LinkedIn Publishing Platform Yields Lackluster Results

LinkedIn Pulse Publishing Yields Lackluster ResultsLinkedIn is a critical social media tool for networking, while adding significant value to B2B marketing and sales. I recommend that every individual stay active on the network, along with regularly updating your profile. Many businesses should have a LinkedIn strategy, too.

When LinkedIn launched its publishing platform, I was excited to try it out for my clients. Here are the benefits I was hoping would result from publishing on Pulse:

  • Providing content directly to a member’s network would promote more interaction from relevant audiences.
  • Articles would get an SEO boost from being on LinkedIn.

Several months later, and tests of Pulse have yielded lackluster results. Articles of similar theme and content perform better on my clients’ other platforms than on Pulse.

The Drawbacks of Marketing Your Small Business with LinkedIn Pulse

  • Articles from small business seem to be effective only if your subject matter surrounds networking, career advancement or recruiting.
  • Posts are published live. Without the ability to schedule posts, it’s difficult to publish at optimal times for your audience.
  • SEO appears to be less effective on Pulse than other networks.
  • Only three tags can be assigned to any one article.
  • Image size and placement customization are very limited.

LinkedIn Pulse could become a useful platform for marketing your small business. But first it needs to mature by adding features and giving authors more publicity.

Finding Leads on LinkedIn

Finding Leads on LinkedInLinkedIn is a great prospecting tool for B2B companies. In this article, learn more about finding leads on the platform. (If you’ve already established that you should develop a LinkedIn strategy, based on my article, “Is LinkedIn Right for Marketing my Small Business?“)

The key to finding leads is making connections, both by inviting many people to connect with you and by having memorable interactions with those people.

When you invite someone to connect with you, personalize the message beyond the default, “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.” My friend and business expert Steve Yastrow‘s biggest pet peeve is when people he barely knows send him the default connection invitation– he just ignores them. If you act like a robot, people will treat you like one.

How Do You Find People to Connect With on LinkedIn?

You know more people than you think you do! Most people can double their number of professional connections in just a few days.

Make connections with employees at your vendor and partner organizations– these contacts will be eager to connect with you and might have access to valuable leads.

Similarly, make an effort to connect with several people at your client organizations, not just your main contact. Developing more relationships will help broaden your involvement with your client.

Reflect on your past for opportunities to make connections. Consider high school classmates, church youth group friends or professors from college. Also, reach out to social contacts that might be professionally relevant, like parents from your kids’ playgroup.

If you’re fairly new in your career or business, consider connecting with friends of your parents who are more established professionally and will probably be glad to help your development.

These are just a few ideas to get you started expanding your LinkedIn network. Remember, “connecting” is not enough! Your lead generation will only be successful if you develop and maintain your relationships over time.

What NOT TO DO on LinkedIn

What Not to Do on LinkedInWe have all seen cringe-inducing social media marketing posts that make us say, “WHY would they share THAT?” I think these mistakes are particularly embarrassing on LinkedIn, because it is a professional network. Businesses, brands and individuals should showcase themselves at their professional best. Here are a few things to avoid:

  • DON’T use an overly personal photo. Your profile picture needs to be friendly and professional.
  • DON’T share updates that are trivial or don’t promote your brand. Save the captioned cat pictures for your personal friends on Facebook, not your customers.
  • DON’T get political. Left or Right? Either way, you’re sure to offend half of your customers.
  • DON’T ask for recommendations from people you don’t know.
  • DON’T post content with typos or misspellings. Proofread and post well-designed content.

Here’s a good rule of thumb for LinkedIn marketing: if you wouldn’t say it in-person to a customer, don’t post it.

Share this list with your employees and colleagues to make sure everyone in your organization avoids embarrassing your brand– and themselves!

Your Marketing Videos are Too Long

It’s true, your marketing videos are too long. Really, they are.

We know that attention spans are seemingly growing shorter. On the popular social network Vine, videos must be six seconds or less. But even in the stodgy world of network television, marketing videos (otherwise known at TV commercials) are limited to 30 seconds.

Fortunately, you can go longer than a Vine, and even a little longer than a TV commercial. Keep your marketing videos to 90 seconds or less. But only if you want people to watch them.

How to Keep Marketing Videos to Only 90 Seconds

Your Marketing Videos are Too LongYou have lots to say about your business, and it’s incredibly interesting to you. But your customers don’t care that much and only have a little bit of interest in your business. Even the Most Interesting Man in the World shot 30-second commercials (and he’s been retired).

