Some Key Social Media Trends To Look For In 2012 by Joseph Puopolo

Reposted from TechCrunch.com
Social-Media-Collage

Editor’s note: Guest contributor Joseph Puopolo is an entrepreneur and start-up enthusiast, who blogs on a variety of topics including green initiatives, technology and marketing.

In 2011, social media had its share of growing pains. Large brands and corporations took to social media in force to try to find footing in this expanding medium. Some brands found success, while others found peril and new PR nightmares. One person who has helped brands navigate the proverbial social media minefield is Amy Jo Martin. She is the founder of Digital Royalty, a social media firm that has set itself apart by helping A-listers find their social media voice.

Amy works with people like Dana White of the UFC, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson of acting/WWE fame and brands like Nike and Fox Sports (and now Joel Stein). Her specialty is working with organizations or individuals and making them look good online. Since the online world is in perpetual flux, I wanted to get Amy’s take on the social media landscape for 2012.

Here were a few key trends Amy said we should look out for in 2012:

1. Social TV Integration

Many shows have already begun to integrate social TV, either through polling or integrating social elements within the show. See my example of how both the UFC and WWE are integrating social media into their programming. Social media played a pivotal role in the last presidential election, and it will likely be more integrated into political broadcasts.

As each news channel fights hard to keep their viewers engaged, networks like CNN and Fox have made significant strides to engage their audience, although some would argue that this social media integration has come at the expense of hard-hitting journalism and analysis.

2. TV Is Going Online in a Big Way

2012 will be the first time that the Super Bowl will be streamed live to the world. Since the Super Bowl is generally viewed as the mother of all advertising spectacles, it will add a new dynamic into the digital component to advertising and social media integration.

3. Facebook Credits Take Center stage

Facebook in 2012 has the potential to project its power and truly take Facebook credits into a viable currency. Amy puts it quite well when she says “they’re building an online destination we’ll never need to leave, and my guess is they’re only about 8% of the way through their product roadmap.”

4. Big Business Has Woken Up

The way corporate entities approach social media is shifting. Many companies realize that setting up Twitter, YouTube and Facebook accounts is not going to cut it as their social media strategy. Brands will need to seriously shift their perspective by treating social channels more like communication channels and less like an advertising channels in order to make a difference. From my perspective this transition has already occurred, judging by the extent to which brands’ Twitter accounts are now used as channels for CRM and customer support, managing pissed off or happy customers in near realtime.

5. ROI Is Still Huge

ROI will remain a key metric to any social media strategy. The concept of engagement is now becoming more and more an excepted metric. CEO adoption of social media is improving, and more CEOs are recognizing the benefits of humanizing their brand by taking to Twitter.

Customer service, research and image branding could all be considered social media intangibles, yet all three are obviously important in business. Social channels impact every single aspect of business from human relations to finance, sales, operations and legal. It’s important for everyone to understand how social media affects their role and responsibilities. Opposite of television, social media is a dialogue vs. a monologue and if a brand is able to collect opinions real-time in high volume via social channels like Facebook polls, they can save a great deal of money on formal research studies.

There have been a lot of discussions about social media fatigue and whether brands refuse to play for that reason. With over a billion people on social media it’s irresponsible for any brand not to have some sort of presence. 2012 will be the year for brands to go beyond cookie cutter campaigns and really determine how it not only adds value to their company, but how it adds value for their customers. 2012 will be crucial for companies and social media. For those who don’t see a direct correlation between social media and sales consider:

“Social media is an ideal tool for moving people up the fan ladder, from being a casual fan of a brand to a loyalist, because the communication channels allow people to build stronger emotional connections with brands.”

So in 2012, the question is, how will your brand use effective strategy to move people up the fan ladder from interested to foaming at the mouth brand zealots?

