How social media can help warm up cold leads

Yesterday I wrote a piece on cold calling, and today I thought I’d carry on that theme.

I always bang on about how social media is a great way to expand your audience and generally raise brand awareness, but it can be a huge help when it comes to warming up cold leads.

Let’s say you’ve done your research and you have a list of prospects you want to contact.  Yes, you could just drop them an email, or pick up the phone to schedule an appointment, but we all know the chances of you getting anywhere with that are quite remote.  Someone that doesn’t know you, and hasn’t had any contact from you in the past, isn’t going to jump at the prospect of working with you.

It can be hard to know how to make contact with someone you don’t actually know, but the reality is with social media you can reach out to countless people around the globe. Yet, for some reason, so few people actually bother.

If you look at your list there’s a good chance every company on there is going to have at least one social media channel.  It might be Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube or Pinterest to name but a few.  If you’re serious about reaching out and starting a two-way relationship, then you need to start following them.

Not only that, you should actively interact with them.  Now, I don’t mean you should RT everything they post, that’s entering in to creepy stalker territory, but do get involved where it makes sense to.  Tag them in posts you think would be relevant to them, engage in conversation.  DM them when it’s appropriate to do so to introduce yourself, and perhaps your business and services.

If the company is on LinkedIn, follow them and share some of their updates.  You can also find out who some of the employees are at the business, which may make it easier for you to make contact and get a positive outcome further down the line.  Where possible make contact with these people.  You can always lead with “I’ve been following your business on Twitter for some time and would like to find out more about what you offer”.

I always say social networking is not simply about collecting names.  It doesn’t matter who you know if you don’t genuinely know them, and can’t reach out to them when you need something.  You need to take the time to nurture these relationships, and honestly it will pay off in the end.

 

What is the Twitter banner, and why is the landing page important?

Your Twitter banner, or header photo, is the first thing visitors will notice when they first click on your profile. When you send a Tweet other users will only see your profile image, but if they want to find out more about you, they’re likely to visit your profile – and they will see your header photo before anything else.

As a result, it’s important you give this aspect of your profile some careful consideration and don’t just leave it blank, or whack anything in there in the hopes that it will do.

When trying to decide what your header should look like, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. How do I want to be perceived? What are my values?
  2. What do I want to communicate through my design? Am I trying to sell or attract?
  3. What are my key visual elements? What are your brand colours, logos or iconic products people should associate with you?

Your Twitter header needs to represent you or your brand, but it also needs to be striking to catch people’s attention.

Let’s have a look at this header photo by Starbucks.

image-4-starbucks-header

When you land on their profile you clearly see their logo as their profile photo, but the cover image also shows precisely what they’re selling, and is branded again with their logo on the cups. It does everything you need it to, and they update it on a regular basis – which is even better as it doesn’t get boring.

Here at Time Saving Heroes we offer cover image designs for Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, so if you aren’t making the right first impression just yet, we’re on hand to help you.

Give us a call on 0161 883 2024 or email hello@timesavingheroes.co.uk to find out more.

 

4 ways to separate your professional contacts from your Facebook friends

Even if you don’t really engage much with social media, the chances are you have a Facebook profile.  No matter what your employment status, there is likely to come a time when you get a friend request from a professional contact.

It could be an employer, co-worker, client or fellow networker.

In this day and age when everyone seems to take these friendships so seriously, it can be difficult to know how to handle professional relationships online.

Facebook is a relaxed social network, and as such is very different to something like LinkedIn.  You’ll no doubt share photos of your family and friends, as well as post your own opinions and have the occasional moan. At times that’s likely to be in conflict with your personal brand.

How then do you manage the crossover between public and professional life, and your unreserved no-holds barred private one?  Thankfully, there are four options you can choose from.

# 1 – Restricted list

Within the privacy settings you have the option to add people to a restricted list.  This list ensures that they won’t see posts that you only share with friends. However, they will be able to see your public posts, and will likely see anything you post to a mutual friends’ timeline, or posts that you have been tagged in by others.

The best thing about this is it’s easy to use and manage, and people won’t know they’ve been added to the list and Facebook doesn’t notify them. Essentially they become followers, but aren’t aware of any changes.

To use this, click on your drop down arrow in the top right of your page, select SETTINGS, and then BLOCKING from the menu on the left.

All you need to is select specific friends you would like to add to the list, and you’re done.

When you then post something, you can select the specific audience for each post such as public or friends.

# 2 – Create an alias

Another option is to create an alternative account, and use this for either your family and friends, or professional contacts.

That way you can essentially have two very distinct audiences you can post relevant content to.

Technically this is against Facebook rules, and your profile could be shut down if they stumble across it or someone reports you.

# 3 – Accept you have professional contacts

In an ideal world your professional contacts would follow your Facebook business page and therefore wouldn’t have any need to be friends with you on their too. However, some people start off adding their contacts, only later to realise there may be an issue.

You could request that all your professional contacts like your page, and slowly migrate them over to that instead. Though, there will always be some people that don’t do this and you may end up losing them all together.

Alternatively, you could decide to use Facebook in a more professional manner, and refrain from posting anything that might appear negative for your personal or business brand.

You might even go old school and share private and personal information with friends and family in a more private and personal forum. Such as face to face. Or the phone.

# 4 – Don’t add professional contacts

In order to remove any issues about what is or isn’t appropriate content in a business context you might want to consider not adding your professional contacts in the first place.

What you do and don’t post, and who you share it with is always going to be your decision – and there is no right or wrong answer. Only you can decide what feels appropriate to you.

Personally, this is the route I prefer to go down as it makes the most sense for me.  I don’t want to censor my content for friends and family just in case a client might see it – so I don’t add clients.

If I get a friend request from a professional contact I advise them of my personal policy, and direct them to like my business page and add me on LinkedIn if they haven’t already. These are two fantastic ways to connect on social media, and ensure everything remains 100% professional and on brand.

 

 

Three types of people you should avoid on LinkedIn

So far this week I have done one-to-one LinkedIn Orientation with five people. OK, so that’s just a fancy way of saying I spent two hours going over the basics with five separate people who signed up, created a profile and promptly lost their password. One of them hadn’t been back on since uploading their profile photo, and that was ten years ago.

This is probably my favourite part of the “training” I do with people – taking someone who admits they know nothing, or have preconceived ideas about what LinkedIn is, and getting them to embrace it. Admittedly it’s baby steps, going from “member” to “daily interactor” doesn’t happen overnight, but you get my point.

One thing that often comes up, certainly with people who have had their accounts for a while is connections. Often I hear things like “who is this person? I don’t know them” or “why do strangers keep asking me to connect?” Equally typical is the query “why add me and then never communicate?”

The simple truth is LinkedIn is full of people who aren’t using it properly, and unfortunately when you aren’t confident in what you’re doing, you can find yourself looking to these people as the “experts”.

Here’s my list of three types of LinkedIn users you should probably try to avoid if you want to attain LinkedIn zen.

#1 The Door to Door Salesperson

We have all received an invitation to connect with someone we don’t know, only to receive a generic sales pitch via InMail the second you accept them.

If you have accepted someone who does this, do yourself a favour now, and remove them as a contact. They are not interested in two-way dialogue and relationship building. They just want to knock on your door and sell you something, then they will move on.

Equally, if you are this person please, on behalf of everyone else on LinkedIn, I beg you to STOP! Here’s why.

 

# 2 The Social Police

Every so often I see comments, on other people’s posts, about the validity and appropriateness of what they’re sharing.

“This is LinkedIn, not Facebook”

“This sort of thing doesn’t belong here”

“LinkedIn is a professional network – be PROFESSIONAL”

You get my point.

The sort of posts that get these comments are either family or pet photos, memes, or jokes to name a few. Now, don’t get me wrong, when I see these things I do invariably roll my eyes because, in all honesty, LinkedIn is not the place for them. However, I refrain from commenting on such posts because I am not the police of social interactions.

What annoys me more than inappropriate posts are the comments from the self-appointed social police. Their opinion of what is or isn’t appropriate on LinkedIn is just that – their opinion. There is no handbook that says “Thou shalt not post a meme of a cat wearing a watermelon as a helmet”. There is no LinkedIn code of conduct in that sense. I am a firm believer that if you don’t like it, you just don’t interact with it; or maybe, you can remove the offender as a connection. Believe it or not, you do have those options.

Personally I recommend avoiding the social interaction police at all costs. It takes a certain type of person to comment publicly on someone else’s post in a manner that comes across as nothing short of rude, and in some cases bullying. Who, if they genuinely wanted to educate and help their fellow connections, would rather hit out, instead of send a private InMail along the lines of “Hi Bob, funny meme earlier; however, LinkedIn really isn’t the sort of place for that sort of thing. You’d probably get more interaction if you …”

But hey, that’s just my opinion.

# 3 The Ego

We have all seen them, the LinkedIn users who have a headline along the lines of “MOST VIEWED LINKEDIN USER” or “The Midas of sales: Everything I touch turns to sold!”

No, really, I’ve seen the latter. I’m still cringing now.

There is a really fine line between confidence, and an overwhelming smugness, and the people who go too far are really difficult to build relationships with on LinkedIn. Which is why I always avoid them.

It’s such a shame really as you can guarantee in a genuine networking environment they wouldn’t stand up and say “I am awesome, I am great, I am perfect”. Well, some might, but very few. In the real world they may exude confidence, but they are probably capable of having a two-way conversation.

Online they are just narcissistic and are predominantly interested in either the sale (see point 1) or collecting numbers. Don’t be one of their numbers.

 

 

These are just the people I will always avoid, you may agree – you may not. However, the key here is that you do have a choice who you interact with online, as you do anywhere else. Don’t feel you have to accept everyone, and don’t feel once you have accepted that you can’t back out again. Keep the connections you want so you can customise your own LinkedIn experience.

A picture is actually worth 84.1 words

We all know that a picture is worth 1,000 words. Or at least we all thought we knew that. The reality is it seems, according to extensive research, it’s more likely to equate to 84.1 words. But that’s a bit of a mouthful, and why mess with a good thing?

The truth is, regardless of the precise numbers, pictures help convey information quickly and easily.  Facts and figures are easier to digest if you have a nice little picture to get a point across, instead of having to wade through copious amounts of text.

This is where the infographic really comes in to its own.  If you want to get across the main features and benefits of a particular product or service you could write a 500 word blog or you could produce an infographic.

If we’re going to be picky, we’d suggest you did both, and probably combine the too – tap in to every type of audience member.  But then, we would, wouldn’t we?

Whilst there is no doubt that infographics are cool, and a fantastic tool to add to your marketing mix, the problem is they can be time consuming to produce.  Even if you have the necessary design skills, or are prepared to pay to outsource the job to someone else, you still need to do the research to provide the relevant content.

This is where a Time Saving Hero comes in.

We will work with you to:

  • Identify your audience to ascertain who searches for the information you want to provide, establish what emotions you want to evoke in them and what you want them to do with the infographic once they’ve viewed it
  • We’ll help with relevant keyword research and then start to pull information, stats, figures and data from reputable sources

 

You can then transfer the content over to your design team, or we can liaise with them on your behalf.

It’s also worth noting that we can actually produce the design in-house ourselves, saving the need to involve anyone else if you prefer.

Give us a call on 0161 883 2024 or email hello@timesavingheroes.co.uk to find out more.

 

I don’t care how big it is, what can you do with it?

Yesterday we wrote a piece about the importance of actually making contact with your contacts.  Today, we thought it might be worth thinking about whether size matters when it comes to your network.

When we first speak to people about their social media, many of them are concerned with the number of people following them on their various channels. We’ve had clients embarrassed by their lowly 100 fans, and envious of a competitor boasting over 1,000.

We’ve said it before, and we will say it again – when it comes to social media, size does not matter.

The same is true when it comes to things like LinkedIn and your other networking activities.

You will no doubt have noticed that when you get over 500 connections, LinkedIn stops specifying precisely how many you have.  As a result 500 becomes this wonderful number many aim for, because to have that 500+ next to their name makes them look impressive.

If you know that many people, you must be really well connected.

Apart from that’s not the case.

As I’ve already mentioned, I’m conducting a little experiment with LinkedIn at the moment, and part of that means I’m just accepting invites from anyone.

A quick scroll through my last 20 connections (added over the last five days) and I find:

  • 1 person I’ve met once at a networking event
  • 2 people I’ve heard of, have mutual connections with, but have never had a conversation with
  • 13 complete randoms that haven’t even taken the time to start any communication beyond sending a request
  • 4 people I actually know (two of whom are previous clients)

I don’t think there’s anything particularly unusual about that, many of us if we take the time to look through our network will find numerous names we don’t recognise, and faces we can’t place.

That’s not a network.  That’s a directory. And it’s pretty useless.

The whole point of LinkedIn is to connect with people you know and trust.  Countless times I’ve asked a genuine connection for an introduction to someone else on their list, only for them to reply “I’ve no idea who they are”.  Great.

Well, plus side they just add people so at least I can introduce myself, but it’s still quite frustrating.

There’s whole swathes of the LinkedIn community that are out there collecting names and numbers, and then, for some inexplicable reason, doing absolutely bugger all with them!

Not only that, but the bigger the network, the harder it is to do anything meaningful with.  When you have over 500 contacts how do you begin to manage that?  How do you code people so you can immediately pin point your history, interactions, commonalities, their potential as a customer, supplier or collaborator?

You have no idea who most of them are – so explain again why size matters?

Everything is better when we stop and take the time to actually connect. I’m not saying for one second you have to delete everyone you can’t sell to (how egocentric is that?), but at least identify who these people are you’re now sharing your cyber space with.

The virtual world will be a better place for it.

 

 

 

Why do I even bother?

If you’re self-employed you have possibly uttered the words “Why do I even bother” at some point in time.  If you haven’t, then the chances are you’ve probably thought it.

Of course, if you’re a parent you’ve definitely said it – possibly at full volume to a room full of children that have long since stopped listening.

Whilst those five words could be prompted by anything, today I want to focus on social media marketing.

In the last few weeks I’ve seen numerous contacts and fellow business explorers lament lose their shit about the lack of interaction from their “friends”.  I’ve seen such rants (for, that is what they are) on a variety of social media networks, and always by different people.  Even different industries.

It seems to be a theme that is plaguing many.

“I set up this business and none of my friends, family or previous co-workers interact with it.”

“People I help and support don’t ever share my posts.”

“What do I have to do to get them to pay attention to me?”

It’s a shame.

Really.

Admittedly that possibly sounds a little insincere, but it’s not meant to.  I genuinely sympathise. And perhaps just as importantly, I really do get it.

In fact, I’ve been there.

And whilst there I realised something the people still tearing their hair out probably haven’t come to terms with yet.

Running your own business is a lot like being a parent. No one asked you to do it, no one’s particularly impressed and once the initial novelty has worn off no one else really cares anymore. Eventually everyone but your very nearest and dearest are going to get bored of the fact you can’t talk about anything else. Don’t even get me started on the constant stream of photos and myriad of hashtags that come with them.

The point is your friends, no matter how long you’ve known them or the scrapes you’ve been through together in the past, don’t owe you anything.  They don’t have to like your posts, or your page.  They don’t have to share anything you do. They are not obligated to you.

Yes, I get that it might be nice if they did once in a while – but what’s their incentive?  When they do help you, do you actually stop and say thank you?  Do you return the favour in any capacity with anything they need help with?

Only you know the answer to that, but it’s something many people forget about.  If they do interact then that’s them taking time out of their day to do something that benefits you.  That’s worthy of a little acknowledgment. If you start giving, you may find yourself on the receiving end a little more often.

Equally, and this is something far too few people seem to really grasp, there is a distinct possibility your friends are not seeing any of your posts.  When it comes to social media we have a tendency to be a little egocentric – you know you’ve posted it, therefore everyone else must do.

But think about it. If your friends have liked your business page purely because you asked them to once upon a when you set it up, then the chances are they’ve not had much cause to interact with it since.  If that’s the case, then all the magical algorithms that determine what content people see, will rank your content low for their newsfeed.

That means they just won’t be getting anything you post out, and you ranting and raging at them is unlikely to change that.

If you’re not getting any results then it’s totally understandable you’d ask yourself why you’re bothering. However, the correct question that needs answering is what are you doing wrong?  Because I assure you, it’s something.

If you can figure that out, and approach your social networking from a different angle, you may just start seeing results.