Quick tips on how to improve your LinkedIn profile

Quick tips on how to improve your LinkedIn profile

Five short and easy tips to get noticed on LinkedIn. Any tips you’d like to add, please share them in the comments section.

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Week 11: Managing the General Motors crisis with social media

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General Motors (GM) recalled 1.6 million Chevrolet, Saturn and Pontiac vehicles in February over defective ignition switches that caused some engines to switch off while driving, and cut power to brakes, airbags and power steering. Just last month, 824,000 more cars were added to the ongoing recall. GM has linked 13 deaths to the issue, with the Center for Auto Safety claiming the defect has caused 303 deaths. The incident has led to government criminal and civil investigations, as well as an internal probe by GM. The company has admitted that some employees knew about the issue as early as 2004. GM’s CEO, Mary Barra, personally apologized for how they’ve handled the recall.

I want to start by saying again how sorry I am personally and how sorry General Motors is for what has happened. Clearly lives have been lost and families are affected, and that is very serious. We just want to extend our deep condolences for everyone’s losses.

During a crisis such as this one, there is a need to communicate with many audiences, utilizing a number of methods. Social media is one way companies can proactively communicate with consumers and show that they care and are listening. By taking the conversations to where they are already happening, such as Twitter and Facebook, and using platforms such as YouTube to deliver messaging and updates, companies can interact directly with consumers and answer their questions or concerns. By being active on these platforms, the company can help maintain its credibility, the trust of its customers, and mitigate any far-reaching brand reputation damage.

Facebook

In a high profile case such as this, GM needs to communicate and update, be transparent and accessible and provide a method for customers to communicate and ask questions. Using Facebook, GM can communicate key messages to its publics, and let those affected know what to do, such as whether continuing to drive their cars is safe. Updates on this platform should be regular and consistent. By providing timely updates and messaging, GM can get ahead of the conversation on the web and not have others tell their story for them. In order to show customers that they care, GM needs to admit to their mistakes regarding the recall, advise consumers of the extent and nature of the safety defects, and inform them what the company is doing to remedy the problem. GM should also publish press releases and its YouTube apology, along with new information as it becomes available. For the company to show that they are taking consumer concerns seriously, they will need to respond to questions and concerns, let their audience know that safety is their top priority and that they are conducting a full investigation to resolve the issue.

Twitter

Twitter is a great platform to reach people quickly, spread the company’s key messages, and create an open dialogue with consumers. By assigning a hashtag to the recall, GM can monitor conversations, such as to find affected customers to respond to directly, as well as to make any necessary changes to its web strategy. GM can also publish their press releases on Twitter, along with regular updates to give followers all of the information they need, and assure them they are doing all they can to make the situation right. Tweets containing important company contact information for customers wanting to contact GM would also be recommended. GM needs to be proactive with communications, and address the situation quickly, efficiently and in real-time. By putting the facts out there, detailing what they’re doing to respond to the crisis, and issuing an apology, they can show target publics that they have taken their concerns seriously and are acting to resolve the issue.

Websites

GM employees are important stakeholders in the crisis. I would recommend GM create a dedicated internal site on the company intranet to serve as an information hub for employees, to continually keep them informed of the facts as the crisis unfolds. GM needs to be transparent; let employees know their roles, if any, in the crisis and address any questions or concerns with them directly. In addition, a dedicated website for external stakeholders would also be helpful, for those wanting more in-depth information than is available on other platforms; detailing progress GM is making, plans to resolve the crisis and what they would’ve done differently. When you’re coming out of a crisis, companies need to show that things will be different in the future.

Week 10: Social media measurement tools

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There are dozens of tools available for monitoring, tracking and analyzing your social media presence. In this post, I’ll show you examples of three free measurement tools, and an additional paid tool. Note that the free options also have paid upgrades.hootsuite-logo1

HootSuite 

HootSuite offers a ‘social dashboard’; allowing you to pull all of your different social networks in to a single, secure workflow. Here, you can generate updates and content for platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn and WordPress, all in one place, and generate customizable analytics reports. This is useful if multiple people are handling the company’s social media accounts. The value of HootSuite is that it allows you to track and measure everything from fans and followers, to visitor traffic, brand mentions, regional clicks, consumer sentiment, and revenue and ROI. The ability to listen, engage and measure from one workspace is a great feature, as it saves time, reduces costs, and maximizes productivity.

