• Act-On Software
    Act-On Software on November 17, 2014

    The Rules of Engagement on Facebook

    If you want to make your content sharable and searchable on Facebook, you need to have a thorough understanding of Facebook principles and the general rules that apply to content and behavior.
  • I had a fascinating conversation with Gerald Vanderpuye today. He was working a huge deal, and he shared what many of us would think as the Nightmare To End All Nightmares.

    I had a fascinating conversation with Gerald Vanderpuye today.  He shared what many of us would think as the Nightmare To End All Nightmares.

    He was working a huge deal, it was important to the company’s ability to make their numbers for the quarter.  Deals like that get a lot of visibility all the way to top management, so as expected, top management in his company wanted to do a deal review.  He updated his deal strategy, sent it to all the key managers to prepare for a discussion during the review of what he was doing to win the deal.  In the process he made one of those “Mistakes.”  You know the kind I’m talking about, you inadvertently copy a customer on a piece of communication that was intended to be purely internal.

    Yes, he did it–he accidentally copied his key customer on his strategy to win the deal.  I’m sure, immediately after sending the email and realizing the customer was on the distribution list, his whole life (or at least his prospects for this deal) flashed before his eyes.

    He was horrified, his managers were horrified.

    But the customer had a completely different reaction, the customer actually called Gerald, thanking him for the document.  His comment was the plan helped him crystallize what they were trying to do in their buying process!

    As Gerald shared his story, I had this huge “Aha!” moment.  I thought, “How brilliant, what if we actually started sharing our Deal Strategies/Plans with our customers ?” (Or call plans or account plans for that matter)  What if we made them part of our planning process?  The corollary to this would be that we would become part of their Buying Strategy/Planning Process.

    As we talk about “collaboration” with our customers, one of the easiest ways to collaborate is to share our deal strategies with them, making sure what we are doing is aligned with how they are buying.

    Think about the things in our deal strategies and the value the customer gets from seeing the deal strategy.

    1. Our deal strategies highlight things that we have to get done–both with our customers and with others to help the customer move through their buying process and to close by a certain date.  The customer has the same thing, there are a number of activities they have to undertake with us (and our competition), as well as internally to move to a decision.  What if we started aligning our activities and managing them with the same rigor we do with milestones.  Having an agreed to “projected close date,” is critical to our selling process, but also critical to the customer in making a decision and beginning to realize the return/benefits the expected to achieve in solving a particular problem.
    2. Our deal strategies highlight the customer decision making process–who’s involved, their roles, their own priorities and agendas.  One of the toughest parts of buying is aligning differing priorities, needs and agendas.  Helping the customer understand how to organize themselves to make a decision, how they should align agendas and priorities is critical to their ability to make a decision.  Sharing our work will help them make sure they have the right people involved and helps them develop a process to align goals and objectives.
    3. Our deal strategies highlight the competition and alternatives the customer is considering.  Typically, we look at our strengths, weaknesses, and differentiation.  We develop plans to address our weaknesses — usually by educating the customer about what we do and why we feel our approach is superior to the alternatives.  That’s important for the customer too understand!  Customers are pragmatic, they recognize alternatives are different, with different strengths and weaknesses.  But properly approached we can take that assessment, create great value by educating the customer about why we’ve made the solutions choices we have and what it means to them.
    4. Our deal strategies talk about our value propositions.  What a great way to understand what customers value and how we are aligned with what they value.  Does the customer understand it?  Is it relevant to them?  Are we missing things?
    5. Our deal strategies talk about our pricing strategies.  Hopefully, our pricing strategies are based on the value we create and not just “discount to beat the competition.”  What better way to tie our value creation/delivery to “this is how we are justifying our pricing,” then providing them the basis to justify the investment in ways that are impactful to them?

    I’ll stop here, but there is virtually nothing I can think of in a deal strategy that there isn’t some kind of parallel issue the customer is considering in developing and executing their buying strategy.  Rather do these things separately, aren’t we and the customer much more effective when we develop these plans collaboratively?

