LinkedIn’s most viewed profiles for 2012 – spam or smart?

20130208 LI top 1pc emailLast Friday I received this congratulatory email from LinkedIn. I was initially flattered to be in the top percentile, then focused in on the reason behind the mailing – LinkedIn had “reached a new milestone: 200 million members”. Having done the maths, I shared a screenshot on Twitter and Facebook with the comment “Email from LinkedIn… Should I be flattered, or frightened?” The response was immediate and wide-ranging – a wonderful mixture of sincerity, skepticism and sarcasm!

It seems that there have been emails for 1%, 5% and 10%. People have been questioning the validity of the percentages attributed, and how special being one of 2 to 20 million really is. Spam? Or smart marketing?

Many have shared their top percentage on social media using the pre-typed messages provided alongside LinkedIn’s Senior Vice President of Products & User Experience’s letter (reached via “Read More” on the congratulations email)

20130208 LI top 1pc read more

and even when the congratulations haven’t been received in a sincere way, they have generated social media shares, competition and conversation

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Of course LinkedIn has a feature, only available to Premium accounts, which enables those paid members to see who has recently viewed their profile. Members with Basic accounts are frequently sends teasers to “Upgrade… to see the full list”.

By congratulating the most viewed, this campaign has generated reaction (be it pride, envy, or cynicism) and discussion about what it means to be in those top percentiles… highlighting the paid-for feature, and potentially increasing curiosity and conversions. I wonder if LinkedIn will reveal how successful this campaign ends up being in terms of upgrades. 20 million emails could suggest spam, but I’m going with smart.

How to use Twitter to Find New Clients

Records Social StreamsExperts always say that the best way to grow your business is through referrals. That’s fine if you are an established business, but if you are just starting out, you need an attention strategy to get you noticed. After all clients can’t come to you if they have no idea you exist.

You could try cold calling but everything about cold calls is cold and hard. With social media, there may be a better way: Find warm leads through Twitter. Here’s how you can do that.

Step 1

Think about the words and phrases people might use if they were looking for the product or service you provide. Write them down. Next think of what people might say if they were dissatisfied with a competitors’ service. Note those phrases down too.

Step 2

Log on to CubeSocial, click through to the Record Twitter page and create a new Twitter recording using the phrases you came up with. CubeSocial will now start recording all the conversations that match.

Step 3

Once or twice a day check-in on your recording and scan through the results looking for people who are searching for the product/service you offer.

Consider what people are saying. Are they asking for a recommendation? Are they complaining about a competitor? Are they researching ideas?

Step 4

Engage, engage, engage; but remember to be social. Don’t go for the hard sell. People are on the lookout for businesses that listen and care. The more you speak with people, not broadcast to people, the more successful you will be.

For example, if people are asking for a recommendation, you could reply with a link to the testimonials page on your website, or a link to an independent review. If people are researching ideas, you could respond with a link to a helpful blog you wrote on the topic.

Step 5

You won’t close a sale in one Tweet, so following up with your prospects is what makes the difference. A good social CRM will help you keep track of your social media conversations, your leads and the tasks needed to maintain or advance the relationships you are developing. Dip back into your growing pool of warm leads at regular intervals to nurture them to the close.

Why this works so well

What makes this strategy so successful is that you are engaging with people at the point they are ready to buy. It’s no longer a cold call – it’s a warm lead. You get to see the person’s picture, their bio, their website, their personality-revealing tweets and their friends. What’s more, you see their intent.

One thing to remember

A word of caution: all your tweets will show up on your Twitter public timeline, so be sure to mix things up a little. If a prospect checks out your timeline and all they see are blunt pitches, that’s bound to be off-putting. However, if they see you being helpful and providing solid advice, that will add to your credibility.

How can I use social media for B2B marketing?

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If you work in a professional services or consulting organisation, what you are essentially selling is your knowledge. The good news is that social media provides the perfect platform for you to promote your expertise and showcase that knowledge.

Two companies that are doing a great job of this are Avanade and HP.

Avanade have integrated Twitter and YouTube. Just tweet your question with the hashtag #AskAvanade and Avanade respond via their YouTube channel.

HP have a similar concept. They have created the HP Business Answers blog, along with the @HPBizAnswersTwitter account and a LinkedIn group.

There are two great things about this kind of approach. Firstly, each of those people asking questions are leads that your sales team can follow-up with. Secondly, by answering real questions that people have you are providing a great deal of search engine optimized content for your website. In other words, other people with similar questions will be able to find you too.

Now these are two global corporations, but there is nothing particularly sophisticated about what they are doing. In fact, there is nothing here that couldn’t be replicated by lawyers, accounting firms, consultants etc. (regardless of their size) at a very low cost.

