MAD Perspectives Blog

Parading Your Corporate Identity

Peggy Dau - Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Welcome to week 5 of our 6 week brand and social media series delivered in cooperation with Taylor OBrien!
   

Do you recognize this brand?

by:  Christina Brusendorff

 

So far in this branding and social media series we have discussed and outlined the concept of ‘brand’, brand strategy, social media and the role which social media has within the branding arena as well as given tips on how to approach it.

This penultimate post will focus on tying up the series from a branding perspective as much as is possible - plenty more could be said about the thriving world of branding. However, the aim of this series was to bring a clear and concise initial introduction to branding and social media so it’ll finish by presenting the concept of corporate identity.

Corporate identity is the personality of the business reflecting its culture and values. It’s what makes it individual and at times gives it its competitive edge.

To determine which aspects of the identity to emphasize through the brand, strategically match the business’ strengths with the needs of the market and external environment to discover the business’ unique selling point(s). Assess a business’ current values, its history and heritage as well as its future. Like a person, a business will grow and develop its identity and story.

In most businesses this identity is represented visually, vocally and experientially through the brand – hence why it is sometime termed brand identity. A brand provides you with the tools necessary to communicate this persona whether through tone of voice or engaging designs.

We previously talked about how a brand which is aligned with business strategy drives not just profit and market share but also influences and inspires a company’s work force. It does this by creating a clear vision and identity for the business which is often summarized in what is formally known as brand guidelines.

Such a document will outline what the brand stands for, its vision and identity but more specifically it states the rules about what the brand looks and sounds like. While these documents are important, and crucial to creating a consistent brand persona, corporate or brand identity is more than a simple document.

 

It is the essence of the business, what makes it individual as well as relatable.

 

From a communications point of view it is a tool which helps a business tell its story, express its personality and makes it recognizable.

Brands such as OrangeCoca-Cola or Apple are instantly recognizable through their look, feel and tone of voice. All brands should aspire to achieve such a level of recognition and consistency across their touch points and communication channels whether this be offline or online.
 

From a social media perspective brand consistency, recognition and personality will make a business stand out. The viral nature of this tool also means that great design as well as informative, engaging and entertaining messages will be shared.

Building a strong internal corporate identity through the creation of an inspiring brand will not only lead the business but will also develop and clarify its proposition externally.

Great brands possess a compelling truth, a vibrant identity and a powerful promise.


Do you know yours?



A Social Media Plan to Ensure Brand Consistency

Peggy Dau - Wednesday, May 04, 2011

This is the fourth blog in our 6 week series, with our colleagues from Taylor O'Brien, on branding and social media. 


Your brand strategy has a unique vision and identity.  You identified this strategy by aligning your brand with your business goals, accounting for both cultural identity and customer knowledge.  As you define a social media plan to support your brand strategy, don’t forget that social media is a means of communication.  It brings with it a high degree of immediacy and interactivity.  It allows you to communicate more directly with your customers.

Social media reinforces a need to be responsible, understandable, reliable and genuine.  This is why a social media plan is so important.  You are serving your customers with the information and content they need.  Here are 6 key components of social media plan that supports your brand.

  1. Objectives – What do you want to achieve and how will social media help you fulfill those goals?  How are these objectives related to your business strategy? Are they focused on sales, market awareness, customer service or other core business topics? Defining objectives will help you determine what content is needed and which social platforms to use. 
  2. Customers – Who are they?  Where are they?  What content do they need or want?  Depending on your customers role (i.e., buyer, influencer, executive, technologist) they will crave different types of content.  Any plan must consider the customer’s need and supply the content needed to the relevant platform and device. 
  3. Integrate – How will social media support or expand your overall marketing strategy?  Social media is not a stand alone marketing effort.  It must be aligned with other online and offline activities.  An integrated plan will identify resources (people, content and time) needed to achieve your objectives.   Social media can draw attention to events, reinforce messaging, personalize your brand, capture customer insight or input, create stronger customer bonds, manage your reputation and drive sales.  Social media, perhaps more than other forms of marketing, becomes your online voice.  It must reflect your brand and your culture. 
  4. Metrics – How will you measure success of your social media strategy?  All other aspects of your marketing plan have goals and metrics – social media is no different.  Your metrics must support your objectives and can also be tied to your overall marketing plan.  Early stage metrics are usually related to followers and web traffic.  Later stage metrics can include measures of influence, leads, sales, product development or support.
  5. Policy – Who will engage in your brand’s social media efforts?  How will they engage?  A policy can be considered the “rules of engagement”.  It is your opportunity to remind employees on how you want to represent your brand.  It is also the means of communicating your goals for social media.  A critical element of any plan or policy is to determine how your brand will address negative comments.  They are bound to occur and it is important to establish guidelines to help your social media constituents understand how to address them.
  6. Engage! – Most importantly interact, share, communicate and respond!  Social media is a customer engagement medium.  Be informative and be informed!

