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5 Ways Buying Facebook Fans Can Hurt Your Business

It is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is Chris Norton – Enjoy!

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photo credit: pixabay.com

Amazingly, many brands still measure social media success based on ‘counting metrics’, not on more meaningful indicators such as engagement, referrals or share of voice. Fueling this is the ongoing trend toward buying fans; usually bots that offer nothing of value what-so-ever. However, what many don’t realize is that this approach can in fact be actively harming your brand online. So, how can fake social media fans and followers be damaging? What kind of metrics should you be interested in, and why should social marketing success never be measured in LIKES alone?

1. Fake Likes Don’t Help Credibility

Purchasing of Likes may give your company an impressive image at first glance, but this alone isn’t enough to build a good reputation. With well-known crackdowns on fake accounts from the likes of Facebook in recent years, chances are your new ‘fans’ could suddenly disappear, or worse still, you could be publicly named and shamed. Think of the consequences; should you be exposed as buying fake fans, you risk instant scrutiny from the online world who won’t be shy in making their feelings known, and in the long term, this could damage your brand integrity, especially if you profess to be a transparent organization.

2. Fake Likes Don’t Turn A Profit

Contrary to popular belief, having a social media page full of fake likes or followers generally won’t help you achieve your marketing objectives – including driving sales. Anyone buying fake fans should check out their insights, and they’ll quickly see the majority of the accounts – even if they are real – are based in countries that they don’t even operate in. The same goes for any call-to-actions you are making through your social networks. How can you expect people to click through to your website or engage with your content if they’ve got no interest in your brand what-so-ever?

3. Fake Likes Don’t Measure Success

Many businesses, especially those starting out, believe the amount of Facebook fans are a measure of their company’s success and brand awareness. It is not. In fact, fake fans and followers can make your brand look worse online. If you’ve got a highly engaged online community of a few hundred, then any content you share will be received warmly, discussed and shared. In simplistic terms, Facebook’s algorithm will recognize this, and will then broaden the reach of the post to your wider community. Conversely, if you’ve got 1,000 fake profiles, then the initial reach of your posts will be worse, given that it’s being sent to un-engaged bots, not real people. This will subsequently reduce its natural reach, as Facebook’s algorithm recognizes this lack of engagement and interest in your content.

4. Fake Likes Will Mess With Your Metrics

A strong understand of social media metrics is essential if you ever want to improve your social media success. This includes knowing what content people are engaged with, and gaining an understanding of your online community’s dynamics and norms. However, the influx of fake profiles – which offer nothing in the way of engagement or meaningful action – will only impede your ability to measure your community’s behavior, leaving you with a dense smokescreen to negotiate.

5. Fake Likes Can Be Harmful

It’s often the case that the illegitimate individuals behind the fake likes and followers are professional hackers who use unsuspecting members of the public as their guinea pigs, without them even knowing a thing about it. The software in use by these people is also harmful to computers in general as spam links are commonly sent when the hackers are working their black magic. For any brand serious about behaving ethically online – which let’s face it, you should be – then buying fans should never be an option.

ChrisNortonChris Norton is MD at specialist social media and PR agency Prohibition.

3 Simple Tips to Increase Your Following on Pinterest

Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is Brian Jensen – Enjoy!

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photo credit: seo.com

In January 2012, it was announced by comScore that Pinterest was the fastest website ever to reach 10 million unique visitors. In August of the same year, Pinterest surpassed the microblogging platform Tumblr for unique monthly visitors and this upward growth trend doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon. According to a Q3 Consumer Sharing Trends Report released by Share This, Pinterest is the fastest growing online content sharing platform.

This explosive growth has made Pinterest a viable traffic and revenue source for many B2B and B2C businesses.  For brands that utilize image sharing networks, migrating your existing social media followers to your Pinterest account and integrating the platform into your other social media networks is an integral part of a visual marketing strategy.

1. Pinterest Group Boards

Also known as community or shared boards, group boards are similar to regular Pinterest boards except that multiple users can contribute and add pins. It’s easy to spot group boards from personal boards by the gray people icon located in the top right corner of a board.

