Monday, January 23, 2012

Bad for Business: 4 Poor Facebook Habits

If you don't have a Facebook page for your business, it's not the equivalent of trying to operate without a telephone and modern plumbing. But social media is something almost no business can afford to be without.

Social media allows a business to connect directly with its consumer base. A business with a Facebook page is approachable, personal and accessible.

Before the advent of Facebook, businesses relied on press releases and advertising to get the word out about sales or product developments that might interest customers. Compiling those took time and money. But the amount of information a company can disseminate now is constrained only by the number of times the person in charge of social media can hit the Post button.

The ease of disseminating information, coupled with a general lack of Facebook etiquette, can become a problem in its own right. And some common social media behavior can have serious negative repercussions. Below are four offenses business pages commonly commit.

1. Overposting

Because the only constraint to posting on a business Facebook page is the willingness and stamina of the poster, many businesses try to break their own posting records every day. Every thought the poster thinks is deemed essential public knowledge, and it's shouted from the Facebook rooftops with gusto.

Overposting clogs up users' newsfeeds. Your business’s postings become white noise and an annoyance. Then, they become spam.

When customers feel that your page has spammed them, they will either hide your business from their feed or delete you from their list. And once they delete you, the follower is unlikely to reverse their decision.

How much is too much? If you're posting more than once or twice a day, you risk alienating your customers.

2. Oversharing

Oversharing is not overposting, which is talking too much. Oversharing may be treating the business’ Facebook page like your diary or your political soapbox. Treating your company’s social media page as anything except a PR platform is oversharing.

It's fine if you want to inject a little personality into your promotion platform. But there’s a fine line between "personality" and "personality crisis," and once you cross the line, your page is toast. People will hit the "Hide postings from…" button faster than you can say "Ron Paul Forever!!!" (Oh, and turn the caps lock off.)

3. Poor writing

Many businesses cut a corner by writing their own social media content tor farming it out to an intern with poor grammatical skills. Your Facebook feed come across like the the local furniture-store owner who does his own TV commercials. Unless that’s the aesthetic you’re going for, consider having somebody professional look it over.

And by professional, we don’t mean your text-speak-fluent "resident young person." Bad writing (multiple misspellings, clunky prose, the overuse of emoticons and abbreviations) makes your Facebook page look unprofessional. How many people want to patronize a business projecting a voice that says essentially, "Uh, yeah, whatever"?

4. Lack of moderation

Your Facebook Wall is like your community bulletin board. So, it will probably collect graffiti. Personal musings, links to dubious sites, pictures of somebody in a swimsuit—whatever it is, random crud will clutter up your page. You have to be diligent to keep your Facebook page spic-and-span. Otherwise, you risk having a page where law has no name.

While you don’t need to put a full-time hall monitor on your page, you have to clean things up once in awhile and delete postings that don’t fit the purpose of your Facebook page.

Article by Jacob Harper for Open Forum.

More about the author:
Jacob Harper co-founded the Vintage Vice clothing store and apparel brand in 2006 when he was 23. He sold Vintage Vice in 2009 and now works as a teacher and writer. He is currently a writer for the weekly political sketch show Top Story! Weekly at the iO West in Hollywood.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

How Social Media Changes Technical Communication

Technology journalism is not so different from that other brand of technical communication in the sense that we both aim to make complicated information clear. My wife is an STC member from a couple of past gigs at software companies and some more recent consulting work, and I've occasionally done documentation and technical marketing writing. I also maintain a couple of WordPress plugins, which are documented in a series of blog posts that I have to revise on a regular basis because people complain when my explanations are unclear.

The Web in general has democratized the world of publishing, and social media only more so. Professional communicators must work harder because they're now in competition for attention with the voice of the crowd, blurring the distinction between author and audience. As a journalist, I can be excited about the dynamics of blogs and social media sites but still worry about them siphoning off of ad dollars from professional publications. Similarly, STC members must wonder whether it's to their advantage to organize documentation in a wiki that anyone can add to or edit.

On the other hand, denial is not a great strategy. The challenge for the professional communicator is to contribute at a higher level, welcoming community involvement and building on it. For the technical writer, that may mean doing less writing and more curating of content--for example, identifying and promoting the best wiki contributions, correcting errors, clarifying unclear language, adding illustrations, and improving organization.

"Tech writers have been humanists who ended up in the tech world and have been part of R&D, with their work thought of until fairly recently as part of the product release cycle," Schwartz told me a few months ago. But documentation no longer just gets stuffed in a box and shipped. Now that much of it is available online, it's become common for people to read the documentation before they buy the product--making it more important than ever to have clear documentation that makes a product inviting rather than intimidating.

Article by David Carr for Informationweek:
Follow David F. Carr on Twitter @davidfcarr.

Read full article at:

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

4 Pillars Of LinkedIn Marketing For Businesses

With more than 134 million members, LinkedIn has changed the way employees and employers connect – and how professionals and businesses find partners.
Anyone building a business (online or offline) should take a close look at how this powerful network can work for their business.

LinkedIn is a very simple platform. People, in large majority, use the site for job searching. And because of this most LinkedIn users are not active as often as those on Facebook or Twitter. However, there are niche opportunities that many businesses can take advantage of and should make sure they are considering.

Here are the 4 cornerstones to using LinkedIn for your marketing. Make sure you are not missing out on an opportunity.

1. LinkedIn Groups

This is the favorite LinkedIn activity amongst heavy users, yet while savvy businesses recognize that creating a LinkedIn group gives you the ability to generate (hundreds and thousands of) leads, they understand this is only the first step on the long journey to success.
When creating a group on LinkedIn for business purposes, your goal is to create a group that holds value for the audience first. A few tips:
  1. Look for a niche topic in your industry. Look at pain points that your customers have a lot or growth areas of your business and focus there.
  2. Name the group for the niche and not for your business name. This helps search and helps guide the group toward audience value and not the business goals.
  3. Make the group open so that it can grow more easily.
  4. Promote the group to your existing channels.
  5. Target existing brand champions and passionate fans and ask them to stop in once a week to help promote discussions.
  6. Have a plan for maintaining activity in the LinkedIn group. How often will you or other employees promote discussions? What messages are allowed and how often will you moderate group posts?
  7. Use the best discussions and reoccurring questions as inspiration for blog posts and new products/services.

2. LinkedIn Answers

Similar to Yahoo Answers, this professional network has a Q&A section, available for users to post (niche-related) questions to their network, inviting connections and other users to answer. LinkedIn answers is the largest professional based Q&A site out there. Recent trendy Q&A site Quora is another good direction for this type of networking, but LinkedIn certainly still has some street cred when it comes to business networking.

When you take advantage of this option and actively participate inside on a weekly or daily basis, you start to naturally build your credibility by connecting with new professionals and top experts in your industry. Some tips for using LinkedIn Answers.
  1. Have a schedule and interact regularly, either weekly or daily
  2. Pick a handful of topics to focus on and become a heavy hitter in these sections of the site
  3. Provide overly useful answers, pointing to many resources. The more helpful you are the more attention you will get from potential business partners and customers.
  4. If you are acting as a company, use multiple people to support each other in discussion in a show of force. There is not need to game the system and just comment with “attaboys” and “I agree”. But having multiple employees with smart helpful discussion can only help your cause.
  5. Make sure you don’t go into sell mode and overwhelm other users by pushing your product constantly or aggressively.
  6. Again, look for opportunities to reuse your answers and discussions as blog posts to keep the thought leadership going.

3. LinkedIn Events

This is a fantastic way to engage with your clients and leads online, or offline. Here you can post your events, with a short compelling description about each, and a link to the registration page.
Towards the end of 2011, LinkedIn overhauled their events application and made it much more use friendly and much more useful to businesses. Attendees to events can connect more easily with one another. And event search is better making it easier for you to get your event in front of new eyeballs.

A few LinkedIn Event tips:
  1. Use events for more occasions. If you have a sale on your product coming up for black friday, make an event people
  2. Fill out everything, including: Full and descriptive event title, avatar, short powerful description, times, location, and registration link.
  3. Link the event to your LinkedIn company page
  4. Direct all potential attendees to click on the “I’m Attending”. Each time someone is added, it gives you more chances to show in their timeline and for their friends to be influenced to find out more about your event.
  5. Setup the event early in the your planning process to get all volunteers, speakers, partners, participants active as “attending” to make the event look as popular as possible.
  6. Promote your event through LinkedIn Groups
  7. Promote your event through LinkedIn Ads

4. LinkedIn Advertising

Imagine how it would feel like to be able to tap into specific audiences like for example 1.3M small business owners, 12M small business professionals or 2M C-Level execs, and have total control over your advertising budget, by only paying when someone clicks or views your ad.

LinkedIn calculates a quality score for your ads, similar to Google AdWords, but only uses your all-time CTR (click through rate) and your bid. LinkedIn ads have far fewer options than Google or Facebook ads but can still be a great performer.
Your text-ad will appear at the top, right under LinkedIn navigational menu, and/or on the right sidebar with your logo, next to it.

A few tips for LinkedIn ads:
  1. Your headline will be 25 characters in length while your description 75, meaning what you say should be concise & compelling.
  2. Target, target, target. Just as with Facebook ads, targeting your audience is one of the most important aspects of your ad, as well as one of the largest benefits. Use the filters available.
  3. You can advertise LinkedIn groups, events, company pages, and profiles. As well as outside URLS.
  4. Split testing is easy with LinkedIn Ads so setup groups of ads to test performance on your copy, your targeting, and your images. Your minimum daily spend on LinkedIn Ads is only $10 so it is very affordable to test.
  5. Social networking ads see user fatigue often. Pay attention to performance declining. You may have to change out your ad creative weekly to maintain performance.
About the author:

Jason Keath is the founder of Social Fresh, a social media education company. He is a social media speaker and analyst. He also consults with corporations and agencies on building community and influencer outreach. Follow Jason on Twitter @jasonkeath