MarComNeXt Pocket Guide: Leverage LinkedIn to grow your business

linkedin-officeSocial Media is now clearly a required component of any integrated marketing mix for all companies, Large Enterprise or SMB, and among the numerous Social Media and Networks available, LinkedIn is one of the most effective, and may be underused, to help you grow your business.

I first used LinkedIn to build my personal network, and later on I also used it professionally to develop my company (IBM) Social Media Marketing tactics for my business unit and for our events, and in both case it`s been a success and rewarding experience.

First a few stats & demographics: As of February 2011,

linkedin bpo– LinkedIn has over 101 Million members, all experienced professionals, from +200 countries (3/4 in North America, followed by Europe and India), 30% of them are part of SMB companies (less than 1.000 employees), 72% of them are between 24 and 54 years old (average 41 and household income $109k), The industry sector best represented is IT and Finance followed by Manufacturing and Medical, The two most popular job functions are Sales and Administration, followed by Academic, Operations and Engineering.

– 18Million members belong to a group

– 1Million new members are signing up every week

– 45 Million visitors per month, among the top 250 web sites visited word wide

– 2Billion people searches per year

– 69% of the Fortune 100 companies use LinkedIn

– More than 1Million companies have an official Company Page on Linkedin

– LinkedIn is a favorite with lead generation companies conducting B2B campaigns: 72% of the respondents in a survey voted for LinkedIn as Number1, Facebook ranked second with 71%, while Twitter came in third with 67%

– Worldwide spending on social networks is expected to rise 71.6% to $5.97 billion, approximately 8.7% of the total amount advertisers are predicted to spend online in 2011.

LinkedIn can help you grow your business in many ways, depending on which type of business you are in, but overall here a few of them:LinkedIn-advertising-campaigns

1.Raise awareness on your profile, your brand and reputation

2. Connect with more people and engage discussions with customers and partners

3. Drive traffic to your web site and generate leads

4. Advertise job offerings and Hire qualified people

5. Trade services and grow revenue

Based on my experience, here are a few basic but useful  tips to guide you on how to leverage LinkedIn to grow your business:

  • Create your company profile on LinkedIn
  • Invite employee to connect and customers and partners to follow your company, Use LinkedIn’s email import tools to import all of your contacts
  • Advertise your LinkedIn profile on your communication, web, social media, email, newsletter
  • Tie your LinkedIn profile to your others social networks and add a LinkedIn widget on your website and blog
  • Create a LinkedIn Industry Group, and invite employees, partners, customers, prospects, industry experts and influencers to join
  • Start rich discussions and promotions on your LinkedIn Group and become a recognized expert in your market or industry
  • Advertise Jobs offerings on your LinkedIn Company Profile and Group and extend your reach to a huge pool of resources and experts
  • Search & invite your customers and prospects to connectlinkedin1 blog
  • Perform blind, “reverse,” and company reference checks
  • Get recommendations and referrals to help attract more clients
  • Join relevant LinkedIn Groups and use them to send e-mails to thousands of prospects
  • Use LinkedIn to get back-links to your web site, blogs, newsletters
  • Enhance your Search Engine results, Claim your own vanity URL for added SEO power
  • Create LinkedIn events and drive traffic to your events, conferences, workshops, webinars or virtual events
  • Automatically get your Tweets to show on your LinkedIn profile
  • Automatically get your blog posts to show on your LinkedIn Profile
  • Use polls and surveys to gather valuable market information
  • Find out who has actually viewed your profile and follow up
  • Leverage LinkedIn’s application features, share Powerpoint presentations and PDF files with your connections, with product and services information, white papers, customers cases studies, press releases
  • Advertise on LinkedIn, "pay per click", and touch hundreds of thousands of potential customers
  • Define metrics, track your results to measure your success and justify your Return on Social Media Investment.

limkedin imagesLinkedIn has grown to become an important B2B marketing and recruitment digital channel.

 Apply all these tactics to take advantage of LinkedIn and help you quickly build a valuable professional network, Improve your brand visibility, grow your reputation, raise awareness on your products and services, extend your reach and Word-of-Mouth and generate leads cost effectively.

