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Top 5 Ways to Market Your Business With LinkedIn

LinkedIn is the most powerful social networking site to help you grow your business.  It makes Twitter, Facebook and YouTube seem like social networking sites for kids.

If you want to hang with the big players—a place where connections are made, leads are generated, and deals go down—then you need to spend more of your time on LinkedIn.

Although other sites have their purpose in the business world and many people utilize multiple social networking sites, LinkedIn is still the number-one place to market your business.  Here are ways to use LinkedIn and get results:

#1: Use LinkedIn Groups & Receive Tons of New Leads Daily

How would you feel if you had a sales funnel that brought in roughly 50 to 100 fresh, highly targeted leads every day? You’d feel pretty confident about putting food on the table next week, right?

Well, creating a LinkedIn group gives you the ability to generate an amazing number of leads from high-end decision makers.

Here are some great groups to closely examine:

Here’s how to maximize your LinkedIn group:

  1. Add keywords in the description of your group to increase your search rankings on LinkedIn’s search section.
  2. Add keywords in the title of the group to be found on Google.
  3. Add your company website or blog to the group to drive traffic to your site.
  4. Add your blog RSS feed to the group so every new article is automatically posted to the home page of every group member.
  5. Send a weekly message that adds value for group members and drives traffic back to your site.
  6. Connect people in the group by making introductions to those who could potentially do business with one another.

All of these points will help you generate more leads for your business.  If your sales funnel is set up correctly, you will have more than enough prospects to grow your business.

Make sure you create a group that fills a need for the audience you’re targeting in your business field. This will ensure that every person who joins the group is a qualified lead.

#2: Ask Questions & Build Your Credibility

I’ve asked a number of questions using LinkedIn Answers because it’s a great way toget the answers you need from some of the top experts in the world.

Then, when you see a question pop up that you know the answer to, follow these steps:

  1. Research the person who asked the question, and find a way to tie in a personal response with something from their LinkedIn profile.
  2. Be as helpful and resourceful as possible when answering the question.  Give tips, website links with additional information, or even recommend someone who is the best expert on that topic.
  3. Leave the answer with an open invitation for more communication by asking them to contact you privately if they need any extra help.

All of these tips will help you gain the most out of answering questions, and will help you build powerful relationships that will grow your business.

#3: Create Powerful Events

Hosting an event is a great way to build your business (see events under the ‘More…’ news in the LinkedIn navigation bar).  LinkedIn has an events platform that allows you to target thousands of professionals for free.

I threw close to 20 events around the country last year and I used LinkedIn to promote them, getting approximately 500 paying attendees per event.

Due to the viral nature of LinkedIn, once someone RSVPs to your event, it shows up on the home profile of everyone that person is connected to, spreading the message for you.

Creating an event on LinkedIn is simple.  Answer a few questions and start promoting your event.  Send an invitation to the people who would be interested in the event based on region or niche. You will notice a wealth of opportunities from hosting your own event.

#4: Run an Advanced Search in Your Target Market

It’s so easy to generate leads from LinkedIn.  The advanced search function helps you get in touch with the exact people you’re going after.

Simply click on “advanced” on the top right side of your home page next to the search box.  This will take you to a clean page where you can input anything you need to find the exact lead you are seeking.  You can search by industry, keywords, company and title, to mention a few.

#5:  Send Personal Messages

Once you find leads, you want to send them personalized messages.  The best way to drop any walls—and give yourself the best chance of making a sale—is to connect with someone on as many personal levels as possible. Look at their profile, find out which companies they’ve worked for in the past, which school they attended, what groups they’re in, listed hobbies and who your mutual connections are.  Then, write a personal message like this one:

Hi Tom,

I noticed that we’re both connected to Mary, Jeff and Bob; we both played basketball back in college; and we’re both in Toastmasters International speaking club.

I would love to connect with you to learn more about your experiences at Xyz Company. I believe there are a number of ways we could help one another.  Would you be free for a brief chat in the near future?

Looking forward to connecting soon and I’ll be sure to tell Mary I contacted you. I’m sure she would love to know I reached out to say ‘hi.’

Thanks,
Lewis

Personal messages seal the deal and give you a greater chance of future opportunities.

Now Go Grow Your Business With LinkedIn!

