How social media helps you do more with less

Are you a small business thinking about using social media? Are you apprehensive about how and where to start?

Vodafone Your Better Business asked me what advice I would give to small businesses wanting to use social media for customer services, and summarised my answers into this two minute video:

When I refer to “query at three”, I’m referring to the fact that customers may now get in touch at three in the morning, because social media provides an option for them to get in touch at their convenience. This does not mean that customers expect you to respond at 3am, just as they wouldn’t have called you at that time in the days before social media… shame that my comments about customers not expecting small businesses to be online 24/7 didn’t make it through the editing process!

The video was filmed and originally shared last year, but I recently learned that it was getting another airing when a friend posted the link onto my Facebook page, and Natasha Davies joined the conversation via Comments to explain why… how appropriate that I should be notified via social media Smile

For the full report from The Perspective series, see Customer Service Beyond Today

LinkedIn Company Pages – how to say goodbye to your Products & Services tab

20140409 LinkedIn P&GWith less than a week to go until LinkedIn “retires” Products & Services, I have followed LinkedIn’s suggestions to copy and save CubeSocial recommendations, and request a copy from LinkedIn.

If you’re planning to do the same, you have five days until your Products & Service tab will be removed on 14  April, and until the end of next month to get in touch with LinkedIn Customer Services. LinkedIn have committed to have recommendation data as of 4 March, available until 30 May – but if you want complete data, you will need to act now…  

I couldn’t find any details of what LinkedIn’s copy would include or look like before submitting my request. While I can’t fault LinkedIn’s response time (just under an hour), I was disappointed to receive an Excel file – see extract below:

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It seems that approximately 150 words / 1,000 characters (with spaces) have been allowed for the Description field, which has been populated from Product/Service Overviews. For most of our offerings, the end of our descriptions are missing from the LinkedIn file.

And because LinkedIn is restricting their scope to recommendations, despite retiring Products & Services, if you have any offerings that have not received recommendations, not only will the end of your descriptions be missing, but the beginning and middle will be missing too!

Names and contact details of the individuals who took the time to recommend CubeSocial’s Products & Services are not provided. Instead, LinkedIn provides a “Reviewer_Profile_URL” field, e.g. http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=82977862 is Freelancer Journalist and Editor Alison Coleman. It would have been much more helpful to see public profile URLs, e.g. http://uk.linkedin.com/in/alisoncolemanfreelance rather than have to click through an unfamiliar ID number.

Previously uploaded images for each Product/Service are not attached.

Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security by LinkedIn’s seemingly generous deadline. Reduce the potential pain of saying goodbye to your Products & Services tab by getting in touch with LinkedIn as soon as possible. Not only will you receive a record of your recommendations, you will see what’s missing and needs to be copied before your Product & Services tab disappears.

I’m sad to say goodbye… we’ve really appreciated all the time and thought that you have taken to recommend our Products & Services, and, of course, all the B2B leads that your positive words have generated Smile THANK YOU and trust that we have a record of your comments saved to treasure! 

Getting started with Twitter – top 5 newbie questions answered

imageAs a Facebook Novice to Social Media CEO I’m frequently asked about my conversion from social media cynic and how I got started with Twitter.

Here’s a roundup of the most popular questions and my responses:

  1. Where to begin? 5 must-dos
  2. How do hashtags work? A case study (see the comments section for a link to another example)
  3. What are these “mystifying acronyms”? #FF, DM and RT explained
  4. Why are full stops added before Twitter usernames? Who sees what you’re tweeting
  5. Am I stuck with the username I chose on sign up? How to change your username

Should this list be extended to a top 10? What else would you like answered?

If you and/or your team are getting started with Twitter and would like some social media training or 1-to-1 coaching, get in touch.

Grant Thornton Lead Accountancy Firms into Social Media Future

Not sure how we missed this from earlier this year… Accountancy firm Grant Thornton’s internal video encouraging, no instructing employees to get on social media and connect with prospects and clients.

Great quotes from the video:

“Smart use of social media… will help us win business, achieve the growth we’re after and get the best people to joins us. We have a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

“At Grant Thornton using social media at work is not only permitted and acceptable, but desirable and expected.”

