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Linkedin Tip

I have been a fan of Wayne Breitbarth, a CPA-turned LinkedIn expert and author of The Power Formula for LinkedIn Success, ever since I heard him speak at a local business seminar a couple of years ago. When I had an opportunity to attend one of his in-person seminars last month, I jumped at the chance, partly because (true confession) I have neglected to keep up with this powerful and ever-evolving social medium, but also because Wayne’s witty, energetic teaching style makes learning fun.

Among the many tips I learned, here are four I want to share with you:

1. Download an archive of your data – now. Microsoft recently purchased LinkedIn and plans to integrate it with Office, Outlook and other products. Wayne recommends downloading an archive of your LinkedIn data now because some of it may disappear without notice. It’s easy to do: Hover over your photo in the upper right, go to Privacy & Settings > Getting an archive of your data. I chose the fast archive, which produced a zip file with my contacts, in box and other basic information that I don’t want to lose. For more tips, see Wayne’s blog on this topic.

2. Join groups that include people you want to meet. LinkedIn allows you to connect with other followers who are second-degree connections (someone who is connected to one of your contacts) – without having to send a contact request. Even though LinkedIn no longer categorizes your contacts, it still requires you to check how you know an individual (colleague, classmate, etc.), which can be a roadblock.

One caveat: The connect button in groups or “people you may know” sends the generic, LinkedIn invitation, not the personal invitation that Wayne recommends. A better option is to send the person a message first, then connect. If you’re concerned about flooding your news feed with group notices, remember that you can unsubscribe from notices or leave groups at any time.

3. Check out “Find Alumni.” One of the salespeople at the seminar said this tip alone was worth the price of admission. Let’s say I work for a Wisconsin association that offers continuing education courses for engineers. I look in “Find Alumni” for University of Wisconsin-Madison, then check engineering. Immediately, I have a list of the top 25 employers that I may want to notify about upcoming seminars. I can also see individuals I may want to reach out to. Wayne says I can stop feeling like a stalker; everyone on LinkedIn voluntarily shared this information.

4. Don’t think you’re posting too much. Thanks to LinkedIn’s proprietary algorithm, only about one in five of your posts actually appears in your contacts’ newsfeeds. Think about that: Even if you post the same information every day of the work week, your contacts will only see it once, and that’s if they’re paying attention. With the constant stream of updates, likes, shares, group discussions, expert advice and sponsored posts, it’s easy to see how your posts get lost. Wayne recommends daily status updates to stay in front of your audience.

You can execute any of the above tips without upgrading to a premium account. To learn more ways to tap the power of LinkedIn, check out Wayne’s website at www.powerformula.net.

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LinkedIn Goals


People use LinkedIn for some of the same reasons they join associations — for professional development and to connect with colleagues. This makes LinkedIn a great tool for associations! It provides an opportunity to both expand and add value to membership through increased brand awareness, engaging with members and reaching potential new members.

Business profile
LinkedIn users can learn more about your association by viewing your business profile. They can choose to follow you, so that they receive email notices when you post updates to your profile. I did some research on this, and came up with this list of suggestions to really showcase your association through your business profile:

  • Make a strong first impression by making sure your business profile information is complete and includes your web address. Include your logo and an enticing background photo.
  • Provide more in-depth information for those interested in learning more. One way to do this is to create a separate page on your profile for each member benefit you offer. Include member testimonials on these pages for each service.
  • Upload your member contact emails into LinkedIn, and then use LinkedIn to send out emails inviting them to connect with and follow your business profile, and to join your discussion group (more info on discussion groups is provided below).
  • Use LinkedIn’s advanced search function to identify potential new members, and invite them to connect, follow and join.
    Keep all your followers interested and engaged by posting frequent updates about your association and your industry. Include both your own content — such as blog posts — and curated content.

Discussion group
Cultivate a sense of community among your target members, by starting a discussion group around your industry or specific topic of interest. It's generally recommended that you keep topics here general in nature, rather than centering the group around your association exclusively. When setting up your group, use industry key words in your group name and description, and consider making your group open (not by invitation only), but subject to group manager approval. Here are some additional suggestions for maximizing engagement within your discussion group:

  • Invite all staff, members and industry leaders to join, and engage with, your discussion group community. All group members will then have your group logo and a link to your group on their LinkedIn profile.
  • Consider setting up a separate page on your website for the discussion group, to give the group additional visibility. Similarly, consider setting up a Facebook page or group and invite members of each network to join the other.
  • Add discussion starters regularly, trying to focus on group members’ needs and concerns. You can mark a particularly strong or relevant discussion as featured, to pin it to the top of the group feed for a period of time.
  • Join other related and relevant discussion groups to connect with potential new members. Interact with contributors in those groups, and start posting valuable thoughts or shared articles. Once you establish yourself, begin sharing announcements from your association, too, such as for upcoming events. This encourages members of those groups to become involved with yours, as well.
  • Auto-send an email to new group members. Welcome new members and encourage them to begin participating by selecting your Manage button, then Templates on the left.
  • You can, and should, email your discussion group members regularly using the Send Announcement option. Consider offering free content from your association, cultivating potential new members. Announcements will also get added as a discussion thread for your group.
  • Over time, you will be able to identify strong contributors within your discussion group. Perhaps your next search for an extraordinary board member or keynote speaker might begin and end in your LinkedIn discussion group!

As you continue to build and leverage your presence on LinkedIn, cross promote both your profile and discussion group wherever possible, including on your website, in your newsletter and on your staff business cards. Likewise, every time you host a webinar or attend a conference, be sure to put out notice, both on your profile and in your group, that you will be in attendance, as well as invite everyone you meet to join you on LinkedIn.

Building a valuable LinkedIn presence may take some time, but in the end you will reap a more robust association through increased membership growth and higher member engagement.