Social Media has the ability to expand and personalize your brand in ways not previously available.  It is an opportunity for all brands, be they consumer or business centric, to communicate frequently and openly.  It is also an opportunity for customers to express their likes or dislikes.  Be prepared for both the positive and the negative.  Understand your brand voice, align your social media efforts with your brand strategy, educate your employees on your goals and engage with your customers like never before!

What’s your perspective?



Is Your Brand Strategy Aligned With Your Business Strategy

Peggy Dau - Tuesday, April 26, 2011

This week we continue our Brand and Social Media series, with our colleagues at Taylor O'Brien, with a disucssuion about aligning your social efforts with your brand.

by Christina Brusendorff

Brands have become an integral part of business from both and external and internal business perspectives. We discussed how consistently delivered, relatable brands have an intrinsic link to business performance. Accessing this value is dependent on brand strategy being aligned with business strategy.

In broad terms this fundamental aspect of branding ensures that the brand promise is grounded in the strengths of a business, reflects the vision and the direction of it and supports business objectives.

A clear and aligned brand strategy clarifies, communicates and enforces the vision, key messages and identity externally as well as internally.  From a corporate branding perspective a truly aligned brand allows a business to more easily create a competitive employer brand, attracting not only the best talent but also the best suited candidates.  These brand strengths also allow a business to more easily engage its work force, build commitment and create brand advocates.  This in turn helps create a more consistent service and fell throughout the business that will help improve its performance and drive revenue.

The marketing mix through which a brand chooses to communicate and engage with their target audiences is diverse and continually fragmenting.  In such an environment brand strategy becomes increasingly important with brands needing to take an integrated approach to communication.  This involves employing diverse channels well aligned to the message, the audience and the brand.

From TV advertising to social media, serious thought needs to be given to the combination of platforms used, how these suite and complement each other, what is communicated, how consumers are engaged through these and, most importantly, what is the ROI (whether financial or attributed to some other value).

This applies to external B2B and B2C communication; Facebook deals, billboards, Twitter and to internal communications; emails, intranets, blogs, posters, events, induction programmes.  But all of them, whether online or offline communication, need to be integrated; cross-promoting and reiterating the core brand.

We believe that success is created by aligning brand business and communications strategy.

What is your perspective?

Christina is an Account Executive at Taylor O’Brien, a creative consultancy based in Manchester.  With a Masters in marketing and a passion for branding and business, Christina builds and inspires brands across a wide variety of industry sectors.



Do Your Social Media Efforts Reflect Your Brand?

Peggy Dau - Wednesday, April 20, 2011

This week we continue our Brand and Social Media series with a disucssuion about aligning your social efforts with your brand.


With all the hype about social media, we may have forgotten that any social media marketing efforts must be aligned with your brand! When leveraging the myriad of social media outlets, it is important to keep the core tenants of your brand in mind. Social media provides you with additional channels through which you can communicate and interact with your target audience. Social media allows your message to be broadcast and shared widely, globally and freely.

With this openness in mind, what do you need to consider when establishing your social media strategy – particularly as it relates to your brand? First, don’t forget what your brand is.  We reviewed this  last week.  Remember, your brand is a promise. Your use of social media should reinforce that promise and provide a level of transparency and authenticity that invites engagement from your target markets. How can social media help?

