• Russ Fradin
    Russ Fradin on July 29, 2014

    An Introduction to Employee Advocacy

    Employee advocacy is an emerging new marketing strategy where companies empower their influential employees to authentically distribute brand approved content, create original content, and in turn earn recognition and rewards for their activity and participation.
  • Where LinkedIn really wins over the other social networks is that it offers business value due to the fact that it is based on the professional interests of both businesses and individuals. These characteristics make it the obvious go-to place for sharing important news and information about your brand in order to raise awareness, drive more traffic to your website and increase conversions.

    LinkedIn is the world's number one social network for establishing professional connections between both businesses and individuals. As with any other social network, LinkedIn facilitates content sharing and publication, but with a more professionally oriented approach. As a platform for social media marketing (SMM), LinkedIn's main potential concerns its power to connect businesses together in business-to-business (B2B) marketing or connect businesses with the general public whether to exchange ideas, cultivate authority or seek out new employees. Although LinkedIn is not a suitable platform for every type of business to include in their SMM strategies, it serves as an invaluable resource for others, particularly those in B2B industries. This guide takes a look at the inner workings of the LinkedIn platform to see if it is suitable for your business before guiding you through the best practices for using it as a marketing resource. For more detailed information on Linked in for businesses this book by Social Media expert Lissa Duty is a great resource: Your LinkedIn Professional Network

    About LinkedIn

    LinkedIn was launched to the general public in May, 2003, making it almost a year older than Facebook. While that social networking giant still dominates in terms of numbers with over 1.2 billion active user accounts, LinkedIn has around 300 million user accounts. However, LinkedIn is not like the other major social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Google+. Whereas these social networks are popular among individuals and for personal interaction as well as tools for online marketing, LinkedIn is primarily a professional networking site.

    LinkedIn is available in twenty languages, and it is used in around 200 countries and regions around the world. Being the professional-orientated network that it is, by far the fastest growing demographic on LinkedIn includes graduates, and the site accepts an average of two new registrations every second. In addition, around 3 million companies have established LinkedIn company pages for marketing their businesses and reaching out to other businesses, individuals and potential job applicants. The network's popularity is also growing rapidly on the small screen as well, with over a third of its unique visitors coming from mobile apps.

    How People and Businesses Use LinkedIn

    Individuals use LinkedIn to create professional profiles rather like online CVs. They use these profiles to detail their professional experiences, including job experience, education and any other relevant information. At the same time, people can use their profiles to get in contact with previous professional connections as well as potential ones, such as employers, employees or potential leads (particularly in B2B marketing). For these reasons, LinkedIn is one of the most popular online platforms for people seeking jobs, particularly those in professional spheres.

    Companies use LinkedIn both for marketing and recruitment. Being an online job advertising board as well as a virtual water cooler, the platform is ideal for building authority and exposure for many businesses as well as exchanging professional ideas. LinkedIn provides its company pages feature for businesses and organizations to create profiles for their businesses for a different kind of audience to those expected on Facebook and other major social networks. Where LinkedIn is strongest is establishing professional connections between businesses in B2B marketing.

    For both companies and individuals, LinkedIn provides groups for specific professional interests, facilitating job recruitment and other professional connections.

    How LinkedIn Can Help Your SMM Campaign

    Although any business, regardless of its size and industry, can use LinkedIn for its recruiting efforts, businesses in certain industries will also find it to be an invaluable tool to include in their social marketing strategies. The various social activities which you can conduct using the platform for the benefit of your business include the following:

    • LinkedIn is by far the most popular online platform for establishing B2B marketing leads, and any industry which is concerned in generating leads from other businesses can expect to see around three times the conversion rates from using this platform than they can with Facebook, Twitter or Google+. Of course, your levels of success will vary depending on a number of factors, but some sure-fire ways to increase your chances include keeping your company page up-to-date, promoting relevant products and services regularly and seeking professional recommendations for them.
    • As a professional platform, LinkedIn is one of the most valuable resources for building up brand authority through thought leadership. In the highly competitive online world, building trust among your professional connections is key to building trust with your current and prospective consumers as well. The platform provides an invaluable set of features which help brands to provide important updates, share news about their companies' performance, achievements and new products and services as well as establish a more professional side to their businesses' online presence.
    • Businesses can use LinkedIn for positive engagement to reach out to potential customers including both businesses and individuals. Just like any other social network, it allows brands to engage their customers directly and build relationships based on these interactions. Customer engagement via LinkedIn can also be personalized, as with any other social network albeit with a more professional tone and approach. However, as is the case with any SMM platform, LinkedIn is not a place for blatant self-promotion and one-sided conversation.

    Where LinkedIn really wins over the other social networks is that it offers business value due to the fact that it is based on the professional interests of both businesses and individuals. These characteristics make it the obvious go-to place for sharing important news and information about your brand in order to raise awareness, drive more traffic to your website and increase conversions. However, while LinkedIn does serve a more specific and unique purpose, this is not to say that the other social networks shouldn't also form a major part of your SMM strategy.

    Best Practices for Success with LinkedIn

    For the most part, all of the best practices which apply to SMM using any other social network also apply to LinkedIn albeit with a more professional and business-orientated approach. As is the case with any social network, marketing on LinkedIn means becoming part of a conversation and engaging your intended audience in the process. As is often the case with SMM, it is easy to convey an insincere approach by way of using blatant promotion and sales pitches, and this is not what social media marketing is all about. In order to succeed, you'll need to familiarize yourself with the general tips and guidelines for good social media etiquette by paying close attention to social stimuli and current trends. The following details the best practices for using LinkedIn as a marketing platform:

    • The first thing to do is set up your company page. Ensure that your company page and profile are complete, and keep all of the details up-to-date and consistent with your other online profiles at all times. Keeping your content up-to-date is essential for keeping your LinkedIn profile alive and conveying a professional image. Updates will also be displayed in the newsfeeds of your followers. You should also provide regular news updates on important company-related events, achievements, changes and product or service launches.
    • Keep a close eye on any responses to your posts, customer and business reviews and any questions which your followers may have. Social media is just as much about responding and answering questions as it is about posting. Be sure to address concerns and complaints and thank people for leaving positive feedback. In doing so, be transparent so that you can build up trust and authority in the eyes of your audience.
    • Follow your competitors' profiles on LinkedIn to see what they are doing. As a professionally orientated network, LinkedIn can provide invaluable insights by way of competitive intelligence while opening up a wealth of new B2B leads and marketing possibilities.
    • Follow up potential leads in a personal rather than promotional manner. If you find someone on LinkedIn who you believe may be a promising lead, do not think of that individual as someone you are trying to sell something to. Instead, personalize the way in which you contact them by addressing them directly and telling them what you have to offer and how you may be able to help them. Using personalized greetings rather than generic ones will greatly increase your chances of generating leads.
    • Use recommendations wisely, and do not go about soliciting them en-masse from people who you have not already established a high degree of trust with through two-way conversation. Recommendations are basically comments written by members to commend a business, professional partner, colleague or student. Genuine recommendations come from those who value your business and what it has to offer, not those which are obtained in a pushy manner.
    • Be wary of the type of content you share. The content you share on LinkedIn reflects your professional reputation far more than it does on other social network.

    Once you have set up your LinkedIn company page and started gathering followers and getting involved in the community that you have established for yourself, you should start seeing results fairly quickly. However, from the very beginning, be sure to track your performance to determine which factors are driving you forward and which ones are holding you back.

    Social listening is a powerful tool for your business. Learn to use it correctly and you'll know your customers needs, provide better solutions, increase profits and move ahead of your competition.

    It’s no little secret that social media marketing plays a vital role in the success of any company’s marketing campaign. In fact, social media has significantly changed the world of marketing as we know it by providing consumers with the opportunity to voice their ideas, opinions, and reviews about your brand, products and services with their friends, family and audience at large. This level of sharing can result in significant influence on the buying public. According to a report published by Digital Information World, 71 percent of consumers are more likely to make a purchase based on social media referrals.