Excerpt image from 4socialmediaconsulting

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Another good one from Social Media Examiner.com

Is your business running out of content ideas? Content is the fuel for your social media rocket ship and the foundation of any solid presence in the social sphere. Your content cannot be everything to everyone; however, you can be relevant and provide value to your target market. Generating compelling content that people want to consume can […] Read the rest of this article…
 

For You LinkedIn Fans…(and if you’re not you should be.

6 Steps to Expanding Your Network With LinkedIn Company Search

social media how toIf you’ve spent some time on LinkedIn, you may realize that the network allows for companies to build dynamic profiles on the site. Did you know that you can discover important information conducting company searches?
What is LinkedIn Company Search?
According to LinkedIn, your professional network isn’t just about the people you know, it’s also about the companies in your network and how you’re connected to them. LinkedIn’s new Company Search provides an opportunity to discover connections in your network and filter them by the companies they work for.
Why is this important? Not only can you search for companies by attributes such as location, industry and size, but also by how you’re connected! Ultimately, LinkedIn Company Search can help you expand your professional network in ways that you may not have thought about.

How Can You Utilize LinkedIn Company Search to Expand Your Professional Network?

LinkedIn Company Search results are more robust than the “People” search results for those who do not have a Premium LinkedIn account. These search results appear to be unlimited for the time being, as long as a particular company has created a company profile.

How to Expand Your Professional Network Using LinkedIn Company Search

#1: Set your Company Search parameters

Navigate to Company Search, located underneath the “Companies” tab. Next, refine your search in the left-hand column using the following parameters for the most relevant results:

  • Location (focus on your city)
  • Industry (target a single industry initially)
  • Relationship (choose second-degree connections)

Hint: Your current number of first-degree connections will directly impact the number of second- and third-degree connections that you have. If you don’t have many first-degree connections at this point, you’ll want to focus on building meaningful connections as quickly as you can!

company search on linkedin

Filter search results for location, industry and second-degree connections.

#2: When viewing these search results, look for the number of people in your network for each company listed

Each company that shows up in your search results will showcase a link to the number of people who are in your network. These “people” will all be your second-degree connections, given that you filtered for this parameter. The search results may also show you job postings by the company if you choose to view that parameter.

company search on linkedin

Identify the number of people who are in your network for each search result.

#3: Click the link to “View all X people.”

To expand the list of second-degree connections from each company who are in your network, you’ll need to click the “View all X people” link (see image below). Once you click this link, you’ll see a list of all of your second-degree connections who are associated with this particular company, along with the number of shared connections that you have with each person.

company search on linkedin

Click to view all of the second-degree connections who are in your network from this company.

Note that when these results are shown, in order to see those individuals who work in your specific geographical area, you’ll have to reset that search parameter in the LinkedIn Company Search filter on the left-hand side of the results page. (Just as you did in step #1, refine your search results by location once again.)
Now you’ll see the list of second-degree connections who are in your network and work for this particular company, as well as the number of shared connections that exist between you and this individual. LinkedIn will also show you any groups that you have in common with this list of second-degree connections, which could open up the opportunity to make a direct connection. (LinkedIn will allow you to send invitations to connect with mutual group members.)

people search results on linkedin

View the list of individuals with whom you have a shared connection.

#4: Click to view your “shared connection(s)”

The most exciting part of this search is being able to see exactly how you’re connected to this new list of people! Your shared connections in many cases will be key in providing you with an introduction to a new second-degree connection and can also share with you what they know about the person.

people search results on linkedin

Make a connection and if someone else is connected to that person as well you have a shared connection!

#5: View the second-degree connection’s profile and connect!

I suggest that prior to asking for an introduction from your shared connection that you spend some time learning more about the person. For example, view the profile of the second-degree connection and look for common experiences, interests or additional places on the web where you can connect.
Does the person have a blog you can subscribe to? Do they have a Twitter account that is visible on their LinkedIn profile? Are there groups that they are a member of that would make sense for you to join as well? Do you share common personal interests or past work experiences with this individual? You might also Google the person to gather additional intelligence.
This research prior to asking for an introduction to connect or sending any type of direct invitation to connect helps you have a more meaningful dialogue once you’ve become connected on LinkedIn.