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Klout

Klout allows you to measure influence through engagement on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Instagram and various other platforms. Klout Score rates users based on their ability to spread messages across social networks, with the higher score meaning the more influential the user. The score is based on a number of analytics, blended with data from other social network followings and interactions. The value in this tool is that it lets you adjust your posts according to your target audience’s interests and increase your engagement rate. Depending on the nature of your business, this tool could be useful but not necessarily as a stand-alone measurement tool, rather as part of an overall social web program.

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Bit.ly

Bit.ly is known as the URL shortening tool, and allows you to track the performance of your links across social networks, and view real-time statistics about who’s clicking on them. With this tool, you can measure how many people click a specific link, how many times it was retweeted or how many times it was shared on Facebook; which helps you to see where your content is being shared. Of further value is that if an organization has dozens of users sharing the same URL shortener account, analytics for its entire social media activity can be aggregated into a single view, which is useful and saves time.

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Trackur

Trackur is a paid tool that monitors mainstream media and social media channels such as blogs,  Twitter, Facebook, forums and other social platforms. With this tool, you can measure influence and sentiment metrics, for any URL you submit. Like HootSuite, the data is centralized, for optimum account management and time saving. You can also access analytics data while on the move, through RSS/XML feeds or email alerts. Another great feature is that with Trackur’s InfluenceRank metrics, you can quickly determine which bloggers have the biggest audience or which Twitter user has the strongest influence. You can then tailor your media outreach to the most influential users; those who are going to help spread your message the most, which is invaluable.

What analytics tools do you use? Which ones do you recommend? Tell me in the comments. I’d love to hear from you!

Week 9: Social media measurement…and introducing the three A’s

measurement

In my first blog post I briefly touched on the need for companies to first evaluate their overall business strategies, goals and tactics before engaging in social media activities. More specifically, companies need to align their social media programs to very SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound) business objectives. In this way, they can both measure the effectiveness of the program as a whole, and calculate its investment value to the company. As mentioned in Olivier Blanchard’s book, Social Media ROI: Managing and Measuring Social Media Efforts in Your Organization, tying a social media program to business objectives is vital to:

  • Give purpose to a social media program
  • Give momentum to a social media program
  • Make everyone involved accountable
  • Make analysis easier for social media managers in deciding what elements of the program are successful

A social media program, in order to be effective, needs to be measurable within the context of the business it serves: measurable, in other words, against the very objectives and targets it aims to influence.

The measurement process

According to Blanchard, the measurement process involves four key cornerstones:

  1. Monitoring: ‘listening with purpose’ or identifying and sorting the data that can be measured at a later stage
  2. Measurement: quantifying the financial and non-financial metrics
  3. Analysis: drawing insights from data and linking findings back to objectives
  4. Reporting: reporting results and actionable insights to management to be able to make adjustments to the social media program and produce the outcomes best aligned with overall business strategies

Monitoring and measuring a company’s online presence across multiple platforms can be a huge task. It is vital, however, in knowing what is being said about the company online and for measuring how successful programs are in achieving objectives. Social media measurement involves not just measuring a company’s own activities but also the attention that social media brings to a brand, the awareness and attitudes of consumers who have interacted with it online and the actions consumers have taken as a result of the company’s social media efforts. This brings us to the three A’s: action, attitude and attention. The three A’s are concepts that can determine if a social web program is meeting business objectives or falling short of intended outcomes.

Action

Action refers to what people do as a result of your social media efforts. This could be in the form of “likes”, comments or better yet, clicks and sharing. A social media program should create awareness of your company, product or service and encourage prospects and customers to take action that’s trackable. In turn, these actions can generate leads, engagement, and in turn, strengthen the conversion funnel. Your company may want to grow traffic to their website or blog, motivate people to donate or to register for an event, boost sales of a product or service, increase the amount of Facebook or Twitter followers or reduce operational costs. All of these goals can be measured.