Social media platforms should visually and contextually reflect your brand.  Consistency of logo, color and voice are important. Of these three, voice is the most critical.  What is the voice of your brand?  Are you fun, knowledgeable, edgy, caring, geeky, innovative. Understanding your voice should drive how you communicate via your social channels. For example, if you are innovative, your social communications should provide insight to market trends that your company is addressing, share your opinions on the impact of these trends and how your company will act to influence a shift in the market.

Now that you’ve aligned your social efforts with your brand and discovered your voice, it’s time to ENGAGE! Do I need to ask why you want to interact with your customers? Engagement with your customers WILL lead to business. It will lead to greater knowledge about what your customers and prospects are thinking and saying about your brand. It will help you become proactive instead of reactive. As you engage, remember what your brand stands for and provide consistency in terms of voice and topic. While it may be fun to share your thoughts on random topics, you are socializing on behalf of your brand. Your tweets, Facebook posts, Slideshare presentations or YouTube videos should be relevant to your brand, your company, your products or your industry.

Just in case you are still wondering why you should consider social media as a key aspect of your brand strategy, check out these data points from Forrester Research and Business Week:

  •      - 67 percent of Twitter users who become followers of a brand are more likely to buy that brand's products

         - 60 percent of Facebook users who become a fan of a brand are more likely to recommend that brand to a friend

         - 74 percent of consumers are influenced on buying decisions by fellow users after soliciting input via social media

    are influenced on buying decisions by fellow users after soliciting input via social media

Your brand is your calling card.  Social Media must reinforce your brand. Think about your brand and your voice before you engage – but definitely ENGAGE!

What’s your perspective?



Brands - Don't Make Promises You Can't Keep!

Peggy Dau - Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Branding and Social Media are now intrinsically tied together.  In thinking about the importance of your brand and the use of social media channels, we reached out to our friends at Taylor O’Brien for some insight.  As a result, for the next six weeks, our blogs will discuss the importance of brand and the impact of social media. Thanks to Christina Brusendorff of Taylor O’Brien for her wisdom and contribution!

 



by Christina Brusendorff

 

Brands were born the day a shop owner first thought to put a name and long on their store front.  Back then they were a competitive tool used to separate a business from the local competition and encourage recognition. Today brands are still employed for such purposes but they perform on a global scale (their reach even surpass the confines of this planet), their use is far more sophisticated and their value has become critical to sales, employment and the financial value of a company.

A brand is often defined as:

The set of physical attributes of a product or service, together with the beliefs and expectations surrounding it - a unique combination which the name or logo of the product or service should evoke in the mind of the audience. - Marketing Institute

While these attributes are all true, it doesn't describe the essence of what a brand is.

In a culture where consumers are empowered through knowledge and choice, engagement is imperative, the construction of brands is prevalent and reality is perception.  Companies need to be more transparent and clear about their offering, value and proposition. A brand helps a business achieve this.

A brand is essentially a promise that a business makes, either to its customers or to its clients, and then delivers through its brand strategy.  Through a visual identity, a clear proposition and strong key messages consistently communicated through relevant touch points, a brand can evoke awareness, loyalty and emotions within consumers, clients and employees.  Such touch points can be anything from an internal publication to a shop floor worker, a TV or radio advertisement or an integrated social media campaign. 

Simply having a rand is, however, not enough. The promise it makes needs to be realistic and grounded in a business' strengths, but most importantly it needs to be aligned to a business' strategy. Only then can a brand hope to deliver its promise successfully.

The importance of aligning brand strategy with business strategy will be explored further in the third part of this 'Brand and Social Media' series.  Next week 'Your Brand and Social Media'

What's your perspective?

 



Do Your Execs Believe in Social Media?

Peggy Dau - Thursday, April 07, 2011

I've been thinking about how companies get started using social media. External usage tends to be led by the marketing team. Their focus is on sharing company and product information with customers to increase brand awareness, thought leadership and ultimately lead generation. This does not mean that that companies are not focused on other uses (think Dell, Comcast or Jet Blue have not focused on customer service. We've read and heard about leaders in social media. But, I'm now thinking about how company leadership influence adoption or use of social media.