If you follow these tips, you’ll begin to understand why LinkedIn is the best social networking site for building your business. There are number of ways to attract leads, connect with powerful decision makers and market your business. LinkedIn’s niche-specific filters and search features can help you reach the right people in your field.

Make a point of staying active on LinkedIn. Continue to update your profile and add new contacts. The more you put into it, the more the entire network will work for you.

Are you using LinkedIn? How is it working for you? I look forward to hearing what success stories your LinkedIn network brings you. Share your comments below.

Source: Social Media Examiner

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5 Reasons Why Landing Pages & Forms are More Valuable than Homepages

A recent post over at Google made an interesting claim: The ROI for improvement is much better for landing pages and forms than it is for homepages. At first this sounds controversial, but it makes sense for many reasons. While the article talks about how to improve forms and landing pages, it doesn’t really explain why they are more valuable than home pages.

Here are five reasons landing pages are more valuable than home pages:

  1. Landing pages & forms are real interaction points.They are the primary way that visitors enter information or communicate back to you, the web site owner. Most pages are simply one-way communication, but forms and landing pages with forms are two-way…they are the conversation. By “listening” to the conversation on these types of pages, you’ll learn a lot more than you will by trying to figure out what home page traffic is telling you.
  2. Landing pages are transactional, and the transactions they enable are the ones crucial to your business. This means they are the most important point in the usage lifecycle of your customers…it’s when visitors are deciding to do business with you or start the process of doing business with you. They contain the most important decision points for your customers.
  3. Landing pages are contextual. When designed well, landing pages address a very specific need of a very specific audience. This makes them high value…they are like the sales closer. They come in after someone has shown interest and are the most powerful way you can close the deal. They might have a lot less traffic than the homepage, but that traffic is much more important.
  4. Home pages are a catch-all. They act to triage all incoming traffic. They have to handle first-time visitors, returning visitors, the press, friends and family, investors, people who want to sign into your web app, everyone who has any reason at all to visit. Therefore, the messages on homepages are necessarily weakened and can’t speak as strongly to any specific user group…they have to handle everything. They serve a completely different purpose than more focused pages like landing pages or forms.
  5. Homepages are notoriously political. Everyone wants a piece of the homepage. The thinking is that because the homepage is the single page with the most traffic, it must be the most important page on the site. But that’s simply not true…the mere fact that it’s the root URL on your domain means that it will inevitably get more traffic. In the end the politics almost always serve to distract…by spending so much time on the homepage design teams often overlook the value of their other, more important pages.

As site visitors we don’t often see landing pages unless we come via a specific pathway, such as clicking on an ad on Google Search or Facebook or some other ad provider. This serves to diminish landing pages in our mind…because we don’t see them as often as the venerable homepage. But there are real reasons why it makes sense to focus much of our design efforts on landing pages and forms…while leaving the homepage for the birds.

Source: Performable

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Choosing a Social Media Platform For Your Business

There are countless social media websites aimed at reaching a wide variety of customers. Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, etc. can all be useful in a social media strategy aimed at engagement. But with so many options, which ones will be most effective for your organization? Here is a quick guide to the pros and cons of a few of the major social sites and how they can work for you.

Facebook: Facebook is the largest social media site on the internet and it continues to grow. With new features such as edgerank the news feed is becoming more specialized and thus, more relevant. Facebook allows users to interact with your content whether they like, comment or post, this will pop up in the news feed, increasing visibility and allowing others to discover your organization too.

Pros

  • volume of users and posts

  • people check Facebook a lot, it is the most well known social platform

  • PPC ads available

Cons

  • time commitment

  • consistent posting is necessary

  • slower growth generally

Twitter: This fairly new social platform is transforming how businesses and users interact with one another. With only 140 characters, a tweet must get to the gist of it and fly. Twitter’s concise content may be easier to digest for users and therefore easier to interact with as well.

Pros

  • short and sweet

  • sent directly to followers

  • huge population that continues to grow

Cons

  • tweets can get lost in the feed

  • not great for posting photos (only links out to where the image is online)

  • 140 characters is confining

G+: Google’s attempt at social media created a site with a wide range of usability. From Hangouts to posted content to circles, G+ allows users to interact on a more personal level with their audience and creating lasting impressions.

