451 Marketing’s LinkedIn Series: How to Create a LinkedIn Event

Do you have a conference, seminar, webinar or other business event coming up? Do you want to make sure the right people hear about it and, more importantly, attend? LinkedIn Events present an effective and easy way to generate awareness for your upcoming sessions and ensure you are promoting the information to prospects.

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So how do you create an event and make sure your prospects attend? We’ll tell you…

Step 1: Visit the Events page from the LinkedIn homepage and click on “Add an Event.”

Step 2: Next you will see a page with a detailed event form to complete. Start filling it out!

  • Be sure to create an accurate and compelling title for the event. You want to engage your audience a leave them with a good first impression.
  • Fill in the additional details.
  • Include information on where the event will take place as users like to search by location.
  • Confirm that you are the event organizer so that you can edit the event at any time.

Step 3: Click on “Add More Details.”

  • Do not skip this part! This is important because the drop-down menu will offer you more ways to promote and describe the event. The different options help you generate awareness among prospective clients.

Step 4: Add a detailed description.

  • Describe your event in detail. You want members of your audience who view the event page to understand what you’ll be addressing at the event and why it’s important for them to attend.

Step 5: Next, choose an event type and industry.

  • This is important for prospects that search by event categories (industry verticals, webinar vs. seminar, etc.).

Step 6: Add keywords.

  • The keywords reflect when and where your event will pop up in searches. Add relevant tags and make sure that the keywords you choose to use are terms your prospects typically search for on LinkedIn. You may use up to 20 keywords.

Step 7:  Next, fill in who should attend the event.

  • Include the typical titles of the individuals you would like to attend from a  prospective company, as well as titles of people who would be generally interested in the content.

Step 8: You’re almost done! Click Preview and make sure the info is correct.

Step 9: Publish the event.

  • You can edit at any time.

Now you’re ready to start planning your next event on LinkedIn. What are your  experiences with LinkedIn events? Share them with us!

Social Media Reflections: What Are You Most Thankful For?

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The Holiday season is underway and Thanksgiving will be here before some of us even had a chance to think too much about it. That’s never a good thing during the one time of the year that you should be ready to express how thankful you are for what you have (instead of complaining about what you don’t)!

Usually when you stop to think about these types of things you reflect upon the past year that was. For the team at 451 Marketing, and for everyone out there who energizes and inspires us by the work that they do and share on a daily basis, the past year has been consumed by the continued emergence and power of social media. In the past twelve months we have seen a dramatic increase in the growth and mainstream popularity of Twitter, witnessed countless examples of individuals, businesses and other organizations utilizing social tools for valuable purposes and we have all continued to reflect on how these tools and channels improve the way we communicate with each other both on-and-offline. In the coming year, we should only expect to see the social web evolve to the point where every communication that a brand (including ourselves) makes, becomes social.

With that being said, while last week the team at 451 compiled a list of the Top Social Media Strategists to watch for in 2010, we thought we would start the Thanksgiving celebrations and reflections a bit early and share with you some of the social media-related tools, benefits and trends that we are thankful continue to be a valuable part of our everyday personal and professional lives.

Without further ado, we’re thankful for:

• The intersection of social media and PR. As experienced communicators, we’re continually amazed by the way that social media so readily complements, and optimizes, a typical PR campaign. The ability to leverage social media to help us to identify and interact directly with our audience, without the traditional filter of the media, both inspires and challenges us on a daily basis.

• The ability to make our own “media.” Social media fosters and facilitates the creation of own content, whenever and wherever we want it. For our own personal benefit, or on behalf of our clients, we have the ability to tell stories, engage relevant audience members, influence and nurture a community and a following. We also now have so many tools at our disposal (e-mail campaigns, videos, podcasts, blogs, etc.) to help us create content that drives action and facilitates business. Traditional PR, advertising and marketing tactics are no longer the only means to an end. We have so many different channels to help us “get the word out” and be creative and have some fun while doing it.

• The incredible value of Twitter. By following individuals that motivate us to action through engaging conversations and/or the insightful news, tips and strategies that they share, we continue to sharpen our skills sets, build our networks and open our mind to new ways to look at things. Congruently, we are just as thankful to have Twitter available for own purposes. Twitter’s allowed us to systematically identify and interact with individuals in a positive way that builds our own credibility and trust, and eventually our influence (as well as that of our clients).