Pinterest group boards are a great way to meet other users and increase the exposure and engagement of your pins. To find group boards that are relevant to your business or industry, try using Board Deck. The tool works by searching for and returning group boards that you can evaluate and potentially start incorporating into your pinning strategy.

group boardThe above screenshot shows the group board results for the search “social media marketing.” The tool provides you with important metrics like group board followers, collaborators, total pins, number of repins, creator and last updated, to give you an idea of the popularity and activity on each board.  Joining a group board is usually as simple as reaching out to the creator and letting them know you’d be interested in contributing to the board.

2. Make it Easy to Pin Your Shareable Images

If you are adding shareable images and graphics on your website or blog, making the images as easy to pin as possible will help get your images pinned, create links and increase the visibility of your brand and website. The first step is to make sure you have a Pinterest share button enabled and included with your other social sharing buttons on your website and blog.

pin itIf you are using WordPress as your content management system, there’s a plugin you can install that will add a “Pin It” button anytime a reader hovers over your images, making sharing your images intuitive and easy.

3. Integrate Pinterest With Your Other Social Media Channels

Pinterest arrived to the social network party after other popular networks like Facebook and Twitter. Because of this, many brands have established followings on one or both of these networks and a need was created to raise awareness for their Pinterest channel.

Successfully integrating your Pinterest account on your other social media networks is a two-step process which includes:

  • Adding your Pinterest account URL to your other social networks
  • Sharing your pins across your other social media accounts

Google Plus

Google+ is another social network that has seen impressive growth in 2013 and now claims over 300 million monthly active users making it an important social channel to establish a strong social footprint on.

Google plusTo add a link to your Pinterest account on your Google Plus business/brand page, navigate to the “About” section then to “Links” where you can add all of your active social networks accounts. Encourage repins by including a “Pin it for later” link at the bottom of the Google+ posts you share.

Facebook Page Tab for Pinterest 

Facebook page tabFacebook has created apps that allow users to integrate their other social networks (Twitter, YouTube, Flikr, Instgram, Vimeo, HTML 5) into their Facebook page through custom tabs. The Pinterest app provides followers with the option to like, pin, view and follow your boards and is a great way to integrate and increase awareness of your Pinterest account on Facebook.

Add a Link To Your Pinterest Account on Your YouTube Channel

pinterest channelYouTube allows users the option to add links into the box in the bottom right hand corner of their channel art. Add a link to your Pinterest account by logging into your account, clicking the pencil icon in the top right hand corner of your channel art, clicking Edit Links and add your channel URL. Adding a link to your Pinterest channel will make it easy for your YouTube subscribers and viewers to find and follow you on the network. It’s also a smart idea to add a link and call to action for all of your social networks in the description section of your channel videos.

Tweet Your Pins

tweet your pinsUtilize your existing following on Twitter to build awareness to your Pinterest account by tweeting pins of images and graphics.

Pinterest marketing is fun, and the traffic and visibility payoff can be big if you’re able to successfully attract, share, integrate and engage. What are your success stories? Is there a valuable tip you’d like to add? If so, leave a comment below!

Brian-Jensen-BW(1) (2)Brian Jensen is the Director of Traffic Acquisition at SEO.com and has a passion for all things marketing. If you have an online marketing question, connect with Brian on Google+, Twitter or LinkedIn.

 

How to Measure Facebook ROI

Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is Mickie Kennedy – Enjoy!

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It’s easy to get lost in the social media juggernaut that is Facebook. Between all the status postings, helpful links, and Instagram pictures of your food (um, scratch that last one), are you actually bringing any business in? How do you check if your efforts have been worth it and you’re actively bringing in real money to your company?

Know Your Goals

It’s always best to take the first step when you know where you’re going. Exploiting Facebook for PR purposes is no different. Was your conquest of the social media powerhouse to bring in as many potential customers as possible, or are you focusing on filling a niche? Would it benefit to switch your focus?

It may sound simplistic, but the majority of people attempting to utilize Facebook to its fullest simply aren’t when they blindly post links and updates. Having a clear focus for your business on Facebook can help you realize what is working and isn’t. Evaluate and re-direct if necessary.