Action is where key performance indicators (KPIs) tie-in to the measurement process. A KPI is simply a metric that you track to assess if you are achieving your business objectives. KPIs can be in the form of email subscriptions, downloads, sharing of content, the number of followers on your platforms, total volume of brand or product mentions, an increase in the percentage of positive sentiment in these mentions, retail store traffic, net transacting customers, net revenue or other conversion data. These metrics should show shifts in behaviour indicating that your social media program is having an effect. The data collected or as Blanchard calls it, ‘actionable business intelligence,’ in the very way it either changes or doesn’t change over time, should give you a snapshot of what is happening between the initial investment at the start of the program and the return.

Important to note, is that there are two types of outcomes possible from your social media efforts: financial outcomes and non-financial outcomes. Return on investment (ROI), always falls under financial outcomes. Financial outcomes mean cost reductions and increased revenue and can be measured in currency or in a dollar value, whereas non-financial outcomes, such as new Facebook fans or positive brand mentions, cannot. The point to remember is, when a call to action is in alignment with your business goals, it can help you get measurable results that support your key business objectives.

Attention

Attention refers to the overall volume of interest, which includes fans, traffic and other analytics. According to Kami Huyse, CEO of Zoetica, the easiest thing to measure in social media is attention. You can see how many visits your page has, how many were unique and how many were repeat or new visitors. Attention looks at volume, number of friends and reach. Although not a financial outcome, positive and frequent attention can maximize reach, which can translate to an increase in awareness of your product, service or messaging and lead to new transacting customers. Blanchard spoke to this when he discussed the F.R.Y (Frequency: also known as ‘buy rate’, Reach: which speaks to the conversion funnel ending in net new customers and Yield: being an expression of the ‘average dollar value of a transaction’) methodology. The thinking here is that:

You could convince people already buying from you to do so more often, you could convince more people to buy from you, and you could convince people who were already buying from you, without doing business more often, to spend a little more than they already were per transaction.

What this boils down to is, the more attention your brand, product or campaign garners, and therefore, the more users your messaging or content reaches, the higher the probability of lead generation and conversions. If one of your business objectives is to increase revenue through your social web campaign, increasing frequency of transactions, increasing reach and increasing yield can impact your bottom line. They can lead to the financial outcomes you have set out to achieve. The key here is that you want your social media activity to gain attention and for that attention to lead to action; the kind of action that achieves your objectives.

Attitude

Attitude in social media refers to creating favourable sentiment online for your company. Positive sentiment means people want to do business with you. By actively monitoring and analyzing comments and feedback, companies can determine the attitude of its audience toward the organization, its products or services. In terms of tying non-financial data to financial outcomes, an increase in positive sentiment can indicate a shift in preference for your brand or product, and due to the word-of-mouth value of increased positive mentions across social platforms, it can mean an increase in transacting customers as well. Tracking positive and negative mentions of a product or brand can also indicate if a campaign is going well or if there is a problem that needs to be solved. It can show the level of interest in your brand offering, let decision makers know whether social media program adjustments need to be made, whether the public likes or dislikes a new product, what consumers are praising you for or complaining about or if the latest content, messaging or promotion is working, and if it isn’t, why that is. Simply put, attitude measurement provides decision makers with business intelligence for quick course corrections and better decisions. If customers like or dislike something you are doing, you can take appropriate action right away. In times of a crisis, measuring attitude can also give public relations professionals an instant snapshot of where they stand with their community, which is invaluable.

I think Huyse captured the concepts of action, attitude and attention best, within the context of a social web campaign:

measurement process

Monitoring and measurement lets decision makers know whether social web programs are working or not. The process allows management to connect the dots and as Blanchard said “link outcomes back to specific activities, when your conversion narrative begins to emerge from the fog of analysis.” Successful social media programs support business objectives and help drive business growth, they drive traffic back to the company website and convert visitors into leads, and then into customers. For public relations professionals, the business intelligence gathered can help prove a program’s worth to key company decision makers, by showing them where the program yielded results and to what extent, what worked and what didn’t or where improvements or changes need to be made. Essentially, the measurement process serves to validate the social media activity’s role in achieving business outcomes. It is an ongoing process throughout campaigns, and vital for companies to determine whether their online presence is having the right effect, and programs are delivering the intended results as defined by objectives.