• The personalities that shape the social web. Yes, we let you in on our list of our favorite social media strategists last week (and enjoyed your helpful comments and additions), but we would be remiss not to mention our vigor for watching other folks out there that leverage social media to their, and our, advantage. We’re talking the scores of other voices out there, “Mommy Bloggers,” sports bloggers, foodie bloggers, political bloggers, etc. who capitalize on these new platforms to share views and insights (in a longer format than Twitter) that changes the way we receive information (and reflectively motivates us to act in kind and share our own thoughts). We’re talking about those “offline celebrities,” sports stars like Chad Ochocinco or music stars like MC Hammer, that utilize social tools to not only provide their fans with a glimpse into their lives, but also to interact with them and occasionally offer opportunities like all-access tickets. It’s the little things like Ochocinco’s active Twitter feed, including his pre-game tweets and photos, that have led to the creation of his popular iPhone application and a revitalization of his personal brand. People who probably never gave “85” any regard at all are now supporting him and rooting for his team. Results like that inspire our own social media campaign work.

• The ability to use the social web to help us make all kinds of decisions, as well as elicit feedback. Why purchase any new product without first searching through Twitter or related-blogs to get a sense of the product’s problems, benefits and issues? You don’t need to just rely on official third-party reviews or the experiences of your friends to help you make your decisions. You have access to a social web of opinions that can save you time and money. On the other side, individuals have the ability to build their own trust on certain topics or products to become relevant decision-making influencers; The go-to “super users” of the social web, if you will.

But even more importantly, we’re thankful to have the ability to access real-time feedback that can be incredibly helpful to our work and strategies. What WordPress themes do people like best? What do you think about LinkedIn-Twitter integration? What are your thoughts on the whole T-mobile situation? Either by surveying our own networks, or doing our own digging and listening, we’re able to receive real-time information that helps us to better navigate the complexities of social media tools and interactions.

• The value in sharing. Sometimes, even a lot of times, it’s not all about the content you create or the connections you establish. Sharing news, blog posts, videos and other insights can be so much more valuable to community building. By sharing the good stuff that in no way reflects upon your own work (or your company’s or your clients), your continuing to build trust, authenticity and the likelihood of reciprocal behavior. We learn the importance and benefits of sharing early in life, but we’re just starting to relearn its value for business and networking.

• Converting our online connections to offline friends. This may be the best part of it all. We enjoy learning and strategizing about how to utilize these tools and networks to deliver value to ourselves and our clients. That being said, at the end of the day, converting these genuine and authentic interactions into friendly relationships and real-life connections can be all the more valuable and long-lasting.

So what about social media are you most thankful for this holiday season? Let us know. We’re thankful to have you here to share your own thoughts with us.

-Jeff Benanto and the 451 Marketing team

The T-Mobile Sidekick Data Outage: A Lesson in Social Media Crisis Management

If you haven’t heard about the T-Mobile Sidekick disaster from Perez Hilton’s tweets, or the thousands of angry Sidekick users sharing their feelings on social networks, here’s a little background: T-Mobile USA and Microsoft found themselves in a PR crisis after T-Mobile Sidekick users lost all of their personal data (calendar, contact information, etc.) because of data storage and connectivity problems related to Microsoft’s servers. Sidekick users battled these issues for over a week. Microsoft and T-Mobile USA warned the loss could be permanent. Now T-Mobile has recovered some users’ missing Sidekick data, and announced that customers who experienced a “significant and permanent” loss of data would receive a $100 customer appreciation card. T-Mobile said it has restored data services to Sidekick users.

sidekick

Perez Hilton, one of the Internet’s most notorious gossip columnists, has been an influential figure throughout this whole mess. He roused followers with angry tweets and helped boost #TMobileSucks to the number one trending topic on Twitter. Other users chimed in on Facebook and MySpace with angry status updates and notes. T-Mobile USA and Microsoft found themselves in the middle of a PR and customer service crisis.

Let’s look at some things the companies did right:
– Halted sales of Sidekicks: While Microsoft and T-Mobile tried to recover lost data, they halted sales of Sidekicks. They showed their commitment to customers by focusing their time and effort on trying to recover Sidekick users’ personal data, instead of trying to make more money off the device.
– Let furious Sidekick users ditch their contracts: T-Mobile recognized the problem with Sidekicks and offered subscribers new contracts with different T-Mobile phones. This allows them to retain furious customers who may have otherwise ditched the subscriber all together.