    So maybe to start the process, next time you and your manager consider a deal review, maybe consider inviting the customer to participate.  Perhaps the outcome of that meeting is a collaborative plan with shared goals, objectives, and urgency.

    Perhaps we could start sharing our call plans as well–planning the meeting with the customer, setting an agenda, making sure the right people are participating and we are both prepared to achieve the meeting’s goals?

    What about account plans?

    (By the way, Gerald is taking his “mistake” and developing some interesting ideas for collaborative solutions for sales and customers.  He has ideas that are certainly worth exploring.)

    Photo Credit: Deal Strategy/shutterstock

    As one of the new millennium's grizzled tech veterans, Marshall Kirkpatrick helped evolve how we write, understand and consume tech in some of the industry's most formative years. As a result of this experience, Marshall gained unique insight into what it takes to be influential and how those with influence can best be understood, reached and ultimately influenced themselves. With this knowledge in hand, Marshall jumped into another nascent industry: social media. In this post, Marshall shares what he knows about tech, social media and how we can be better at both.

    A few of you out there must remember the good old days (the 1980s and 1990s) when personal computing was a fresh idea and coverage of the tech industry played out in publications of varying levels of glossy. In these days, tech trades were devoured by those of us who cherished nothing more than our lightsabers and our Ms. Pac-Man high scores. (Be honest: as I'm describing early techies, how many of you are envisioning painfully awkward Rob Lowe right now?)

    Years later, I look up and find myself no longer reading tech news on delay and in print, but in real time and on the Internet. Tech news is delivered with velocity, with insight and in its best instances with a bit of humor. Suddenly, it's not so bad to be a techie, not so cringe-worthy to admit you know all about the latest devices coming to market. Being plugged-in is cool; being plugged-in is social currency.

    It's a world that today's Guru, Marshall Kirkpatrick had no small hand in creating. As one of the new millennium's grizzled tech veterans, Marshall was a reporter at the start of TechCrunch and an editor at ReadWriteWeb as it rose to prominence in the mid/late 2000s. In both cases, Marshall helped evolve how we write, understand and consume tech in some of the industry's most formative years.

    As a result of this experience, Marshall gained unique insight into what it takes to be influential and how those with influence can best be understood, reached and ultimately influenced themselves. With this knowledge in hand, Marshall jumped into another nascent industry: social media.

    The result is the most exciting and well-regarded influencer discovery tools out there: Little Bird. In coming days we'll post our own review of Little Bird, but in the meantime we can all learn tons from Marshall about Little Bird, social media and the tech industry generally.

    Check it out…

    1. Before your life at Little Bird you were a tech journalist--how did the transition from journalist to social media entrepreneur happen? How did Little Bird start?

    I was a tech journalist, the first writer hired at TechCrunch and the co-editor of ReadWriteWeb, and I learned all about using data and systems to find news early and do research really efficiently there. I also worked as a consultant on the side, helping companies use data to find out who they should know and be known by on the social web. It was through all of that experience that I decided to productize my lessons learned in the form of Little Bird. The company started when I was in a bar in Dublin when I got an email from a consulting client saying they were overjoyed with the data I sent them and my wife Mikalina and I decided to get another round and turn my consulting practice into a business. 

    2. Tell us a bit about how Little Bird helps users in the signal/noise department. How does Little Bird make identifying real influence easier?

    Little Bird helps our users focus their listening and engagement on the people that the rest of a particular topical community listen to and trust the most. It's not about absolute popularity in the world at large, that can be gamed, it's about peer validation, finding out who influences the influencers. Companies use Little Bird to find out which 3D printing experts the other 3D printing experts trust, or which Dairy industry thought leaders, or cardiologists, or drone makers, have won the respect of other thought leaders in their respective field. It's an ungamable measure of influence.

    Little Bird maps topic communities on the social web (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, blogs etc.) on demand, then tells you who you and your competitors are and are not yet connected to, then helps you grow those connections by giving you a filtered highlight-reel of the hottest conversations among top influencers.