Pros

  • Hangouts allow face to face interactions, building relationships and trust

  • circles segment your audience for better content management and targeting

  • a great place to connect with early adopters and the tech savvy

  • makes your business more searchable online

Cons

  • only one admin per page, created from a Google account

  • still functions on the fringe of social media

  • mobile functionality is not great

Pinterest: Photos and videos are fast becoming the key to engagement on social media which is why Pinterest is seeing so much success. Simple images linked out to more content allows users to browse without much thought until a photo catches their eye. By “pinning” a photo they can then save the link and find the information, recipe or design the next time they need it.

Pros

  • women love Pinterest, so it is a great place to reach them (between 85-97% of users are women)

  • visual appeal can have huge pull

  • very easy to create an attractive product or service pin to gain visibility

Cons

  • not the place to reach men

  • no way to control who sees your pin, only when a pin goes viral does it show up on a larger number of subject boards

  • some products are not visually appealing, this would make pinning less effective

Reddit: This new social platform hosts user generated content under hundreds of sub-reddit categories. The simple interface means greater usability and less clutter to sift through when searching for content.

Pros

  • categorization allows posts to be more targeted

  • ease of use

  • larger focus on fringe news and products as opposed to more mainstream

Cons

  • if a post is not voted up enough is it quickly buried

  • little monitoring, lots of spam-y/irrelevant content on various sub-reddits

  • almost to simple, boring to look at

YouTube: Facebook may have over 1 billion users total but YouTube boasts 1 billion individual users each month and these users are watching 6 billion hours of video on the site. Those numbers alone should tell you the opportunities in social video sharing. Like Pinterest, YouTube provides the visual aids to enhance any users experience and allows users to share this with their favorite social platform too.

Pros

  • visual is engaging

  • customizeable business channels and pages for content aggregation

  • ad opportunities and promoted videos

Cons

  • quality variance in videos (professional to camera phone)

  • suggested videos may not be applicable, easy to get lost

  • advertosing overlap is a possibilty ( competitors ads will show up with your content or as a suggestion on the right side bar)

Now that you have a little bit of information about each of these paltforms it is time to investigate and decide what combination will be best for your organization. Social media has the potential to grow your business exponentially. By entering the game on the right platforms with a strategy, you are one step closer to maximizing its potential. Just make sure that you are strategic in how you select and post content. Read more about this in our blog post Social Media is Like a Loaded Gun.

Already using social media sites? What made you choose the platforms you are on now? Do you use a site we did not list above? Why? As always, leave your comments below, we want to hear from you!

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3 Easy Ways to Master Your Facebook Presence

The latest stats on Facebook are staggering: more than 500 million active members and 500,000 interactive applications. The site says members are spending over 700 billion minutes per month on Facebook.

For business owners, it’s clear you need some type of presence on the world’s number one social networking site.  However, once you sign up, what’s the next step?

First, you should create a Facebook “like” page (formerly called “fan” pages). It’s fairly simple. Just create your page, edit your information, and push it live.  The real challenge with your page is to get people joining, and coming back for more.  I’ve had an Amber Mac Like Page for many months, but it wasn’t until this year that I truly understood how to make the most of my presence there.

Early this spring I sat down with a friend on Facebook’s strategy team.  I asked him to spend an hour with me to demystify the page experience, and give me some insider tips for Facebook success.  I learned a lot within these sixty minutes that changed the way that I approach my own Facebook Page. Here’s a summary what other businesses need to start doing now.

1.  Fill the wall.

Many companies spend time prettying up their pages, diving into the Info, Photos, and Notes tabs, but the truth is that very few people actually venture out to spend time on your page and within these tabs.  In fact, approximately 90 percent of people communicating with your Facebook page are doing so from their own personal news feeds.  In other words, only 10 percent of people are leaving the comfort of their Facebook home pages to check out your presence.

Since most users are interacting with you via your updates, focus your Facebook strategy on writing compelling messages on your Wall.  Facebook pushes these status notes to your users’ feeds (unlike other tab updates, which simply sit in one place).  Ideally, you want to write something that encourages your friends to comment, like, or share your messages.  This is how your Facebook page will become more popular.