Keep in mind if something works the first time it doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll work again. It’s a constant process to keep your goals updated and your actions reflective of them. However, if you know what the ultimate aim is for your company, it’s easier to stay up on it.

Does Your Current Direction Equal Capital?

After analyzing your focus, a quick look at your numbers can give you an idea on the effectiveness of your current campaign. Take a finite amount of time, say a month, and check to see how much or little things have changed after you redirection.

Perhaps your custom bonsai tree business seems to be stagnant lately. As this has a decidedly niche customer base, you decide that your current strategy of mass updates about proper cultivation techniques isn’t working. Instead, you focus your time on posting in bonsai or gardening related Facebook groups. After a month, you notice a slight incline in sales. Now you can narrow it down further to see which was more effective.

Some Handy Dandy Applications

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First of all, make sure you are utilizing Facebook Insights to the fullest. The Facebook development team has improved Insights over th

e years, meaning that you can poke, prod and fine tune your analytic data more than ever. This can really give you an idea what your growth arc is and in what areas you can improve.

One useful app is Adobe Marketing Cloud. It analyzes hits and use of applications down to the nth degree, including if people are sharing your links and reposting any images. It also breaks down users into how many friends they have, showing you the potential for garnering a wide audience.

Also make sure to check out Adobe Social. Boasting its real time functionality, the application is used both as an analysis program and a front-end for Facebook. Call it a one stop shop. You can even use it to moderate any fan pages you’ve set up, and of course analyze them as well!

 

img_mickeyBy Mickie Kennedy, founder of eReleases, the online leader in affordable PR distribution since 1998.   Grab your free copy of Ultimate Guide to Pinterest here, a must-read for the small business professional. Follow eReleases on Google+, Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter.

Do You Know What Your Customers Are Really Saying?

Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is Jeannie Walters - Enjoy!

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photo credit: theparadigmshifter

With social media so readily available, small and big businesses are setting up listening posts to hear what customers, prospects and members of their community are saying about their brands. Listening in and using the feedback constructively can have positive results for your customer experience, leading to more repeat business, referral and word-of-mouth marketing. But it only works if you are listening to the right cues.

Start With The Basics

To make sure you’re connecting with your customers, it’s easy to track your brand name mentions on Twitter. Using Twitter search is a simple and straightforward way to do this. But what if they’re not aware of your brand? It’s a good idea to set up lists and searches for more than your brand name. Consider tracking:

  • Common questions and phrases prospects might use
  • Products or services you sell
  • If location is important, then track regional or locally-focused phrases
  • Your competitors!

It’s not just Twitter that can help you listen in, but Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn. For location-based businesses, Foursquare, Google Local and Yelp reviews can really help you see feedback as it happens. Don’t be afraid of the reviews – deliver an experience so you can ask for them from your customers. Peer reviews drive more trust than advertising or anything the brand can say, so the more you listen the more you can drive your experience.

Ready For More?

If you really want to find out more about your customers, it’s a great idea to join the conversation where you can. Doing so means understanding what’s important to your customers. Join the communities online where they are, and participate when appropriate, but don’t use the community as a sales platform.

The best way to find the right communities are to think about what challenges your customers might have, not how your salespeople would talk about things. Identify those issues and find communities around them.

Tools Make It Easier!

I use a lot of tools to keep up with mentions, customer discussions, client mentions and competitors. My favorites:

1. Set up alerts

Google Alerts was the go-to resource for many people, but Google seems to be retiring this tool. The one to use now is TalkWalker.  TalkWalker does a great job updating you on mentions of your brand, your competitors, or whatever else you’d like to track. You can set up as many of these as you like for free. TalkWalker sends you emails at any frequency you like – as things happen, daily, weekly, etc. – so you see just where those conversations might be happening.

2. Use Google blog search

Asking Google to search is a little overwhelming. Using the blog tool helps you find squirreled away conversations that might really help you listen in. It’s great to see what customers or clients might be blogging about.

3. Check out the forums

Communities are often driven by online forums. Check out the topics that generate the most traffic to see what challenges you can help your customers address.