#6: Promote, refer and engage your new connections.

If you want to build influence on LinkedIn, always remember to focus on promoting, referring and engaging your connections. You can “like,” “share” or “comment” on their status updates, invite them to join interesting groups or attend local events, and suggest or refer any of your existing connections with whom they can benefit from knowing.
In addition, you should consider sending relevant news and resources to your new connections that can help or benefit them in their business and networking efforts.
Don’t forget to be consistently updating your LinkedIn status on a daily basis if possible. This will also expand your visibility and increase your opportunity to be seen as value-added to your new connections.
As you can see, leveraging LinkedIn Company Search is not only a powerful way to manually build a qualified list of prospects by location and industry, but you also have a connection pathway to meet these individuals through an introduction or by sending a direct invitation, depending on your account level. Keep in mind, however, that the best new business relationships often come by way of referral or introduction!
Spend some time doing these kinds of searches for your business. If you have a Premium LinkedIn account, you can actually create folders and save the profiles of all of your new and prospective connections.

You need more than one kind website…

What Type Of Website Do You Really Need?

Back when I started Gentle Rain in ’92, websites really weren’t used extensively. And boy, were they expensive. If memory serves, I think I paid $3,000 for a simple 3-page site way-back-then.
Today of course, websites are simple, inexpensive and can quickly be put up (or taken down). So let’s talk today about some options and what might be best for you.
First…I believe that you should reorient your thinking.
Instead of website (singular) think websites (plural).
The key to selling and marketing services is to get lots of prospective clients to opt-in and become subscribers to your newsletter, since your clients are going to come from your subscribers.
So how do we get lots of subscribers?
One of the tricks to successfully marketing your services is to get your prospective client to see a reflection of themselves in your marketing materials. This is what’s often referred to as the “message to market match”. The closer it is, the more people pay attention to you.
That’s why having a lot of micro-sites (in addition to your main “corporate” website) is an option you should consider.
This is what’s called the “hub & spokes” system. In this you have one main site that serves as your corporate site. If you currently have a website, it probably falls into this category.
The one disadvantage of corporate sites is that they are usually not designed to motivate visitors to opt-in to your list. Thus, you don’t want to spend a lot of money driving traffic to them, since most of it will simply bounce off.
In our types of businesses it’s all about building relationships. In order to do that I need to be communicating with you on a consistent basis.
That’s a bit difficult to do if you don’t provide me with your contact information when you visit.
To capture that crucial information we need micro-sites. These are highly specific one page websites that might target specific audiences. For example I micro-target those who market to the affluent at this site
You can also use micro-sites to target one very specific service that you offer. For example, I attract people who want to learn how to write a great sales letter at this site …I target those who want to learn branding techniques here …or those who want to market their services to hard-to-reach senior level decision makers at this site.
All told, I have 60-some micro sites that feed people into my overall subscription base.
As I said, the reason that is important is that your clients are going to come from those who have opted-in and become subscribers. These are the people with whom you have developed a relationship.
The big mistake I see most advisors, consultants and other services providers make is that they don’t do a good job of building relationships with enough prospects. Remember, this is largely about message and math. Your marketing message has to be compelling but the numbers have to work as well.
Most people I coach just aren’t building relationships with enough prospects.
They’re not leveraging the power that micro-sites could provide but instead are hoping that their corporate site will pull double duty and generate the leads they need.
Which it doesn’t.
My model from the beginning has been to get people to opt-in to receive something interesting for free. Then I try very hard to build trust and credibility by offering helpful advice through newsletters such as these.
I didn’t make up this approach. I learned it from others, and to be honest, a lot of trial and error went into it before I finally figured it out.
But at the end of the proverbial day, it’s worked real well for me, and for my clients, and I think this approach would work well for you too.
I’m a firm believer that the easiest way to get lots of subscribers is through micro-sites that target specific groups of prospects or focus on specific services you offer.