    Other systems start with topics, then go to content and then end with people. Little Bird does the opposite: we start with finding the right people first, then we discover the content they're sharing the most and from that content our customers discover emerging topics of interest.

    3. Give us a sense of your day-to-day at Little Bird--what do you focus on?

    I recruit the team (now 17 people), I talk to investors, think about the product and join sales calls. I tweet a lot, I use our product all day, I go to meetings, I try to learn how to do my job (I'm a first time CEO).

    I focus on different things depending on where the company is at a given month. I help bring money in the door, I think about the future of the product, I spread good news around inside and outside the company.

    4. Who should use Little Bird? Who makes up your key customer segments?

    Marketers and researchers in technology, retail and social change organizations. Product marketers, content marketers, PR, ad buyers and related functions.

    5. What do you see as Little Bird's role to play in the future of social media? How will your team continue to innovate?

    That's a big question! Little Bird is proving that there's strategic value in knowing who to listen to on the social web, whether those people are talking about you or not. My team will continue to innovate by talking to our super-smart customers, experimenting and thinking creatively about the potential permutations between various fields of data.

    6. You've viewed the social media landscape from several different lenses throughout your career--when you take a step back what strikes you about how the industry has evolved over the last few years?

    I am excited about the continued growth of social activity but disappointed by the rise of URL-free experiences like many mobile apps. Without URLs, it's uniformly hard to locate resources.

    I am also surprised that more people haven't made careers for themselves as professional bloggers. And then turned their experiments into automated tech companies, I guess. It's pretty awesome. Really though, there's SO much opportunity in the democratization of publishing. Get in here, people!

    7. What excites you about the future of social media?

    I am excited about the opportunity for social media to deliver understanding from one person to another, around the world, in real time, to foster learning and empathy on an unprecedented scale that changes the human experience for the better.

    8. With Little Bird being a tool focused on influence, I imagine you have some interesting thoughts on what true influence is: how do people attain it and how should we measure it?

    I believe influence online is most effectively built by making dignified, high-value contributions to public conversations of general interest. Different ways to add value to online conversations include: finding something important first, articulating something unusually well, aggregating multiple perspectives into one summary, taking an unusual perspective on a topic of general interest and being funny. But being funny is very hard.

    9. Who impresses you on social media? Who do you learn from?

    Jason Calacanis for his prolific public experiments and thoughtfulness. Marilyn Cox at Oracle for the high quality content curation she engages in. Alex Williams of The New Stack for being an inspiration in creating his own blog. Anil Dash for adding so much to conversations, so smart and sassy.

    10. Any last thoughts/advice for our audience of social media professionals/hobbyists?

    You should probably Tweet more. If you read at least five Tweets for every one you post, it's good. If you subscribe to YouTube channels they'll send you an email each day with new updates from all your subscriptions. It's good to listen to people online who disagree with you. There's too much How To Do Social Media content on the internet already. The internet is wonderful, let's be good to it.

    When you think of social networks, Facebook or Twitter is probably the first thing that comes to mind -- but they’re not the only game in town. There’s another popular platform that’s used by 332 million people worldwide and gains two new members every second. At least 40 percent of its users check the site’s activity daily and more than eight percent visit during work hours.

    When you think of social networks, Facebook or Twitter is probably the first thing that comes to mind -- but they’re not the only game in town. There’s another popular platform that’s used by 332 million people worldwide and gains two new members every second. At least 40 percent of its users check the site’s activity daily and more than eight percent visit during work hours. What site is it?   LinkedIn.

    What is it about LinkedIn that makes it such a popular site for networking and what does the future hold for the company and its members? Let’s find out.

    Why we love LinkedIn

    One of the most beguiling things about LinkedIn is that it revolves around one of the biggest aspects of life: our jobs. Like it or not, most of us have, need, or want a job. LinkedIn gives users a place to network, connect, and learn alongside other people in our industry.

