"The What, How, Where"

Social Media Best Practices

“How to use Social Media to close more business” Part 1: LinkedIn

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Part 1: LinkedIn

Maybe you’ve heard of this phenomenon called social media. Maybe you’re frustrated by it. If the latter, then I urge you to read further. From a salesperson’s perspective, Social Media is the “Holy Grail” for understanding one’s customer. There’s an array of different resources to take advantage of from The Big 3 (Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn) to blogs and location based services. One can feel overwhelmed by the options. For my first post I will take a look at the premier social network for business and my former employer, LinkedIn.

LinkedIn

If you need business cards, then you need a LinkedIn profile. With 80 MM+ professionals, LinkedIn is a terrific resource to secure new leads as well as verify contacts. As someone in business development, I find you can’t fully take advantage of the site until you have 100+ connections. The reason is that searches are based on your social graph. So the larger your network is, the easier it is to find the people you’re looking for (see graph below).

An easy way to build up your network is to start importing your contacts from external sources (Outlook, Gmail, etc). HOWEVER, I strongly caution you to invite those you only have a relationship with and try to personalize the message. The reason is that generic messages are often overlooked by professionals. If you personalize it, they’re more likely to pay attention.

Prospecting

If you’re an outbound sales professional, then LinkedIn is your friend. At no time in human history has it been easier to keep up-to-date on your prospects and customers. The best way to get started or re-engaged with LinkedIn is to use it as a prospect tool.

Scenario #1: You know the contact/company

Let’s say you received an inbound lead or have already established a relationship with the potential prospect via Outlook. An easy and efficient way to understand the prospect is via the LinkedIn Outlook Toolbar.

For versions prior to Outlook 2010, you will need to download it off the LinkedIn site. If you have the newest version of office, it’s already integrated.

What I love about this is that it gets you to the prospect fast. So if you have to make a quick call or are dashing out to a meeting, you’re not wasting time searching for the right “John Smith”.

If they haven’t reached out directly, then you might want to try the Advanced Search by inputting their first and last name as well as their company name. This should bring up the profile you’re looking for.

Scenario Two: You’re searching for the right prospect within a company

Let’s say you were assigned Home Depot as a prospect but wanted to reach out to someone in Information Technology. First you should go to the company page to ensure you have the “right company”. Once you’re on the their company page, there’s a tab on the right hand side that will tell you how many 1st or 2nd degree connections you have.

If this doesn’t secure who you want then go to “see all connections in your network” at the bottom and refine the search to include a keyword such as Information Technology. If this still gives you too wide a universe, then filter your search.

Scenario #3: You’re just searching

If there are other factors at play besides company/name, then I suggest using the Advanced Search. Enter any relevant information you think will find your prospect (company, title). Include keywords specific to the line of business (i.e. Logistics, Marketing, Information Technology)

Once you’ve conducted your search you’ll probably have a great deal of names to evaluate. If you have thousands of names and the most relevant names are not coming up at the top of the search, I suggest employing a filter (i.e. Industry, Connections, Location) this will help you refine your search.

Engagement

Once you have secured the desired contact or contacts, what the best way to engage? There are a number of ways.

1- In-Mail (Direct Contact via LinkedIn)

– Pros: Easy way to directly engage

– Cons: As an unpaid member you’re limited to 5 In-Mails per month. Also, most In-Mails go to a recipient’s personal rather than business e-mail address, so it might not be the best environment to reach them.

2- Introductions via LinkedIn (This is when you ask someone you have a mutual connection with to introduce you)

– Pros: Establish a trusted relationship quickly by using a referral

– Cons: Most people on LinkedIn do NOT have strong relationships with their network

3- Decipher their e-mail address

Here’s how: Go to the prospects site and look at the About Us or Contact Us tab (Usually on the Top or Bottom). Often you’ll find media contact information that will provide you with insights as to their e-mail protocol. Also, if they’re a publicly traded company the investor relations tab should have an e-mail address. If that’s a dead end try to Google the e-mail address “@ibm”. There should be a number of names that come up. For more prominent titles at Fortune 500 companies (CIO, CEO, etc) I find their e-mail addresses include unique characteristics, such as a middle initial. You need to establish a relationship with the company directly in order to secure the correct e-mail address.

Stay tuned for my next post on the best use of Twitter & Facebook.

If you have any direct questions, please feel free to contact me on LinkedIn or Follow me on Twitter

Derek Reese

Written by Derek Reese

December 16, 2010 at 3:58 pm

Posted in Social Media

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15 random observations from the road

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From time to time I’m going to take a break from my social media findings and have a little fun with this blog. This is one of those times. Traveling around the world over 3 1/2 months, I observed a great deal. Here’s are 15 observations:

1- The British are obsessed with making a proper cup of tea.

2- Norwegian Women tend to congregate in large groups

3- Iceland + Eurovision = Love!

4- Sweden has no TV’s in their Bars, nor Grey Goose

5- Icelandic young adults are down with big band music

6- Early Do-Wop and Rock& Roll from the 1950’s are played everywhere in Europe

7- As well 80’s pop music

8- Latvians love mullets

9- Russians enjoy Smoking

10- Russians hate to accept large ruble denominations.

11- Chinese people love t-shirts with random english words.

12- Mongolian nomadic tribes have modern accessaries such as satellite dishes, cars and cell phones.

13- Russians don’t believe in queues

14- Chinese men are involved parents.

15- Germans are everywhere!

Written by Derek Reese

September 23, 2010 at 4:47 pm

Posted in Travel

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Why the Great Firewall is Nothing More than a Tiny Flame

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I think it’s appropriate I write this post in China where the following sites are currently banned under what’s called the “Great Firewall.”

  • Facebook
  • Youtube
  • Twitter
  • Flickr
  • BBC America

There are hundreds of additional sites banned (see greatfirewallofchina.org). You would think the lack of access would be detrimental to my ability to communicate with the outside world. However this is not the case.

A great number of innovative minds have developed alternatives that are one step ahead. For example there’s a solution called Pimpmyip.org, which allows you to utilize an external IP address from another country to access the internet. Another alternative is to create your own VPN (Virtual Private Network) for your computer (Bootleg copies are abundant). There are also numerous other alternatives in development.

This leads me to the question: If there are so many ways to circumvent the system, does the government really want censorship? I believe they do, but they also realize digital is the future and need to create a balance that allows their population to navigate while the government feels in control. One could compare it to the subway system in Beijing. At every stop one needs to put their bag through an X-Ray machine. However, I noticed the attendant who is supposed to be monitoring what’s passing through frequently isn’t paying attention and if there’s a large crowd the police just wave everyone through.

While I’ve enjoyed my stay in China, I find the “Great Firewall” to be a nuisance and quite arbitrary in the sites I can and can’t visit. I wonder how the rest of China feels….

Written by Derek Reese

September 20, 2010 at 2:07 am

How H&M Approaches Social Media

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A couple of weeks back, when I was visiting Stockholm, Sweden, I had the chance to touch base with Miriam Kuronen, H&M’s Social Media Project Manager (http://se.linkedin.com/pub/miriam-kuronen/13/545/4a1). Over the last few years, H&M has grown from a local Swedish retailer to a worldwide phenomenon.

Shopping is a social activity, so I wanted to gain insight into their approach. What I’ve found interesting is that their overall strategy for social media is one voice across multiple local markets. They’ve found success in this realm by going after passion point customers; engaging with their core audience in a way that encourages them to discuss the brand and interact with others who have the same passion. According to Miriam, “Interaction is the key, simply pushing a sales message or marketing initiative is not enough.”

What’s in store for H&M’s social media future is local adoption and sharing of information across various platforms (social sites, company sites). Since every individual has their own “sphere of influence,” the ease of sharing and communicating is how they will find success.

A common theme I found throughout my discussion was “one voice across multiple markets.” In my experience in social media, I’ve found that there are often rogue strategies not aligned with their overall marketing objective of the company. It’s great to hear H&M is implementing a holistic strategy tweaked for individual markets. A great number of companies can learn from what they’re doing.

Written by Derek Reese

August 16, 2010 at 10:02 am

The First Rule of Social Media

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I’ve been pondering over the last few weeks as to why Facebook is the king of social media. With 400 MM+ members and 50% of membership active everyday, it’s a massive force. So why has Facebook succeeded where others failed? I reason it’s because THE SITE WORKS! Not only is Facebook the place where my friends are, has an open API that allows me to bring together other social networks (WordPress, Foursquare, Trip-It), but I’ve been impressed on how consistently the site performs. Not a groundbreaking analogy but very plausible.

Here’s why:

Being on the road, I’ve used many forms of social media, including Trip-It, Foursquare, LinkedIn, Twitter, Hootsuite to create a cross-network campaign to alert business connections and my friends about my travels. Facebook is the only site that has consistently worked.

Foursquare

I like the concept of location based networks, plus the badges are fun to earn. However, I’ve had numerous challenges checking into locations that weren’t in big cities or via WiFi. In fact, I’d estimate that I’ve only been able to check-in about 50% of the time, the other 50% I’ve either experienced error messages, site throttling or the inability to pinpoint my location.

Twitter

Twitter has become an important media tool to amplify a message to a larger group (such as this blog post). The site works well with other networks. For example, if I’m at a major venue or city, I can bring my Foursquare feed (on a case-by-case basis) out to a larger network on Twitter. However, I’ve been seeing Twitter over-capacity frequently.

Trip-It

Trip-It is an easy to use traveler application that works very well with both Facebook and LinkedIn. I can easily alert my connections of my whereabouts in Europe. While the service has been very helpful, I’ve found there’s no way to tether city-to-city. Currently, my status shows I’ve traveled over 100K miles, when most likely I’ve traveled 7 or 8 thousand.

In my opinion, each one of these sites is going through the usual growing pains that come with massive growth. As they mature, I hope these issues will be resolved.

What the Hospitality Industry Can Learn from Hostels

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Like many experienced career professionals, I’m hitting the road this summer. (according to Hostelworld, the 30+ crowd makes up 20% of their bookings). In my case, it’s to learn how Europe is approaching social media. Due to limited funds and the need for interaction with other travelers, I’ve chosen to stay in hostels for the majority of my trip.

If you’re not familiar with hostels, they’re typically a dumbed down version of a Motel 6 where you bunk with other travelers in your room. The advantage is they’re low-cost and have resources needed for backpackers (storage, internet, breakfast).

In the last decade we’ve witnessed numerous improvements to our lives including DVR, Smart Phones, Social Networks. I’m also pleasantly surprised that hostels have improved as well. Here’s how:

1- Reservations are completely automated

During my last tour in Europe (Summer 2001), I relied on Lonely Planet and Let’s Go Europe guide books to find accommodations. It’s no small challenge when you’re trying to find a hostel in Paris around Bastille Day (I wound up calling 40 places to find a bed, though it’s the spark that got me interested in sales). Since guides only come out on a yearly or bi-yearly basis, it was a challenge to find updated properties. The good news is this has changed and services such as Hostelworld, Hostelsclub or Hostelz are search engines to find rooms, even for last minute accommodations.

2- Reviews are in Real Time

These sites make it easy for members to share their experiences and rate hostels in almost real time. I can see numerous reviews on potential hostels from the last few weeks. Because they ask for feedback, I can see numerous reviews for potential hostels from the last few weeks. After each one of my stays I receive a short survey e-mail.

3- Strong Integration with Social Networks

According to Aisling White of Hostelworld, since their audience is on Facebook/Twitter they need to be there as an organization and have taken steps to fully integrate with these sites. What’s different is they don’t focus on the hostel, but rather the destination where members can share/discuss/collaborate. So it’s taking the environment of a hostel to the virtual world. Best yet it’s forming a community of like-minded people (i.e., if I see someone heading to X destination, I can establish a relationship, seek advice, or even travel with that person). The goal is not to push content out, but pull information in so their members can share experiences.

4- Strong FREE or low cost WiFi networks

What’s often a challenge during my hotel stays (note this does not apply to Four Points or Courtyard) is reliable internet access, even when you have to pay. Each hostel (no matter how dingy) has quick and reliable internet access.

So what can the hospitality industry learn?

When I’m looking for better accommodations or just need a break from the hostel thing, I turn to sites such as Kayak, Fly.com, Expedia, Orbitz. What I find challenging is reliable reviews and venue information. For example, I recently booked a hotel in Amsterdam. When researching venues I found some reviews dating back to 2001. Also, I couldn’t find where the location was near (points of interest, metro). These sites might want to take a page from the hostel industry by being more open and transparent. Allow for third party resources (external reviews) and focus on the destination, not just the property.

Also, sites such as Hostelworld and Hostelz are platform agnostic. They realize the social game is changing rapidly as their audience migrates to new sites such as Gowalla and Foursquare, as well as mobile devices

Benefits of paying attention to hostel marketing strategy

There’s a few reasons why the hospitality industry (not just hotels, but airlines/restaurants), need to pay attention to how hostels are approaching social media

1- They’re directly engaged with young travelers (18-24) (future customers)

2- People in hostels tend not to be leisure travelers but in it for the long-hall

3- Highly educated (Most have university students or have degrees)

In conclusion, it’s a great time to be traveling and with resources like these, it makes it easier.

Thanks for reading!


Iceland the Cashless Society

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I’ve been seeing lots of chatter regarding virtual currencies, location based social media incentives and monetizing your network, but what if we really went cashless as society? What would this mean and how would we do it? In spending time in Iceland, I see their model as one to emulate.

In one week in Iceland, I’ve found it unnecessary to complete a currency exchange credit cards (visa/mastercard, not American Express) is accepted everywhere. Here’s some of the more unique places

  • A fellow traveler I met in the hostel paid his speeding ticket (it’s 245 Euro should you be interested) on the spot
  • Chewing gun at a gas station
  • Daytrip hike

Here’s why it works in Iceland

  • NO transaction charges paid by consumer
  • Portable credit card machine for quick transactions
  • Most transactions as debit in nature
  • Iceland has the technology advances to support this (most digital country in Europe)

This has me thinking about why United States would emulate such a program

Benefits

  • Eliminate the need for the Treasury to print costly bills/coins
  • Allow for the government to collect tax revenue in real time
  • Give people the power to truly see their spending habits

Iceland is a highly educated (30% of the population have college degrees), forward thinking nation with a small population (b/w 280K to 320K). What works there won’t work in the US, but I do feel we can implement this

Challenge #1

Retailers will balk at paying transaction fees for low profit items such as a stick of gum

Solution: Set a min price where visa/mastercard/amex can start charging transaction fees such as $25. Credit card companies are incentived to get their customers to use their cards more, the logic being if they’re using a Capital One Visa card for a stick of gum they might for a new bedroom set

Challenge #2

Americans have far too much credit card debt.

Solution: Encourage consumers to use debit cards and offer realtime balance information before and after they make a transaction. Put limits on how much they can charge. Do not allow overdrafts.

Opportunity

With Smart Phone penetration approaching 50%, why night eliminate bulky credit cards and offer the use of cell phones to make transactions. Why not have visa/mastercard/bank apps that allow consumers to make purchases directly. This if environmentally friendly since instead of print paper, transaction information is processed directly in the phone. Social media companies/retailers benefit because consumers can instantly choose to share their purchases with their network.

These are just a few of my thoughts


Written by Derek Reese

June 5, 2010 at 3:41 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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