If you’re a CubeSocial user, we can help too… we make it super-easy to capture questions from Twitter and respond to them later. Just set up a Social Search to record all the Twitter activity for the hashtag or @name you want to monitor. When you are ready, log into CubeSocial and we’ll have all the information stored that you need to respond to the queries or write your blog posts.

Why do people connect with brands on social media?

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Do people have different reasons to connect to brands on Facebook vs. Twitter? There were some startling differences highlighted in last week’s report from ExactTarget

For Facebook, the primary reasons are all about getting discounts and free stuff. For Twitter it’s all about information and keeping up to date.

This verifies what we have long suspected. If you’re a retailer, into discounts and daily deals, or you’re a B2C business, Facebook is the place to be. On the other hand, if want to position your brand as an authority in its industry, you’re a B2B business, or you sell bespoke services, Twitter is your more natural home.

Discover Where Your Clients Hang Out on Social Media

You want to use social media to market your business… But where and how should you start?

Should you spend your time on Twitter, Facebook or something else? And how do you begin to get followers and fans?

Starting from an email address, what you’d like to know is: Does my contact have a Facebook account? Do they have a Twitter account, LinkedIn account or any other social media site?

Of the major sites, only Facebook lets you search for a user specifically by email address.

Find a Person on Facebook by Email Address

You can search for someone of Facebook at www.facebook.com/search/php?q=<email>. For example, to find Robert Scoble on Facebook you’d enter http://www.facebook.com/search.php?q=scobleizer@gmail.com.

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Find People on Twitter and LinkedIn

Neither LinkedIn nor Twitter allow you to search for someone by email address. They both though allow you to import your contacts from various other services and automatically invite them all to join. That’s not necessarily what you want to do though. And what about all the other services out there? Google+, Flickr, YouTube, FourSquare… this list goes on.

If only there was a way to easily discover where your existing clients and contacts hang out on social media…

Social Profile Discovery

When we created CubeSocial’s social profile discovery service we wanted to solve just this problem. CubeSocial lets you to upload a list of email addresses, and then simply sit back while it does the hard work of searching the internet for social profiles and creating a contact cards for all your contacts, just like this one.

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What’s more, CubeSocial can locate social profiles on over 100 different services and then summarise where all your contacts are hanging out. This is the summary for our contacts:

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When we decided to use social media to connect with our clients we wanted to make sure we were spending our time (and money) in the most effective way. Now we are letting everyone else do that too.

If you haven’t already, give CubeSocial a try. It’s free to sign up. Then let us know what you think via @cubesocial or email.

Voices and Choices

Guest blog by Colin Cather, Brand Strategist & Founder at Brilliant Mistake Branding

If Twitter is a cocktail party, it’s one where the lights are down low.

So now, in this hashtagged room, what we say (our ‘content’) and how we say it (our ‘tone’) become the strongest of our brand-signals.

And these 140 character or less gestures will lead some people (the ones we want to speak to) our way, and they’ll let some others know that we’re not for them.

Just like any real cocktail party (the ones I’ve been to anyway), there will be someone declaring their opinions loudly, forcefully and – if they can – from on top of a step they’ve found. And there will be people listening. There will also be someone speaking in a clear, quiet voice – intriguingly, perhaps conspiratorially – and there will be people listening to them, too.

The point is – we need to know our Tone of Voice or TOV. And this – like anything else we do in our businesses, with our brands – should be deliberate. Thought-through.

Distinctive.

If you’ve had expert help in creating your brand guidelines, your TOV will already be encoded. If you haven’t – here are two simple pointers.

Be distinct.

Just as Nicole Kidman would be horrified to step onto the Oscars red carpet in the same dress as Cate Blanchett, so, our brands’ ability to find a target, and become famous, must begin with distinctiveness. Our differentiation.

At its most sophisticated – this is part of Brand Positioning. Finding a sweet-spot, where we can be something meaningful to our clients, customers and consumers.

In the same way that Pepsi is forced to wear blue, because Coke stepped out first with an entirely red wardrobe, we must – at the very least – listen to the other voices in the room and select an alternative. Otherwise we are just flattering others with our mimicry, or we are white-noise.

The Quick Fix

  • Try examining the Brand Archetypes. (These are as crude as the Seven Basic Plots of Storytelling, but we’re being a bit crude here.)
  • Identify who the others are. Identify who you most naturally are. Maybe because you have an affinity with one of the brands they reference. Go with that one.
  • Now we have a basis for our brand identity. And how we are going to speak.

And to those who say– “a distinctive Tone of Voice can alienate…”, I say “Good.”

Pick a Step.

We’re all familiar with the idea of ‘being talked-down-to.’ Well, when it comes to our TOV, just like that guy in the cocktail party, we have to decide how high to climb – relative to our audience.

