Category Archives: Social Media

“I’d Like to Add You to my Professional Network on LinkedIn”

sales handshake

Does that statement sound familiar?  I bet that you receive a number of these requests every month.   I got a handful of these this week – all using the exact same words and nothing more. The majority of requests were from people I did not know.  It’s great that they wanted to connect with me, but there is one major challenge with it.  I don’t know why.  I can look at their profile and decide if I want to be connected to that person or not – but I still don’t have any context for their request.

Let’s look at it another way.  Would you leave a voice mail message that simply stated “I’d like to add you to my professional network” and then just hang up?   Probably not!   So why do that using LinkedIn?

The highest and best use of LinkedIn is all about building professional relationships, not just playing a numbers game and collecting connections.  If I know you already, then just sending me the standard request is fine because we already have a relationship.  But if we don’t, then the standard request doesn’t deliver enough information to make an informed decision to connect.  The context of the request is actually very important.

So, let’s put our sales, or business development, or job seeker hat on and think about it from the point of view of the person you are trying to connect with.  What’s in it for them to connect to you?  If you let them answer that question by themselves, they could either guess or just dismiss it. Neither of  which is a great outcome.   If it isn’t important enough for you to spend a little time crafting a relevant request, it’s probably not important enough for them to try and figure out why you asked.

Here are some things to think about to craft a more engaging connection request:

  • Why specifically do you want to add me to your network?
  • What mutual interests might we have?
  • Have you read anything or heard anything about me that caused you to reach out?
  • Do you have any information, content, ideas, or referrals that might be of interest to me?
  • How would this connection benefit us both?

So before you send the standard request, step into the other person’s shoes. If they have to ask themselves why you want to connect, you’ve missed an opportunity to start a real conversation.

— Lisa Dennis

Social Selling

One of the bigger challenges facing sales people these days is the fact that buyers are not connecting with sales people until later in the sales cycle.

Frankly, they can self-serve and don’t need us for education and awareness any more.  So what does that mean for us sales types?  Social Selling.

Check out this great article in Forbes.  

Devil in the Details

This morning, I received an automated business email from an organization that a colleague had once referred me to, as a source of a potential project.  After reaching out to the CEO – a good friend of my colleague’s –  several times about this opportunity and never hearing back from him, I simply dismissed the whole thing as something that was just not meant to be.  No harm, no foul.

However, I had been placed on the company’s mailing list, but since I get roughly 8 zillion emails a day, I didn’t bother to remove myself from it.  Who knows, maybe the project opportunity I was seeking might rear its head again.

So this morning, I noticed the email from this company.  They recently modified their business name, and started utilizing a spiffy new email application to communicate with their audience.  Since email marketing is one of the services I provide, I opened the email to see what how they were doing with it.

Now, the whole reason that email marketing applications like Constant Contact, MailChimp, etc. have a process for “personalizing” the email greeting is that, on a psychological level, recipients feel a little more comfortable receiving and reading an email when it is addressed to them by name.  It gives the impression, or illusion, that there is a relationship of sorts between the emailer and the emailee.

However, this warm & fuzzy illusion is completely blown, right from the get-go, when your email begins “Dear Dennis, Chuck,”.  My name is not Dennis, Chuck.  No one calls me Dennis, Chuck – at least not anyone who knows me.  Certainly, our mutual friend does not refer to me as Dennis, Chuck.  If this sounds like I am just being grumpy about having my name messed up, that misses the point.  I really don’t care about that.  But as a businessperson who has chosen to utilize electronic communications to engage his customers and prospects, this CEO should care a lot about this.  And you should, too.

Too many businesses shoot themselves in the foot by overlooking or dismissing details like this.  Your mailing list is one of your business’ most precious assets; it warrants your attention to detail.  It should be reviewed for accuracy and formatting.  If it is not, it sends the message, loud and clear, that your business does not care OR it is simply incompetent when it comes to communicating with its intended audience.  Neither impression inspires customer confidence.

— Chuck Dennis

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The “Invisible Children” and “Kony 2012” Phenomenon

We normally try to steer clear of political hot buttons on this business blog, and will make every attempt to do so here, as well.  What I want to focus on is the amazing reach of a single idea, and and how that idea quickly splintered into reactions and investigations and rumor and innuendo and inevitable humor and satire, all within 24-48 hours.  That, my friends, is viral.  Or as we say in New England, wicked viral.

An interesting summary of the situation can be read here, and some intelligent comments on both sides of the argument follow.  So I will not recapitulate the matter here, nor express my opinion on it (which is, in fact, still being formulated.)   Rather, I would like to examine the social media impact of this phenomenon.

The video first caught my attention via an article on FastCompany.com on March 7.  By the time I watched the video, it had already been viewed by half a million people since its appearance on March 5.  Within an hour of sharing it on my Facebook page, a friend posted a comment, with a link to another article, which suggested that the makers of the video, and their cause, were not exactly as they presented themselves to be.  After reading that article, a few thoughts came to mind:

    1. The power of a well-produced video is so compelling.  Upon first view, my reaction was not to do more research, or ask any follow-up questions.  In my mind, the video had shown me enough to warrant my desire to share it with others, thus helping the cause of the organization that created and posted it.  That’s a powerful video.
    2. At this writing, the original video has almost 28 million views on YouTube, and almost 17  million more on Vimeo, just 6 days after its initial appearance.  Is it possible to capture that kind of lightning in a bottle on a regular basis?
    3. It will be interesting to see how much traction their movement gets before April 20 – the day the organization has targeted for having their message blanket the physical world, in addition to the cyber world.  As a marketing case study, this one is a beaut!