    With so many people likely talking about your brand, it only makes sense to pay attention to what they are saying.

    What Is Social Listening and Why Is It Important?

    Social listening assists companies in understanding what their customer’s desires and concerns are while providing the opportunity to respond in real time. Social listening can provide a great number of benefits and opportunities, including the ability to engage directly with consumers, drive insights that can be used for making informed decisions, and obtain sales leads.

    Social Media Examiner reported that although many companies have a good understanding of what social listening is, they fail to understand how they can apply an effective listening strategy to their social media process. Still, learning how to employ social listening effectively is critical to a company’s future success. According to Social Media Examiner, 60 percent of marketers surveyed used social listening strategies last year and 24 percent had plans to do so this year. Unfortunately, only 31 percent of marketers believed that their social listening strategies were effective.

    When implemented in the correct manner, social listening can provide the opportunity for companies to interact directly with their consumers. Social listening is about much more than simply watching tweets and posts that mention the name of your company. Additionally, social media listening must be more than something that is applied at the beginning of a campaign. Instead, it should be a strategy that is applied throughout the entire process.

    Effective Strategies for Social Listening

    In order to achieve solid results, it is imperative that you listen carefully and respond in a strategic way.

    ·      Begin by setting up a strategy for tracking social mentions. Given the breadth of the Internet and social media platforms today, this can seem like an overwhelming task. Fortunately, there are some tools available that can help you with this process. Mention.net is one of those tools. This tool will watch literally millions of different sources in dozens of languages. Anytime someone mentions your brand, Mention.net will provide you with real-time alerts. HootSuite is another great tool that can help you benefit from customized streams, allowing you to easily track conversations across a variety of platforms. Other popular tools include Trackur and Sprout Social.

    ·      Do more than just listen; understand before you respond. Take the time to analyze what you are hearing from your consumer base. Consider the context of the conversation. For instance, consider whether your customers are venting and complaining to their friends or whether they are reaching out to you in a direct manner.

    ·      Consider share of voice. In other words, what is your place in the conversation? How much are people talking about your brand? If you are a small business, it very well may be the case that your customers are not talking at all. As surprising as it may seem, a lack of conversation can be just as bad as a negative conversation. When your customers are not saying anything, it is vital that you take advantage of the opportunity to jumpstart the conversation. A great way to do this is by posting different types of content that will encourage shares and likes. Great examples include entertaining posts, inspiring posts, and posts showing them how to solve everyday problems, hopefully using your product.

    ·      What is your customer’s tone of voice? We all know that when you are interacting with a customer on a one-on-one basis, it is vital to pay attention to the customer’s tone of voice. The same is also true when it comes to social listening. In this case, you need to gauge whether the conversation regarding your brand is primarily positive or negative. Ideally, the conversation should be positive, but if not, you need to ascertain the root of the problem and take steps to resolve it.

    ·      Trends matter. Social listening is about much more than simply tuning in occasionally to hear what customers have to say. You must stay actively engaged in order to identify trends as they develop over time.

    ·      Do not listen just for the sake of listening. Social listening should always have an identifiable outcome. Make certain that your company has a process in place to do something with the information that you obtain. The information you glean will do nothing to benefit your company if it remains trapped in your marketing department.

    As social media continues to grow and evolve, the importance of social listening will expand as well. Make sure you have a solid plan in place sooner than later to ensure you’re taking advantage of the knowledge you gain. 

    Do you want to build out your content team? Find out how to hire a content marketing manager to lead the way.

     

    Creating content is much more than a full-time job — it requires a dedicated team. As many companies start to build this team, they may ask themselves: who should I hire to lead the way?
     
    The role of content marketing manager is still fairly new, so there’s no single educational or career path that automatically identifies a candidate as the right fit. Some hiring managers might be asking themselves:
    • Should I look for someone with a traditional newspaper or editorial background who knows how to tell a story in a timely and compelling way?

    • Should I seek out marketing pros with strong writing skills, who can create on-message content that converts?