View my profile on LinkedIn


Top 10 latest trends in Social Media Marketing.

social-media-peopleTo face Social Media exponential growth, or should I better say explosion, and to help keep up with so many new sites, services, apps coming-up every day, helping businesses connect and engage more directly with customers, I thought I will take a step back and try to point you to what’s in my view are the Top 10 latest trends in Social Media in a Marketing perspective.

1- Large Enterprise adoption of social media platform: America’s Fortune 500 havefortune 500 twitter accounts increased their participation in Twitter, from 35% in 2009 to 60% in 2010, and 56% have a Facebook page, according to a yearly report from the Center for Marketing Research.

2- SBM adoption of social media platform starts growing: according to research by Zoomerang and GrowBiz Media, 34% of SMB companies (less than 1,000 employees) use social media, 10% is allocating 30% of their marketing budget to social media, and 13% will spend more on social media next year.

social media growth3- Audience Growth: According to The Nielsen Company, global consumers spent more than five and half hours on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter in December 2009, an 82% increase from year before. Teens and young adults spend more and more time on social media, and now older people (50 to 65 years old) represent the most growing population of social media users. Facebook already has over 500M users and growing exponentially everyday, and over 150M twitter users, and growing even faster. Social Media becomes more popular, and social business becomes a play that companies marketers can’t ignore anymore.

4- Corporate Policies: Result is many companies are now setting up official company  guidelines, policies and best practices for usage of social media tools and services, specially when representing the company via social media.

5- Like in Real estate social media is now about “Location, Location, Location” (see my blog on that topic) –With latest Facebook announcement  launching its new Geo-Location feature, “Facebook Places”, Facebook is moving from a basic Social Networking space for friends to a business-oriented tool for local businesses. Location-Based-Services once integrated via APIs to services as Facebook are going to change the Internet over-all, as the internet will become “less about the searching and more about the getting“, less about Search Engines and more about Apps.

6- Social Media becomes more and more Mobile: Facebook and Twitter access via mobile phones has grown by triple digits in the last year. social-media mobileAdvertising & Mobile advertising is becoming a major source of revenue and a BIG business for social media platforms. The detailed personal information they detain on their users coupled with location based services is a dream come true for any marketer and advertiser. Facebook advertising revenue forecast from advertising is around $1.3 billion in 2010, and $1.7 billion in 2011, and has not yet penetrated the Mobile Ad market, which they will do with “Places”.

7- Social Commerce & Mobile Payment is a growing trend in social media and social business world, offering the ability to make purchases and micro-transaction from mobile apps, mobile social media platforms and social gaming, embraced by major finance players as Visa, Paypal etc..

8- Email marketing is becoming more Social: Recent acquisitions like Constant Contact acquiring NetShellMail and Exact Target acquiring CoTweet are good examples of this new trend, merging email marketing with social media, and the emergence of a more interactive marketing platform to engage with customers..

9- Another new trend is Group Buying: Groups in a social network can get discounts or group rates on products or services. Social sites like Living Social and Groupon are focusing on this market, a new business model for retailers and local stores.

social-media-ad metrics10- Finally Analytics and Return on Investment measurement has become increasingly critical for marketers to analyse and justify their return on social media marketing investment. More and more tools are available and in the future the winning social media platform will be the ones with the best analytics tools.

There are of course others trends in Social Media, some more specifics to specific countries, population, industries, businesses, and this new area of marketing-Communication is evolving so rapidly, trying to predict the future is often more like guessing, so pragmatically, as a marketer take advantage of those latest trends to optimize your social media marketing strategy and tactics.

MarCom-NeXt Pocket Guide: successfully engage in Social Media Marketing


Social media originally started as a tool for friends and family to keep in touch, and has now moved also to the business community for Companies to engage discussions with their customers, partners and others organizations.

Large Enterprises, as well as SMB in a smaller scale, are adopting Social Media as a new wave of Marketing.