So, the question is, is this a matter of a well-made video, introduced initially to a number of the right influencers in the worlds of politics and entertainment, then snowballing into a viral phenomenon?  Is the actual subject of the video that drove its popularity, or was it the execution of a great content packaging and release strategy?

Chuck Dennis

Can Pinterest Help Your Business? Or Is It Just Messing Around?

Yes.

Pinterest, one in a long line of new social media platforms, is seen by some as a fantastic gateway to driving traffic to other web sites, and therefore, ostensibly, some business.  It is seen by others as another in a long line of colossal, self-indulgent time-wasters on the web.  Hey, you kids!  You’re both right! 

Like with all social media, don’t blame the tool for the quality of the content its users post.  As we are still in the infancy of social media, let us indulge in the frivolous for a while.  Indeed, it is, and has been necessary, to put fun, goofy stuff on the web to encourage more users. Twenty years ago, those of us with corporate jobs were adept at using a computer, but most other working people were not.  Now, 2012, everybody’s grandmother is playing Angry Birds online.

But social media sites like Facebook, and now, to an extent, Pinterest, attract many of the casual web users.  They come for the fun, but many of them stay for the shopping.

And this is where Pinterest shines, if your business sells anything that can be attractively or interestingly turned into a graphic image.  You post a cool image.  Everybody on Pinterest can see it.  Many of them click on it to get a bigger version of the image.  Many of them then click on the link which will direct them to your site, or wherever you got the image from.  Then, many of them pin it on their own page, thus giving their seal of approval to your product.  People trust their friends more than advertisers, so they click on the image, too.  Pinterest has driven more traffic than Google in the past several months.  Like, way more traffic.

But the age-old question on the web is, does the traffic turn into revenue?  That’s up to the individual business, of course.  Pinterest will get the interested people to your site, but you still gotta give them something they want to buy!  That’s a whole other can o’ beans.

For businesses that do not provide tangible products that lend themselves to graphic representation, Pinterest is not right for your business.  Might be great fun for you, personally.  But not your business.  Don’t post pictures of your gas station, because no one online cares about it until they actually need gas.

But for artists, photographers, jewelry, real estate, music, food, collectors, automobiles & boats, and about a zillion other businesses, I think Pinterest is a no-brainer addition to your social media mix.

— Chuck Dennis

Socially Speaking

As social media becomes more and more prevalent in business, two things have become apparent.

One, social media for business is about your customer’s and prospect’s preferences, not your own.  This means utilizing the platforms that your target audience prefers, not the ones YOU prefer.  This may seem like an elementary statement, but human nature often pushes us into our own
comfort levels, as opposed to places unfamiliar to us.  Find out where your customers and prospects hang out online, and make sure you have a significant presence there.  Don’t assume! Ask them; find out what they like about Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc.  Then make sure you are there, giving them the relevant content that they desire.

Two, your social media platforms need to support and talk to one another.  People who find your business page on one platform should be directed to your pages on other relevant platforms.  In addition to the ubiquitous icons of Facebook, Twitter, and the like that now regularly appear on web pages and email signature files, many of these platforms themselves now allow for crosspollination.  For example, Facebook has an app that can lead people who land on your business page, and allow them to sign up for your Constant Contact newsletter.

As businesspeople, we know that there are few things move precious than our mailing lists.  These are people who are asking us to contact them, so it behooves us to provide easy access for them. Constant Contact and Facebook have done just that.  Check it out!

Let us know how you are sharing your social media pages with customers.  Or ask us questions about how to better leverage your social media accounts.  We’d love to exchange thoughts and ideas on this topic!

– Chuck Dennis

So Many Sins, So Little Time

I read an interesting, if somewhat basic, article by Stephanie Parker yesterday, on SocialMediaToday.com, entitled 7 Deadly Sins of Social Media.  In this article, Ms Parker lists some guidelines (I think “deadly sins” is a little dramatic in this case, but hey, it got my attention) for newbies on the social media business scene.

She discusses the pitfalls of posting too much, and posting too little, and how doing either can damage your credibility in the social media community.  While there is no general standard for amount of posting one organization should do in any given day/week/month, the old phrase “moderation in all things” applies here.  Posting too much makes you a blabbermouth; posting too little makes you a wallflower.  Neither extreme will help your business.

Along the same lines, Ms Parker addresses the nature of what you share.  You don’t have to be, nor should you be, “all business, all the time.”  Keep the “social” in social media by posting or commenting on things that you think might interest your followers, but not to the point that you become known as the wacky organization that posts all the cute kitty videos.  But if your personal interest in music / art / literature/ photography / etc. intersects somehow with the nature of your business, by all means, share it with your followers.  This presents your human side, and ultimately, people do business with people they like.  So be likable!

Another part of what makes social media social is the interactivity. Don’t just be a facilitator, be a participant.  On your own pages, if you start a conversation that people join, make sure you contribute and respond to other people’s posts.  If people are contributing on your pages, it’s because they want you to hear what they think, and they want to hear what you think.  And to that end, Ms Parker also urges you to participate in a variety of social media sites.  Different sites have different strengths and weaknesses, and target audiences.  If you’re going to do social media correctly, you want to be seen at all the cool places.

Her final warning is a good one: not to get too hung up on metrics.  There are ways of measuring the effectiveness and ROI of social media, but ultimately, you are trying to increase your business’ visibility and build some relationships.  Do that over time, and the ROI will come.

Chuck Dennis

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