2. Use rich media.

While writing compelling messages is key to getting your feed into the hearts and minds of your online community, a picture is worth a thousand clicks.  You don’t need to post a professional picture every time, but regularly attaching cellphone photos to your messages and trying to make your posts more visual is a must.  Aside from photos, videos are also heating up on Facebook.  The site is now one of the top five video viewing destinations online, so make it a habit of attaching YouTube videos to your messages to get more traction.

3.  Get inside Insights.

Facebook page owners can get free analytics with Insights, a tool that sits within your account. This information is an important part of your Facebook success since it will help you to understand who is using your page which includes demographic info such as gender and age (allowing you to post appropriate messages).

Within this area you can also get details on how much people are interacting with your content in order to learn what type of content is getting the most clicks.  One note: many users have found that they first need to authenticate their Facebook page before accessing Insights.

In addition to these three recommendations, ensure that you update your Facebook page with at least one new piece of content every weekday.  While you want to make sure that you keep pushing out interesting updates, don’t forget the Cardinal Rules of online success: Share information from your community and not just information about what you are doing.  In other words, visit the online profiles of your Facebook friends and make sure to “like,” comment on, and spread interesting posts from them.  Social media is, after all, a two-way street.

Source: Open Forum

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25 Ways to Engage Contacts in Social Media

What is it? What is it good for? Engagement.

One of the primary selling points of social media is the concept of engaging a potential customer or partner in your product or service. So how do you accomplish engagement on a personal level?

25 Ways to Engage a Potential Customer Using Social Media

1. Start a blog. This seems like an obvious one. This should be one of the first things you think about doing when contemplating using social media as a marketing tool. There should always be a hub where your contacts can interact. The so called “hub.” WordPress is a great tool to start blogging. Get on it!

2. Join Foursquare and Use it during the business day. Foursquare is a service that allows you to update your location to the people following you on a regular basis. I do not recommend using this tool after business hours (could turn a little creepy) but it can help your contacts get an idea of what you do on a daily basis. Even if you are just sitting in your office for most of the day.

3. Join LinkedIN and recommend your partners. Most of us are already using LinkedIN (if you are not click thislink for great information on LinkedIN). When you start to recommend the people you love working with it will help spread the goodwill that your business partners deserve. What happens you spread goodwill? Ever heard of pay-it-forward?

4 and 5. Start an RSS Reader and Find 5 Blogs to Follow. It is important that you use an RSS Reader to help with the organization of the blogs you read. For more information on starting and maintaining an RSS Feed check out this link. By using a Technorati or Google BlogSearch you can find 5 blogs that are industry “blog leaders” in your dedicated profession. By following and commenting on the blogs you will start to engage other readers.

6. Place a Poll on Your Blog or Website. There are plenty of tools available for polling on your website or blog. Wp-polls is a great resource if you are connected with wordpress. Ask a question to your audience. How can I make my content better? What are you wanting to read or learn about? This will help in engaging your more loyal readers and followers. Formstack also gives you the ability to create forms and polls for easy content access and building.

7. Ask a Loyal Reader  to Guest Post. There is value in having your loyal readers do a guest post for your blog. They will feed your link to their subscribers and it also gives them a pride in ownership of your blog. This allows for the strengthening of a relationship in the long run.

8. Identify Your Strategy. This should have been number one because it is the more important thing you could be doing before online marketing. If you do not have a strategy in place to lead the charge into social media you will be at a lost when it becomes overwhelming. A strategy allows you to measure success points in your social media journey. This only helps when it comes to YOU engaging THEM.

9. Focus. Really Focus on Your About Page. What is the second most read page on a blog? The about page. People want to know who they are communicating with. The last thing you need to do (and I am also guilty of this on my personal blog KyleLacy.com) is to create a boring about page. Spice it up. Add some details that will create the best about page you could possibly want! Also.. enable comments on your about page. Allow people to comment on yours likes and dislikes.

10. Use Twitter on a Daily Basis. Now this might be a little overwhelming to the young at heart in social media but Twitter is fast becoming the ideal means of online communication. For a detailed explaination of Twitter check outDiTii.com’s video.

11. Add Your Social Media Information to Your Business Card. I have written a ton about this in previous posts. If you want to truly engage with the people you meet offline… add your social media sites to your business card. I have my LinkedIN, Twitter, and Blog URLs on my business card.