Here’s how you keep marketing videos to 90 seconds:

  • Choose incredibly focused topics. Remember in high school or college, when you had to write research papers? When you chose an impossibly broad topic like the Civil War, your teacher made you choose one small facet to focus on. Don’t try to cover a topic that would require an entire documentary. Break it up into many, smaller videos.
  • Consider the one thing you want customers to remember from the video and shoot only that thing.
  • Watch a lot of marketing videos yourself to truly understand what is effective on film and what isn’t.
  • Don’t be afraid to shoot several takes to get the perfect phrasing and timing. Seconds really do matter in marketing videos.

Enjoy these tips and happy shooting!

Build a Community of Customers with Facebook Sponsored Posts

Many small businesses have tried marketing with Facebook, and some have experienced lackluster results. If your business meets the characteristics described in my article “Is Facebook Right for Marketing my Small Business?,” Facebook can be successful for your business. The key strategy is to think of your efforts as building a community of customers (of both new and existing customers).

One element to building that community is through targeted Sponsored Posts. This Facebook advertising option targets people who meet specific criteria. For instance, you could specify women ages 30-50, friends of people who already like your page or people interested in DIY home improvements.

Unlike other Facebook ads, these posts appear in customers’ news feeds, instead of the sidebar:

Build a Community of Customers with Facebook Sponsored Posts

Because the post shows up in the news feed, customers are more likely to see, appreciate  and interact with a sponsored post than with a sidebar ad. So, if you haven’t had much luck with Facebook advertising, try sponsoring some of your posts by clicking the “Boost” button. It only requires a small budget and it worth testing.

Have questions about advertising on Facebook? Reach out to me: amanda@zooinajungle.com

Keep Mobile in Mind: Small Business Marketing Tip

More than 50% of customers view email marketing communications or social media marketing campaigns on a smartphone. This means every message you share must keep mobile in mind or risk being ignored by half of your customers.

Keep Mobile in Mind

Here are some tips for designing mobile-friendly marketing messages:

  • About 500 pixels wide will display beautifully on smart phones. Minimize the amount of horizontal scrolling required to see the content.
  • Try to keep file sizes as small as possible. Smartphones load content more slowly than desktop computers, and customers are ever more impatient. Also, you need to be mindful of how much data you are asking customers to download.
  • If you have fairly sophisticated abilities, design elements using responsive design that adapts with the customer’s screen size. One good option for email marketing are services like Mail Chimp that have responsive templates.
  • If you have to send your content as an image, use a PNG, GIF or JPG format. Avoid PDFs, as that format usually won’t display automatically like other file formats.

Designing mobile-friendly messages can be more challenging than designing for print or desktops, because screen sizes are different among devices. But if you embrace the challenge, you’ll have the marketing advantage over your competitors who stay stuck in the past.

Is Twitter Right for Marketing my Small Business?

Is Twitter Right for Marketing my Small Business?For many of the small businesspeople I advise, Twitter is one of the most confusing or overwhelming social media networks to make sense of. The barrage of information on Twitter is unrelenting, and it’s hard to know what strategies will work best for marketing your small business.

Good news! Most small businesses can ignore Twitter altogether and focus on other areas of web marketing.

More good news! If Twitter marketing makes sense for your small business, you’ll find it fairly easy (and maybe even fun!) to get results.

When Twitter Marketing is Right for Your Business

  • Fame is your game. If you are a thought leader, public personality or otherwise benefit from personal fame, then Twitter is an important place to see and be seen.
  • You naturally have fans. For sports teams, restaurants, event venues and other brands that could describe their customers as ‘fans,’ Twitter is a great place for them to follow you.
  • You’re in the information business. Twitter traffics in information, so it’s a useful tool for information-based businesses like newspapers or recommendation services (like Roadtrippers, Angie’s List, etc.).
  • Your customers are active on Twitter. Usually, this applies when your business offers products or services to the previous three groups. Promoting your customers’ tweets and engaging with them on Twitter is a great business-building activity.

When Twitter Marketing is Wrong for Your Business

Businesses that don’t meet the above criteria can probably cross Twitter marketing off their list and move on to more profitable media. In addition, even if my list describes your business, Twitter marketing is wrong for your business if you don’t have the time or resources to develop an active, loyal following. Turning Twitter into business success requires a dedication to the community, including near-constant monitoring and engaging in authentic conversations.

