Social Media

LinkedIn introduces Showcase Pages

LinkedIn wants to become more of a professional publishing platform. On Tuesday they followed through by introducing a new feature called Showcase Page allowing businesses on the professional networking site to target the fans of a specific product or brand. They are intended to work more or less like the already existing Company Pages with the difference being that they linkedin_showcase_pagesenable more niche marketing, targeting a specific audience rather than all of your followers.

As a company you can create up to 10 Showcase Pages for free (although LinkedIn has hinted that they will accomodate larger companies with more if needed). And of course you can support those pages with the usual follower ads and sponsored updates. LinkedIn -after all – needs to make some money.

And LinkedIn will offer a built-in analytics program so you can track the success of your pages. To round it off, the pages look great visually! Microsoft and Adobe have already started to use this new feature and the pages are being rolled out to all users over the next few days. I will definitely be trying it for some of my clients.

Does one really need skills to be a social media manager?

apeWhile I have been working in marketing and communications for a very long time, social media was not always around. Everything I know relating to social media is something that I have taught myself and have learned by working with and for different clients. And it does not stop there. Technology, metrics, SEO, you name it are developing at incredible speeds meaning having to constantly stay on top of the latest developments. It certainly is not something anyone can teach you overnight (even if there are many companies out there, making a quick buck offering certified social media professional courses).

I notice many businesses underestimate what it means to deliver good social media. It takes time and expertise. It demands lots of different skills like networking, planning and strategy, understanding the customer and the business, writing skills, analytics, commitment and focus, just to name a few. And very important is also experience. I certainly would not trust a new college graduate or trainee to handle my business’ social media activities. You need a strong grounding in marketing communications. You need to understand the industry, its products and have customer facing skills to deal with what social media is all about: engagement. Engaging with community for a business needs to be be strategically driven. And this works best if you are a marketing strategist who can oversee the complete picture. If you believe social media success is about having tons of followers then you are walking down the wrong path.

But enough on this topic. Sailing season is starting and I am off to the boat in bella Italia! Ciao.

Twitter is the new newswire, the new trading floor

trading-floor-300x224The biggest news in the past weeks has been coming from social media. I read about the Boston Marathon bomb attack on Twitter. In near real time. With photos and videos. It was at least another 15 minutes until the major news outlets started reporting on TV and online. More and more, Twitter is giving us major news events before the rest. Yes, Twitter has become the new news wire.

And getting news from Twitter is also influencing our markets and the way we invest. Companies like StockTwits built an entire trader network based on twitter feeds. NYSE added social sentiment to its super feed market data service drawn from Twitter in February. Mid-April Bloomberg announced that they were adding Twitter posts about companies to their terminals. And I know of many small trading firms that give their traders their own Twitter screen next to all the others they need for their daily business.

Is there a pattern here? There sure is. Trading floors and their chatter have more or less vanished. Twitter is filling the void by letting like-minded people find each other on a digital level.
As blogger Barry Ritholtz put so well in an article in the Washington Post last week, “With Twitter, you can build your own virtual trading floor and research department”. While Twitter can offer a lot of misinformation, it also allows you to get different view points from sources you would not get in other news outlets. It lets you spot trends and ideas. It just is so much faster than any other traditional news media.

But as we saw last Tuesday, fast can also cause havoc. I was on the subway when I saw @AP report on Twitter that there had been explosions at the White House, Barack Obama was injured. While I did not really believe it (or hoping it was false), I was waiting, updating my screen seeing if other new outlets were about to report the same news. It turns out @AP had been hacked but in those minutes, this tweet alone caused a mini-crash on the Dow. The traditional chain of events “news comes out, markets react” had been subverted. So has the credibility of Twitter as a news source taken a hit since then? Sure. But nonetheless Twitter remains the new number one place for news.

B2B is P2P

lightThis week, I was wondering why marketers often make a distinction between B2C and B2B. Yes, there may be a difference in purchasing decisions. More logic, less emotion. But even if the name is “B2B” you are still selling to people, not businesses. And these people are also consumers who have daily interactions with the B2C greats like Apple or Amazon and therefore most likely have certain expectations about the sales and marketing process. Across the board they are looking to build relationships, gain insights and knowledge and develop loyalties. So when looking for best practices in B2B marketing, we should definitely take a look and see what we can learn from B2C companies.

