5 Better ways to network on Twitter and LinkedIn

Social media is like a professional cocktail hour — a way to connect, share and interact with others beyond the confines of your cubicle. But now, it feels more like an epic college kegger — the kind where you find yourself wandering in a sea of red cups, the clamor of rowdy partygoers drowning out any real conversation and eliminating the chance to forge relationships that don’t involve tacos at 3 a.m.

So, how do you bring that party back down to a reasonable size, and actually connect with people you want to talk to? Half the battle is being able to sift through the noise. Here are a few easy ways to identify and jump into the right conversations with the right people for you and your professional interests.

1. Find the Authors of the Content You Read – Who are the social influencers in your area of expertise? Identifying these people is particularly useful in seeking out great conversations. One of the best places to start is the blogs or websites you go to for content. Check out the authors — people who contribute to online publications usually have a social presence, too. Follow them on Facebook and Twitter, and take the time to let them know what you think. Comment on their articles or blogs, then take it a step further and tweet some feedback. Giving a compliment with some added insight on the topic goes a long way.

2. Become an Author Yourself – There’s no better way to join the conversation in your field than by writing on the topic — either on your own blog or for industry publications. Not only will you have something to readily share and discuss on your social networks, you’ll likely have people in your field reach out to you with comments and ideas of their own.

If you don’t consider yourself a wordsmith, stick to what you know. Think about what questions you get asked most often about what you do, and write down your thoughts. Once you get started, you’ll be surprised how much you truly have to say.

3. Leverage Twitter Keyword Searches – Twitter can be a great source of information, but it can also be one of the “noisiest” places on the web. So a great way to find people, filter tweets and join a conversation is to search for keywords related to the topics in which you are interested. For example, if you work in social media, the most obvious place to start would be a keyword like “social media.”

It seems simple, but this isn’t a perfect science, and it requires some trial and error to see which keywords get you the results you want (for example, you might try “social media marketing” or “Twitter marketing”). Play around with different versions, and join the conversation when you find something of interest. Reply to people’s tweets and give your feedback or comments. Did someone link out to an article and give her opinion? Tell her that you agree or disagree and why.

4. Join Relevant LinkedIn Groups – LinkedIn groups are great forums for career-related discussions — members often share articles, ask questions and start online conversations with each other. Do a quick group search on LinkedIn, and you’re likely to get a long list of niche groups within your field. That said, do your research to make sure that any group you’re looking at is a good fit for your goals and interests before you request to join. (If you work in healthcare marketing, for example, a general marketing group might not be the best fit.) If the group is open (vs. invite-only), take a look around at the discussions and members to get a feel for the content and makeup of the group and see if it’s a good fit.

5. Meet the People Who are Looking at You – Even if you haven’t upgraded your LinkedIn account, if your settings allow others to see who you are when you look at their profiles, you should be able to see who’s looking at yours. Scan this once a week and take a peek at who has viewed your profile.

When it’s appropriate, connect with these people, thinking about why they might have taken the time to look at your profile. Are they in your field? In your community? A recruiter? Reaching out to engage in conversation not only shows you’re paying attention, but also shows you’re open to forming new professional relationships.


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10 Creative ways to use Instagram for Business

Are you thinking about putting your business on Instagram? Are you looking for content ideas for this increasingly popular mobile social platform?

Read further to discover how you can use Instagram to give your business extra visibility and better engage with the Instagram community.

What Is Instagram?
Instagram is a free mobile photo-sharing app with 80 million users and counting. It has seen many changes lately. Instagram was acquired by Facebook in April 2012, launched a redesign on iOS that includes a new “Explore” tab and is rumored to be developing a web presence (so that users can see photos online, not just on the mobile app).

Social media management platform HootSuite also recently announced the addition of Instagram to its app directory. This gives HootSuite users access to almost all of Instagram’s features, which include searching, viewing and liking content, adding comments and sharing photos to other social platforms.

Clearly, Instagram is an up-and-coming photo-focused social platform not to be ignored. So what can your brand do with it? Here are 10 creative ways your business can use Instagram.

#1: Show Your Products
Everyone loves to browse products, so let your followers do some mobile window-shopping! Show off a collection of the products you offer, share a photo of a new or lesser-known product or zoom in on a product and engage your Instagram followers by asking them to guess what it is.