The TOV steps look like this:

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Here are three pieces of brand copy:

  • PARENT: “It deserves a little respect” [Green & Black’s]
  • HIGHER AUTHORITY: “One Day You Will” [Glenfiddich]
  • CHILD: “Hello. We make lovely natural fruit drinks…” [innocent smoothies]

Sometimes, brands choose their step based on the norms – like luxury goods tend towards Higher Authority (“maybe, someday, you too could look like this”). Other times, they are electing to buck the norm. To make this one of their ‘rule-breaking’ points of difference.

Again. Make a choice.

So that your clients and consumers don’t have to.

Colin loves brands so much he made one of his own. Burnt Sugar began selling crumbly fudge at Borough Market and went on to sell in Waitrose, Tesco and other big shops. Burnt Sugar beat the confectionery Goliaths to win The Grocer’s Branded Excellence Award, the Observer said it’s “the world’s best fudge” and sweet-lovers still say “mmm.” Now, as Brilliant Mistake, Colin likes to share the love by helping businesses, big and small, to unleash their brands’ specialness.

How not to use Twitter to market your brand

Over the weekend Bing became the latest brand to get stung trying to build a marketing effort around human disaster.

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Oh Bing, how could you be so naive?

What happened next is a wave of anti-Bing blog posts and Tweets, followed 7 hours later (yes, it really took them 7 hours) – an official apology.

What is even more incredible, is that this came just a couple of weeks after Kenneth Cole got similarly slammed for trying to cash-in on the troubles in Egypt.

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So, I hereby pronounce:

Twitter marketing commandment #1

Don’t try to market your brand off the back of human tragedy. Nothing good will come of it. Ever.

The Wash & Go Test: What I learned from Hugh Dennis about Business

Hugh Dennis at CIMA Awards 2010Yes, Hugh Dennis… one half of Punt & Dennis, team captain in Mock the Week and star of Outnumbered.

But did you know Hugh Dennis started his career as a brand manager at Unilever?

I certainly didn’t, until, as a judge at the CIMA 2010 Awards, I found myself sitting next to Hugh Dennis at dinner.

Hugh was the guest speaker for the occasion, and shared with me some of his Unilever experiences and his view of how comedy is similar to marketing: Don’t include unnecessary details.

Hugh explained, in comedy, “if I start a joke with: There are three men in a bar, one with a hat… but then I don’t include the hat in the punch line, the audience will feel cheated”.

The same is true of marketing messages – the best received ones are those where you distil your message so that it includes only the key details, and you take everyone with you on the journey, in a way that they understand.

When shampoos and conditioners were first combined, “Unilever bombed” trying to explain the benefits of their product (Demensia?), while Procter & Gamble succeeded by explaining everything in the name: Wash & Go.

Similarly, Unilever failed to encourage us to “be chums with your gums” with Mentadent Gel, while Procter & Gamble succeeded with Crest by focusing on tartar, the physical manifestation of gum disease. “Crest Tartar Control” says it all.

(Hugh later confessed that he was the marketing manager who signed off on the Mentadent slogan, and seemed quite proud about it!)

The Wash & Go Test

So, from now on, we are planning to apply the Wash & Go test to all our products:

  • Is the message as clear and simple as “Wash & Go”?
  • Does the message include unnecessary details that don’t appear in the punch line?
  • Are descriptions of features and benefits too complicated the target audience?
  • Are the benefits you explain the ones that really matter to the audience?

Hugh never officially left Unilever. Strictly speaking, he’s an employee on sabbatical, who still holds onto the advice he received from his boss there: “the key thing is to appear clever at crucial moments” – great advice, regardless of whether you’re in business or comedy.

Your customers are becoming smarter about your market a lot faster than you are

“Thanks to the internet, your customers are able to talk to each other. They are able to find better information about your product than you are able of willing to give them, much quicker than you are capable of giving them. The conversation will happen with or without you, you’re better off joining in.”

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Or should that be Connectegrity? Winking smile

Found at: GapingVoid

Law Firm Branding: Can you serve all markets from a single brand?

Brands

A thought occurred to me the other day: Assuming the Susskind vision of the future is true, can law firms continue to serve all their clients from a single brand? In most other sectors, companies use brands to target a specific market segment.

  • RBS have the Direct Line, Churchill and Privilige insurance brands.
  • Intercontinental hotel group have Intercontinental, Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express.
  • In food retailing, many companies have a healthy eating brand, a ‘value’ brand, a mainstream brand and a luxury brand.

If more legal work becomes productised or commoditised and so becomes a ‘value’ based purchase, what impact does that have on your brand and your corporate and prestige clients’ expectations of cost?

It seems to me that the problem with trying to be all things to everyone, is you end up not standing for anything at all.

That’s one reason why Access Legal from Shoosmiths is so interesting: An attempt to create a brand for a specific market segment, but still keeping the parent brand to suggest quality and years of legal expertise.

Are Shoosmiths the only ones doing this? Are there any other law firms out there doing the same?

I’d be interested to know your thoughts. Let me know in the comments below…