There are great case studies about Marriott, Cisco and Best Buy (to name a few) and how CEOs at these companies "got it" when thinking about the benefits of social media. However, many c-level execs think in a traditional hierarchical organization mindset. They raise concerns about risk, security and confidentiality. For me, this begs the question about leadership style. Do certain types of business leaders just "get it" easier than others, or are they just throwing caution to the wind?

In her book "Open Leadership" Charlene Li, shares her thoughts on how social technology can change the way you lead. She presents great examples of companies who have experienced success. She shares case studies on how social media has influenced leadership and culture. She also talks about the best mind set for open leadership:  passion for the vision, focus on relationships and a hacker mentality (by this she means dissatisfaction with the status quo). But still, I wonder, is that enough. I've experienced many leaders who had passion for "their" vision, focused on relationships (with customers, industry leaders or peers and executive peers within their company), yet, their support for social media was tepid at best.

Social media requires openness. Are leaders open? Social media is collaborative. Are leaders collaborative?  Social media requires trust. Are leaders trusting?  Social media is authentic. Are leaders authentic? In fact, this last question is the big issue that faced many of the top executives at financial services and automotive firms during the economic crisis. There is a significant cultural shift underway, enabled by social technology, that is bringing openness back to big business. Do customers and employees trust executives? Once upon a time, yes. Once upon a time companies were transparent. 

My career alma mater, HP, is a classic example. The HP of Bill and Dave was one of collaboration, innovation and openness. Trust was paramount. However, the HP of the past few years is hierarchical and siloed with employees living in fear of making a mistake that might cost them their job. Communication flows downstream and is edited and reshaped until it loses meaning. Power is craved and held tightly. The culture of open communication is long dead and the bottom line has become the driving force (and perhaps that is partly Wall Street's fault) of all activity. 

Executive support is critical for social media success. What leadership characteristics are needed to drive social media success from the top? I recently read "Leadership and Self Deception" by The Arbinger Institute. Their advice (adapted a bit for my own purposes) is relevant:

     - Don't try to be perfect - try to be better!
     - Don't use vocabulary people don't understand. Be clear and true to your own principles.
     - Don't impose your fears, confusion or uncertainty on others. Assume the best!
     - Don't give up when you make a mistake. Apologize and move forward.
     - Don't focus on what others are doing wrong. Focus on what you can do right to help!
     - Don't worry if others aren't helping you. Focus on helping others.

If your executives and senior leadership exhibit these characteristics (they sound awfully social don't they?!), your company can successfully implement social media tactics to engage customers. That is the goal, right? A meaningful social media strategy requires support and involvement from executives and employees across the company.  Employees won't feel empowered to be authentic and transparent unless their leadership also exhibits those traits.  Customers are demanding honesty and openness.  Social media is the desired method for this style of communication.  Are you ready?  Are your executives ready?

What's your perspective?



Can You Initiate a Social Media Plan Without Executive Support?

Peggy Dau - Wednesday, March 30, 2011

I was in Silicon Valley meeting with various companies, two weeks ago, to talk about their social media strategies (or lack thereof). I want to share my learnings from two of these companies as they both reflect the importance of having executive support. I will not share the names of these companies as I do believe that I may not have the full story in either case. However, each left a lasting impression.

I met with the VP of Marketing for Company A, a provider of video delivery solutions. I had casually met him at an industry event and was connected to him on LinkedIn. However, I pursued the meeting via the VP of Sales for one of their divisions, as I had a very strong relationship with this individual. The VP of Sales clearly understood my goals to discuss the value of the customer insight that is found through social interactions and other online behavior. Company A has grown through acquisition over the past few years and their customer base is growing as enterprise companies produce and distribute increasing amounts of video content. 

The VP of Marketing has a very busy schedule and was kind to give me some time to discuss their use of social media and how social media can provide them with competitive intelligence. It was an interesting discussion where I found out that the company does not integrate social media into their marketing plans.  They feel they already know who their customers are and what they want. Their only goal is to streamline the sales cycle. This company is monitoring the social networks using Radian6, yet they are not actively participating. Monitoring tools like Radian6 are dependent on selecting the most relevant keywords.  Pursuit of this discussion to understand how they selected their keywords (I was thinking about the importance of long tail keywords) was a deadend. In summary, this VP of Marketing is currently unimpressed by social media's value for B2B companies. He is concerned about the investment of people resources to manage any social media agenda. Thus, for now, this company will not officially pursue a social media marketing strategy.