12. Be open to collaboration. You may have run your small-to-mid sized business for years by yourself but social media is built on the art of collaboration. People will be giving their opinions on a daily basis and it is in your best interest to take those opinions with stride. Collaborate and join in on discussions surrounding ideas related to your industry and your life. Collaborate. Learn. Listen.

13. Start a Facebook Page and Add in Your Family Life. Facebook is an extremely personal tool that can be used to connect with individuals on an emotional basis using pictures. You have to be open in sharing some of your family life with the outside world. There is a reason why PR companies have used the idea of “family man” to save many tarnished CEOs. Add pictures of your family, your dog, your vacation. People will connect. (New to Facebook. Check out this link on getting started as a company).

14. Pick 4 Social Sites and Maximize. You will become anti-social if you become overwhelmed with the multitude of different social media sites in which you are a member. We teach a 4-touchpoint theory of choosing four social media sites to spend your time. With a limited amount of time you will find that 4 sites benefits you in two main ways:

1. You will have more brain “bandwidth” to communicate on a deeper level.

2. The same people will pretty much be on all the sites you choose. (I say this loosely)

15. When someone comments on your blog email them a thank you. I learned this from the famous Gary Vaynerchuk. If someone is joining into the conversation on your blog and adding content make sure you thank them for your support. The people who show a vested interest are key to growing your readership. Don’t be alarmed if you don’t have time to email people the moment they comment. It sometimes takes me weeks before I send a follow up email.

16. Write About Personal Experience. We talk a lot about this. Write about the way you see life. Write about the way you experience your business on a daily basis. TAlk about how you are helping people. Talk about how you are solving the problems on a daily basis. Use Twitter. Use Facebook. Tell stories on your blog. People engage in stories. They connect with stories.

17. Try to Keep Yourself Within 450 Words or Less on Your Blog. It is important to keep blog posts concise and to the point. If you have trouble writing this will help you in the long run. As you can tell by the post you are currently reading, it is not essential that you keep it to 450 words. If you have advice and knowledge to send out to the masses.. . please do so. If you keep blog posts short it helps to keep readers and that is the goal.

18. Remember Quality vs Quantity. Quality is always better than Quantity. I have always said that 100 extremely engage readers are infinitely better than 4000 quasi engaged readers. Quality allows you to truly form relationships with the people you are dealing with on a daily basis. You can build your base anyway you like but make sure you always come back to quality over quantity.

19. Monitor the Conversation around Your Brand both Personal and Professional. For more on this read:25 Tools and Tips to Following Your Brand Online. Why is it important to follow your brand online? You need to be involved in all the conversations surrounding your product, service, or YOU.

20. DO NOT HARD SELL! I am going to repeat this again: Do Not Hard Sell. This means you are not sharing about sales and detail after detail about your company. It means you are concentrating on listening to the people who are investing in your writing and social media prescence. Nobody cares about your 50% sale. They care about who will be greeting them at the door of your store or place of business. Personality rules and if you want to act like a used-car sales man… go work at one.

21. Handwritten Notes Go Places. If you have an individual refer you business through the online environment.. we encourage people to use the old method and handwrite a note to that person. You would be surprised how far a handwritten note will get you!

22. Setup Columns in Tweetdeck or Hootsuite for Use in Twitter. In order to follow the conversation surrounding your industry, clients, competitors, and your business… the tools provided through Tweetdeck and Hootsuite allow you to manage and organize tweets based on keywords or search functionality. Follow up to 3 columns and get involved in the conversation!

23. Use Rapportive to Connect with Your Email Database. Rapportive is a service that gives you the ability to connect with different contacts in your Gmail Inbox. A profile picture will appear to the side of the email and give you different information facts about the sender of the email. For more information on Rapportive read the LifeHacker post on the tool.

24. Try to Answer All Comments on Your Blog. It can be a daunting task. I felt guilty typing out this step because I am extremely bad at replying to comments. In all reality, the people you care about most…. should be the people who comment on your blog.

25. Use Rapleaf to Produce Segmentation Reporting for Your Email Database. Rapleaf is a reporting company who helps you better understand who your customers are and their social personalities. This service can give you some SWEET data on user engagement and cross platform marketing.

Source: kylelacy.com