Don’t Forget to Act

Now that you’ve started listening to your customers, don’t forget to act on what they’re saying! It’s a great idea to set up a daily and/or weekly review of these posts, so you can create action plans for what you need to do in response. It can be at both a macro and micro level. For example, if many Yelp reviews are mentioning a specific issue, you know you have a bigger problem. But if one customer is complaining on Twitter, you are probably best served reaching out directly and asking to solve the problem offline, in a one-on-one manner. Whatever you need to do, take the time to create a process to respond.

Listening in on customer conversations in creative ways can help you stay ahead of the competition. Just be cautious about stepping in when you are uninvited. Invite feedback, respond to brand mentions and online inquiries, and offer support and help when necessary. It’s ok to reach out privately and say “We say you mentioned us on Twitter and had some problems. We’re here to help.” It’s not ok to respond and say “YOU’RE WRONG, Customer!”

What are other ways you have found to make sure you’re hearing all the right feedback?

2012-10 GLO Chicago Headshots-20eCROP (1)Jeannie Walters is the Chief Customer Experience Investigator™ and founder of 360Connext, a Chicago-based consulting firm specializing in the cornerstones of customer experience: customer engagement, employee engagement and connections like social media. 360Connext serves mid-market companies and larger by helping them evaluate their true customer experience. The evaluations always lead to improvements which then lead to results like increased online conversions or loyalty.

Shut Up & Social Listen

Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is Shay Wright – Enjoy!

At any given moment, there are literally millions of different conversations happening online, and some of these conversions could actually be related to your specific product or brand. Are you listening to these conversations? If you are, are you listening for more than just mere words but actual insight and useable feedback? These conversations can offer vital information to further improve your business, product, and online reputation. The key to gaining this important insight, however, is often to simply shut up and listen.

Listening station

photo credit: Beverly & Pack via photopin cc

Listening requires patience and understanding of the customer’s point of view, and many companies don’t like this. They prefer to do more talking, and they are so overly anxious to get their message out that they end up missing the mark because they have not taken the time to really listen to their customers.

Listen For The Right Reason

Nobody likes the idea of some nosy company listening in on their conversations about a particular product or brand. If you’re listening in just to feed your ego or slam anyone that says something negative about you, you are in it for the wrong reason. When it comes to social listening, first ask yourself what your motivation is. If your motivation entails anything other than striving to better understand your customers in order to serve them better, you are in it for the wrong reason, and your social listening efforts aren’t going to lead yield the results you had in mind. Listen for the right reason, and your time spent listening will be some of the most effective time you spend.

Benefits of Social Listening

While social listening does require some time and patience, the benefits of social listening far outweigh the time and effort involved.  Below are a few of the many benefits that social listening can bring.

1. Tool For Testing

The great thing about the Internet is that it is a great way to get a quick reaction and immediate feedback from people. You can test the waters without investing a lot of additional time and money into something that people might not be that interested in. Put your product or content out there and listen to how people respond before deciding how to proceed with it. You may decide to throw out your idea altogether or even go bigger than you originally planned.

L.L. Bean often uses its online audience to test out new merchandise for its stores. Online test marketing can help large retailers like L.L. Bean determine just how popular a product will be before placing it in stores across the country.

2. Find Your Audience

With the right social listening tools, you can find out where your targeted audience hangs out. There are a lot of niche communities where you might find a plethora of people interested in your specific product or service. If you find out where your targeted audience tends to hang out, you can listen to their conversations, better under their points of view, their wants and needs, their likes and dislikes, etc. And when the timing is right, you can later join in the conversation or carry out a marketing campaign in that specific community. You have to take the time to listen first though.

3. Find Advocates

Never underestimate the value of your true brand advocates, and you’ll find out exactly who they are by doing proper social listening. If you come across someone that talks about how great your product or service is, enlist this person in your cause. Brand advocates can become some of your most valuable assets.

4. Content Ideas

If you are doing a good job of social listening, you often discover common questions or concerns that your audience has in relation to your product or service. You can then use this information to develop content that solves their questions and concerns. If a lot of people are confused about how to use a particular feature of your product, write a blog post about it and reference it, when appropriate, in online conversations.

Conclusion

Keep in mind that just because a conversation is happening around your brand doesn’t mean you have to jump in the conversation right away, as tempting as it might be. Take the time to listen first, and then use the information you gather during the listening process to respond to your audience in the most effective way possible.

