LinkedIn email driving you crazy?

Catherine O’Mahony dislikes LinkedIn email, according to her article in today’s Sunday Business Post*. She doesn’t like unsolicited invitations to connect. She doesn’t like unasked for endorsements. She’s not sure what ‘connections’ are all about. In short, she doesn’t like LinkedIn much at all.  She’d rather be ‘Linked Out’.

I’m interested in what O’Mahony has to say because she echoes criticisms I’ve heard other people make about LinkedIn. People really do hate those LinkedIn email invitations and it seems most don’t know how to turn them off. (If that’s you, you’ll find instructions for how to change your LinkedIn communication preferences at the end of this short article.)

Where I differ from O’Mahony, however, is that I find LinkedIn useful — not so much for viewing profiles or checking who’s viewed mine — but rather for following the comments and market insights of people whose opinion I value.  Typically, these people are not so-called ‘influencers’. They’re more likely to be people I encounter in real life and do business with.

Of course, not everyone has something interesting to say and those who do, don’t always share their insights on LinkedIn. But some do, and those — for me at least — are reason enough to log on from time to time and have a read.

What I do use LinkedIn profiles for is background research. It can be helpful when a new customer is someone you didn’t previously know. Seeing the connections you have in common is reassuring and can be helpful in establishing trust when building a new business relationship.

LinkedIn is also useful for following up contacts made at meetings and industry events. Every so often, I take out those business cards I’ve collected, have a look through them and then send a short message. It’s surprising how often following up these contacts opens up business opportunities.

But, like O’Mahony, I’m not a fan of LinkedIn email. I changed my preferences to cut it out. If you want to follow suit, here’s how to do it:

How to change your LinkedIn email preferences

  • Log on to LinkedIn and click your image in the top right corner.
  • Select ‘Privacy and Settings”
  • Then select ‘Communications’ and update your preferences so that you only receive the email you want.

* Sunday Business Post (magazine section) 26 June 2016.

Business benefits of social media

If you’re the marketing or communications manager of a professional services firm, chances are you understand the business benefits of social media. The problem, usually, is winning senior management support unless you can show that the business benefits of social media activity are aligned with your organisation’s overall goals.

The problem is compounded by the fact that online and offline, it’s almost impossible to avoid advice from social media ‘experts’. And what’s frustrating about much of this advice is the disconnect with meaningful business goals, particularly for B2B businesses.

There’s not much point in your business posting four or six or ten times a day to attract ‘likes’ or ‘followers’ unless those followers ultimately result in business and revenue growth.

That said, many businesses successfully use social media. Small firms win customers from larger, long-established businesses and some businesses operate exclusively on social platforms like Facebook.

What’s useful about Kaylynn Amadio’s new book, The Boomer’s Ultimate Guide to Social Media Marketing is that the author explains the business benefits of social media for different types of businesses. She takes a travel guide approach to teaching social media strategies for Business to Consumer (B2C), Business to Business (B2B) and mixed businesses and provides a practical framework  to develop an effective strategy. She even going so far as to suggest how much time to devote to each of the platforms you use and the appendices provide information on how to set u[ your social media profiles. Amadio focuses on six platforms — Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Google Plus and Youtube — and, best of all, she backs up her advice with meaningful examples that business executives can relate to.

Networking and referrals have always been important for B2B businesses. In the digital economy, business conversations begun in one place — such as at an industry event — now often continue on online platforms. To keep up, senior executives need strong communications skills and, increasingly, these include social media skills.

If there is something missing from The Boomer’s Ultimate Guide to Social Media Marketing, it’s advice on how to deal with difficult situations online such as negative comments or trolling. There’s perhaps also scope to have included some tips on online reputation monitoring techniques. That said, this is a helpful and practical guide and, if you’re struggling to persuade your colleagues of the business benefits of social media, you could do worse than give them a copy.

The Boomer’s Ultimate Guide to Social Media Marketing by Kalynn Amadio is published by Maven House Press. [Disclosure: An advance review copy (ARC) was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review]

How Irish businesses use social media

Image: social mediaIf your Irish business employs more than 10 people and doesn’t use social media, you’re now in the minority, according to figures released by the CSO last month (December 2015).

The CSO’s Information Society Statistics – Enterprises 2015 report found that 64 percent of Irish businesses with more 10 employees were using social media in 2015, an increase of 4 percent on the previous year.

Social networks are the most popular social media with 62 percent of the Irish enterprises now using networks like Facebook.

Fewer than a third — 30 percent  — of enterprises are using blogs or microblogs, according to the CSO stats, although the 2015 figures are up 3 percent on the previous year. It will be interesting to see if there is any upward movement in these figures next year as anecdotally it appears that more companies are now investing in content marketing.

Interestingly, a survey by Wolters Kluwer into social media use by accountants — also published in December 2015 — found a significant lift in the use of blogs during 2015 when compared with previous years.

Overall, the CSO stats show that Irish businesses are more active on social media than most of their European peers.

The full CSO survey is available  here.

How search, content, social media help client relationships

Client relationships and contentMore and more professional services firms recognise the importance of having good content on their online platforms.

Relevant, reliable content builds trust and trust is important when developing client relationships.

Understand clients’ search patterns

When people need help to solve a problem, usually the first place they look is online. Search brings potential clients to your website. It is how they discover you and evaluate your potential solution against that of your competitors.

These searches take place well before the client ever contacts you. This is why it is important to understand the words people use when searching and the questions they ask. And, of course, it is also important to make sure that potential clients can find your firm online. If you don’t turn up in search results, they may never find you.

Assuming your firm specialises in providing particular services — tax, wealth management, family business advice, accounting or audit — then you’ll already have a good understanding of the most common problems your clients face.

You can use draw on this knowledge to brainstorm the search terms your clients are likely to use when they are looking for solutions to their problems online. How do they phrase their questions? Pay attention to their language when you are planning your content. This helps ensure that you focus your efforts in the most productive areas.

Focus on content that helps your client

Sharing quality content helps build your firm’s professional reputation and demonstrates your expertise.

Content that is useful to potential clients may take many forms: articles, blog posts, videos, reports, powerpoint presentations and slideshares are just some of the content types typically created and shared by professional services firms.

Remember, when creating content to focus on what is helpful to your client or potential client. Case studies are particularly useful but even a biographical note about an employee can reassure potential clients that he/she has the skill and experience to deal with their particular problems.

It is worth thinking through what you say in your ‘About us’ section of your website. For example, a bio might explain that an employee holds a qualification in mediation and is experienced in resolving family business disputes. This information is helpful to potential clients involved in similar disputes.

Make sure that all your content includes contact information — whether that’s a contact form, an invitation to join your firm’s mailing list or button to request a relevant download. You get the best return on your content when your website visitor become a client.

Share your content with your community

Sharing your content via social media encourages clients to engage with your firm and makes it easy for them to contact you. Decide which social platforms work best for you. LinkedIn is good when you want to attract the attention or your peers. Twitter is home to many journalists and can be useful if you are seeking media attention.  Facebook and Snapchat and YouTube may be better when you are trying to recruit trainees. Few firms have the resources to be active across multiple platforms so it’s a good idea to be strategic — to know where you want to be active, and why.

Finally, remember to check and update your existing content from time to time and make sure that all links and contact points are correct and working. That way, you’ll get a better long term return on the content your firm creates.

If you need help creating or updating content for your website, I would be pleased to provide a quote. You can contact me here.