    We use it to jumpstart a job search, keep track of our peers, digitally mingle with colleagues, and connect with people in our extended network of friends. Of course, one of the most popular uses of LinkedIn is to find a new job. It helps us get the word out that we’re looking and provides a comfortable way to reach out to people who might be able to help.

    For many people, LinkedIn serves as an online resume that’s dead easy to update. There will always be a time and a place for paper resumes but LinkedIn profiles are a way to give others a quick overview of where we are in our professional journey.

    Why companies love LinkedIn

    Many organizations, especially small- to medium-sized businesses, benefit from creating a LinkedIn company page. It’s a nice way to gain a little no-cost advertising and provides a method for LinkedIn users to check out your company without leaving the site. Google also thinks highly of LinkedIn company pages and typically displays them among the top one or two pages of search results.

    LinkedIn has also proven to be a boon to busy recruiters and hiring managers. Instead of paging through hundreds of irrelevant paper resumes, they can now quickly scan someone’s entire work history in just a few clicks. Some job seekers even report that during interviews companies favor referring to printed Linkedin profiles instead of resumes.

    Where LinkedIn is headed

    Since its launch in 2003, LinkedIn has added a whole slew of features and tools to help users get the most out of the service. Groups, news feeds, and a Twitter-like social interface make LinkedIn the go-to networking service for people at all career levels.

    Thought leaders and CEOs from a wide range of industries publish announcements, blog posts, and other types of messages for users to read and share. As a result, LinkedIn is quickly becoming a source of news and information for anyone who wants to track what’s happening in even the most niche industry in the marketplace.

    LinkedIn has responded to the love from workers and companies alike by stepping up its game with better training and resume-writing tools for professionals in or entering the job market. It’s also offers a bevy of webcasts, reports, and in-depth analysis so organizations can stay on top of the latest hiring and recruiting trends.

    In the coming year, LinkedIn will become even more powerful as its member base grows and it extends its usefulness to companies looking for the perfect employee to join their ranks.

    Image: Nan Palmero

    We wanted to share 5 social media tricks that should be implemented into your social media strategy in 2015.

    In any profession, the end of the year is a great time to reflect on all of your successful endeavors over the past 365-days. The same can be said for the constant changing landscape of social media marketing. Whether you have drastically increased your organic following on Twitter or launched your first successful paid advertising campaign on Facebook, give yourself a pat on the back for everything that you were able to pull-off on the social frontier during the calendar year.

    With more and more businesses and individuals flocking to social media, the New Year is also a great time to look for areas where you can improve your online presence. Based on the success and failures of our past campaigns, we wanted to share 5 social media tricks that should be incorporated into your social media strategy in 2015.

    Current Events:

    What is the popular news-taking place in the world and how can you relate this to your business? Since we specialize in divorce law, when there is a celebrity breakup, we make sure to share the information and provide tips on how recently divorced individuals can avoid certain pitfalls that come with divorce.

    If you run the social media marketing for a business, make sure to stay up-to-date with all of the current events taking place. This will increase interaction, as people are interested in popular news currently taking place.

    Invest in a Graphic Designer:

    We love posting info-graphics with statistics onto Facebook and our website. We find it crucial for our social and web strategy to invest in a graphic designer. Since we create our own posts, it only takes the designer 45-minutes per week to create our entire social and web graphics for the week. Especially if you have a large following, investing in a graphic designer is a no brainer, as images will increase your interaction. If you are looking for a cheaper route and still want professional photos, look into BigStock. 

    Provide Extremely Relevant Information:

    The attorneys at our firm meet on a weekly basis and jot down 5 bullet points that we know our followers will value. We have noticed a huge spike in interaction when we are actually posting relevant information from case studies at our firm, opposed to just finding random facts on the internet. Whether you are running the social media for your business or someone else’s, it is your responsibility to learn the ins and outs of the business so you can properly inform their social following.

    Sense of Humor:

    Not ever social media post should pertain to your business; otherwise, your content will get stale. When people are on social media, they don’t want everything to be so serious. Be sure to maintain a sense of humor on your companies social media account, even if you are a divorce attorney. 