    • Should I look for those who studied business and have a more holistic understanding of branding?

    For an inside look at what many marketers are looking for when they hire a content marketing manager, Software Advice analyzed a random sampling of 300 job listings for content marketing managers in the United States. Here are a couple of key findings:

    • Degree Requirements
      • ​Nearly two thirds of the listings set a minimum requirement of Bachelor's degree and 12 percent preferred an MBA or MA.
      • Marketing was the top requested field of study at 48 percent, followed by Communications and Journalism. Other degrees mentioned include English, business and public relations. Thirty-nine percent of the listings had no preference on the field of study
    • Professional Experience: Nearly half of listings required at least three to five years of professional experience and many requested six years or more of professional experience.

    • Screening Options:  Only 12 percent of the listings required applicants to provide writing samples or assignments.

    Click through the SlideShare for the complete report:

    As you can see, the required fields of study are varied and in many cases there's no preference mentioned in the job listing. But more than half of companies required a minimum of three years of professional experience, showing that experience trumps formal study.

    There are many different types of degrees and backgrounds that could make a successful content marketing manager, so staying open-minded about degrees and focusing on candidates who demonstrate an aptitude for content is a smart strategy.

    Since content marketing requires strong writing and communication skills, the small number of companies that require writing samples certainly surprised us, especially given the flexibility on the field of study. Successful content marketing managers need to understand content creation, so reviewing writing samples or having candidates complete an assignment is a great way to gauge those skills.

    Beyond writing ability,  a content marketing manager should also understand the brand’s voice and be able to articulate the role of content within broader marketing objectives.

    Before starting your hiring process, look through our Content Marketing Interview Questions and Content Marketing Traits that are Crucial to Success to ensure you make the right decision.

     
    Employee advocacy is an emerging new marketing strategy where companies empower their influential employees to authentically distribute brand approved content, create original content, and in turn earn recognition and rewards for their activity and participation.

    The following is an exclusive excerpt from "An Introduction to Employee Advocacy" an exclusive eBook brought to you by DynamicSignal. This eBook provides a general overview of employee advocacy and tips on how to get started.

    What is Employee Advocacy?

    Imagine all of the employees in your company sending out positive messages and attracting new customers. Every day, employees are singing the praises of your brand: generating referrals, recruiting great hires, and effectively messaging your brand’s goals.

    What if your company’s most engaged employees - the ones as committed to your brand’s success as you are - were also on the front line of your marketing efforts? What if they were reaching out to their social networks and spreading your brand’s message, organically and exponentially? Sound far-fetched? It really isn’t.
     
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    Employee Advocacy is about channeling the passion and knowledge of employees so they can reach out to their social networks and amplify your brand’s goals. It’s a low risk, cost effective approach to overcome marketing constraints that can drive leads, revenue, and profitability for your company.
     
    Why Use Employee Advocacy?
     
    When you provide employees with a brand advocacy solution, you create concentric circles of trust: your employees trust you, their social networks trust them, so your company’s message is authentically reaching new people. You already have invested tremendous resources in your employees: partner with them by recognizing and rewarding those who are most active in helping your company succeed.
     
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    Employee Advocacy can have tremendous impact across many parts of an organization, be it lead generation for sales, reaching more customers for marketing or simply sharing that your company has made the top 100 places to work, which HR would appreciate. For every 1,000 employees, companies can easily gain over one million dollars in earned media value, $500,000 in recruiting cost savings and millions in incremental sales per year.
     
    Not sure where to start? Most marketing budgets will need some sort of financial investment in digital tools. Start by checking the freebies off your list. Then decide if your marketing goals are strategic, branding or lead generation and base your decisions on your end goal. The most important step is to monitor your investment and make the necessary changes.

    A marketing budget can be tricky to define in the B2B environment. While all items in your budget should contribute to your Return on Investment and overall marketing success, you should know how your budget is broken down and how much of your budget goes towards digital marketing expenses. For example, I know that every year between 50-60% of my budget goes towards event marketing expenses. About 30% of my budget goes towards digital marketing, so I need to be sure every penny counts. Therefore, how do B2B companies know what marketing tools to be investing in?