Some great tools you can use for social listening include Google Alerts, HootSuite, Social Mention, and Fresh Web Explorer.

shayContributed by Shay Wright. Shay loves to read, write, and discuss pretty much anything Internet marketing related and is currently working as a Senior SEO Specialist as SEO.com – the leaders in search engine optimization and other Internet marketing solutions for businesses of all sizes.

Customer Experiences Go Viral on Social Media Platforms

Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is Nicole Beachum – Enjoy!

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Photo credit: earningforever.com

Regardless of whether you are a small business owner or the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, without customers, you no longer have a business. Therefore, when it comes to any business, the customer experience is essential.

This fact is why many business owners have emphasized (or attempted to emphasize) the importance of the customer always being right. Starbucks, for example, has a reputation for providing an exceptional customer experience. If they have a lapse in customer satisfaction, though, one disgruntled customer is not going to ruin their business.

The same cannot be said for a small business.

When it comes to small businesses, the customer experience can ultimately make or break your business’s chances to succeed. Therefore, it is essential for you to understand where your customers turn when they are disgruntled and how to best navigate the waters of responding to customer complaints in a manner that helps to increase your business’s chances of success.

The Power of Social Media

When a customer has a pleasant or not-so-pleasant experience, the first place to which they will often take their praises or complaints is online. More specifically, most people will voice their pleasure or dissatisfaction on social media platforms such as Facebook or Twitter.

As a result, it is imperative that you have someone who is responsible for your online reputation management who monitors social media platforms and other online outlets for customer feedback. This reputation management can either be someone trained in digital media within your office or can be an external contractor; however, monitoring your reputation online is absolutely crucial.

When someone praises your company on a social media platform, it is important for you to respond to them and thank them for their feedback. Even more importantly, when someone voices a complaint about your services, your response is critical. Within hours, your response to your disgruntled customer can go viral—even obtaining national attention (something you definitely don’t want).

Therefore, a prompt, professional, and concerned response to online customer complaints can make all of the difference in the world in helping propel your small business into the future.

Negative Response Leads to Decline in Business Reputation

There is a very good example that shows the importance of online reputation management and how the customer experience is truly vital in having a positive online presence.

According to a post that went viral on Facebook, a little girl’s father was in Afghanistan and ordered a bouquet that came with a necklace for his daughter to be delivered on Valentine’s Day. When the flowers were delivered, a necklace was not included. The mother of the daughter supposedly called the company and complained, but the company failed to take responsibility for the situation and offer to make it up to the lady, her husband, and her daughter. (It is essential to note that this is the woman’s version of the story and the flower shop disagreed with the specifics).

The woman, outraged, posted about the company on Facebook and the post spread quickly. The florist responded on their own Facebook page by posting the woman’s order on their timeline. By the end of that day, the florist had numerous negative reviews online and people from across the country knew about this story—all because of social media.

It has been several months since February 14, 2013 and the company is still being plagued by this one negative customer review and their response to the customer on Facebook.

Regardless of who was right in this situation—the woman, the florist, or some combination of both—it is clear that this unfavorable customer experience was not handled property by the florist. As a result, its entire online reputation (and probably much of its local reputation) has been affected.

This story, in a nutshell, is why customer experience is essential in today’s digital world. If your customers are happy, they are likely to share that story online with the potential of increasing your customer base. On the other hand, if they are unsatisfied – and this will happen, sooner or later – it can (and often does) affect your bottom line.

CSP_0008aNicole Beachum has been helping small to medium businesses transform their online presence through high-quality, original website content, blogs, social media postings, online reputation management, digital public relations, digital media, sales letters, and other digital reach methods since 2008. Firmly believing that every business needs to combine their strategic outreach plan to an audience-tailored digital reach strategy, Nicole strives to help businesses increase their bottom line through customer retention and new customer acquisition. http://nicolebeachum.com/

How to Use Social Media to Build Stronger Community Ties

Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is Joe Shervell – Enjoy!

photo credit: alexkess via photopin cc

photo credit: alexkess via photopin cc

Social media allows businesses to take their products and services to the next level by actively harnessing the power of the crowd. More typically this involved turning users into unknowing promoters, but it can also be an excellent way to target strategic business partners. Incentivized campaigns on major social media outlets give regular users a sense of ownership and involvement in the company and its products, but there are also emerging technologies which allow businesses to source advice and skills from the crowd.