Based on recent reports and studies, the top benefits of Social Media Marketing are seen as (in this order):

– Branding: Generating exposure for the businessSocial Media Marketing Benefits report 2010

– Word-of-Mouth: Extending audience, raising awareness, increasing traffic

– Discussions: Engaging discussions & building relationship/partnership

– Revenue: Generating leads or sales

– Cost: reduce marketing expenses

Marketers have high expectation of Social Media, often and wrongly perceived as a free or low cost, easy to launch and deploy, not resource consuming tactic and they could be disappointed by the results and return in investment if they do not use best practices; It could even be a failure and damage your brand or business if not well executed and then abandoned after an unsuccessful try.

So, based on my own experience, here are few tips to successfully engage in Social Media Marketing:

1- Define a clear strategy

2- Secure executive sponsorship

3- Clarify Goals & Business Objectives: Talk or Listen, raise awareness, engage discussions, generate leads, drive sales & revenue, foster loyalty.

4- Integrate Social Media as one marketing tactic of your marketing mix

5- Document metrics

6- Target your audience: understand digital audience behaviour, develop social media map, identify and engage the influencers,

7- Define content, aligned with your objectives and aligned with corporate marketing messages

8- Select appropriate social networks, based on your goals and audiencSocial Media Marketing Tools Report2010e: Twitter, facebook, LinkedIn, blogs, YouTube or others videos sites, Social Bookmarking sites etc… (see chart)

1- Select appropriate tools: management tools, short url tools, analytics tools, maximize digital assets distribution

2- Allocate dedicated assets and resource, experts to provide content, be the Voice and participate in relevant discussions,

3- Define and document some Social Media Guidelines for people participating to your social media activities, bloggers, and all employees,

4- Design your Social Media image, theme, tag line and main message: name, gravatar, banner, theme, colors, page

5- Launch and deploy your Social Media tactic and tools

6- Start Talking and empower consumer advocacy, tell the story, but also let the others tell the story about you

7- Listen to your Audience, monitor the market conversation

8- Engage discussions, be very responsive, show appreciation, gather market intelligence

9- Promote and advertise your Social media presence (via your web site, email marketing, newsletters, blog, webinar, print…)

10- Leverage your network: employees, partners, customers

11- Grow and maintain you LIST of friends, followers, Fans …

12- Maintain the relationship, keep the momentum, keep communicating regularly and intensively, keep on building and growing,

13- Tie all your Social Media and web presence all together and keep the Buzz growing,

14- Track and measure qualitative, quantitative and competitive results using analytics tools, document lessons learned and communicate monthly reports, understand the impact and do what it takes to improve your ROI.

social-media Social Media are platforms for interactions and relationships, not just a branding or advertising platform, it represent a fundamental shift on the way we communicate and make decision, so take advantage of it, build et develop new relationships and partnerships.

Jump on The Social Media Bandwagon, Start Talking & Listening, Start Engaging Discussions with Social Media.

Next-Gen Email Marketing Pocket Guide: 10 tips to optimize your email marketing.

email-marketing 2 Email Marketing seems to be easy but is actually a tricky and difficult tactic to implement fully effectively and successfully. It is a powerful tool but also a risky one that could damage your brand if used inappropriately.

In order to overcome the annoyance of spam, Email has become the most personal medium of marketing communication and advertising.

Email marketing can be used for multiple purpose and media: campaigns, newsletters, product launch, promotion or discount, invitation to an event, marketing collateral or technical paper, Press Release or Announcement, Customer or Partner success story, Industry Analysts studies, awards, contests, surveys, just to name a few.

Email marketing can be a very effective and profitable tool to: improve your brand, raise product awareness, engage contacts, build relationship, generate leads and to increase any type of business, as long as you use the best practices.

Email-Marketing-Services At MarCom-NeXt we focus on Next Generation Marketing, including Next Gen email marketing , and Therefore, here is a short summary of best practices and tips to help you optimise the results of your email marketing campaigns:

1- Strategy: define and document your strategy, goals and objectives

2- The List:

a- create and maintain a high quality list or database, possibly use a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software; the more information, the better the list, the better the click-to-open rate, it is a simple as that.

b- Segment the list: No email blasting to the entire list, the more targeted message to the most relevant segment of your list, the better the click rate, this is The Key.