The second company I met with, Company B, is in the enterprise content delivery space.  Again, I was introduced to the VP of Marketing through the VP of Sales.  We had spoken several times in 2010, but his social media efforts never materialized.  He was open to discussion when I indicated I would be in the bay area.  We had a fascinating conversation.  His challenge, in developing the marketing plan for this small technology company, was a CEO who was watching and second guessing every decision.  He was unable to put a comprehensive marketing plan together, that would have included social media, due to lack of empowerment.  As a result he chose to focus on a narrow scope that proved to be challenging yet successful in increasing industry awareness and perception of the company as a market leader.

As Company B's market expands beyond large enterprise companies, they do understand that traditional offline marketing efforts may not be enough to broaden market awareness and understanding of their solutions.  Fortunately, there has been a change at the top and the new CEO is supportive and empowering of the VP of Marketing's efforts.  It's challenging in a small company to find and align resources, but now there is support from the "top" and they will tip-toe their way into social media.

I share these experiences as you may be facing similar challenges in your company. It is critical to have management support for your social media efforts. There is a strong focus on the ROI of social media in 2011.  I have ambivalent feelings about ROI as numbers can be manipulated to appear to meet goals. That said, it is important to understand your business goals and how social media can help you achieve them. For example, Company A wants to streamline its sales cycle. It would be important to understand what information customers need that would allow them to make a buying decision more quickly. Could influence be established via a social network?  Possibly. Do potential customers seek advice from other buyers and seek casual interactions to uncover their experience with Company A?  Possibly. Establishing a plan, really thinking through the activation and delivery of the plan, and taking the time to understand and define meaningful metrics will keep efforts focused.  And, given the right time frame, results will follow

Winning executive support is a must for entering the B2B social media space. Social media takes time and people. Without clear direction and understanding of the rules of engagement marketing, customer support, sales or product teams cannot engage to drive awareness, customer satisfaction, revenue or innovation.   Are you facing challenges getting executive support for a social media strategy? Let me know your challenges. We can all learn from each other!

What's your perspective?



3 BIG LinkedIn Benefits for Your Company

Peggy Dau - Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The BIG social networking platforms that are mentioned in almost every social media conversation are: Facebook, Blog, Twitter and LinkedIn.  However, for B2B companies, Facebook is unproven.  In fact, the most effective social networking platform for B2B companies is LinkedIn Hubspot recently shared the following results from a survey of 600 professionals knowledgeable of their company's marketing strategy.



LinkedIn is the favored channel for customer acquisition. You may wonder why this is, as many professionals think they should only be using LinkedIn when they are seeking a new job. LinkedIn is working diligently to change this perception and if we consider the results of Hubspot's study - LinkedIn is succeeding. LinkedIn wants to be the destination for helping you, AND your company, maximize your economic opportunity. How do they do they do this? Let me share some insights.

Your profile on LinkedIn is your online professional identity. Your network is a reflection of who you are.  As an individual you have the opportunity to use LinkedIn to learn from your co-workers, your network and other industry professionals (via LinkedIn Groups or LinkedIn Answers). Now extend this thought process to your company. LinkedIn gives companies an opportunity to showcase their identity and that identity is influenced by its employees, its customers, its competitors and its products or services.

LinkedIn enables companies to promote themselves in a way that is completely complimentary to their website.  Companies can:

     1. Find & Hire THE smartest people. LinkedIn allows companies (and recruiters) to identify potential candidates (who may not be actively seeking a new opportunity). They can gain insight into these candidates by reviewing their profile, their recommendations, their experiences and their links. Conversely, candidates can get a better understanding of your company by studying employee and executive profiles.
 
Using Company Pages, companies can reflect new hires (don't you want to see what kind of people were recently hired and into what kind of jobs) and more importantly, job postings. Because the company can better understand who you are, they are eager to post their jobs here. Here is an example of the number of job postings by various high tech companies:  Dell = 1,113, HP = 207, Microsoft = 4,290, Google = 1,947, LinkedIn = 155. Not only can you apply for jobs via LinkedIn, you can see who in your network works at the target company. And, the company can see which employees you might know and seek recommendations.

