, Facebook is rolling out Privacy Basics on January 1, 2015.The post, in it’s entirety is featured below.

Updating Our Terms and Policies: Helping You Understand How Facebook Works and How to Control Your Information

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Over the past year, we’ve introduced new features and controls to help you get more out of Facebook, and listened to people who have asked us to better explain how we get and use information.
Now, with Privacy Basics, you’ll get tips and a how-to guide for taking charge of your experience on Facebook. We’re also updating our termsdata policy and cookies policy to reflect new features we’ve been working on and to make them easy to understand.
These updates take effect on January 1, 2015. As always, we welcome your feedback about our policies.
Privacy Basics
Privacy Basics offers interactive guides to answer the most commonly asked questions about how you can control your information on Facebook. For example, you can learn about untagging, unfriending, blocking and how to choose an audience for each of your posts. This information is available in 36 languages.
Along with our privacy checkupreminder for people posting publicly and simplified audience selectors, Privacy Basics is the latest step we’ve taken to help you make sure you’re sharing with the people you want.
Helping you get more out of Facebook
Every day, people use our apps and services to connect with the people, places and things they care about. The updates to our policies reflect the new products we’ve been working on to improve your Facebook experience. They also explain how our services work in a way that’s easier to understand. Here are some highlights:
Discover what’s going on around you: We’re updating our policies to explain how we get location information depending on the features you decide to use. Millions of people check into their favorite places and use optional features like Nearby Friends (currently only available in some regions). We’re working on ways to show you the most relevant information based on where you are and what your friends are up to. For example, in the future, if you decide to share where you are, you might see menus from restaurants nearby or updates from friends in the area.
Make purchases more convenient: In some regions, we’re testing a Buy button that helps people discover and purchase products without leaving Facebook. We’re also working on new ways to make transactions even more convenient.
Find information about privacy on Facebook at the moment you need it: To make them more accessible, we moved tips and suggestions to Privacy Basics. Our data policy is shorter and clearer, making it easier to read.
Understand how we use the information we receive: For example, understanding battery and signal strength helps make sure our apps work well on your device. We ask for permission to use your phone’s location when we offer optional features like check-ins or adding your location to posts.
Get to know how the family of Facebook companies and apps work together: Over the past few years, Facebook has grown and we want to make sure you know about our family of companiesapps and services. We use the information we collect to improve your experience. For example, if you’re locked out of your Instagram account, you can use your Facebook information to recover your password. Nothing in our updates changes the commitments that Instagram, WhatsApp and other companies have made to protect your information and your privacy.
Your information and advertising: People sometimes ask how their information is shared with advertisers. Nothing is changing with these updates—we help advertisers reach people with relevant ads without telling them who you are. Learn more about adsand how you can control the ads you see.
Giving you more control over ads
We’ve heard from some of you that it can be difficult to control the types of ads you see if you use multiple devices and browsers. In the past, if you opted out of certain kinds of advertising on your laptop, that choice may not have been applied for ads on your phone. We know that many people use more than one phone, tablet or browser to access Facebook, so it should be easy for you to make a single choice that applies across all of your devices.
That’s why Facebook respects the choices you make about the ads you see, across every device. You can opt out of seeing ads on Facebook based on the apps and sites you use through the Digital Advertising Alliance. You can also opt out using controls on iOS and Android. When you tell us you don’t want to see these types of ads, your decision automatically applies to every device you use to access Facebook. Also, we’re now making ad preferences available in additional countries, beginning with Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland and the UK.
We hope these updates improve your experience. Protecting people’s information and providing meaningful privacy controls are at the core of everything we do, and we believe these announcements are an important step.

So what does this mean to the average Facebook user?  More simple controls over your privacy, right at your fingertips. This has needed to happen for some time now, and Facebook is finally responding to requests for a more simplistic and easier to understand policy system.  BUT, as with all terms of service within the digital world, these privacy controls are only as good as the user. So take this opportunity to review Privacy Basics and to review your own privacy settings on Facebook and other social platforms.

Lunch N Learn with ZAAR Design Center

One of the great aspects of social media is the opportunity for strangers to connect through a shared interest, platform, hobby or need.  My plans to speak at ZAAR Design Center, as part of the Spring High Point Furniture Market is an example of a need, someone reaching out and plans set in motion thanks to social media.

Ruth Olbrych, the owner of ZAAR Design Center contacted me on February 12th after her friend, Alicia Connolly forward to Ruth a conversation I had on Twitter with Dana Helms, Social Media Manager at Social North. Dana is also involved with an amazing organization, WithIt.  Due to our open conversation on Twitter about WithIt, Alicia mentioned to Ruth that I may be interested in speaking to a group at the Spring Furniture Market in High Point.

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The subsequent emails and phone conversations with Ruth, has led to the ZAAR Design Center hosting a Lunch and Learn on Sunday, April 6th at their showroom in High Point. I will talk with their guests about How Best Maximize Your Social Media Presence as a Designer.  You can pre-register for the event here:   Lunch N Learn + Jewelry/Accessory Sale

How Do I, as an Interior Designer, Maximize My Social Media Presence?

The Social Media map changes at such a rapid pace it can be daunting to know where you should be focusing your energies for maximum impact for your Interior Design business. Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Houzz, Google Plus, Linked In. Which portal serves you best?  Hint: Might not be what you think. What are the keystones for a Social Media plan? Yes, it can be manageable.

For me, this Lunch and Learn is an opportunity to talk about my passion, social media, as well as network with professionals within the furniture and design industries. For Ruth, it is an opportunity to showcase her Design Center and to provide the Designers in attendance with valuable information that can help their business and industry.  Truly a win-win; something I see every day within social media.

If you are attending the High Point Furniture Marketing this April, we hope you can join us for our Lunch N Learn at the ZAAR Design Center!

2014: The Year of Pay to Play in Social Media

As the new year starts to unfold, we see a multitude of articles offering up predictions for the 2014.  From fashion, to music, to the economy and of course, social media. What’s funny about these predictions, is, well they are predictable.  Some of them foretell the death of Facebook (not going to happen) while others predict that Google+ will be the king of social networks this year (Want to know a secret?  Google+ isn’t a social network the way most define it).  So, what do you believe?  What predictions are on the mark and what predictions are just plain silly?  Look at the history or experience of the people making the predictions and use common sense!

With all of that being said, I can confidently state: 2014 will be The Year of Pay to Play in Social Media.

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In December, TechCrunch published an article, Facebook: Brands Will Have to Work Harder (Or Buy Ads) For Your Attention – But Fans Still Matter.  The post highlighted what Facebook finally admitted – and brand managers suspected – organic, or non-paid reach for business pages had been decreasing.  Why?  Mainly because Facebook is not showing that content in the newsfeed.  According to Facebook their Billion plus users are sharing so much content that a business breaking through that noise is unlikely just by sharing content organically.  The solution? Promoted Posts and paying to advertise your page. If you have a business page on Facebook, you have probably noticed your reach decreasing and, if you want to reverse that trend, you will have to pay.

So, on Facebook, it is definitely Pay to Play for businesses. What about the other platforms?  Google+ is testing ads that will show up in their newsfeed, promoted accounts and Tweets have been part of Twitter for years, plus you can pay to monetize your Video’s on YouTube.  In other words, pay to play isn’t new, it’s just becoming more apparent and necessary.

One of the fallacies of social media over the years has been it’s free or low-cost. Thankfully that is not true or I wouldn’t be able to pay my bills. Social media is a tool, or a set of tools just like direct mail, advertising, PR and everything else that you can fit under the umbrella term of marketing. However, it is not free. Never has been. Never will be. Especially now.  Business owners, marketing professionals, social media consultants, et.al, must face the fact that to cut through the clutter of these various social platforms will require advertising. In addition to advertising, it will require a well planned strategy that includes using and utilizing the social platforms that fit into the niche or target demographics of the  business.

Paying to Play on Social Media also highlights the importance of a business optimizing their own website, but more on that later.

No matter what social platform or platforms you decide to hang your business hat on, get ready to pay; in 2014 and beyond. Those are my thoughts; what are yours?  Will you pay to play?

Summer Session

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We have celebrated Memorial Day and the 4th of July, which for most of us in North America means we are right in the middle of summertime.  The kid’s are out of school, the temperatures are HOT (what else do you expect during July) and plans are being made for summer vacations .For some of us, we alter our schedules during the summer months; but for others it is business as usual. I am going to focus some of my energies in different areas this summer; not taking a break, but breaking with the normal routine in some ways.  

Below are my my plans for my Summer Session. 

My Summer Session

  • Reading: I will continue to read during the summer, focusing on books & publications that are business related, as well as ones that are personal in nature. Biographical and inspirational to be exact. 
  • I will produce 3 blog posts per week. This is essential to my business, and businesses do not take the summer off.
  • I will meet with existing clients to re-visit the plans we have in place and to adjust them for the coming year. 
  • I will laser focus my social networking efforts; spending no more than one to two hours on any day on my own profiles and platforms.
  • I will swim as much as I can. Whether in a pool, an ocean, or a lake, water is essntial to my rejuvination.
  • I will review and revamp my goals for the year.
  • I will relax and take a vacation….or two. 

The reason I am sharing my plans is to hold myself accountable and to encourage my referral partners to do the same.  If it stirs some thoughts in you about your own Summer Session, that is a bonus.  Please share them below in the comments section. 

What are your plans for this summer?

     

     

    How Missouri’s Teacher Facebook Law Affects Your Business

    I was recently contacted by David Mielach, a freelance writer for BusinessNewsDaily.com.  

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    David has started writing a daily quick hit article on various topics and was looking for sources on various fields ranging from PR to Marketing; and in turn asked if I would be interested in contributing.  Well, it took me just a couple of milliseconds to say YES!

    David contact me this morning about an article he was working on;  How Missouri’s Teacher Facebook Law Affects Your Business. I find it interesting that businesses and schools are still grappling with rules and regulations regarding social media. I understand that they were caught off guard with the popularity of social media, but shouldn’t they have caught up by now by updating their employee policies?   Small businesses, you must address this immediately! 

    Read David’s article along with my thoughts here: How Missouri’s Teacher Facebook Law Affects Your Business

    What are your thoughts on this topic?  Do businesses have the right to restrict what you do on social media profiles?  Should they?

    Want to connect with me?  That is easy, I am always on!  You can Friend me on Facebook, Follow me on Twitter, add me to your Circles on Google+ and connect with me on LinkedIn.

    Social Media Misconceptions

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    If you are a business owner, I strongly suggest you stop resisting social media as a platform to build relationships,  your brand and to connect with clients!  Just as businesses resisted building and promoting a website, a portion of them are now resisting social media.Why?  Is it because you don’t understand it or you think it’s a fad?  It isn’t a fad. Is it fear of the unknown?  You have more resources available at your fingertips to learn about social media and how it can help your business starting today!  Guess what?  Your competition is already involved with social media and if you can’t be found online today, you are not found period.Before you jump into social media, let’s clear up some misconceptions.Social media is inexpensive, or even FREE! We need to put this misconception to rest once and for all.  Yes, many of the tools and the sites that are involved with social media are free to sign up and use.  Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Friendfeed and others do not charge you to sign up and create an account, but you will discover, that is where the free part ends.It takes time to properly create these profiles and to maintain them.  It takes time to develop and produce content; to refine what is working and what is not. Social media is and should be part of your marketing campaign.  As a business owner you need to make this plan part of your overall business plan.  Some companies spend as little as a few thousand dollars on a social media campaign. Others spend upwards of $50,000 to $100,000 or more.  This is a form of advertising and marketing your company; tools for building your brand.  Treat it as such, budget for it and plan for it.  You didn’t go into business without a business plan (did you) so do not start a social media campaign without a plan.Anyone can build your campaign for you. Well, if you spend any time on Twitter, you will realize that thousands of “experts” on social media are promoting themselves.  You will discover social media “experts” that barely have two-thousand followers; so remember this, there are no experts.  We are all students of social media and it changes so quickly that no one can become an expert.I recall a conversation with a retail store owner about his website.  In an effort to save money, the store owner was having a local high school kid design and launch his site.  I visited his store six months later and the site had just launched;  three months behind schedule.  Approximately one year later, a Google search, with specific parameters included that relate to his business and that should have been keywords for his business, resulted in his site being found….on page three. Was the cost savings worth the amount of lost business to his shop because consumers couldn’t find his site or his store?  Do you go past page one on a Google search?  Hint: consumers typically do not.I use the previous story to highlight the importance of hiring a true professional to build and launch your successful social media campaign. A campaign that is integrated with your marketing efforts as well as your website. You should also interview the person or firm that you decide to choose as a partner! Have they created successful campaigns in the past? Do they integrate video into their campaigns? What does their portfolio look like? Ask for references and specifics of those clients they have worked with successfully.You can make a big splash in short amount of time. Rome wasn’t built in a day and typically your social media campaign will not make a big splash or build a strong or loyal following in a short amount of time.  It can, but those are exceptions to the rule, not the norm. If you are already a star or have a big name in business, then you can make a big splash; if not, it takes slow and steady work. Twitter is great for building a following and driving traffic to your site, your blog, your website.  Use video to acquaint your followers with your company, products, services and staff; but remember it takes time!You can handle a social media campaign internally. Maybe. Most companies rarely employ personnel that are well versed and experienced in social media campaigns.  Even if they have the experience, do they have the time?  What do you pay them to do and how much?  Run the numbers and then hire an experienced person or firm.  Another advantage to using an outside person or firm?  Their contacts and their network. Chances are, it’s larger than yours.  Do you do your own business taxes?  Do you represent your own company in legal matters?  Why would you try to run a social media campaign internally without the right people, with the right experience?People will automatically find you. That misconception reminds me of one of my favorite quotes, Doing a good job around here is like peeing in a dark suit, It makes you feel warm but nobody notices” Jason Bolt. People will not automatically find you, but word of mouth, or spread by the click (mouse) can help!  Using tools like Twitter, StumbleUpon or Digg helps, but your network, combined with traffic driven by the professional you partner with for your campaign, will help the world find you!You can’t measure social media results. Sure you can. Just as you can measure traffic to your website and responses to advertisements in traditional media, you can measure social media results.  Using Google Trends along with other analytics can provide you specific statistics on who is finding you, who is clicking on your links and sites and how well your campaign is working. With the recent changes, you can find out the number of views, clicks, demographic breakdowns and more on your Facebook Fan Pages.Approach a social media campaign just as you would any other aspect of your business; carefully, with planning and the right professionals involved.Those are my thoughts. What say you?