Have more questions about Twitter marketing? Send me an email: amanda@zooinajungle.com

Facebook as a Customer Service Tool

Have you ever had a customer reach out to you with a customer service issue on social media?

Most businesses think of social media as only a marketing tool (if they think of these channels at all). But including social media in your customer service strategy could lead to happier customers who rave about your business in public.

Facebook as a Customer Service ToolOne great example of a business using Facebook for customer service is my client Grady Veterinary Hospital. The practice receives frequent queries on Facebook, and always responds promptly and thoroughly, in a caring manner. If appropriate, the staff replies publicly. This customer service approach on Facebook is partially responsible for the practice’s 194 reviews, averaging 4.3 stars.

Customer service personnel need to be adept at more than just phone and email communication. Small businesses should empower them to interact on Facebook, Twitter, Yelp or other social media where your business has a presence.

By honoring customers’ communication preferences, you show that you listen to them and that they are important to you. Already, a reconciliatory tone has been set. And the customer has an easy platform to shout your praises from the virtual rooftops.

Make it Easy for Customers to See Your Marketing Content

When marketing your small business, keep in mind that customers are naturally less interested in seeing your marketing messages than you are in sharing them. One simple way to make it easier for customers to engage with your marketing content is to always think about removing barriers to accessing the content.

Let’s say you have a beautiful and effective direct mail piece that you want to share with your email marketing list and social media audiences.

Many small businesses will share a PDF or picture of the direct mail piece, inserting this image into an email or sharing a link to it on social media. But posting or emailing a PDF actually creates a barrier to seeing the content.

How do you remove the barriers and make your marketing more accessible?

When translating a printed piece for web marketing use, follow these tips:

  1. Reduce the number of clicks required to view the content. Whenever possible, include the marketing message directly in the media. For example, instead of including a “Read More” link, put the entire message in the email or social media post.
  2. Optimize loading speed. Build email marketing messages in HTML instead of embedding an image or PDF containing the entire communication. It will load faster, and if there’s a loading error, most of the message will still make it to the customer.
  3. Consider the media you are using and how customers interact with that media. On a printed direct mail piece, customers expect all the information they need to call you or to buy. However, on Facebook or Twitter it’s easy to put a customer into information overload. Consider more frequent, shorter messages.

Make it easier for customers to interact with your marketing content, and you will enjoy improved results and happier customers!

Is LinkedIn Right for Marketing my Small Business?

Is LinkedIn Marketing Right for my Small Business?A few weeks ago, we answered the question Is Facebook Right for Marketing my Small Business? Today we shift focus to a different social media marketing platform, LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is a professional networking platform with social elements, like status updates, groups and those connection update emails I’m sure you have received in your inbox. These are free tools that can be used in small business marketing. In addition, LinkedIn also offers premium accounts and advertising options.

Before deciding to use the free tools or premium offerings, you should determine if LinkedIn marketing makes sense for your business.

When LinkedIn Marketing is Right for Your Business

  • Your small business is B2B. In this case, you should have a LinkedIn marketing strategy. Marketing efforts should focus on where your customers are, and I can almost guarantee your B2B customers are on LinkedIn.
  • You have a business brand. If your customers are businesspeople, LinkedIn is a great way to find them. Examples of ‘business brands’ include of professional development training or ergonomic office products.
  • You frequently need to hire new employees. If you need to market your business to prospective employees, LinkedIn has amazing tools to do so.
  • You are seeking investors for your business. It’s very likely potential investors are using LinkedIn, and you will want to build up your employees’ and brand’s credibility through LinkedIn.

When LinkedIn Marketing is Wrong for Your Business

If your business meets one of more of the following criteria, you can probably allocate your marketing resources elsewhere:

  • Your customers are consumers. 
  • Your customers aren’t businesspeople. 
  • Your business is local. Contrast this with Facebook, where local businesses thrive. LinkedIn typically isn’t used for staying up-to-date with what’s happening at local businesses.

Even if you don’t use LinkedIn in your marketing plan, it’s a great resource for finding and researching employees and partners. Also, you may find benefit by connecting with groups of other businesses in similar industries. Have questions about LinkedIn marketing? Send me an email: amanda@zooinajungle.com