    Outperform Yourself:

    We mentioned at the beginning of the article to give yourself a pat on the back for the work you accomplished in 2014. If you want to CRUSH IT on social media in 2015, make sure to outperform all of the benchmarks that you set for the previous year.

    If you grew your following by 25%, why not increase your following by 50% in 2015? Right now is the perfect time to formulate your new strategy for the upcoming year so you can continue your social media dominance.

    “Content Is King,” is the phrase we’ve heard everywhere for the last five to seven years. But if content is king, why is content marketing not working for so many businesses? Wouldn’t the methodical, practiced dissemination of “content” – one definition you might give to “content marketing” – be an obvious homerun with marketing departments of all shape and size?

    “Content Is King,” is the phrase we’ve heard everywhere for the last five to seven years. (Though the dictum is 18 years old, first coined by Bill Gates back in 1996.)

    But if content is king, why is content marketing not working for so many businesses? Wouldn’t the methodical, practiced dissemination of “content” – one definition you might give to “content marketing” – be an obvious homerun with marketing departments of all shape and size? You would think.

    A Whole Lot of Talk. Not A Lot of Action.

    While many marketers talk a big game in content marketing… many are failing miserably. I’d like to share with you with a brand new infographic from Axonn Media about the current and future state of content marketing in 2015. I found the reports in this infographic very disheartening, as I’ve briefly summarized below. (I’d be very interested to hear your reaction to the data in the comments section below.)

    Content Marketing Is Not Working for Most Marketers

    • 58% of marketers believe the effectiveness of their use of content marketing is neutral, not very effective, or not at all effective.
    • 51% of marketers have a content strategy and admit to not documenting it.
    • 60% of marketers rate their ROI as neutral or unsuccessful.
    • 51% of marketers say they are challenged by the task of producing engaging content.

    You get the idea. See the infographic below for more insights.

    The truly surprising part is that despite these failures, uncertainties, and “neutral” to “bad” results, content marketers essentially plan to do the exact same thing in 2015 that they did in 2014! (A commonly cited definition for insanity – “repeating behavior while expecting different results” – comes to mind.)

    Look at the bottom of the infographic to see the minuscule shifts in projected behavior:

    • 1% increase in blogging
    • 3% decrease in video
    • 4% decrease in infographics
    • …etc.

    Why Will Content Marketers Repeat Their Failures In 2015?

    That’s the question this infographic put in my head a few days ago. I think I have an answer…

    In short, too many people who shouldn’t be marketers have been forced into marketing positions. In the Social Age (as I call this era that tails the mainstreaming of Facebook, c. 2005-2006), the need for marketers and content producers by companies that 20 years ago would never have dreamed of making videos or publishing online, has dramatically increased.

    With the boom, untold numbers of professionals have been pulled into the Age of Inbound/Content/Native/Guerrilla/Call-It-What-You-Want Marketing. And, really, they don’t “get” it. They’re still stuck in the Outbound/Push/Direct era of marketing. Trying to tie an outbound message and approach to an inbound vehicle has never worked and never will.

    Marketers Aren’t the Only Ones to Blame

    It’s also frequently the case that a truly talented content marketer – one who understands the spirit of inbound techniques as well as the mediums of distribution – is held back by the higher powers in their own company. It’s not at all rare to see businesses hire energetic and creative marketers, but bar them from any risk-taking, which results in timid content that doesn’t win.

    How Can We Change Content Marketing In 2015?

    Be bold. Inbound principles have been successfully demonstrated for years now. But content marketers have to be willing to go all-in. In 2015, I’d like to see content marketers producing more passionate, inspired, and engaging content – not more content that’s just old outbound principals repackaged and mindlessly pumped out the other end of Hootsuite.

    Consumers don’t need more noise. They need valuable information that’s there for them when they want it. It’s a tough challenge. But when you get it, the payoff is tremendous.