Content definitely is a cornerstone for both marketing practices. For B2B it is about showing your expertise and core business values. Good (and plenty!) content can help you stand out among the large flow of information that is out there. So we need to create opportunistic content that revolves around news, visions and trends, finding the right distribution channels and tools. Content that stands out and is consistent over time will be a clear winner. Paired with B2C inspired social media  strategies we can create engagement with our audience. And engagement in turn creates communities.

Our audience should be more than just faceless readers of our content. B2C communities give their audience an opportunity to engage with the brand. In B2B our opportunity exists in creating a real network of customers, influencers and other interested parties where we can share information, developments and comments.I am convinced we can transform businesses and how we market them by taking a closer look at the B2C market and using the inspiration to create a competitive advantage.

Put an end to the old days of marketing!

westThis week I remembered the “good old days” of marketing where when asked to set up a marketing plan we would talk direct mailings (printed! sent via mail!), classic advertisements, printed newsletters or even “give a ways”.

This has all changed with the arrival of online marketing, social media and the ability to actually measure success. And with it, we have seen a shift in marketing focus. We can now truly connect with our customers, strengthen our relationships and improve customer service and products. We can be nimble and adapt quickly to changes in the market or when we see that our approach is not really reaching the customer in ways we want to. Great progress, right? But for some reason there are still many people in marketing out there who for some reason do not grasp the dynamics of social marketing. Maybe they prefer the good old days, with geeky ads in magazines we never were able to know the value of, maybe they are just scared.


In my opinion, us “old” marketers must really stop looking back at the old school of marketing techniques. Yes, there still are many tools out there from way back when that are still efficient. But the new marketing – which really is effective marketing – allows us to make connections that we were never able to build in the past. Having an online presence is just as important as having an offline one. Online gives us an opportunity to be transparent and to influence. It helps us in managing our competitive
advantage on a daily basis. We can measure market share, revenue growth and return on investments. It allows us to develop a strategy and to control execution. Yes, it may mean additional considerations, time spent and input. But with it we become greater influencers. And what is not to like about that?

Facebook’s bait and switch

Are you getting increasingly frustrated with Facebook? Because I sure am!FB

Already in 2012, Facebook made changes to their EdgeRank algorithm that dictates what brand content appears in follower feeds in a move to get people to pay for the promotion of their content. I remember the backlash at the time was huge. So I would have hoped that by now Facebook would have addressed the criticisms and gone back to let followers decide what they want to see and not make that decision for them. But apparently not. Nick Bilton from the New York Times blogged  on Sunday that he had started to see little interaction on his Facebook page despite having over 400,000 followers. All that changed when he paid $7 to promote his columns with his followers on Facebook. Believe it or not he saw a 1000% increase. EdgeRank also has another feature that  influences how often your follower sees a new post depending on how that follower has interacted with you recently, if he has found your posts interesting and how much he has engaged with you. I started to notice this worrying development in the past few weeks on the brand pages that I am managing for my customers. They also have noted a significant drop in interaction. And (even worse) so has my own timeline.

Should an algorithm really make a decision for you what posts you should see? Should a person not make that decision by blocking or unsubscribing? After all it is people who have made a decision to like or follow other people and things that are of interest to us whether we engage, like or just read. Facebook surely is overstepping a boundary here.

To me the true value of a Facebook Fanpage is that I can reach all my followers with every post. As a brand, I value the presence I have on social media channels as they also help me as a brand to engage with my community and get an understanding of my audience. But probably this is of little interest to Facebook (even if they do want the data that is created on a daily basis). What is the true value of a Facebook Fanpage if you do not get all the reach with your post or that you as a follower are not reached? Maybe as a consequence one has to really consider to build up brand audiences on other networks such as Twitter (where the timeline shows everything) or Tumblr.

Hopefully Facebook will remember their mission statement to “make the world more open”. And find  a balance between revenue and entertainment  in order not to become the old MySpace that in the end looked like a littered, paid content cemetery.

Hello….my personal brand is

hello

Wikipedia defines personal branding as a “process whereby people and their careers are marked as brands”. Personal branding has become more and more important as we manage ourselves as a commodity in what sometimes is a very competitive market place.
We all have relationships with brands, probably ever since we can remember and are constantly exposed to them in our daily life. And while the practice of self-branding may not be exactly like corporate branding it still is about packaging, designing and selling yourself – just like one would any product. Your personal brand is all about who you are, what you stand for and what you want to be known for.