    Before considering the options below, make sure you know:

    • What your overall budget number is
    • How many people are responsible for implementing marketing activities
    • Timelines for executing marketing activities (you don’t want to invest and then not have time to carry out your plans)
    • What are my main marketing goals (strategy, branding, lead generation) and which are the priorities?

    The Freebies
    If your budget is tight, and like most companies in the past decade it probably is, take advantage of all the “freebies” you can. This includes free versions of LinkedIn, Hootsuite, Twitter, Slideshare and YouTube. There is no reason your company shouldn’t at least have LinkedIn and Twitter. Implement Hootsuite, which lets you manage up to 5 social media accounts for free, to manage your social media platforms from one website.  

    The only investment you need to make here is time. Just because it’s free doesn’t mean you don’t need to dedicate time. Make sure your marketing people are maintaining your social media accounts with quality content.

    Small Investments with Big Impacts

    Sometimes making a small investment in a digital marketing tool can make a big impact – either for strategy purposes, branding or lead generation.  Here are some smaller digital marketing purchases that are worth the investment:

    • LinkedIn Premium Account (Lead Generation): LinkedIn is a fantastic tool for B2B marketing. For $30/month you can upgrade to the premium account and access features like InMail and sales lead generation lists. It is a great way to get marketing and sales on the same team.
    • SurveyMonkey Select Monthly Account (Market Research & Branding): For $25-30/month, SurveyMonkey is a great marketing tool for both strategic market research and branding. I’ve used SurveyMonkey to build customer and industry surveys for market research as well as registration forms. SurveyMonkey is also free, but the added benefit of a paid account is for branding such as personalized themes and the ability to send more surveys. It also has some added features to make your surveys very professional.
    • Email Marketing tools (Branding & Lead Generation): if your company focuses heavily on email marketing, consider upgrading from a free plan to a monthly subscription. This will generally allow you to send more email campaigns per month to more subscribers. With companies like MailChimp, it allows to remove the logo from the email footer, therefore avoiding emails that look too “spammy”.

    Bigger, Riskier Investments with Bigger Potential Rewards

    Finally, there are those digital marketing tools that will make an imprint on your budget. These are the tools that require a strategy before investment, and if you choose to invest, require time. However, these tools have the potential for big pay-offs if used strategically.

    • Google AdWords (Lead Generation): the great thing about AdWords is that you decide how much you want to invest. Obviously the smaller the investment, the less Google runs your ads. But this is a perfect tool to invest small and then grow your investment as you strategically monitor your campaign. If you’re starting out it’s recommended to go with a budget of $4/day. This is the max you can spend, and Google makes it easy to monitor the progress of your ads so you know whether to increase, decrease or stop your investment.
    • Website Development and/or Hubspot (Branding & Lead Generation): website development is not cheap, but it should be part of your annual budget. Websites need to be continuously updated to refresh content and move at the pace of your customers. Hubspot is a great tool for lead generation by implementing landing pages, doing keyword analysis and optimizing your website for search engines. But, it can cost you – from $200/month to $2,400/month. Here’s a tip: if you want to save money on website development, ask your developer to implement an administrative panel that’s editable by your marketing person. Invest in Hubspot only when you have a firm grip on your digital marketing strategy and you know you are ready for your website to take off.
    • SalesForce (Lead Generation): yes, this is a CRM tool but it’s a great tool to connect Sales and Marketing. Marketing can keep a database of contacts, build fields useful to them to generate email marketing lists, run reports, log and track campaigns and much more. Again, it’s costly but it’s a worthwhile investment for those who have a handle on their sales and marketing process.

    Not sure where to start? Most marketing budgets will need some sort of financial investment in digital tools. Start by checking the freebies off your list. Then decide if your marketing goals are strategic, branding or lead generation and base your decisions on your end goal. The most important step is to monitor your investment and make the necessary changes. If you made a bad investment, get rid of it! Keep investing in what has paid off for you in the past.