 

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most-interesting-man-in-the-world-i-don-t-always-use-a-hashtag-when-i-tweet

 

Many associations use social media marketing to post content to various platforms as a means for getting their message out to as wide an audience as possible. As one website, todaymade.com, put it, “social media is about dialogue, not push marketing.” That would be the social part of social media. And, we as humans are social beings. Imagine who you would rather spend time with—someone who talks on and on about themselves without letting you get a word in edgewise, or someone who asks you about how you are doing, wonders what your opinions are and genuinely seems to care more about you personally than about impressing you.

Not too long ago, I attended a lunchtime talk by the social media team at American Family Insurance. The speakers were pretty delighted with Twitter as an ideal platform for interacting and building engagement with their target audience. I got to see their words put into action. As the program was beginning, I tweeted that I was looking forward to attending the program. Within minutes, American Family had favorited my tweet, and tweeted @me that they hoped I find the program helpful. Later that afternoon, one of the speakers tweeted @me, thanking me for attending. Now, that’s some really attentive engagement.

Here are 5 ways associations can use social media to engage members:

  1. Tweet a welcome message @new_members when they join your association and congratulatory messages @members who achieve successes or milestones.
  2. Design posts for engagement by using compelling visuals or humor, something to evoke an emotional response.
  3. Thank people for “liking” and “sharing” your content.
  4. Allow for commenting on blog posts, and respond in a timely manner to comments on your blog, FaceBook and Twitter posts, even if just to say thank you for the comment.
  5. Encourage the use of a brand hashtag by promoting it in all related internet and print marketing.

Another example demonstrating the power of engagement took place at the annual conference of one of our clients. We had a first-time exhibitor who became a super-user of the conference’s mobile app. Beginning before the conference even began, he was posting photos and status updates frequently, commenting on the photos and updates of others, and messaging with staff and registrants. Although he had never before met anyone in attendance, participants knew who he was and many already felt connected to him. Needless to say, by the time he hosted his booth in the exhibition hall, he had built relationships and he experienced a steady flow of prospects stopping by to talk with him.

Social media marketing is valuable because it facilitates engagement. Engagement is important because that interaction strengthens members’ understanding of, relationship with, and trust in your association.

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The suitcase peggy and don bar

I’m obsessed with Mad Men, the AMC television show about Madison Avenue advertising in the 1960’s, now in its semi-final season. I love the writing and the drama. The clothes, the period décor — they’re eye candy. The characters are as fresh and innovative as the campaigns they pitch. Don Draper is the man in control. I loathe him for his habitual infidelity, while secretly longing for the show’s writers to take him back to his dark side. And Peggy Olson? She’s the feminists’ every girl; the advertising exec career woman I would have been had I not been born too late to rock polyester plaid and Lucite earrings.

But here’s the thing: As I watch each episode of each tragically short season from the comfort of my 21st Century couch, I’m not thinking just about how far we’ve come in workplace gender equality or how fortunate we are not to have seen a fashion resurgence in wide ties. I’m also thinking about how narrow the media focus is at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce (SCDP) compared to what communications and marketing professionals must embrace today.

A whole new world

As ad account executive and creative director, Don and Peggy fashioned pitches for magazines and newspapers. Later, they adapted their skills for a TV audience, writing commercials for floor cleaner and hair spray. And that was pretty much it. TV and print. Maybe a billboard or a radio spot thrown in.

Fast forward 50 years. We still have TV, although DVRs and webcasts have changed the playing field for advertisers. Calls for the death of print have been slightly premature — magazines are still thriving (newspapers, not so much). Digital media has opened a whole new world to communications. Today’s audiences are inundated with information from the World Wide Web, eblasts, texts, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google, mobile apps, blogs, robo-calls, and on and on.

For associations struggling to grasp all these media options (with vastly smaller staffs than SCDP, I might add), the question becomes, How much is too much?

Change the conversation
All of AMPED’s associations have accounts on two or more social media platforms. A few of them also have their own custom online communities. Add to that eblasts, newsletters and website posts and you have at least seven possible touches for every one message in a multi-message campaign.

You can imagine, there’s a very real danger of over posting and turning off an audience. The challenge is finding the right balance so that followers stay engaged and enlightened.

1. Keep it fresh. You don’t want your members to go to your social media site and find months’ old news. In fact, not filling your page with fresh photos and posts can be worse than not having a page at all. Neglect your Facebook page and it’s like neglecting your members.

2. Time it wisely. Schedule dedicated time every week to focus on social media. And don’t post too much in too short a time or your followers will start to ignore you.

3. Reconsider the number of channels you’re using. While there’s no doubt that associations need a strong presence in social media, don’t substitute the quantity of your placements for quality. Two to three social media channels is manageable. Any more and you may find yourself neglecting a few. (see tip #1) And be sure your members are actually using the social media channels before you commit resources to maintaining them.

4. Above all, be social. Don’t just announce an upcoming meeting; highlight a special event or location that will intrigue readers. Use conversational tones in your writing. Include slang when appropriate. Add photos from previous events. Encourage members to post their own association-related photos and videos. Post “shout outs” to members who have contributed their time or benefitted the association.

As Peggy said, “There’s a fine line between engaging and annoying.” Actually, she never said that. But if she were immersed in the marketing and communications world of today, I imagine she might. I also imagine her getting rid of that lousy apartment, making partner and taking over Don’s old corner office. It could happen.

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sweat III

Managing social media is like working out. You know you should be doing it regularly, but it’s so easy to neglect when so many other tasks need our focus.

From day one, we at AMPED have made social media part of our marketing and communications strategy, opening and managing accounts in Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter for all of our clients. And while we have seen impressive growth in our audience and impressions, I’ll be the first to admit it hasn’t always been a smooth process.

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