So why should you care? Because in our digital world and the surge in social media more and more people are checking you out. Sometimes even before they have even met you – like your future employers, potential business partners….even those that may have a romantic interest in you.
And you should want to be in control of all those impressions. Packaging your self-brand is all about personal visibility. Technology and digital tools give us the opportunity to create a sell-able image of ourselves across multiple platforms. This may take some self-analyzing before you get started. Figure out who you are and how people perceive you. Think about your strengths, your expertise, your marketability and who you want your audience to be. Look at the channels that you want to set up, topics you want to talk about.

Being a personal brand is not necessarily about promoting your work or accomplishments, rather it is about promoting your presence in the market. Do not see it as a profit seeking practice. Use personal branding as a voyage of discovery. See it as an added personal value of how you think about yourself.

Let’s ban social media in the workplace (not)

We all have been through many technological changes in the workplace that have had a profound impact. I remember using a telex machine to confirm trades which then quickly moved to online trade confirmation platforms. Social media is no different.  LinkedIn, Twitter, Tumbler, Facebook….you name it…it is what the people are using in the workplace – a lot. And not only the millennials  also baby boomers and Generation X. And I would argue that managers and leaders need to see the benefits of using social media in the workplace. For their employees, the performance of the company and themselves.

From my experience, social media does not distract employees. Rather it increases communication. It enables us to connect quickly internally and externally without needing an introduction. Every online comment, re tweet or question answered shows that you have listening skills and that you can truly engage. Social media also helps us sell our business better. It has given us the tools to measure what works, what generates our customer’s interest and allows us to constantly adapt to our customer’s needs. It allows us to be more in touch with our market, understand trends and developments. And social media increases speed. How satisfying is it when you can make a customer happy by responding right away to a question on Twitter? Or that you can get vital information to your customers within a matter of seconds? We all know that lack in communication speed can easily mean a missed opportunity, possibly leaving behind a negative sentiment.

Social media – and the skills it requires – makes us more interactive, quick and persuasive. All great traits in employees and leaders alike. And as a technology it increases productivity. So we should stop worrying about employees watching that YouTube video or posting something on Facebook at work. Social media will be around for a while. And those who use it wisely and well it will  increase their effectiveness as a person and as a company.

Twitter’s race to become a media company

Ever since the Summer Olympics, we have been seeing that Twitter is trying to become a media company. This is also what John Battelle argues in his new blog post (http://battellemedia.com/archives/2013/01/portrait-of-twitter-as-a-young-media-company.php)

He writes that Twitter is curating and even creating content for its users But Twitter will need to do a lot more if it wantes to become a relevant new-media venture. For instance, Twitter has the “Oscars Index” (a partnership with Topsy) which tracks sentiments around Oscar-nominated movies leading up to the Academy Awards. Within this index tweets are analyzed and evaluated. Twitter also has announced that they want to create a “Twitter TV Rating” for TV shows together with Nielsen, showing that they have something interesting to offer to media companies and of course advertisers. If you consider that there are more thadatan half-a-billion tweets sent out per day…that is a lot of valuable data and insight.

Twitter, Google, Facebook: they want to offer exactly the same – be able to deliver personalized content to their users. But I believe that delivering and curating meaningful information to individual users from this vast amount of data is far from realization. But as Batelle points out, Twitter has started to improve its Discovery tab and he says  “Twitter presents a massive search problem/opportunity. For example, Twitter’s gotten better and better at what’s called “entity extraction” – identifying a person, place, or thing, then associating behaviors and attributes around that thing.”

The advantage that social media has is that – compared to traditional content like newspapers – it has the ability to curate content for individuals. So the race to get there first has begun and Twitter has a good chance due to its data to win if they are able to deliver to
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Twitter Trading Platform About To Launch

thPaul Hawtin is not only the founder of the Twitter hedge fund Derwent Capital – no, on Monday he is launching an online trading platform called DCM Dealer. The platform will enable retail investors to trade equities, FX and commodities using real-time sentiments based on data from Twitter and other social media channels.

He will start with 250 UK equities, FX and commodities contracts but according to an article in the WSJ expansion will be quick. Pan-european stocks “within weeks” and US and Asian equities next month. Wow.

There has been a lot of discussion over the past year about the correlation of sentiments and stock market movements. This will be the first time that this source of information will be connected to a trading community. And social media data will be used by traders to (hopefully for them) make better buying and selling decisions. I will be keeping an eye on this one.