Got a service-oriented business? Show off some of the equipment and supplies that play a role in the services you provide. For example, fitness trainers could show off their favorite workout equipment, photographers could reveal their most prized camera lens and mechanics might give us a look at their most sophisticated diagnostic equipment.

Rogue Ales, a craft brewery based in Newport, Oregon with over 3,000 Instagram followers, shared a photo of its many varieties of ales, porters, lagers, stouts and spirits, effectively reminding fans that they have something for everyone.

Rogue Ales shows off its beer selection.

Rogue Ales shows off its beer selection.

#2: Show How It’s Made
The longevity of the show How It’s Made is a testament to our curiosity about where our manufactured goods come from. Let followers in on the origins of their favorite products with snapshots taken at various points in the manufacturing process. If that process is a long one, you might consider making it a multi-part post that follows the process from planning to production to delivery.

Bloomington, Indiana-based Oliver Winery used another app such as PicStitch or PhotoGrid to create a collage of photos to demonstrate how its wine goes into its bottles.

Oliver Winery takes its Instagram followers through its bottling process.

Oliver Winery takes its Instagram followers through its bottling process.

#3: Go Behind the Scenes
Getting ready to launch or promote products and services is hard work, but presents many opportunities to get some great content for Instagram. Doing a photo shoot for a catalog or ad? Filming a commercial? Getting made-up for a media interview? Or getting ready to step out on the red carpet? These are moments that very few people get to experience in real life. Think of Instagram as a way to give all of your followers an exclusive backstage pass!

The fashion-forward retailer Nordstrom treated its 27K Instagram followers to a rare look at what goes into the production of its catalog.

Nordstrom takes fans along on a photo shoot.

Nordstrom takes fans along on a photo shoot.

#4: Show What Your Products Can Do
Sometimes our imagination only takes us so far. Use Instagram to create demand by helping consumers imagine new or novel uses for what you offer. This is also a perfect opportunity to invite user-generated content. Have fans submit their own photos demonstrating creative use of your products and pick the best ones to post on Instagram.

If your business provides a service like makeup or hair design, landscaping, decorating, auto body repair or interior design, show your Instagram followers the impact of your work with a shot of your subject before and after you work your magic. The side-by-side comparison will add the wow factor to your Instagram content and maybe even get you a few new customers.

Cosmetics retailer Sephora used Instagram to spotlight an unusual product that most of us do not have in our makeup bags, giving followers a better idea of how it might look out of the package and on someone’s lashes.

Sephora helps makeup enthusiasts imagine what it would look like to don lashes with spots and highlights.

Sephora helps makeup enthusiasts imagine what it would look like to don lashes with spots and highlights.

#5: Give a Sneak Peek
Everyone likes to be the first to know… well… anything. Make your Instagram followers feel special and give them exclusive previews of products and services, or virtual tours of your new stores, production facilities or offices in the making. Things never seen before make for particularly shareable content, so be sure to publish the post to Facebook and Twitter as well, since Instagram does not yet have a sharing or reposting function.

Makers of rugged bags and footwear Keen posted a picture of its future headquarters in the midst of construction to satisfy the curiosity of those who might be wondering where their favorite shoes will be coming from.

Keen shows off its future home.

Keen shows off its future home.

#6: Show Your Office
People who follow their favorite brands on social media have probably asked at one time or another, “I wonder what it’d be like to work there?” Well, show them!

Post photos that provide a glimpse of a-day-in-the-life at your office—work areas, the corporate gym or play-field, decked-out cubicles, brainstorming meetings in progress, training sessions, employees at lunch, employees at play—the opportunities here are countless. If you’re hiring, be sure to point people to your online job postings in the caption.

Beloved online shoe store Zappos shows fans that even its employees work in cubicle-land, albeit a very fun, colorful one that matches its friendly brand personality.

Zappos shares a glimpse of its colorful workspace.

Zappos shares a glimpse of its colorful workspace.

#7: Take Us With You
Going to a trade-show or sponsoring an event? Use that as an opportunity to take your Instagram followers with you wherever you’re going. Followers in those locations will be tickled to know you’re in their neighborhood. Folks can also get a better feel for your brand by learning about the events or causes you attend, support or sponsor.

Major League Soccer team the Seattle Sounders gave fans an off-field glimpse of its players doing something quite ordinary, standing around waiting at an airport with luggage in hand.

The Seattle Sounders soccer team takes its fans along to LAX.

The Seattle Sounders soccer team takes its fans along to LAX.

#8: Introduce Your Employees
Humanize your brand by using Instagram to introduce your fans to the people who make your company what it is. Spotlighted employees will enjoy the recognition (and a few seconds of fame) and Instagram followers will get a chance to see the people behind the brand. You might even want to make this profile an ongoing campaign that takes fans around the office to meet staff serving a variety of roles within your company. Be sure to punch up the post and share a little about each employee in the caption.

Keen put a human face to its brand with a shot of a spreadsheet-wielding employee.

Keen employee at work.

Keen employee at work.

#9: Share Celebrity Sightings

Let’s face it. We live in a society that is crazy about celebrities—we know who they’re dating, what they’re eating and where they go to vacation. Cash in on celebrity cachet and share pictures of them interacting with your brand, whether they’re signing autographs at your sponsored event, speaking, visiting your office or even using your products or services. These posts will be sure to get followers talking.

Sony Electronics shared a photo from a celebrity appearance at an Xperia event to grab the attention of Maroon 5 fans on Instagram.

Sony shares a shot of Maroon 5 signing autographs at one of its events.

Sony shares a shot of Maroon 5 signing autographs at one of its events.

#10: Share the Cuteness
There is no denying the appeal of animals in social media. Lolcats, Cute Overload and the countless other awwwww-inducing blogs out there are proof that there is capital in cuteness.

Whether they’re pets visiting the office, starring in your ads or animals sporting your schwag, never miss an opportunity to get a snapshot to share on Instagram. Our furry friends can be counted on to get likes and comments from followers.

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art gave its followers the warm fuzzies (and collected many likes) with a photo of a dog sporting an SFMOMA t-shirt.

Canine decked out in SFMOMA schwag.

Canine decked out in SFMOMA schwag.


Read full article: 10 Creative ways to use Instagram for Business »


3 key components of building an Instagram Community

Building a large Instagram following can often be quite challenging for brands. To date, the photo sharing super-network is almost completely a mobile one, and to further the challenge, Twitter recently cut off Instagram users from being able to find out which of their Twitter friends are also on Instagram.

Instagram is tough, but it is worth it. Images are such a gigantic part of social content sharing these days and Instagram does a great job at simplifying the process. If you have a visual story to tell, Instagram should be part of your digital marketing playbook.

So how the heck do you build a following on a network that is so tough to find people on? Here are some of the basic components of a successful Instagram community building campaign. Master these and you are on your way to Instagram success.

Hashtags

Hashtags are a critical component of building an Instagram following. They are a great way to find users that share the same types of content as you do as well as a great way for those users to find you.

You always want to include one or more hash tags in every photo you upload. Just as important as including the hashtags is making sure that they are tags that are commonly used. After all, what good is tagging something if nobody is ever going to search for that tag?

A great way to find trending and popular hashtags is to use a third-party tool like Statigr.am. You should never mislead users by loading your post up with unrelated but trending hashtags, but trending hashtags lists are usually diverse enough to include one or more related to your photo. For example, if your picture is of the front of your new office building, your company name may not be the best hashtag, but #architecture or #building maybe better for attracting more eyeballs to your image.

On the flip side, you should be actively seeking new followers by searching on the hashtags most related to your brand. There is a great deal of reciprocity on Instagram so if you find someone who looks like they may be interested in your brands, follow them. Look through their images and like and comment on the ones that have relevance to your brand. You should see this outreach pay off in reciprocal follows, likes and comments.

Activity
To build a solid Instagram community, you really need to post regularly. As with just about any social network regular, smart network activity results in a larger following.

Try to post daily and at different times of the day. Instagram is an international mobile network, so it is generally more difficult to pin down a time that is best to post at. In building a following, you don’t want the same people seeing your photos every day. Mix it up to broaden and grow your audience.

Promotion
Use your existing digital properties to promote your Instagram photos. As with any new social account, you need to let your base know that it exists. One way is to create your own hashtag and promote it offline and on. You should also connect your account to your social networks to amplify the reach of your account. Currently, Instagram allows users to share photos to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr and foursquare. Use your success on these other networks to your advantage here.

The Takeaway
Unless your brand is top of mind for the average consumer, Instagram isn’t the easiest network to build a large community on quickly, but the value it offers to your digital marketing campaigns makes it an important tool. The good news is that just about every other marketer out there is up against the same challenges. With knowledge of the tools available and a little creativity, you should be able to build a solid, engaged community for your brand.


Read full article: 3 key components of building an Instagram Community »


How to handle a Social Media Crisis

A rant from an angry customer or a weird tweet from a CEO can quickly become a PR nightmare if it’s not handled correctly. At Expion‘s Racing Ahead 2012 social business summit, social media experts discussed worst-case scenarios and how to prevent them.

Altimeter‘s Jeremiah Owyang said that problems tend to erupt on Saturdays, when people are home for the weekend and have nothing better to do. Although the drama usually lasts only a day or two before trailing off, it sure doesn’t feel that way to the people who are stuck cleaning up the mess. “Like a car crash,” he said, “time slows down.”

In a morning keynote, Owyang (pictured right) presented some key findings from his research report, ”Social Business Readiness: How Advanced Companies Prepare Internally,” which was based on input from 140 social media program managers at companies with more than 1,000 employees.

Most people seemed to feel that social media crises were on the rise. Although some situations were doomed from the start, Altimeter’s research showed that 76 percent of the social media disasters the companies reported could have been avoided if the companies had been better prepared. The biggest problem, participants said, was a lack of infrastructure. The solution? Here were the best options:

  • Fix Internal Processes – 59%
  • Empower Crowd to Respond to Each Other – 44%
  • Streamline with New Technologies – 33%
  • Hire More Staff – 29%
  • Outsource to Agencies – 15%
  • Respond to Fewer Conversations – 7%

Because many Facebook pages are a hybrid of personal and corporate accounts, it’s hard to tell “who owns what,” said Owyang. It’s important to take inventory of every page that your company owns and to be mindful of pages that may have been set up by fans or other third parties.

In today’s market, “every company is a media company,” said Owyang. Corporations in all fields now have professionals with titles like “content strategist” or ”editor-in-chief” who unify the company’s voice across multiple channels.

In general, companies should have a governing body that authorizes other departments or branch locations to have their own pages – a sort of “hub and spoke” model. The average social media team, the study found, has 11 employees, consisting of corporate social strategists (1 – 2), social media managers (2), community managers (3), social analysts (1), web developers (1 – 2), education managers (0 – 1), and business unit liaisons (1 – 2).

These people can divide up what Owyang said will become the most important tasks in social media management: intense response, social broadcasting, platform campaign marketing, distributed brand response, and tailored service and support.

In an afternoon panel, Warner Bros. direct to consumer marketing VP Michele Edelman described a situation far worse than an irate customer. On July 20, a gunman disguised as the Joker opened fire on unsuspecting moviegoers at a midnight screening of Warner Bros.’ “The Dark Knight Rises” in Aurora, CO, killing 12 people and wounding numerous others.

Although the social web erupted with comments and photos in response to the tragedy, the studio pulled back, allowing local authorities and news reporters who had rushed to the scene to do their jobs. ”‘Dark Knight’ wasn’t a [social media] crisis,” Edelman said. “It was just a crisis.”

But she was proud of how her company handled the public. When director Christopher Nolan issued a statement, he focused his heartfelt message on the victims and their families, which Warner Bros. posted on the Dark Knight Rises Facebook page and other web properties to share with concerned fans. Remembered Edelman, “People said it made them cry.”


Read the full article; How Do You Handle a Social Media Crisis? »


4 Tips for increasing Pinterest traffic to your Blog

Do you want more traffic coming to your blog? Getting lots of pins from your blog posts can increase engagement and drive traffic. It can also help boost your performance on search engines because pins to your post are ‘do-follow’ links.

Pinterest’s recent growth has been unstoppable. According to comScore, Pinterest has grown by 4377% since May 2011. Many blogs are using Pinterest effectively to increase traffic and build engagement. Below you will find 4 tips to get more traffic to your blog from Pinterest.

#1: Share a Lot of Content

One of the best ways to promote your blog is to pin a lot of images onto your boards. You need to share both your own content and content from other people. Aim to create content-rich boards where people come searching for articles on your particular topic.

If you have good boards that are followed by people who regularly view and share your pins, you can boost your blog traffic by pinning posts from your own blog. Make sure you pin content from your blog and other blogs together on the same board so your pins will seem more credible and clickable.

A blog with a great Pinterest brand page is The Next Web. Their brand page has several boards onto which a lot of content is pinned. And the boards are mainly on topics like technology, social media, mobile, etc.—the subjects The Next Web publishes articles on.

Pin a lot of content from your blog and other blogs.

Pin a lot of content from your blog and other blogs.

An example is the board Tech & Design, where as the title mentions, they pin articles on the subjects of technology and design. If you look closely, you’ll notice they mix content from their blog and content from other websites. And this works for The Next Web too. When they pin images of their posts, they can expect likes, repins and increases in traffic.

When people follow this board, they know what to expect.

When people follow this board, they know what to expect.

Another great board is TNW team, where they pin images of writers, staff, editors and contributors who play a big role in creating all of the wonderful content. This works well as it brings their authors and their fans together and will help them connect as a part of The Next Web. Doing this not only helps them build a good work culture, but it also helps their regular readers get to know their favorite writers better.

Pinning pictures of your writers can improve work culture and boost morale.

Pinning pictures of your writers can improve work culture and boost morale.

#2: Create Taller Images

In a recent study, Dan Zarrella shows that taller images get more pins and repins. So if you want the images on your blog to be shared more on Pinterest, focus on creating taller images. This doesn’t mean that you need to create more long infographics, but that you need to create taller images in general.

Think of ways in which images can be elongated, either when you combine several images or stretch images wherever possible. An example is the image on the post Make Your Own Cake Flowers on the Wedding Chicks website.

This massive image is a combination of many images.

This massive image is a combination of many images.

If you take a look at the image, you can see that this is actually a combination of images. This single long image is very pinnable and repinnable. If you want proof, look at the image below and you’ll find that it’s been pinned more than 49,000 times. Yes, that’s right. The image above has been pinned more than 49,000 times!

So before you publish that post, take a look at your images and try to figure out if it’s possible to put all of your images together and create one long image.

#3: Add Images to Every Post

A blog post can be pinned onto a board on Pinterest only if it has at least one image on it. This image should also be a minimum size of 110 x 100 pixels. If there are no images on your blog post or if the images aren’t big enough, you won’t be able to pin the post. So try to add at least one image to every post.

A great blog with beautiful images in every post is Live Well For Less run by Sainsbury’s. Sainsbury’s is a chain of grocery stores located all over the UK. On their blog, they post recipes of food made out of affordable ingredients. On the top of their recipes, they have an attractive and big-enough photo of the end product. This makes the recipe pinnable.

For example, take a look at the photo of their Eton Mess recipe. There’s a large and beautiful photo, which is quite prominent. If you click the Pin It button, you’re asked if you want to pin this image and you’ll want to pin it because it looks so good.

A photo of the end product of the recipe.

A photo of the end product of the recipe.

So make sure you add images or photos to your post so that people can pin them. If you want to take it a step further, you could add several images to your post instead of just one.

You can learn more about the advantages of this by reading 6 Ways to Drive More Pinterest Engagement, about how Ree Drummond of Pioneer Woman adds many images to her posts.

#4: Add Default Images to the Entire Blog

Another option would be to add default images to your blog that will be visible on every page and post. This way if your post doesn’t have an image or if you forget to add the image, you can always be sure that one image on your posts can always be pinned. This image could be on your blog sidebar, header or footer. The image of this blue bird can be seen on every page and every blog post of Ching Ya’s blog.

The image of this blue bird can be seen on every page and every blog post of Ching Ya's blog.

The image of this blue bird can be seen on every page and every blog post of Ching Ya's blog.

You can see a default image on the header of Ching Ya’s blog Social @ Blogging Tracker where there’s a cute little blue bird on the top.

If you visit every page and every post, you’ll notice that the image of this bird is always present and you can pin it. Click the Pin It button and try it for yourself.

This image is very pinnable and fits perfectly into her blog as it resembles the Twitter bird, which is relevant to the topics they post here on social media. So even though it’s very general, her readers should relate this image to most of the posts.

Don’t just create a default image; create a relevant default image that suits your posts.

These are 4 ways to get your blog to thrive on Pinterest. Follow them all if you want to get the most out of your blog through Pinterest.


Read full article: 4 Tips for increasing Pinterest traffic to your Blog »


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