Tag Archives: LinkedIn

Do We Really Want Mullets?

Anyone remember the mullet? You know what I’m talking about: the haircut that’s “business in the front, a party in the back.” I think the last time the mullet was popular was when it was sported by members of the Pittsburgh Penguins when they won The Stanley Cup in the early 1990’s. Since then, it’s become more of an object of ridicule than a hairstyle to be admired. I think we’ve come to recognize that we can’t be both businesslike and a party at the same time.

I thought of the mullet the other day when I read that Facebook was testing resume-building features so that users can share their work history with their Facebook friends. They’re obviously trying to hone in on a space dominated by LinkedIn. The curious thing is that your “resume” doesn’t really display. It seems as if Facebook is simply gathering the information which one can assume they’ll use to fuel a service for headhunters and active job seekers. There’s actually a couple of points we can think about here.

The first is that most of the people I know (myself included) use different social sites for different purposes. Many of my Facebook friends are not work-related. We’re not generally connected on LinkedIn. I don’t cross-post (other than the screed) content on the two sites since I don’t especially think my business contacts care about what food I’ve eaten or what concerts I’ve attended or my political views. Conversely, I don’t bore my non-work friends with the three or four business-related articles I might come across that I find interesting.

From what I can tell, most users can distinguish between the appropriate content for the two sites. Frankly, I think Facebook knows way too much about each of us anyway, and I’m not sure that I want them to know much more about my work life, my contacts, or anything else I keep in the workplace. I certainly don’t want potential clients considering anything other than the professional qualifications available to them on LinkedIn – not my musical tastes, not my politics and not my sad attempts at humor with friends.

More importantly, every business needs a focus. Facebook, in particular, seems to have decided that anything is fair game. They’re trying to out video YouTube, to out marketplace Amazon, and to compete in areas such as food delivery. In the meantime, they can’t even decide if they’re a media business (hint: they are).  Each of us needs to figure out what business we’re in so we can channel our resources, focus on our competition, and understand what problems our solutions can solve to serve our customer base. Chasing the next shiny object or growing beyond our core competence generally is more trouble than it’s worth. That’s how we end up with a mullet and is that what we really want?

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Social And Small Business

I’ve mentioned before that I keep a “blog this” file which contains articles that piqued a thought.  I went through the file over the weekend and came across a press release from the folks at Constant Contact.  They do a study about the state of small businesses and the ways they connect with and grow their audiences.  Results include responses from respondents across a range of business-to-business and business-to-consumer industries.  wkL_ccWhat piqued my interest was this:

While small business interest in, and appreciation for, social media is on the rise, small business owners continue to lack confidence in their social media skills.  More than half (54 percent) chose social media marketing as the marketing activity they need the most help with, which might explain why their frequency of use with social media is not where it needs to be.  Only 13 percent of survey respondents post to Twitter daily and ten percent post weekly to LinkedIn.

Aside from the obvious point that clearly I need to make my phone number and email address more prominent (I can help – call me, you guys!) that research shows me that these folks are being smarter than others.  They recognize that value of the various platforms and aren’t shooting the messengers due to their inability to capitalize on what those platforms offer.

Social is a conversation.  If you’re only engaging on an irregular basis (once a week) and only a fraction are even engaging that often, it’s not going to work.

The study is unclear with respect to how they’re defining social media marketing.  The owners were asked “which social media platform is the most effective for their organization” and that’s kind of nebulous.  Is it paid advertising and the “effectiveness” is measured by responses?  Or is it some other engagement metric?  One hopes the respondents can answer how they’re defining “effective” but I suspect they can’t.

Social media is not like any other form.  It requires commitment and resources far beyond what many folks have experienced buying print, TV, radio, or even display ads.  Doing it badly can do more than be ineffective – it can hurt your business (no one likes to be ignored!).  Can we agree on that?

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A Social Marketing Study

I’ve been meaning to write about the Chief Marketer 2012 Social Marketing Study for a little while now.  Even though it came out a couple of months back, what it found is pretty relevant and I think you might find some of those findings relevant to what might be on your marketing mind.  At least I hope so!

As one might infer from the name, the topic is brands’ use of social media for marketing purposes.  You can get the study by clicking this link (registration required) but here are some of the key findings:

  • 76% of overall respondents to the survey said their brands were conducting some level of marketing within social media, and a further 16% reported plans to begin do so by the end of this year, making for a potential social marketing contingent of 92%.
  • More than half of respondents cite the difficulty of calculating an accurate return on their social marketing outlays as a prime frustration with the channels. That difficulty in turn grows out of their second most often expressed complaint in this year’s survey: the difficulty of accurately tracking sales to social campaigns. Those response rates held true for both B2C and B2B marketers.
  • Marketers are also troubled by issues of content: specifically, by the amount of time their staffers spend curating social media and by the need to keep social media supplied with a constant stream of new, fresh, engaging content.

Other not so surprising data points are that the primary purpose marketers have for using social is to drive web traffic and that most of their efforts are on the big three social sites: Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.  What all of this said to me was not so much about how quickly marketers adopted social as a channel but how their efforts are really just sort of fumbling along.  Not every brand should be on Facebook yet all seem to be.  While I’m a firm believer in having measurable outcomes to help with ROI calculations, it seems from the study as if the standard to which social investments as being held are out of whack with both how social is being deployed as well as with the standards applied to other channels.  Finally, the emphasis on creating new content is a good one but it sounds to me as if that content is being used in the context of social media as a megaphone – yet another broadcast medium.  I could not disagree more with that approach.

Does your company use social media for marketing?  Are the study’s findings in line with your experience?  Am I missing anything?

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What’s The Most Valuable Social Network?

