Jet2, Plusnet, First Direct, Irwin Mitchell, Damart & Sky Bet Set for #PBLEEDS17

Latest Delegates Confirmed for Paid & Biddable Leaders Masterclass, Leeds

We’re delighted to welcome on-board our latest batch of delegates – Jet2, Sky Betting & Gaming, First Direct, npower, Leeds Building Society, Irwin Mitchell, Damart, Plusnet, Sykes Cottages and Cotton Traders, who’ve confirmed their attendance for our upcoming Paid & Biddable Leaders Masterclass, which is the 9th event in the Marketing Masterclass Series.

Live Delegate Registration Tracker

The masterclass in association with Epiphany, Journey Further, Adthena, Home Agency, Crafted, Search Laboratory and JV Recruitment will take place in the stunning Wellington Suite at Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds on Tuesday 5th September 2017.

Session Highlights Include:

Delivering truly integrated biddable campaigns with better ROI

Overcoming the key challenges brands face with integrated biddable campaigns

Unlocking the power of paid social

How to measure paid social campaigns effectively

Biddable media for the moments that matter: Delivering the most relevant message, to the right person, in the right place – at the right time

Our industry leaders will share their latest thinking on the critical issues and trends that are shaping the ‘Paid Search, Biddable Media and Social Advertising’ landscape through a series of engaging roundtable sessions. We’ll also be announcing some exciting news in the coming week in regards to our keynote talk!

We only have a limited number of delegate seats remaining for the masterclass, so, if you’d like to join us, please register and secure your seat here.

 

Content is the King and Title is the Queen: How to Choose a Perfect Match for Your Social Media Shares

Content is King and Title is Queen - Raymond Stokes

In today’s guest post, Raymond Stokes highlights 4 key tips on how to make your content stand out and maximise its social reach.

Do you spend time agonizing about the perfect title for your blog post? Do you struggle with creating articles that are too short or too long?

When it comes to social media, these questions matter more than you might realize.

In 2016, social media websites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest are responsible for nearly one-third of all website traffic. This shift means that when it comes to attracting visitors, social media compatibility is now of equal importance to high ranks in web searches.

But before you start researching the best way to make your FB and Twitter posts go viral, take a moment to clarify your basic objectives.

While SEO keywords are less important when it comes to social media, you still need to research the kind of content that will make sales. Content is still the king (no matter what they say), and its title is the queen that helps it stand out. To maximize the effectiveness of your social media presence, make sure that these two are perfectly matched.

Here are 4 basic tips to find that perfect match:

1. Make your title catchy and your content descriptive

Your title will stand out more with strong phrases, even if they are negative ones. A title such as “What We Hate the Most” or “Brilliant” definitely grab the reader’s attention. But use these with caution. Negativity can sometimes come across as excessively rude or even inappropriate. If everything stands out, then nothing does.

To really intrigue your readers, focus on “who” rather than “why”.

To make your Twitter content really stand out, use some of these most retweetable words:

  • you
  • twitter
  • check out
  • post
  • blog
  • how to

You can also use action words in your titles:

Content is the King and Title is the Queen: How to Choose a Perfect Match for Your Social Media Shares - Raymond Stokes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Image source

And try to make your title even catchier with some good, strong action words too. Expand your use of attention-grabbing phrases beyond the title to the text itself. Again, if you use such phrases sparingly, they will stand out more.

Above all, keep your content descriptive and illustrative and match it with a catchy title for the optimum formula for success.

Content is the King and Title is the Queen: How to Choose a Perfect Match for Your Social Media Shares - Raymond Stokes

2. A picture is worth a thousand words

Recent research reveals that headlines which include the word “photo(s)” perform 37% better than headlines without this word. In addition, articles with images get 94% more total views.

2016 is the year of social media and the year of visual content.

Besides enticing users to share your content on their social media networks, images will also help to drive more traffic from social media sites.

To maximize the power of images, ensure that any shared post which readers may pass along contains images that are correctly optimized for social media.

And don’t just stick in a random image just for the sake of visual appeal. Images are only effective if they are relevant to your content. Stock photos or generic images do not resonate with readers.

Content is the King and Title is the Queen: How to Choose a Perfect Match for Your Social Media Shares - Raymond Stokes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another effective way to use images is to include them as thumbnails to “popular posts” or “related posts” in the sidebar. Such thumbnails usually include the featured image of the post. This can help you get a higher CTR as well as decrease the bounce rate.

3. Short title and long content

The optimum length of your title will depend on what your goals are and the platform you are using.

If your goal is to get a high search ranking, then focus on keeping the title under 70 characters; this will ensure that it doesn’t get cut off in search engine results.

Maybe what you really want is a title that’s optimized for social sharing. On Twitter, shoot for a headline between 8–12 words in length; on average, headlines of this length get the most retweets. If you’re using Facebook, headlines with either 12 or 14 words receive the most Likes.

Content is the King and Title is the Queen: How to Choose a Perfect Match for Your Social Media Shares - Raymond Stokes

*Image source

For example, let’s take a blog post with the title: “Think Heart Disease Only Affects Older Men? Here Are 10 Statistics Guaranteed to Prove You Wrong.”  Rephrase the title to cut out unneeded words:

  • Before: Think Heart Disease Only Affects Older Men? Here Are 10 Statistics Guaranteed to Prove You Wrong.
  • After: 10 Stats That Prove Heart Disease Is Not Just for Older Men

See? It’s that easy. Test out your title by saying it out loud to make sure it’s easy for your readers to digest. The less of a mouthful your title is, the better.

As for the content, it’s not necessarily true that the more words you write, the better. Above all, make sure that your content is useful and necessary.

When it comes to length, ask yourself how many words it will take to cover the topic.  How long must your article be to explain everything you would like to inform your readers about? These are questions which are essential for deciding on the length of your article. As a general rule, though, remember that content over 300 words is considered more valuable.

4. Use facts and figures to show the value of your content

According to a 2013 Conductor study published on Moz the type of headline that resonates best with readers are those that include numbers (“30 Ways To Make Drinking Coffee More Delightful.”)  The second category was those headlines that directly address the reader (Ways You Can Make Drinking Coffee More Delightful).

Stats are a great way to engage the attention because they offer proof to back up your statements. For instance, you want to show why inbound marketing is the best thing ever. Which of these sentences are more persuasive?

  1. “Inbound marketing has shown to be a more effective way to reach customers”
  2. “Inbound marketing brings 56% more leads into the marketing funnel than traditional outbound marketing”

The second sentence clearly has a much bigger impact on the reader because of the use of statistics. Anyone can make general statements like the first example. By offering real proof, the statement becomes much more trustworthy.

For example, case studies are usually filled with stats. Another effective use of numbers is in roundup posts:  curated collections of examples, thoughts, or tips, or just a gathering of information. These are great because people tend to just naturally share and link to them. Infographics are another great way to incorporate for numbers.

It’s even possible that a blog is not the ideal place to publish your content. Make sure to implement your content well so that the hard work that you put into gathering data will not be wasted.

Have you crafted any great headlines that led to many links and shares? Please share your experience.

Author bio:

Content is the King and Title is the Queen: How to Choose a Perfect Match for Your Social Media Shares - Raymond Stokes

Raymond Stokes – start-up launcher, social media specialist and dreamer. One of his first projects Essay For College inspires him to work more and have the guts to open a digital world. Follow Ray on Twitter.

Insights: Social Media Snapshots Report 2015

In today’s guest feature, insight agency McCallum Layton takes a closer look at how consumers are engaging with brands on social media, as part their annual social media snapshots report.

There’s no doubt that the growth of social media has created a powerful new tool through which brands are able to communicate with consumers. Coca Cola, the top performing brand on social media has notched up an impressive 93 million fans so it’s certainly not difficult to see the significant role that this relatively new platform can play in a marketing campaign.

The opportunities to engage keep on growing. Instagram for example, a page which was previously only open to a select group of brands is now accessible to all. But is this necessarily a good thing?

The ‘climb to get online’ is potentially damaging  the social media experience, and the indication is that the market may be moving towards saturation.   A recent report from Forrester Research, showed that over 80% of top global brands actively post on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and Instagram, and are doing so more frequently than before.  Despite the increase in content, engagement rates on Twitter, Instagram, Google+ and Pinterest have all declined.  Talk about information overload! Are consumers getting bored with brands on social media?

At McCallum Layton we conduct an annual study into how consumers use social media to interact with brands. When we first carried out the study in 2014, 39% of respondents believed they will interact more with brands over the next 12 months via social media. This year, that figure has dropped to 29%.

Due to the sheer volume of brands and increased number of social media platforms, consumers it seems are starting to be more selective when deciding who and how to follow.

Similarly consumers can be more clinical when deciding which brands to unfollow.  Amongst the 18-34s who took part in our survey, the likelihood of unfollowing  a company or brand on Twitter rose significantly from  2014 (from 27% to 52%).  Of course brands want to be heard and social media is a great platform to make some noise but in an environment where consumers have the power to switch you off at the click of a button, engaging, relevant content is an absolute must.

Consider this, 81% of the 18-34s we sampled claim that they would be interested in contributing to a company’s NDP process through social media in the future.  Consumers clearly seek more than offers and promotions – they really want to get involved with the brands they feel an affinity with.  Reflecting this, 41%  believe that social media allows them to get more of a feel for a company’s brand’s/personality and 25%  feel more emotionally attached to a brand as a result of its social media activity.

There’s a real opportunity here for brands to connect more with customers/potential customers without having to be so focused on incentives – for example Petplan insurance maintains pinboards with tips and hints aimed at pet lovers. This approach has done an excellent job of  allowing the company to relate its messaging to an overall strategic goal.

The fall in interest in interacting with brands through social media could be a glitch. When we conduct our study next year the situation might have changed. But in my opinion and from my social media accounts perspective, unless companies decide to invest properly and develop strategies which deliver engaging, targeted content,  a decline in people wanting to interact with brands through social media might become the new trend.

Social Media Snapshots Report 2015 by McCallum Layton

If you’d like to further discuss the findings of the report, please contact Dale Henry, Head of Client Services at McCallum Layton.

Strong Line-Up Confirmed for Brand & Audience Engagement Masterclass

I’m delighted to announce that the speaker line-up for the Brand & Audience Engagement Masterclass has now been confirmed with leading experts from Elmwood, Jaywing, WRG, Wolfstar and Igniyte  – presenting a series of engaging sessions on Tuesday 14th July 2015.

The masterclass in association with Network Marketing and the University of Liverpool will provide delegates with a powerful series of insights, strategies and tactics from five industry leaders who will share their latest thinking on brand and audience engagement.

Topics:

  • Developing the right brand engagement strategy
  • Creating and promoting powerful content through owned, earned and paid media channels
  • Tactics for driving customer acquisition and retention through better online brand engagement
  • Measuring the effectiveness of brand and social engagement
  • How to deliver an engaging online user experience

Who’s attending?

  • Head of Marketing Operations, O2
  • Global Vice President – Brand Strategy, Arla Foods
  • Professor of Marketing, University of Liverpool
  • Marketing Director, Joe Browns
  • Marketing Director, Taylors of Harrogate
  • Global Marketing Manager, Mamas & Papas
  • Head of Community & Social Media Marketing, Premier Farnell
  • Head of Marketing, WageDayAdvance
  • Digital Marketing Manager, Irwin Mitchell
  • Regional Marketing Manager, DLA Piper
  • Marketing Manager, Yorkshire Water
  • Senior Manager – Brand Operations, Lloyds Banking Group
  • Customer Strategy & Planning Manager, Yorkshire Building Society
  • Customer Insight Manager, Asda
  • Marketing & Communications Director, Capita
  • Brand Activation Manager, Bettys & Taylors of Harrogate
  • Digital Marketing Manager, The Co-operative Group
  • Senior Manager – Online Content, Brand & Communications, TD Direct
  • Head of Customer Knowledge & Insight, TD Direct
  • US Marketing Coordinator, Pure Collection
  • Digital Content Coordinator, Pure Collection
  • Retail Development Manager, Warburtons
  • Brand & Social Media Manager, Superbreak
  • Customer Retention Manager, WageDayAdvance
  • Customer Retention & Engagement Manager, Satsuma Loans
  • Communications Manager, Xerox
  • UK Marketing Manager, Smoothwall
  • Marketing Manager, University of Leeds
  • Head of Marketing, Pets Choice
  • Social and PR Manager, Pets Choice

If you’d like to attend, please complete the contact form or call me on +44 (0)7796322894.

#MLleeds Round-up

The Marketing Leaders Masterclass officially kicked-off in style yesterday at Elmwood’s Leeds office with a fantastic show of support from some of the North’s biggest brands and marketing agencies.

The event in association with Network Marketing (Headline Sponsor) brought together a group of leading experts from the world of digital, social, creative, PR and consumer insight  – who delivered a series of insightful and thought-provoking sessions.

The senior delegation included representatives from brands such as Asda, Co-operative Group, Ernst & Young, Irwin Mitchell, Sky Bet, JD Williams, Provident, TD Direct, Wilko, JCT600 and Victoria Plumb to name but a few, as well as the CIM’s chair of Mid-Yorkshire Branch and Professor of Marketing Anthony Patterson from University of Liverpool.

I would like to personally thank all the speakers and delegates for taking part; Elmwood for allowing the event to be hosted at their beautiful office, Duncan McCallum from McCallum Layton for doing a brilliant job as the official chair, and finally Network Marketing for supporting #MLleeds as the official Headline Sponsor.

All speaker presentations can be viewed below via Slideshare

Please click here to view the extended commentary on the talk by Duncan McCallum, Founding Partner, McCallum Layton.

If you’d like to take part in the next scheduled masterclass which will focus on ‘Brand Engagement & User Experience’, please drop me a message.

Digital Word Of Mouth Marketing: Social Bookmarking

A Guide To Social Media Marketing For SMEs (Part 4)

Social Bookmarking sites provide a fantastic viral marketing weapon and like traditional word of mouth – plays an instrumental role in marketing effectiveness.

So far in my Guide To Social Media Marketing For SMEs, we have touched on the practical applications and benefits of using Twitter, LinkedIn and blogs – In this post, we will briefly look at some of the social bookmarking sites that you should be using as part of your integrated social media strategy.

Spreading the word…
Social bookmarks provide a fantastic route to market for your business and should be used to promote your brand communications, thought leadership articles and special reports in addition to any other information that you feel is quite useful to share. The way in which we communicate and share knowledge really has evolved over the last 5 years and social bookmarking sites have played a key role in how we now do things.

Blast from the past…
I remember in the old days (a few years back), when you had a feature report that was published online – basic practice would have included: getting the report on your website, adding it to your email signature and using it as a special feature in your client newsletter. However today, we live in a world where information can be global within minutes – creating an enormous opportunity for how we share knowledge/communications.

The benefits of bookmarking…

Social bookmarking sites should not just be viewed as a handy little tool for allowing you to manage your own information online, but should be embraced as a powerful media weapon that can play a major part in your social media strategy. In many ways social bookmarking sites operate like a marketing distribution channel for your business and like any distribution partner – you need to select the most relevant partner/s that will provide you with the greatest market reach for what you provide.

Add the WOW factor…
Remember, developing/selecting the content that you wish to promote and identifying the most effective channel for sharing this content is just the starting point – you must invest time/resource into how the end product will look (so that your content has the WOW factor) and will stand out. If you don’t already have an in-house creative/multimedia designer, then it is a good idea to look at getting support in this area as presenting reports etc using audio/visual effects can make a massive difference!

Key players…

For the purpose of this blog post , I have not included Twitter, LinkedIn and Blogging sites below as we have already covered these in detail in parts 1-3 of my guide to social media marketing (and we already know that we should be using them as part of our marketing strategy). The below are some of the most popular bookmarking/information share sites:

YouTube
Facebook
Digg
StumbleUpon
Reddit
Delicious

If you enjoyed reading this post, please feel free to share it with your friends or colleagues using any of options below.

10 Basic Tips For Negotiating More Effectively

Blog Post Published on Kent Business TV (May 2011)

Last week’s third episode of The Apprentice (UK) left me amazed at how poor the candidates were at negotiating. Apart from one candidate called Jim (who actually looks a possible winner) – the others did not appear to understand the basic principles of how to get a better deal when negotiating.

This short blog aims to provide a number of practical tips on how to get a better deal when negotiating and draws upon my own experience of working across a number of challenging market sectors: retail, fmcg, electronics, distribution, market research and media.

Know what you want…

Identify exactly what it is you want to buy/source and find out where you can get it. There are many supplier directories now available online and your industry media partner’s magazine or website will help point you in the right direction. Don’t forget to use WOM (word of mouth) – ask your personal business contacts who they are using and get some background on their experiences in dealing with certain suppliers.

Know your budget…
This is common sense, but it is perhaps the most important variable – there is no point wasting your time trying to source suppliers and items which are clearly too expensive. It is critical that you keep in mind the budget that you have available and try to use your negotiational skills to maximise it. If you are quoted a price, never leave it on the table without a challenge – you have to work hard to get a good price, so be prepared to put the effort in.

Do your homework…
Establish the market cost structures for the service/products that you wish to source. A good marketer will always have an excellent knowledge of how much it will cost for advertising, event sponsorship, promotional items, printing collateral, design labour costs etc – using their previous experiences to help provide them with clear market benchmarks for negotiating. The price you pay for anything will always be dictated by the market value (what people are prepared to pay for it). It is important to get at least 3 competitive quotes from different suppliers as this will give you an idea of the price differences.

Know the market conditions…
The current economic climate means that buyers are in a very powerful position to negotiate and suppliers are under more pressure than ever to get that order. The rise of social media marketing is clearly putting pressure on industry media partners as brands’ can now implement PR and marketing campaigns without any cost to their business – this means that marketers are in a strong position to get a good bargain when negotiating advertising, events, webinars, advertorial and contact lists to name but a few (this should be used to your advantage).

Look at the bigger picture…
When looking for a special deal, always remember that building a long-term relationship with your supplier will enable you to secure a better price – make sure you emphasize this when negotiating. Suppliers will want to work with you on a price if they believe there is going to be a long-term relationship at stake. Even if this is not the immediate case, you can still sell the idea that you are working towards the selection of a number of partners for the future.

Ask for what you want…

Too many people skirt around the issues when trying to haggle over a price, make sure you ask exactly for what you want and make it clear up-front what you are prepared to pay for.

Timing is everything…
If the supplier thinks that you will be able to do a deal quickly, they will try harder to get the right price for you. Everyone is trying to get an order on the books and if they can see that something will be agreed today/tomorrow – you might just get that great price!

Use charm with integrity…
Use your personality, enthusiasm and charm to give you an advantage when negotiating. Getting a fantastic price on something really can be influenced by the emotional/rapport factors in play – being polite, friendly, genuine and direct can work, but do it with integrity.

Stay in touch…
A good marketer will stay in touch with all his/her existing/potential suppliers as part of the relationship building exercise. This will serve 2 basic purposes: it allows you to stay up-to-date with all commercial market opportunities/pricing points and it will always help you develop a better long-term relationship (which helps every negotiation for the future). It is also worth catching-up with your contacts near the end of the month to see if there are any last-minute opportunities as most sales professionals will have a monthly target to achieve (your chances of getting a better price will be improved if they need a quick sale to help them out).

Draw upon experience…

Demonstrating that you are a good buyer will help promote your credibility within the negotiation process i.e. if you have spent £xx in the past 12-months sponsoring a number of events, then you will be in a stronger position to negotiate on that next event.

I hope you have enjoyed reading this blog entry and remember this post is just a basic outline of the key variables which I believe to be important – there will be others! Feel free to add your own comments and suggestions.

If you found this blog interesting – please feel free to share it!

The Benefits Of Blogging

A Guide To Social Media Marketing For SMEs (Part 3)

In parts 1 and 2, we have already looked at some practical applications of using tools such as Twitter and LinkedIn as part of an integrated social media marketing approach for your business and in this latest installment – we will take a look at why you should be using a blog as an additional tool to compliment your social media strategy.

What is blogging?
Quite simply for the purpose of this basic guide, a blog is a way in which you can communicate and share your personal thoughts and views on the web using a personalised blogging website to host all your content.

Blogging has become a very popular marketing and thought leadership tool over the last 5 years and is used quite heavily by leading industry experts to share their views on topical issues.

The Power Of Blogging…

Thought Leadership
Everyday, we are trying to demonstrate to our customers/prospects that we are experts, market leaders and the best at what we do, whether we are providing a product or service. Blogging is a fantastic vehicle which can allow you to cement this position as it can provide you with enormous online reach.

To become a thought leader, you can use your blog to share your expertise and experience by publishing your thoughts and commentary on a number of topics i.e. key industry issues, market trends, customer insight, product/service developments, topical news stories, best practice, industry events – the list goes on (you get the idea).

It is important however that you keep your blog up-to-date, interesting and relevant. If you have a great idea for a blog, make sure to get in contact with your industry media partners to share your thoughts as it common practice for some of these to be published on their own website or published as copy within their magazine (if it is a great blog/thought leadership article). This means that you get great copy for your website, your client newsletter to endorse your position as an expert in your industry and also gives you additional credibility for your blog which you can share with millions online.

Boost Your Web Traffic / Online Presence
A blog is another great way of bringing more traffic to your company website as it provides enormous online reach. Creating a topical or interesting blog post that is supported with relevant tags (keywords associated with your post) means that more people will be able to find your contribution quicker. To help bring more visitors to your company website, make sure to add lots of links within your blog post (adding your preferred landing page url) as this deliver more traffic and potential new clients to your website.

If you develop and effectively maintain your blog – delivering great content, adding relevant url links and ensuring your blog is supported with the correct tagging – you will make it easier for people to find you, your company and your content online and within the blogosphere.

To support your web traffic further, you can directly post your blog to your LinkedIn, Twitter and other social media sites. This is good practice in general and compliments your social media profile, whilst creating content that should be of interest for your customers and prospects.

Powerful Copy
Your website is a shop window not only for your existing clients, but also for potentially new ones. A blog is a great prop for your website and will give you an opportunity to generate more traffic as long as your content is thought-provoking, interesting and relevant. Giving people a reason to return to your website is always a good marketing tactic and sometimes a compelling blog which is updated each day/week can support this activity, as your visitors might be keen to read your latest entry.

Real Time Insights

The beauty about having a blog is that you do not need to be a website developer or designer and you certainly do not need to wait days to have your content published online. A blog provides real-time insight and commentary in an engaging way that allows people to get involved in the subject/topic.

Example…
You visited an industry seminar and were not able to contribute to the discussions that were taking place in which a number of interesting prospects were in attendance. A blog will give you the means to comment on anything that you agreed/disagreed with and also provide you with an opportunity to share your own views on a burning issue that you feel passionate about. Once you have created your blog post and added your tags and relevant url links to support the entry – you can share your post instantly using your various social media accounts (LinkedIn, Twitter etc) which will in addition to making your blog visible within the blogosphere, will also allow you to reach a further audience within the social media networks that you are registered with. Remember, sound out your local media partner as the post may be something they can use in their own magazine or online features section.

Get Started
There are quite a number of blogging sites available to get started and the below are just a few to point you in the right direction. Once you have decided which one you want to use, simply register and get started! At first, it will take some time to experiment, but once you become familiar with the blogging process – you will soon become an expert.

WordPress
TypePad
Blogger
Moveable Type
Xanga

In the next installment (Part 4) of my blog – A Guide To Social Media Marketing For SMEs I will be focusing on the benefits and applications of social bookmarking.

If you have found my blog interesting and helpful, please feel free to share this post with others via the below social bookmarks.

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Get Connected, Get LinkedIn

A Guide To Social Media Marketing (Part 2)

Launched in 2003 and with over 100m registered users worldwide, LinkedIn has become the fastest growing and most popular professional networking website around. LinkedIn is a tool that most professional marketers are aware of and using to great effect – and as a free resource (is a must for SMEs)!

In this blog, I will share with you some of the best practical applications of LinkedIn for SMEs and the key benefits it can deliver, however the first thing you need to do (right now) is to create an account on Linkedin.

Getting Started: The Basics
To get the most from LinkedIn, I recommend that you put time and effort into creating a strong profile. This will be the first thing that potential contacts will look at in deciding whether they wish to become a connection. I have seen a number of examples of very poor profiles on LinkedIn, where people have not filled in the most basic detail about their expertise/background or in taking the time needed to build a profile which looks credible. In my opinion, you will have little success with LinkedIn if you do not bother to work on developing a strong profile. The profile is your online CV – therefore, make it stand out!

Now you have an account, created a great profile – start using LinkedIn to find contacts for existing and former clients, colleagues, media partners, suppliers and off-course for identifying potential new contacts as part of developing your business development pipeline. Like anything, once you start using this site, it is important that your build it into your daily to-do-list as to really utilise the benefits it offers, you need to use it as a business support tool everyday.

Brand Communications: Maximising Your PR
What makes LinkedIn such a fantastic business tool for brand communications is its sheer ability to provide real-time communications with a market reach of over 100m. One of the most practical tools available on LinkedIn is the status bar on your profile – the status function should be used by all your employees (who have an account) to share company news/updates. As soon as you update your status, your connections will see it on their updates page and this is a great way of providing additional reach for your brand communications. The beauty about the status function is that you can add links to published articles, presentations, video clips and press releases that are either hosted on your own website or a media partner’s website. To get the most from LinkedIn as a PR tool – use the Groups available to also add your latest PR and thought leadership content. Doing this simple activity will ensure that your message reaches a targeted audience and in return help drive traffic to your website. Over the last 3 years, LinkedIn generated up-to 20% of all unique web visitors for my previous agency – and helped raise brand profile along the way.

Thought Leadership: Sharing Knowledge
If you have a presentation that was recently delivered at an industry conference, make sure to upload it on LinkedIn using the Google presentation application – this will provide another great way of enhancing your profile whilst offering a targeted/extended route for sharing your knowledge which will support your company’s brand position as an industry expert.

Get Prospecting: Lead Generation Development
As a social site that has over 100m registered accounts, LinkedIn provides marketers and business development professionals with a fantastic prospecting resource – you can use the people and company search functions to easily identify possible prospects. Now you have found a possible prospect/contact – you have a few options available i.e.invite them to become a connection or use the information that you now have at your disposal to create a foundation for the next stage of your prospecting/lead generation strategy. Another great benefit of LinkedIn is that you are able to view most of the contacts who view your profile, and again this is a powerful lead generation tool which should be acted upon!

The Power of Groups: Enhancing Your Industry Expertise
Using the groups directory and search function, make sure you are a member of all relevant groups for your business. This will allow you to follow key industry/group issues, track contact level activity, whilst providing you with a golden opportunity to get involved in on-going group discussions. It also provides another avenue for brand positioning and developing your company profile at group level – as most of your existing clients and key targets will already be members. There are many examples of clients finding suppliers using groups as handy industry resource. Don’t forget – you can also set-up your own group and this option will support your lead generation strategy as you will be able to monitor all leads who register to your group.

Better SEO: Letting Clients Find You
Creating a company profile on LinkedIn will ensure that potential clients and prospects will find you easily and this is becoming a popular search tool. Make sure you keep the company profile up-to-date and get all your employees to set-up their own accounts on LinkedIn – but make sure they develop their profile pages, so that they are as impactful as possible. The company page is something that a lot of people now browse to get a feel for your organisation and also to get an overview of your team and latest activity/updates. LinkedIn is similar in nature to Twitter and provides a follow option – therefore make sure to follow all companies that are relevant to your business as this will keep you up-to-date with their activity on LinkedIn i.e. new hires, employees, latest news etc.

Remember, the more content you add to your profile, the more groups you join, the more discussions you get involved in, the more connections you make – the better your SEO will be on LinkedIn (meaning more people will be able to find you).

Talent Management: Find Your Next Employee
If you are spending a lot of money on recruitment agencies to support your talent management strategy, then look no further than LinkedIn as your perfect HR partner. LinkedIn offers you the perfect free solution to filling that next vacancy. Simply using the advanced people/company search options – you can identify potential employees and make direct contact with them (cutting out the middle man).

Working Smarter: Handy Apps
There are a number of handy apps on LinkedIn which will help you work smarter and also provide yet more benefits for lead generation and marketing activities. Take the time to explore all the applications available and define the most appropriate for your business. To give you a head start on apps, here are a few which you should be using: Google Presentation, SlideShare, WordPress, Blog Link, Events and Company Buzz.

Summary
This blog has covered some of the most basic applications of how LinkedIn can help your business and if used effectively – it will deliver a cost-effective route to market. The benefits it will yield will depend on the time and effort you put into the resource (so make sure you use it on a daily basis and embed it into your marketing and business development strategy).

In part 3 of my “Guide To Social Media Marketing For SMEs”, I will be looking at Blogging, so keep an eye out for my next installment.