Here’s the video. It’s just a couple of minutes long and well worth watching:

Well done to Grant Thornton for taking a lead on this!

If you are thinking of using social media to market your services or connect with clients and prospects then give us a shout. We have years of experience working with accountants and provide a range of social media services for accounting firms large and small.

Best Practice: How to Manage Ownership of Social Media Contacts

As a financial services, legal services or other professional services business planning your social media strategy, you’ll want to think about who owns employees’ social media accounts and all their relationships.

In the services world your business is only as good as the people you employ and the skills they have. To showcase your business properly you’ll want to have all your employees on social media to display their expertise and amplify your message.

But you don’t want the connections they make to walk out the door if the employee leaves. (There have already been a few lawsuits about it.)

Here’s the answer – just as we all have a business email address and a personal email address, employees should have a business social media presence and (if they choose) a personal social media presence.

Media companies have been leading the way here. Take the BBC’s technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones for example. You can choose the formal @BBCRoryCJ, or the dog-enhanced @ruskin147.

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Other media companies are taking the same approach. Here’s Channel 4’s Jon Snow.

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Now the corporates are starting to follow suit in applying this best practice. Earlier this month Morgan Stanley Smith Barney launched 17,000 twitter accounts on the world– all suffixed with MSSB as a clear corporate branding.

Morgan Stanley Twitter

The Bottom Line: Business Best Practice

  1. Define a brand prefix or suffix that all your business social media accounts should have.
  2. Get accounts provisioned by internal operations staff and handed out to employees as part of the normal staff induction process
  3. Update your employee handbook (or social media policy if you have one) to make clear that company social media accounts, social media interactions and connections belong to the business not the employee.
  4. Then, if an employee leaves the company, they leave behind their company social media accounts, just like they leave behind their company email account.

Morgan Stanley’s Green Light for Social Media – Bankers or Bots?

On 25th June, Lauren Boyman, Morgan Stanley Smith Barney (MSSB)’s Head of Social Media sent out these two tweets in quick succession:

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The “green light” was for Twitter and LinkedIn for MSSB’s 17,000 financial advisors. The “successful pilot” had been a year long, with an initial group of 600 being allowed to use both sites. The “compliant way” was the catch… tweets must be selected from a library of pre-written messages. For example:

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Having spent 15 years in the City, 13 of those with Morgan Stanley, I’m fully aware of the challenges. Of course there are compliance and regulatory requirements to manage, but professionals know what they can and cannot say publically, and technology can ensure appropriate records are kept.

There’s also fear – having benefited from Corporate Communications when at Morgan Stanley, I was conscious and apprehensive about there being no front line of defence when I first joined social media. Having found the Twitter account and bio for J. Scott Irwin however, MSSB advisers can rest assured that Big Brother is watching! (Maybe that adds to the fear?!)

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But at its heart, all business is about relationships. Relationships are built on conversations, and social media is just another way to talk – old rules, new tools.

How can you build trust, show personality and spontaneity, be social… human, when you’re restricted to talking from a script? Being social on social media requires interaction and engagement. If every tweet is pre-written and pre-approved, how can we be certain there’s actually a person tweeting?

Having a library of content, where it’s easy to find official data and messages, is a great start. Advisors should then be given the freedom to share this information in their own tone of voice. People buy from people.

Throughout my time at Morgan Stanley I felt it a privilege to work with amazingly talented people – exactly the type of individuals who can wow others with their expertise and insights, and can build trust at a time of mistrust in the financial sector.

In the article that Lauren Boyman links to above, there’s mention of a small trial of 20 that have “been given the ability to write their own tweets”. I was pleased to find one such individual, and couldn’t help but smile at her retort to the critics (the link in her tweet is to an article titled “Morgan Stanley: Nothing personal – encouraged to be boring”):

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I was even more pleased to see that less than 24 hours after I tried to start a conversation, there was a magical reply:

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“… autonomy – within regulatory guidelines” – cheery, smart, nice! And good practice for every aspect of a trusted professional’s working life, not just for their social media use.