Like many of you I’ve been following the ups and downs of Facebook‘s recent IPO and the stock’s performance subsequently. I thought about it again this morning as I read a release from The Incyte Group (via Research Brief) that states consumers want deeper connections with brands – but open social networks are not where they want to build these connections.  Facebook is the biggest of the bunch and while marketers put over $3B on to Facebook’s revenue line last year, if you speak with many marketers the ROI on that spending is unimpressive.  The notion that sort of pops into my head about marketers searching for the best social network to reach consumers is that of a drunken sailor bouncing from bar to bar, spending a little cash along the way, looking to get lucky.  Facebook to Twitter to Pinterest to LinkedIn.  Turns out that’s not what holds the most promise when we’re talking about reaching them via social networks:

(Consumers) do not expect, or even want, these communities to be part of an existing social network like Facebook or LinkedIn. Instead, their preference is for customer communities that are:

  • Run separately from open social networks, but have strong linkages to them so they can easily share information with like-minded friends
  • Proactively managed by companies
  • Tightly integrated with the company’s website

So what, in my mind, is the most valuable social network?  Amazon.  Think about it – much of the time when I’m on Amazon I’m not  actually sticking things in a shopping cart.  I’m researching.  I’m reading reviews to discover new books or music.  I’m commenting in things I’ve bought or used that are for sale.  When you look at the research findings, Amazon meets all the criteria plus it closes the circle by offering products for sale.  It’s not an ad-supported model but their sales were over $12B.  For a quarter. Several times what Facebook or any other social network’s were.

Amazon is the most valuable social network for marketers because it is for consumers.  Now ask the next logical question:  what’s your strategy on Amazon and is it the best one when you think about it as social and not as commerce?  Do you agree with my thinking here?

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I Need To Call Dunbar – What’s His Number?

How many people do have in your Rolodex? Actually, do you even have a Rolodex or is the contact list on your phone your go-to list? How many friends on Facebook? How many LinkedIn connections? How many Twitter followers? How many folks do you know from the golf club or the gym or the playground where you take your kids who don’t fall into any of the above categories?

English: present model of Rolodex card file, c...

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For me, the answer is a lot, as in thousands, and I don’t even consider myself to be as socially connected as many folks I know. I also do have a Rolodex – actually four of them – that’s filled with business cards of people who, for the most part are not in the other databases.  Obviously, I am not trying to maintain on-going social relationships with each and every one of them.  That’s where my buddy Dunbar comes in.

Dunbar’s number is an estimation of the number of people with whom one can maintain a stable social relationship.  This theorem was developed way back in the digital dark age of 1992, before interacting with hundreds of your high school friends, and chatting to another hundred college buddies was something you did every five or ten years, not daily.  Dunbar set the number around 150.  Other studies have set comparable numbers at 231 and 290, a fraction of what any college kid has as Facebook friends alone.

Since this is a business blog, I’ll throw out the obvious question.  If we’re trying to engage our customers in conversation as we would friends, are we limited to the Dunbar number with respect to having those sorts of relationships?  Are we kidding ourselves if we believe that an individual will use one of their 150 or even 300 relationship slots for a business entity instead of a cousin?  Or maybe there needs to be another study on how businesses fit into the social ecosystem.

I think Dunbar was right.  When I think about it, the folks to whom I’m truly connected is a small fraction of those connections I have.  I know a network like Path is trying to create that subset by limiting your connections to 150.  What’s your take on that?  Is there an opportunity for a business to create a 150 person VIP network?

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Who ARE These People?

I consider myself to be a friendly guy. Maybe my gregarious nature is what helped me to be successful in sales; maybe it’s what helps me play golf or hang out at a party with total strangers and be comfortable. But I’ve been thinking lately that maybe I’ve over-reached a bit.  You see, lately when I look at my LinkedIn connections or even some of my Facebook friends, I wonder who they are.  Why that’s a little scary to me is that I’ve really tried over the years to keep Facebook to my personal friends, not business connections or people who know others that I know but whom I’ve never met.  I used to have a LinkedIn policy that I had to have met the connection in person but that went out the window a long time ago.  Still, I try not to accept random people as connections and yet I’ve got a few dozen that I can’t place at all.

Turns out I’m not alone.  This is from the Pew Internet and American Life study:

Social network users are becoming more active in pruning and managing their accounts. Women and younger users tend to unfriend more than others.

About two-thirds of internet users use social networking sites (SNS) and all the major metrics for profile management are up, compared to 2009: 63% of them have deleted people from their “friends” lists, up from 56% in 2009; 44% have deleted comments made by others on their profile; and 37% have removed their names from photos that were tagged to identify them.

That’s less of a big deal to businesses than this:

Privacy appears to be the new preference of social media denizens. The majority of social network users (58 percent) have set their profiles to private, and just 20 percent of adults said their profiles remained public.

Marketers have a vested interest both in networks being large and users being discoverable.  When we all start to contract those networks – who ARE these all these “friends” anyway? – it runs contrary to those interests.

The above two items gave me pause.  You?

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Split Personalities

All of us who are active online face, from time to time, digital overload.  As individuals, we might be active on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google + and a host of smaller or emerging social sites such as Pinterest.  It can be exhausting – remembering to check-in, write a review, etc.  Companies and brands face a similar situation which is magnified many times over.  The big difference is I only have to worry about one account per platform and I’m…well…me!  I don’t have to monitor anyone else posting on my behalf.  The issues of social media guidelines, who owns a brand online, and how an employee’s activity online reflects on the company for which they work are big issues.

All of these came to mind as I read a new study from The Altimeter Group the other day.  Let’s see what you think. Continue reading

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