3- Permission: Make sure to send emails only to contacts who have been authorising you to do so, via opt-in or opt-out , subscribe or unsubscribe process.

email marketing integrated campaign 4- Integrated, multi-steps campaigns: Integrate your email marketing with your others marketing tactics – web site, advertising, SEM, events, etc- and build multi-step campaigns, not just a one shout email. And more specifically link your email campaign to your Social Media activities.

5- Content:

a-The Subject line is very important and has a huge impact on the click-to-open rate.

b- Personalised address: Address the recipient with its name, so it does look to much as mass marketing, and recipient feels respect and relationship.

c- Ensure the clarity and relevance of the message, make sure it is useful to the targeted audience.

d- Tone: set a positive, dynamic, inspiring tone, aligned with your brand or product, and use the KISSS rule “Keep it Simple, Short and Sexy”

e- I will not go into details of the classic tips as misspelling, acronyms, signs, triggers/spam words to avoid, abuse of capitals letters, colors etc as it is of course basic but also important.

f- Use the same font and size throughout all the email.

g- Include links to your web site, your blog and to your Social media accounts (Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook…).

h- Include Multi-Media, Audio, Video, Flash, Interactive, Game… to make the message more attractive, entertaining and memorable.

i- Ensure links, logos, image etc display properly.

j- Propose to forward the email to friends and colleagues (and measure forward-to-click rates).

k- In the end, it must include a clear Call-to-Action.

l- Provide the contact information (email address) of someone to contact as return email address.

m- Include an opt-in / opt-out or subscribe/unsubscribe option.

n- Have the email signed by someone real, possibly an executive.

o- Email and html versions should be exactly the same.

p- Use a plain text editor like NotePad or EText Editor for PC, or TextEdit or TextMate ffor Mac, do not use tools like Word, FrontPage, DreamWaver etc.

q- Get the message tested and checked by several people before sending.

6- Consistency: keep a regular and consistent flow of email communication, without becoming annoying or overwhelming, but just enough to keep attention, be informative, be relevant, be helpful. Periodicity can be monthly, weekly or daily, depending on your audience.

7- Delivery: Optimize the delivery process of your email, eventually hire a professional email service provider as they have specialised tools for that.

8- Timing: do not send on week-end, holidays, not even a Friday, timing is everything

9- Follow-up: Create, document, implement and automate as much as possible a follow-up process, we call it –eNurtering, the quality of your follow-up is critical to your success.

email marketing profit 10- Results Tracking: Define metrics and track and analyse results, possible using analytics tool. Build reports, document lessons learned and share the value.

If well planned, integrated and executed, email marketing is a simple, easy, affordable, quick marketing tactic which will provide a Great Return On Marketing Investment (ROMI).

So now Go for it ! email me…

Like in Real Estate, the future of Mobile Advertising is in “Location, Location, Location”

Latest Facebook announcement  launching its new Geo-Location feature, “Facebook Places”, which will enable you to share with your friends where you are, check who is also there, find out what’s interesting to do around, read some tips from your friends about the place you are checking-in etc…was expected and is a major move.Facebook Places iPhone App

 To me this announcement just emphasizes the importance of Location-Based-Services (LBS) for online advertising. Even if for now Facebook is not announcing, yet, mobile advertising capabilities for “Places”, I am sure they plan to do it in a near future as it is such a big market opportunity for local businesses.

In my mind, there is no doubt Facebook is running after competing Location-Based-Social-Network-Services (LBSN) as Foursquare, Gowallas, Brightkite and others Yelp leading that space for now, and when you know that “Places” will include Localeze directory of 14 Millions local business listings, that people will be able to share and consult on their mobile Facebook, and when you have Facebook’s  500 Millions users base, (and just a few Millions users for Foursquare and Gowallas) it’s easy to figure out who is going to win that battle, and grap the advertising business opportunity attached.