I know that change takes time. MSSB’s green light may not be on full beam, but what they’ve done is bold relative to other Wall Street firms. I would love to keep in touch with a firm I spent 13 years with through Twitter – if I can be sure that I’m following bankers, not bots!

6 Examples of Twitter Profile Disclaimers

As a B2B company starting out on Twitter, one of the things that’ll likely come up in planning meetings is the legal disclaimer that typically accompanies any written output. It’s an understandable question, so as financial, legal and other professional services are now stepping out on Twitter, it’s worth having a look at what the early adopters are doing.

(You may question whether a disclaimer is necessary at all, but we’ll leave that debate aside for the moment).

Disclaimer on the Page Background

Morgan Stanley’s corporate account has a disclaimer on the background of their Twitter page. This has the upside of being able to display more than the 160 character limit of a Twitter bio, but the downside that it’s not visible to anyone accessing Twitter through a mobile client or app like Tweetdeck or CubeSocial.

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Pfizer have a similar approach but don’t provide a disclaimer as such, instead using the Twitter background to provide important links – including how to report adverse events.

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Disclaimer in the Bio Link

In June Morgan Stanley Smith Barney financial advisors got the go ahead to use Twitter. All 17,000 accounts have the same link in their bio pointing to MMSB’s legal disclaimer.

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Barclays Online takes a similar approach.

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With this approach the disclaimer will be available from all Twitter clients. The downside is that you are losing a potential marketing opportunity – that link could instead be used to direct people to a Twitter-specific landing page.

Disclaimer in the Bio

For those wanting to make it clear that they are tweeting in a personal capacity, the classic “all opinions are my own” is often included in the Twitter bio.

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No Disclaimer at All

Interestingly, the most common approach among the accounts we reviewed (even among B2B, legal and financial services companies) was to have no disclaimer at all. You’d think law firms would insist on disclaimers, right? But we checked the official Twitter accounts of the top 10 UK law firms and not one had a disclaimer on show. It seems that in the world of social media for lawyers, the accepted wisdom is that disclaimers don’t matter.

Perhaps the best advice we can give is, if you wouldn’t say it to your grandma, don’t say it on Twitter.

Do you have a Twitter disclaimer? Have you seen any examples of good disclaimers?

5 Steps to Generate B2B Leads from LinkedIn Company Pages

As a B2B company you probably already have a basic LinkedIn Company Page with a company overview and list of employees. What you’re probably not doing though is making use of the Products and Services section to market your offerings. And yet this is the most important part of a LinkedIn Company Page…

List Your Products and Services

The first thing you need to do is fire up your products and services page. Until recently, you could only add products, but now you can list services too it’s ideal for the professional and financial services industry.

Add each of your services and an image for each one too.

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Get Recommendations

clip_image003The most powerful part of LinkedIn’s company page is the recommendations. In LinkedIn, people can’t recommend or review companies – only products and services. When a prospective client visits your page, they see recommendations from people they know right next to your offerings.

Get into the habit of requesting recommendations from clients at the end of each piece of work.

 

Add a Banner

LinkedIn lets you create what are effectively three free banner adverts on your page.  (Try saying that quickly!) For each one you can add a link to a landing page on your website where you can funnel the lead to take whatever action you want (e.g. Sign-up for your newsletter)

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Add Video

You can add a YouTube video for each product or service: Showcase your offerings, show video testimonials from clients or show a video case study. Your objective should be to encourage viewers to become a lead. Think about what specific action you would like the viewer to take after watching the video and explicitly include that call to action in the video itself. The call to action could be as straight-forward as asking the viewer to follow your company on LinkedIn.

Post Status Updates

Regularly post news and status updates on your LinkedIn company page. Think about what would be interesting to your audience – post company news, blog posts, product offers and relevant third party articles. Use it to showcase your expertise, show a little of your organisation’s personality and of course, market your services.

Here at CubeSocial, we’ve just started building our company page. We’re pleased with what we have so far, but we know it still has a way to go. Please come and follow us there and watch as we continue to grow our page. Click here to follow us on LinkedIn: