LinkedIn invitations don’t add value

Linkedin conenctions do not add valueMonths ago I ended what had become one of my living nightmares over the past years: invitations to be connected in LinkedIn.

This has cost me months of procrastination and indecision.

The disquiet resulting from not being able to answer each and every one of these invitations has been such that I’ve even considered closing down my LinkedIn account. Yes, the account that provided 35% of my annual turnover in 2011 and 20% in 2012. How is it that I’d even consider annihilating something that is profitable for me? Very simple: right now, it only offers me hundreds of requests to be connected, taking up time that I’d rather dedicate to more important things for the people who are really in my reach and for myself, of course.

The pace ran me down

Everything was fine until summer 2012 when I started losing the pace on LinkedIn: the time taken by actively taking part in groups, taking an interest in my network and contacting six or seven people with whom I considered I should be connected every week. Also, the time dedicated to personally and humanly answer everyone who had invested their time in sending me a connection request, regardless of whether they had sent a ‘template’ message or whether they bothered answering back after that. I continued doing it. I believe in human relations as the basis for the social web.

The more you connect, the more multiple connections you get

More and more invitations kept coming. I tried to use the weekends to answer between 60 and 100 invites. However, the more I accepted, the more I answered, the more new invitations I’d receive. This is easy to explain: the more requests you accept, the more visible you become in each contact’s homepage, the more visible and exposed you are to further connections. This would be great if those connections added value. However, from my experience, barely 5% of my contact network is useful to the end result, or to help other people. It therefore becomes a huge drawback as the more people you accept, the more requests you get from other people; especially nowadays when it seems that connecting through LinkedIn has become a national sport.

Changing things to improve the result

Result: more than 4,100 requests to answer. The dilemma for me is that I’ve always wanted to answer every request personally. Unfortunately, I cannot face such a deluge. It would only involve a meaningless sacrifice that I’m unwilling to make. The use given to LinkedIn no longer adds value. It’s become saturated.

So, in order not to give up my LinkedIn account or the human touch I wish to maintain, from a few months to now on I will only respond personally to those people who explain the reason for contacting me and those who can benefit from connecting with me. All other invitations I will accept without answering back. I think this is a fair exchange: I’ll bother with people who bother. Anyone else, if they want or need anything in particular, make this clear; at the end of the day, it’s you who started any action, so the result will depend on how you start it. Any of the people whom I’ve contacted through LinkedIn knew my purpose right from the start.

LinkedIn invitations add no value; the value lies in the connection you’re trying to make.

Photo credit: Deb Nystorm.

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Chronological Twitter-Use Analysis: 2007 to 2015

I’ve created a timeline from the moment I started using Twitter in 2007, analysing the strategy and use I’ve made of this platform, right to the present, just as we’ve just entered in 2015.

Twitter use analysis

These are the results of the analysis:

2007 and 2008

I couldn’t find my way around it! I needed to work out how this thing worked! Twitter? A bird? What a drag!

2009 and 2010

Twitter was a place where I would share my blogposts once a week. Yeah, it was OK. Everything else in it was just a machine gun endlessly firing information on social media and anything connected with it. Everything that fell into my hands was shared. I probably wasn’t objective enough yet. 95% of the content I shared belonged to external sources. I spent almost 4 hours a day reading, learning, implementing. I was sleeping 5 hours a day on average (less so in 2009.)

I was possibly using Twitter for up to 3 hours a day. Unbelievable.

2011

During 2011 I would massively share loads of links regarding social media, online marketing and Internet. Resources, best practices, newly-arrived platforms and tools, start-ups regarding the Internet and similar stuff. Most of the content came from blogs, platforms and English-speaking websites. This was possible thanks to the number of sources I was hooked up to on a daily basis. I spent two hours reading and filtering content (at night).

Meanwhile, among such content, I would also share the posts from both my blogs, in Spanish and in English. The workload then was less as I wasn’t publishing on isragarcia.es every day (that would start at the end of 2011.) The ratio then was 85% external content vs. 15% own content. I used Twitter 2 hours a day on average, or slightly more.

2012

In 2012, I decided to stay more human. I would look for interesting stories on my timeline and share them, without turning to the main platforms such as Mashable, TechCrunch, Social Media Today or the blogs on Social Media Examiner, INC, Brian Solis or Jeff Bullas to recommend valuable and interesting content with my community. This increased my interaction with Twitter users and significantly increased conversations regarding these stories. This, in turn, led also to my own content having more repercussion and a greater reach. This led to more connections, visits and, as a result, more leads.

I noticed how Twitter improved my efforts to market my contents. This made me take greater care on what I published. The ratio in 2012 was 70% external content vs. 30% own content. I realised at the time how important it is to becoming your own communication company.

I continued to decrease the time spent searching for information, reading and filtering contents, from two to one hour a day. The average use of Twitter that year must have been approximately 1.5 hours a day. Not bad at all!

2013

2013 came. One thing was clear: once you regularly share interesting content from the same platforms, it’s no longer a novelty, it’s accessible to all and it’s no longer relevant. If it becomes a routine, it no longer adds value. 60% of the platforms I was sharing from in 2012 had already reached saturation point. I say 60% as I’m always looking for places where I can find interesting ideas. Nowadays, the number of sources I work with is 400 blogs and 175 platforms or specialised sites. Of course, I don’t read them all. In fact, I’m reading less and less.

There has been a significant change in the way I use Twitter this year. I stopped sharing as much external content from other sources, although I continue to use what I consider to be the star platforms: Social Media Today, FastCompany, eMarketer, INC, Chris Brogan or SmartBrief. I’ve shared the best content from these, but in an irregular way. I’m no longer necessarily sharing content from these platforms every 2 or 3 days. The content I’ve been producing daily has been up to 5 times the amount I produced in 2010, for instance. Projects, ideas, collaborations, speeches, blogs, adventures, challenges, etc. I’ve simply become my own communication enterprise. Another great change is that I’ve stopped being connected to Twitter during the day. I never log on while I’m working at my computer. I only check it out using my smartphone or tablet and the time I spend on it is 30-45 minutes. Lucky me!

The ratio this year has been 30% external content vs. 70% own content. That 30% external content is shared as follows: 15% is from selected sources, 10% from contents I’ve come across during the day and the remaining 5% I dedicate to contents I’ve found from anonymous people who have great stories to tell.

The time I’ve spent to reading, searching, filtering and absorbing contents this year is 30 minutes a day, maximum. Obviously, my search is now more clearly guided and intuitive and my expectations much higher.

Above all, I’ve tried to stay human first and foremost. I’ve answered and connected 99% of the times, with the remaining 1% left to the “not worth my time” segment. One of the things that best works for me is asking questions. Asking specific users, or asking the entire world; asking out of curiosity. You always get some sort of answer.

2014

My ratio of external content continue to diminished. I stopped publishing so much of my own content. I looked for more personal stories to share and I shared them. I used Twitter for less every day. What was my strategy? I published less of my own posts per day. I continued to work towards creating and sharing the content that created a greater change in you and frankly, it worked.

2015

I frankly don’t know what is going to happen. What I do know is that I will be using less Twitter and keep reducing the amount of tweets I’m sending every day. Let’s see what happens.

Photo credit: Scott Beale.

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How to Create Human Relations with your Online Community

You can’t create a community without strong, cohesive human relations (regardless of whether these are online or offline). Without them, it won’t be happening. If you don’t have an emotional tie, forget about creating a community; people just won’t show up!.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t happen overnight. As you must already be aware of, this takes time and, rather than time, it requires creating solid relationships that help you shape such a community. Relationships are based on trust and such trust must be believable, valuable and loyal.

human relations online community

Adding value can take many shapes. You need to learn how your audience views the world, what they like, how they think, what they don’t like, how they perceive you and much more. Value could come in the shape of social objects: videos, photos, graphic work, etc. There are endless ways in which we can add value in this connected economy we’re living: answering questions, speaking of the people who’re doing a great job, returning influence to those who deserve it (those under you); remember, your  words and actions can lead to a great change in those people.

Think of your audience, take care of them, listen to them and then do something. Create human relations.

Transparency

Say who you are and why you’re here. Establish a purpose and communicate it to your audience. Even if you’re here to sell something, we want to know your true intentions. Otherwise, we won’t come near you! No relationship is possible without honesty. People populating every community are increasingly smarter; so, be careful: they’ll smell you out like a rat!

Consistency

You need consistent communication and marketing; not only from you but from anyone in your company who may be in contact with your social media sphere. There’s no break here; you’re under the spotlight every day, consistently. Alignment is a key concept: you can’t talk about one promotion in a newsletter and a different one on Twitter. Keep things simple and don’t confuse people!

Don’t Sell Blatantly

Resist the temptation of endlessly posting about your products or talking to your community about everything you do, how great you are, the great results you’ve achieved, the excellence of your products, how great your company is and all the good things they’re missing. We’re sure that’s the case but there are other options out there that aren’t you. You’re here to share experiences, to connect and resonate and to create interactions that will hopefully lead to people discovering all of the abovementioned. Give them something they didn’t have.

You’re marketing products, not people.

Appreciate the Attention

Attention is scarce. Whether you’re creating a Pinterest board about your brand, writing a review in a post, recording a video testimonial or sharing pictures, you should understand that your audience has more important things to do than to talk about you. Gain people’s attention by telling stories that can help them, improve them or stories they can benefit from. That will make them interested in your brand and that means getting their attention.

Do something

This never fails: don’t wait for your community to do something for you; do something for them first. That will set the difference because, basically, no one’s doing it. We all wait for a recommendation, a post that talks about us or a video-homage. Keep waiting!

Photo credit: SFBBO click off photo contest.

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Behavior you don’t want to show on social networks

I’m completely fascinated by observing and analysing the behaviors that one can glimpse in social platforms and by the way in which people relate to one another.

How you connect, why you connect or why you decide not to. What it takes to step forward and connect with someone. How your perception changes in regard to someone you’ve never spoken to but who mentions you on Twitter one day. The empathy that arises with someone who suddenly shares an event with you. How much you can have in common with someone who’s seen suggested to you on Facebook or LinkedIn time and time again and whom you’ve never contacted until they contact you. Or the interesting, rewarding blog you discover one day when the person running it mentions your blog.

social media behavior

Behaviour you read between the lines

In the same way there is an unwritten contract in the social web, there are certainly unwritten and unspoken behaviors too. We don’t talk about them because it’s not in our best interest to point them out. However, that doesn’t mean they don’t exist:

  • Speaking greatly of great work carried out by others isn’t a sin (even if you don’t follow them or if they don’t follow you, you won’t be going to hell for it!)
  • Following someone, reading what they say, supporting them, sharing their projects, articles or videos, recommending them to possible clients isn’t a felony (even if this person doesn’t follow you, doesn’t always get back to you or doesn’t hang on your every word!).
  • Saying that someone you share your profession with (what someone might call “your competition”) is simply brilliant and counting on them for a project, a conference, a blogpost or a client won’t make you less respected, believable or influential. Quite the opposite!
  • Reading, sharing, following, mentioning, praising someone for sharing a programme, course, conference, tweet or anything of the kind, doesn’t really say anything interesting about you and doesn’t really add value to the other person or yourself. There is no real connection!.

They say that the social web is socialising but are we really sure about this? We become more select, twisted, Machiavellian, sarcastic, even cynical and intolerant. The only thing that’s changed, really, is that we can add a smiley at the end of every sentence, “J”, and then everything seems to make sense.

Let’s start by being ourselves, being honest, clear and direct. There’s nothing wrong with ending a sentence with a full stop; quite the opposite, it should be the most common and coherent way to do so. I find it really hard to believe you can get along with everyone or that you can refer to everyone as your “sweetie” or “dear”. It’s like you want to be at every party, be accepted by any circle of Tweeps or be chosen as a panel member at every social organisation conference.

I don’t think I’m a pessimistic type of guy, tedious or a cretin. However, I’m also aware I’m not interested in being worshipped or revered in the comments to my blog or in every tweet I get as feedback after a conference or in reaction to one of my own tweets. Whoever you are in your real life, so should you be in the digital world; otherwise, something’s not quite right!

  • The ways we connect are changing, we have new tools and trends. However, our values and personality shouldn’t be altered by such changes in our environment.
  • Answer back when you feel the need, not out of obligation.
  • Speak when you have something relevant to say, not because you’re supposed to say something.
  • If you need to be forceful with someone, you’re entitled to be so, but be prepared for an equally forceful comeback.
  • Empower the small people who do great things, not self-centered celebrities.

The key lies in our reaction to social (unfortunately, not human) stimulus.

I’m increasingly certain that we react to the “social” stimuli provided by the social networks. And I believe that “react” is the right word. The opposite of this would be to take initiative, to find something valuable (something that will normally happen right in front of us), pay attention to it, value it objectively and offer the acknowledgement that that person, product or project deserves.

If we limited our interest, anxiety, ego and arrogance to things that make a difference, we wouldn’t have to worry about what will happen if we act sincerely and with dignity!

Photo credit: stevenvanbelleghem.

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Content is your best product, definitely

content is your best product

If you value your content like you value a product, you realise that you have the opportunity to “sell” your product every time you create and publish content. Usually, like a product, the only content that really sets the difference is that which we create ourselves, our own crafted content, not the one we’re taking from somewhere else and simply sharing.

Take a look:

Newsletter / RSS / Database

To provide quality content that makes a change in a free private newsletter take a look at what Carlos Bravo is doing. Monday or Tuesday could be a great day for this. Perhaps you may consider doing it over the weekend, aiming to create a tribe outside the noise of the busiest days. That’s exactly what Chris Brogan does, with a long, active database that he nurtures, giving him a competitive edge. I’m currently working on the daily RSS subscriptions to my blog and they continue to rise. The greater the audience, the more new people I “bump into”. This has led to an increase in the average business opportunities (“leads”) coming through my blog: increasing to 0.9 per day (up by 0.3 compared to 2012).

Audio / Podcast

Provide audio content. Have you considered carrying out a weekly podcast that your audience may listen to while they’re practicing sport, working or going from one place to another? Juan Merodio has been doing this with his posts for a couple of years and they have now been listened to 200,000 times. Another idea is turning this audio content into subscription podcasts published through a programme (for instance, iTunes), allowing you to choose your own periodicity.

Video

Video as content. In his channel, Valentí Sanjuán entertains, connects and has something to say. With his videos, he reaches more people than any other blogger in Spain. His reach and impact continue to grow daily as a result of the significant emotional bond that his audiovisual content provides. Valentí has created a line of branded content that is tightly linked to a community of followers that continues to grow with every video he publishes. It’s easy to see how he cleverly “calls to action” in every video, pointing towards other videos that may be of interest to his audience. This maximises the experience, contact and bond with the content, making a huge impact. In the case of Valentí this is further strengthened by the great personal brand that he’s building around himself and his work.

Ebook / Book

You can compile your best and most valuable posts into a book or ebook, for offline or online use. In that way, people can read you while they travel by train or plane. This has worked for Seth Godin, or Guy Kawasaki with “What the plus!”. However, you don’t need to be a celebrity to compile a book based on your articles or posts and turn it into an ebook; anyone can do it, with next-to-nothing marginal costs involved. This makes it possible for anyone who writes to become their own publishing house. If the content is good, you will reach thousands, hundreds of thousands or, who knows, maybe millions of readers. Couldn’t it work for you? I’m going to try this out. I’m currently preparing my second book, which I was writing at the same time as my first. Let’s see what comes of it!

Sharing content is really great, but tell me something: why look at you if you do exactly the same as anyone else?

Bonus: perhaps that “anyone else” has been doing exactly that for many years.

Photo credit: Gauravonomics.

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What needs to be done in Social Media so it doesn’t die?

During my intervention at the Madrid Music Days event last year, I stated my idea, reasoning and examples of why social media marketing as we know it is coming to an end. I rescue here four of the most important points of my speech about what we can do so that Social Media doesn’t die. Note: this won’t avoid its evolution, however.

what needs to be done in social media so don't die

What needs to be done in Social Media so it doesn’t die?

This is the approach we’ve been working on for the past two years and it’s working.

1. Social platforms are communication and marketing channels and, as we’ve proven, are still viable sales channels. However, they need to be led correctly. They need a coherent strategy and execution that focuses on results, on connecting with our community, therefore creating certain resonance with our people in a dynamic, interesting and brilliant way.

Social Media doesn’t create a different world; neither does it invent or define. This is something that only comes about with an idea, initiative, project or business. At the end of the day, it’s only marketing through a new means of communication. Navigate your project or brand through these channels, seeking a clear, defined project. Do so without losing track of the people because, most of all, you need them right now. The value you provide is the value that the world will give in return.

2. Symbiotic models have always worked best (except in the case of Spiderman and his alter ego). Throwing conventional communication and marketing out of the window was, still is and will always be a dumb idea!

Look for a cross media strategy. Traditional communication isn’t dead, PR is extremely useful for word-of-mouth, there are still a variety of offline means to cross over to digital communication. Use what you do well out there, such as sales, to bring your customers to your company blog or to have a 24/7 customer service over Twitter.

3. Companies that claim to care about people but who can’t be bothered to interact with their buyers can ignore all of this. We’re ignoring you in one way or another.

Ask, listen, do something with all of this. Look out for conversations, take part in them. Recommend services that are in line with your audience, become “the person to turn to if I need something” and let the results speak for themselves.

4. If you want to use the social web and the great opportunity that lies therein, at least attempt things, learn from them, fail often, experiment, fine-tune, use any feedback you get, be creative and try something different; all of this before, during and after using social media. There’s no other way. That’s my recipe to get to where you’re so good that no one can ignore you.

Should you advertise on Facebook? If that’s your concern, there’s so much more you should be concerned about. Is being on Pinterest worth it? Who knows. Should you programme your tweets? Have you ever tried this and measured the results obtained? The only way to get an answer to these and many other similar questions is to just go for it and try it out. You need to work with the social web thoroughly to understand what works and what doesn’t. The best –or worst– thing about this is that it’s a day-to-day job. What worked yesterday may not work today, or what works today may not work tomorrow.

The direction that such work is taking means that if you want to make the social web to work for you, it must become a part of all your business processes. It’s not less important but, rather, the driving current. The work you carry out is part of your marketing, your customer services, internal communications, human resources; it’s part of your company’s wiring. It’s a part of it all!

What else needs to be done here? What’s your role?

Photo credit: hollywoodhollows.

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How efficient is your blog?

I’m usually quite matter-of-fact in these actionable posts, so straight to the point! Here you’ll find 8 ways to help you measure how efficient your blog is.

blog efficiency

8 Ways to measure your blog’s efficiency

1. First of all, compare the natural growth of visits to your blog overall with regard to a similar period the previous year, and then the average visits for each post. Compare also the bounce rate, sources of traffic, social conversion, individual visitors, pages visited and average stay on your site and in each post.

2. Measure the number of people who unsubscribed to your newsletter, email or RSS subscriptions in the last month / quarter / semester / year. This way, you’ll understand whether your content is the right content for your community, if you have an interesting community and whether there is a connection with your readers. According to the measurements I carry out of my blogs and others I’m in contact with, the average rate is usually 2-3% per month at most.

3. Furthermore, check how may subscribers are RSS subscribers and how many are via email. If you have a newsletter subscription, how many subscribers do you have? Calculate this weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc.

3. Volume of comments in each post. The more comments you get, the more popular your blog is; the more popular it is, the more it’s read; the more read it is, the more it’s visited; the more visited it is, the more conversions you should be getting.

4. The number of “leads” you get every week / month. By “leads” I mean business opportunities. These will be different for every person depending on the type of blog you’re writing, the field and industry you’re in and the objective you seek. This could be a request for a quote regarding the interior decorating of a house in a home renovation blog; or, a question regarding the clothes you described in your fashion blog; it can also be a company contacting you for a PR activity through your advertising blog; or the proposal from an agency who wants to hire you as a speaker at a gastronomy fair through your food blog.

5. What is the reach of your posts without the use of social tools (Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Menéame, etc.)? This will help you measure your blog’s true influence, how influential it is on its own.

6. Of the visits you receive for each post, how many actually carry out the action you’re looking for. That is, how many visitors click on the “call to action” that will take them to your online store, to purchase the theme you’re recommending, to make the donation for the NGO you collaborate with, etc. Sometimes, this “call to action” may simply be for them to answer in the comments section the question you set in your post, or signing up to an event, webinar or conference.

7. Analyse the number of links on other blogs, posts or sites that each of your posts gets. This isn’t only positive at SEO level, but if you get many links, then you know your post is valuable and others are using it as a resource.

8. Recommendations that your blog receives between users in the social web: Twitter, Facebook, Google + or LinkedIn. Count also the number of times that your blog (or each post) is bookmarked in a social bookmarking site such as Del.ici.ous or Diigo.

What other ways to measure your blog’s efficiency can you think of?

Photo credit: Saurabh Shukla.

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What you can do with this opportunity to create change

Communicating, marketing, selling, gaining visibility, sharing content, writing posts, maximising your brand’s reach, starting promotions, working from home, optimising your time, tweeting, uploading photos or building your personal brand. These are only some of the things that you can do with the social web and the Internet of things; but I guess you already knew this!

the opportunity to chenge things

What we don’t see is the other side of the social web; the side that changes it all. How can we dedicate our time to social media yet show no interest or dismiss the importance of people?

That is my favourite part. This is what you can do with this entire new world in front of you:

  • Make an impact on the world.
  • Develop your professional profile and both your professional and personal skills and competences.
  • Create connections and interactive bridges.
  • Start-up your business.
  • Connect with people you don’t know personally.
  • Build a community of people interested in something they have in common.
  • Head a charity cause.
  • Modify the expected result.
  • Study, learn and grow.
  • Find a purpose.
  • Start a movement that inspires others.
  • Start a new business – it’s never been easier or cheaper!
  • Gather ideas together and check out what happens when they hit the market.
  • Decide how you’re going to help those in need.
  • Communicate with and reach anyone you wish.
  • Start a revolution.
  • Educate people through shared knowledge and experience.
  • Share stories that are worth knowing.
  • Add value to your industry.
  • Create your own story.
  • Change people.

How can you do this and more? That’s where you need to step up and work towards this tirelessly.

Reading the above, I think we sometimes don’t realise the times we’re living.

Photo credit: Benoit Tremblay.

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How to Market your Online Store through Social Media

Before we get started, let’s get back to basics: you need to have a great customer service that is fast, efficient and useful. If you also send your orders in less than 24hrs then you will have come a long way. Similarly, it is equally important to have a well-structured e-commerce platform that is practical and easy to use.

9 Ideas to Promote an Online Store through Social Media

9 Ideas to Promote an Online Store through Social Media

1. Prepare a Launch Campaign: spotlight news on your website, sending a newsletter to your database (offering them something, don’t just send an email), a special promotion.

2. Pinterest: create boards; for instance, for a clothes e-shop, the boards could be ‘T-shirts’ (distinguish between men and women), ‘Accessories’, ‘Shirts’, ‘Jackets’. Categorise according to your range of products. For better social media optimisation (SMO) include the original link to your website. Also, include the price (check here to learn how to do it) and a description that is rich in keywords. To avoid too much work, you can import them directly using the “pin it” button on your browser.

3. Instagram: publish only the most relevant and attractive items together with a link and picture. If you wish, you can adorn them using the effects available in Instagram.

4. Facebook: as your store probably has many items, a good option can be to publish something daily, marketing a concept: for instance, “a souvenir for today” or “recommended item”. This can be done daily, every two days, weekly; it will depend on your target audience. Don’t forget to measure the results of these actions.

5. Google + : H&M has the most popular  Google + page. They don’t sell directly but when when you check it out you realise they’ve done a good job of it. Take a look for yourself. They use lots of pictures (also by importing them from Instragram), videos, etc., not to sell but to create conversations that will later generate traffic.

6. Foursquare: if you have real-life premises (that is, a place where our products can be located besides our online store), you can include the best items from one or more stores, choosing 4 or 5 for each store. Choose always what you believe will sell best. Don’t forget to add links to purchase the items directly and your “call to action.”

7. Yelp: Business pages on Yelp can advertise their promotions and the products located in the store (considering we have a physical store). The more adverts you publish, the greater the visibility.

8. Flickr: open photo galleries with your products on Flickr. It is in your best interest that your items are found. For the “Flickr” search to work correctly, all items need to be named, described and tagged correctly and, of course, include back links.

9. YouTube: use the photo shoots that you’ll be carrying out for the website or for promotional images to create videos with them (a “making of”). Publish them but make sure that you make them more human and less superficial: tell the story behind the pictures. Another alternative would be to show your products in the form of a video. Also, you can have someone for the company talking about each product in different episodes. That may help as a prescription element.

All of this work must be supported by working on community engagement, creating conversations, providing answers, clarifying doubts, seeking information, connecting, measuring, analysing and evaluating.

Photo credit: Daniel Broche.

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Community Leaders and Social Media Managers In Depth

I want to go beyond some simple advice for community managers, the keys to handle social media efficiently, how to increase sales on social networks or tricks to optimise your social media strategy. I believe there are some aspects regarding the community manager and social media scene which have to be looked into in depth to understand their implications.

community management in depth

Understanding the play between Social Media and Online Community Leadership

These are some of the things we should pay more attention to when working in the field of the social web so that we’re able to understand what we have on our hands, what we’re facing and how to do something of relevance.

Hybrids

I have always believed, and have confirmed, that we will never be a simple Community Leader/Connector or Social Media Manager but a hybrid, located somewhere between Social Media, Community, Marketing, Digital, New Media, Communication, PR, Sales, and HR. That is where the potential lies. Oh! And also in remaining human.

That is, many tasks which aren’t fully defined or detailed. Are you dedicated solely and exclusively to leading online communities? I very much doubt it. You’re likely working also in Marketing, Communication, even PR if necessary, Sales Management, Customer Services and even in screening job candidates. We’re hybrids. You can take a look at this role in depth and how to develop it, here.

Online Leaders of your Brand

This is a delicate matter. Would you put your company’s Facebook page in my cousin’s hands? Probably not. Well we’re talking about the same thing here. There’s no one better than someone on the inside to learn and progress until they’re capable of taking on all of these tasks and responsibilities. There is an added complexity –and risk- in giving this task to an intern; representing the brand in the online sphere is, after all, a vital role, and isn’t limited to using Twitter, Facebook or Google+. Remember these people lead people, they’re not directing things.

How to Connect with the Community

Quite simply, don’t invade their space! We live in the era of permission marketing, an interruption of the system, processes based on a human attitude that intends to do something with a meaning, open innovation, creation and chaos. This isn’t an era of communication and marketing, once the interruption created an over-communicated society through intrusive marketing and mass communication a while back.

Now we’re at it again with the social media. Our sole intention is to get our message out there and for our message to have an impact on as many people as possible; feedback is unimportant if we have many likes and comments. That’s ‘short-term gain, long-term pain’! The people who want to reach you will do so because of your content, your interaction, your attention, humanity, closeness, humility, truthfulness and credibility. The only thing you need to do is to be visible at all times and create relevant content that engages your audience. Then, make sure you remain human at all times.

What to Do

Test, try, do something, review what you do, make corrections, launch something again, try one campaign, another one, and then another one, one of them will work, try not to risk too much, remain loyal to your brand value, what you represent as a brand and as a person, make the brand truthful, make the person behind the brand visible, manage the whole online fabric, follow the conversations, observe and measure your content’s scope, the state of your community; if you’re launching a campaign, whether you need to review your Apps, your landing page, the comments, likes, repercussions, etc. Creation and distribution means actions carried out with your content.

You can do whatever takes you where you want to be. You can specialise or not; the advantage of doing so is that you focus on a niche, and the smaller, the better.

How to Coordinate

Work in the distribution of tasks, create GANT charts, timelines for the different parts of the projects and actions, anything that helps you in the structure and architecture of your objectives, responsibilities and team work. This may help you.

Internal or External

An example: we work with a multinational company as Advisors and Online Project Leadership Team. When we arrived at the company and during the first few meetings to carry out an online audit, the topic arose of who would lead the online community operations. The company said it did not have the human resources and that none of them would be able take on any of the tasks as they were all up to their ears with work.

We always recommend someone who’s been trained on the inside. First of all, it’s easier to act as a consultant and educator and to train someone inside the company in the knowledge necessary to carry out the job than to bring someone from outside who needs to adapt to, understand and work in new surroundings.

However, what we did in this case was to bring an outside person; not an intern, but someone knowledgeable in Social Media, Communities, PR, Communication and some Marketing. We established a part-time job for six months (working Monday to Friday, 09:00 to 14:00). During the first month, this person did no online work but simply learnt about the company’s departments, lines of business, products, staff, culture, company ethics, suppliers and other important details necessary for them to carry out their job in an efficient, professional and results-oriented manner.

Once the month was up, this person (a freelance worker) understood the running of the company perfectly and was ready to start. It all went so well that this person now works permanently as part of the company as Head of Social Media and Online Community. We’re happy that this is the case.

Going Beyond

All of this goes beyond what we think is going on. I’m talking about leading, connecting, aligning, developing, integrating, implementing, managing, updating, building, consolidating, driving, comparing, executing, measuring, following, monetizing, listening, reading, commenting, understanding, acting, doing something, remaining human.

Photo credit: Text100.

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