     2. Market their products & services. Companies can create marketing campaigns using keywords, demographics, earnings, roles/title and more to target the right companies and individuals. Imagine a software company with a product that addresses supply chain issues in the jewelry manufacturing sector. LinkedIn has the data to help them place ads on the right pages for the right people at the right companies.

Again, using Company Pages, companies can promote their products, offer special deals and even better - get customer recommendations. In fact, it is possible to create a rotation of product images/ads that will rotate and enable links to the relevant company web page. Additionally, LinkedIn allows companies to customize their product presentation by audience demographics. We all know we like to buy products that are recommended by others. This idea is not new - heck, it helped Zappos become the online shoe buying destination. But, now this idea is expanded to B2B businesses.  Your products and services may be reviewed and recommended by your customers, publicly. This is powerful.

     3. Amplify Reputation.  LinkedIn enables companies to enter into a different kind of relationship with their customers or prospects. Through the use of LinkedIn Groups or LinkedIn Answers companies can bring like minded people together. LinkedIn Groups allows companies to participate in groups or to create their own groups.  The groups may be focused around topics, products, trends, industry standards - whatever makes the most sense for the company. An example of a well moderated group is Small Biz Nation (yes, I am a member of this group).  This group is hosted by HP and Intel. The primary focus of the group is to raise and discuss challenges faced by small business, be they about accounting, tax or legal issues to technology, offices supplies or hiring. HP and Intel benefit by showing their interest in the concerns of small business owners.

LinkedIn Answers provides the opportunity for any individual to post a question - about anything. Companies can search for questions of interest to them and provide answers - thus extending their reach and understanding of customer concerns. Alternatively, companies can post questions to guide improvements in customer service, product innovation or sales methodology.  Imagine you are seeking information regarding the best video streaming hosting technologies. You can certainly Google it.  However, you can also post the question on LInkedIn and see who within your network can assist. Now imagine, you are a video hosting provider....get it?

LinkedIn continues to broaden its suite of services that can help both professionals and their companies optimize their economic value.  In addition to the attributes of Company Pages previously noted, your company profile can also incorporate Blog feeds, Twitter feed and YouTube videos - expanding the reach of these social media tools.  The customization of the product & services page also applies to the main page, meaning a CEO might see a high level overview of your company emphasizng differentiated value while engineers see a more technology centric perspective. For more insight, check out Mashable's article on Optimizing your Company's LInkedIn Profile.
I'm a fan and a believer in the value of LinkedIn (and hopefully a shareholder after the IPO).  If LinkedIn isn't part of your B2B marketing strategy, it should be.

What's your perspective?

     -



The Resume is Dead, Long Live LinkedIn!

Peggy Dau - Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Do you use LinkedIn? If so, you're one of the 90M+ people, in over 200 countries, that have a profile on LinkedIn. If you are a business person and you crave an online professional networking destination - LinkedIn is it.  You can:

     - Tell your professinal story
     - Get and stay connected with business colleagues - even if you, or they, change jobs
     - Pursue career opportunities
     - Get informed about people and companies before you actually meet them
     - Identify decision makers or influencers and get connected to them
     - Ask questions about ANY business related topic

There are competitors who offer business networking (i.e., Plaxo, Naymz, Xing) or job search (i.e., Monster, CareerBuilder, Ladders), but LinkedIn has created (and continues to enhance) the site for professional networking. It is a critical part of your online social identity - particularly as it relates to your career.



I joined LinkedIn while i was still working at Hewlett-Packard. I was happy in my job and was not particularly interested in online networking. However, I responded to an invitation from a colleage and so began my LinkedIn journey. It started as an "online rolodex" - a place to capture the details about the business contacts I made while jetting around the globe on behalf of HP.  Now, it is an integral part of every business day.  How?

LinkedIn provides me with insights about people and companies.  I learn about an individual's experience (roles, companies, responsibilities, value), education, social behavior (do they blog?  tweet?  join discussions?), personal interests, travel schedule and their connectivity (how many LinkedIn contacts do you have? and, who do they know?).  With the introduction of Company Pages last year, I can gain quick insight into the companies where they have worked.

I am about to head out on a business development trip to California.  As I was thinking about this trip, I prowled through my list of contacts on LinkedIn. I was seeking colleagues that worked at companies that might be interested in my consulting services. In many cases, my connections had changed companies and I found that I had contacts at many companies that were of high interest to me as potential clients. I used LinkedIn to reach out to these contacts and set up meetings. I did not need to know their current email addresses - LinkedIn was my intermediary.

I also learn a lot about people simply from the way they have created their profile. Many colleagues, who are extremely happy in their current jobs, have profiles that I consider placeholders. They share the bare minimum of information about their professional background and interests. They have less than 50 connections. They do not have linkes to their company page or website. I'll know they are job hunting when they beef up their profile and their connections! 

Have you worked on your profile lately? If you need to connect to a key decision maker, increase your professinal visibility or are seeking a new job, check out your profile and think about what it says about you.  Chances are that your new contacts are going to check it out too.  Here is a quick look at the most important features:

     - Professional headline - this is who you are or who you want to be, it is not necessarily your current title
     - Picture - this should be a headshot and yes, you should have a picture.  Proessionals like to do business with people, not profiles!
     - Links - reference urls for your company's website, its blog (or your blog!), twitter, etc.
     - Summary - this is about you and the value you provide.  This is your opportunity to highlight what makes your special, what gets you excited and your dream role.  It should not be a description of your current job as you will have the opportunity to share that under Experience
     - Experience - reflect not only your title and responsibilities, but the value that you provide to your customers (we all have customers, some are external and others are internal to the company)
     - Recommendations - request references from your colleagues, customers and partners.  Their comments will be revealing to you and to your connections!
     -  Contact Settings - indicate the types of contact you are interested in receiving

LinkedIn vs. Resume - LinkedIn is living and dynamic, just like you.  The resume is not dead, yet, but it is a static snapshot of your skills, education and experience. It is still relevant to have both a resume and a LinkedIn profile. They should be complementary. You can walk into a meeting with a resume and your resume can include a pointer to your LinkedIn profile. Like all things social, your LinkedIn profile should offer transparency and authenticity. Let the real you shine through!

Go ahead, go check out your profile.  Then check out the profiles of some of your connections.  What do you think?  Let me know what your learn!

What's your perspective?

Stay tuned, next week I'll take a deeper look at LinkedIn value for companies.



Is Your Social Media Plan Balanced?

Peggy Dau - Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Today's Web-Strategy post by Jeremiah Owyang really struck a chord with me.  In it he reflects on the dramatic shift by marketers towards excessive use of micro tools.  While these tools, aka Twitter, are fantastic for broadcasting a quick message, creating momentary awareness, searching for trending topics and sharing instantaneous opinions, they do not provide depth.  As each new social platform hits the market, we race toward it and test its use.   But, is our usage across social media platforms and across all marketing outlets balanced? 

I'm a big fan of having a social media plan.  In defining the plan, a company should be thinking about how each of the various social platforms works, the audience they reach and how they fulfill the company's business goals.  What do I mean about how they work?  I mean what kind of content can be shared?  Is it brief?  Is it meaningful?  Does it fulfill a customer need?  How long will your content reside on the platform and be visible?  In most cases your content is available on the platform indefinitely.  The challenge is in how many customers actually see it.

How about your audience.  Do you know which social platforms your customers are using to both share and seek content?  If they are not on Facebook (just for the sake of argument), then why are you?  A social strategy .that assumes a need to be on the every platform, is not a well thought out strategy.  Every companay needs to think about who their customers are and the kind of information they need to consume.  C-level execs want overviews with key value propositions.  Technologists want the gory details.  Business leaders want to understand market trends and know what industry influencers are saying.  Seekers of business solutions want information and education.

It takes a balance of both online and offline marketing to fulfill customer needs.  It takes an understanding of customer need and the role of different platforms to communicate effectively.  Jonathan Owyang provides great guidance in his blog as to relevant platforms, so I'm not going to reinvent the wheel.  Check out his thoughts and think about how the platforms he references can provide balance to your social media strategy.

What's your perspective?