Localisation is a critical addition to Facebook as it provides valuable contextual content to the already rich Facebook objects database. (Each action you take in Facebook, each information you add, each comment you write, each link you click on etc, become an object in Facebook database, what a mine of information for marketers, and how SCARY, isn’it!).

Mobile: Life is LocalWith this new feature Facebook is moving from a basic Social Networking space for friends to a business-oriented tool for local businesses, and that is indeed a BIG business.

This will also clearly position Facebook to compete more and more with Google.

Any Marketer dreams of reaching customers where they are, where they can buy their products or services, and that is what Location-Based- Services enable them to do, by pushing a targeted and localised online ad to the consumer on his device, nothing can be more efficient, this is Powerful Next Generation Marketing, as we conceive it at MarCom-NeXt.

Latest Mobile Marketing Association report shows that Location-based mobile ads outperform all other formats, with nearly 50% engagement rate.

LBSNS intensifies the relevance between social networking and geographical location. By dint of check-in record and behavioral responses in different geographical positions, LBSNS users can generate corresponding relationship with  local enterprises, which enables the local enterprises to identify targeted consumers and improve the correlation degree and accuracy of advertising service so as to raise the value of local advertisement marketing.

So, how big is the business opportunity? May be not huge right now, the local advertising market of LBSNS shows a promising development outlook, but this market is still in the early adoption period and it will grow quickly and expand from US to Worldwide.

Facebook and Twitter access via mobile phones has grown by triple digits in the last year.

Apple iAd LaunchFacebook advertising revenue forecast from advertising is around $1.3 billion in 2010, and $1.7 billion in 2011, and has not yet penetrated the Mobile Ad market, which they will do with “Places”.

Google generates 90 percent of Google’s revenues with AdWorks advertising.

Apple with its iAd platform Apple required its first advertisers to spend as much as $1 million to start and pay both a $10 Cost-Per-Thousand (CPM) and a $2 Cost-Per-Click fee (CPC). Please note: Apple announced last week that it’s winding down Quattro Wireless, the ad network acquired earlier this year, to focus on Apple’s iAd program.

Location-Based-Services once integrated via APIs to services as Facebook are going to change the Internet over-all, as the internet will become “less about the searching and more about the getting“, less about Search Engines and more about Apps, which is why Google may be starting to worry.Google Compass

Like in Real Estate, the future of Mobile Advertising is in “Location, Location, Location

6-In-store Mobile Shopping will change the way we shop …

With the new mobile technologies, apps and services available now,  and more soon to come, Mobile Shopping from in-store is the new trend and we can expect from it a new interesting, interactive, personalised experience as a consumer in our favourite stores.

New industry standards are being created, new mobile apps are being developed, new mobile commerce offerings are being launched and you will soon be experiencing it yourself.

In-store mobile shoppers, will be able, on their smart phone, to scan a product or take its picture, to see products advertizing, videos, compare products, compare prices in competitive stores, find technical specifications, or ingredients for food, read consumers product reviews, retrieve discount coupons online, receive directly on their phone promotions and coupons based on their purchase history in the store, get loyalty points from the store and much more.

There will be real benefits for the retailers and stores too, by providing more information, better service, improved customer satisfaction, by attracting more customers in their stores and converting them into buyers, and improving customer loyalty, they will increase their sales.

M-Commerce Multichannel Outlook, US, 2010The charts attached show that Mobile-Commerce & Mobile-shopping are still at the  early adoption stage, but you can be sure this will grow quickly and explode sooner than later, as this will be a way for major brands and retailers to differentiate themselves, gain competitive advantage, improve customer experience, retain or gain new customers, and increase their market share.

We are in the information age, smart mobile phones are part of our life and becoming an extension of ourselves, and consumer demand for this shopping experience will grow, as did text messaging, Instant Messaging, streaming video, mobile gaming, mobile TV etc…

As consumers spend increasing time online, are used to shop online from their home, and as they are demanding more and more apps from their mobile phone, mobile will link products and stores to the digital world

Mobile-Commerce and In-store Mobile shopping will change our shopping experience and the way we buy.

Are you ready ?