Crowdsourcing

‘Crowdsourcing’ is, in essence, using savvy members of your social sphere to help shape a product through design input and productive feedback. Think of it as holding a brainstorming session with an unlimited number of planners.

Branch.com is a good example of crowdsourcing on social media. A user expresses an idea, suggestion, or concept to a circle of industry experts using the Twitter interface. One popular conversation was the ‘save symbol’ discussion, started by design technologist P.J. Onori. This discussion swelled to include over twenty people and deconstructed the functionality and design of the existing save symbol. Because of its crowd nature, every person in the discussion became a co-creator for the “concept” save symbol in progress.

Chaordix.com is another crowdsourcing platform that breaks its sourcing communities into ever-increasing, broader circles. At the top and hence the smallest are business leaders and producers. In the middle are brand and idea groups, which discuss ways to make the products and services better and get the message out to the maximum number of potential customers. At the bottom, but still hugely important are the user-groups, or the potential customer/regular Internet user. Using a combination of analytic and CMS tools coupled with user incentives and feedback, Chaordix creates strategic dialogues between the top management levels and the consumer to permit more people to take a hands-on approach in shaping new products and services for public consumption.

The common factor in these services is the ability to give the consumer greater ownership and a more direct role in shaping the products and services they use, as well as the businesses they buy them from. The other advantage of crowdsourced intelligence is that for a fraction of the cost of a traditional digital advertising campaign, the crowd can feel involved and consequently more excited about a product. Natural, this will lead to greater social sharing and more traffic and eventually a higher conversion rate. Creating a buzz at the source means that users hear about the product from their friends, family, and their online community—in short, people they trust.

One of the most prominent brands built entirely from a crowd-sourcing perspective is Threadless, a service which encourages artists to design artwork that will eventually be used for t-shirts and other products. The best designs are decided by user-vote, ensuring that the entire process is completely sourced from the crowd. It’s a great way to make partners of both designers and t-shirt fans.

Crowdsourcing is also an excellent way to encourage co-creation and strategic partners through crowdfunding, such as through Kickstarter. By encouraging small investors in new projects, the company’s R&D budget is not tapped as heavily and the investors see a real return on their investment in the form of something new that they helped create, either through conceptual input, cash infusion, or both.

Treating User-Groups as Partners

Clever brands are starting to realize the power of the crowd as a marketing tool. By treating your users as marketing partners, you can create communities which perpetuate your message simply because they enjoy doing it.

RadioShack found a way to harness the power of Twitter with its #kindofabigdeal hashtag campaign. The premise was simple: A number of Verizon cell phones were arrayed on a table. As users Tweeted the hashtag, the phones would vibrate. The phones were ultimately awarded to the last person who made each one vibrate. In addition to promoting the RadioShack/Verizon pairing, it also generated a huge amount of online talk, netting over 80,000 mentions on this hashtag alone. Unwittingly, every contestant had become a promoter. By creating an online community, RadioShack had used the crowd as a strategic partner.

There are plenty of other examples emerging of companies realizing the power of social media for harnessing the power of online communities. Crowdsourcing is multi-faceted, but it’s becoming undoubtedly one of the most powerful methods of planning and promoting a product.

Joe PhotoJoe Shervell is a keen blogger and digital marketing enthusiast. He loves everything social online and tries to incorporate some element of social media in all of his work. He writes for www.datadial.net, a London-Based Internet Marketing Agency.

7 Practical and Powerful Tips To Accelerate Online Networking

Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is Porter Gale – author of Your Network is Your Net Worth.

Your Network is Your Net WorthTechnology has redefined how we prospect for jobs, meet business contacts, and interview. Whereas I got my first job because the receptionist at the courthouse where my mother worked was on maternity leave, today your recruitment involves analysis of your personal profiles on Google, Facebook, and LinkedIn, group lunches, video chats, and other approaches, as well as the formal interview.  Every day people are making connections online via Skype, in Google + Hangouts, through email and more.

How we meet and network has dramatically changed.   The days of getting a job through a series of one-on-one interviews where you wear your blue suit aren’t as common. T. J. Sassani, the CEO and founder of ZOZI.com, shared a story that demonstrates the new model of networking, “One of my most recent hires was a new public relations person named Tian Lee. She found my profile on LinkedIn and sent me an email that was so passionate I realized she could sell the company better than I could. I hired her on the spot.” If you want to accelerate your networking with online tools, seven practical and powerful steps to help you make Your Network Your Net Worth follow.

  1. Have a Concrete Goal. Set a networking goal (i.e. seek employment, build friendships), determine your message”and define the types of people you’d like to meet (i.e. at specific companies, industries etc.).
  2. Build Your Online Profile. Consider developing a web page. Many open source applications (i.e. WordPress, Magento, spree) and fully hosted website options (SquareSpace, Wix, Virb, WordPress.com) are available. Also try using Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter and other online tools and sites to spread your message. If you’re looking to build your online business profile, do not overlook the power and reach of LinkedIn. If your story or networking goal has a visual component use Instagram and Pinterest to share images, photos and pins that reinforce your message.
  3. Know The Blogging Basics. If you’re blogging to build your network or profile, remember attention spans have decreased and multitasking has increased, so keep your content short and concise. Make your headline memorable but not clichéd. Enable social sharing on all posts and post not only on your blog but also on your social media channels. Include your Twitter handle and URL in your byline. Consider blogs with easy-to-digest “top tips” lists or question-and-answer formats.
  4. Understand the Power of Keywords & Links. If you do build a site or start generating content, know the power of keywords, the basic principles of search engine optimization and the power of links. What words should you build into your content to reinforce your networking goals and objectives? Are there back links or inbound links that can be added to your site for increased traffic?  Have you submitted your website to the major search engines and Internet directories?
  5. Share, Connect & Nurture Relationships. If you want to build a relationship with a contact online, it’s important to share, communicate, and connect in the same way that brand fans and companies nurture their relationships. Actions as simple as a retweet (RT) or mention in a #Follow Friday (#FF) list on Twitter, a “like” on Facebook or an endorsement on LinkedIn can signal your interest in connecting.
  6. Partner With Publications.  When I left my post at VP of Marketing at Virgin America, I made a conscious effort to raise my profile and to build my network by blogging for online publications. I wrote a sample post and pitched several editors. After a quick back-and-forth, two editors agreed that I could blog for them on a regular basis. This is where it gets tricky. I agreed to write content and was not hired as an on-staff writer. So blogging is a bit like sweat equity: you need to make sure you can glean a return in ways that are not directly deposited in your bank account. For me, the exposure kept my name in the forefront, and I included in my bio that I do public speaking. With every post, I gained Twitter followers and usually received a speaking engagement inquiry. So the return on investment wasn’t a direct payment from a publication but came quickly via a larger network and reach and more consulting opportunities. Partnering with or blogging for publications with built-in reach is a faster way to find an audience and build a network than starting from ground zero with your own blog or website.
  7. Think Like A Marketer. Get creative with your copy. What is memorable about your email, post or tweet? Are you being clear and direct? Is the subject line header of your email catchy enough to grab someone’s attention? Think creatively, and keep your objective in mind when you use online tools to communicate. A mistake that people often make is not being specific. For example, have you ever sent a long email to a new contact without details on a proposed follow-up, request, or action item? If you are looking for an interview, are you clear with your request? Make sure your writing is concise, memorable, and typo-free. If you don’t get an answer to your email, do not give up. You might need to be more creative.

In today’s social economy, technology has transformed how we network, connect and prospect for jobs. If you want to make Your Network Is Your Net Worth, don’t let your social capital lay dormant. Set an objective, build your online profile, develop partnerships to extend your reach and understand the basics of blogging. Get out there and use technology to accelerate and amplify your connecting efforts.

2011-04-07-Porter_GalePorter Gale is a start-up advisor, public speaker and former VP of Marketing at Virgin America. She is the author of Your Network Is Your Net Wortha clear guide on how to bring value yourself and others through the powerful currency of relationships.