And now for what the companies did wrong:
-$100 dollar apology and month’s free data service: This was not enough for the angry Sidekick users who lost all of their contacts, calendar appointments, irreplaceable pictures, etc. T-Mobile should have offered more to show how apologetic the company was for the data storage failure.
-Did not give out replacement phones: T-Mobile should have given Sidekick users replacement phones until they could sort out the data loss. This would have helped ease the backlash of angry customers obsessing over their incompetent phones.
-Did not encourage regular backups of data: All carriers should promote and remind customers to backup data regularly.
-Banned angry customers from T-Mobile’s online forum: Banning angry customers only produces more angry customers. T-Mobile should have set up a separate forum for Sidekick users who were affected by the data storage lost and responded with swift customer service especially to those who were angry because of a significant loss.
– Did not alert customers via social media channels: Did we learn nothing from the Motrin Moms crisis?  T-Mobile should have made announcements via Twitter and other channels instead of directing customers to their website to find the information they needed. Providing updates directly to users would have helped to contain the intense backlash on Twitter and other social networking sites. Quick and informative messages broadcast on Twitter would have eased tension and customers’ anger.

Every company should include a social media plan for responding to and informing customers in the event of a crisis. The goal should be to keep open communication with customers and maintain any negative backlash. Roles and messages should be mapped out and flexible.

To avoid becoming a case study of what not to do in a crisis (like T-Mobile), start listening and engaging on social media channels now. Determine what tools you’re going to use to monitor and manage your brand. You don’t want to find yourself in the middle of a social media crisis without a plan.

How do you think T-Mobile and Microsoft could have handled the crisis differently? Did they do enough for customers? Tell us what you think!

-Cristina Lepore

5 Easy Things you can do to Increase your Online Visibility Today

Making your website friendly to search engines is absolutely critical to improving your website’s online visibility. By increasing your natural rankings in search engines like Google, Yahoo!, MSN, and Bing you will increase the visibility of your website, while simultaneously increasing the quality of your web traffic. Natural rankings are the results search engines generate by using their various algorithms, without taking into account any paid search (PPC) efforts.

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Search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the best marketing techniques when it comes to increasing the online visibility of a website, and is critical to any company that wants their website to be seen and found by their target audience. The actual process of optimizing a website is long and involved, but here are 5 quick and easy ways to start improving your online visibility today:

Use strategic keywords to find your audience – This is easily the most important step in any SEO campaign. When someone wants to find something they will search for it in Google, or another search engine, by using keywords to describe what they are looking for. You will want to pick strategic and relevant keywords for every page on your site that describe what your services are all about and how they provide solutions to your clients challenges. But that’s not it; you need to make sure that the keywords or phrases you select are words that your target audience will actually search for. Put yourself in the shoes of your target audience. What are their needs, challenges and pain points? What specific terms would they search for to help them find solutions. You can even ask your neighbors, co-workers and friends what they would search for too; you’ll be surprised what they will come up with!

Use your title tags – I constantly come across websites that are not using their title tags to their advantage. Title tags are what appear in the title bar of your browser, and are one of the many pieces of data that search engines scroll when determining what the content on the page is all about. Use the strategic keywords you selected and give each page a unique title. Try to limit your titles to only include one or two key phrases to avoid keyword saturation.

Don’t forget about your Meta information – Every page on a website should be treated individually and should have it’s own unique description and Meta tags. Write a sentence or two that best captures the content of that page, and try to include your keyword in it. Try to limit your descriptions to 180 characters or less— the shorter the better!

Quality Content – Ensure that constant generation of fresh, interesting and relevant content one of your top priorities. Get your keywords into your content wherever and whenever it makes sense. The key here is to keep your user experience in mind; do not flood your content with keywords that do not fit logically. This looks messy, confusing and lends to a very poor user experience on your website. Your user is always your top priority, so only use keywords in your content that make sense.

Links, links, links…and more links – This is one I can not stress enough. Think of a link as a vote of confidence or quality that search engines use to determine the relevance, and therefore page rank, of a page on your website. The more votes, the higher the rank. Good places for links are article and news sharing sites, directories, and other similar sites. Links are critical to the success of building your online visibility, you can never have enough!

Anything else to add? Have some great success stories? Share your comments here!

-Louisa Plank

Why and How to Add LinkedIn Buttons to Your Email Signature

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With over 45 million users representing more than 130 different industries around the world, LinkedIn is one of the fastest growing networking sites on the web. The best part about the site is that it enables users to build their professional profile and expand their network by making strategic connections, seeking recommendations from colleagues and participating in interactive polls and discussions.

As traffic on LinkedIn continues to rise, it becomes increasingly clear that the site will become a necessary tool for even the most passive job seekers and networkers. To help promote the existence of your profile and make it easier to connect with colleagues, contacts, industry leaders, clients and potential prospects or employers, follow these simple steps to learn how to insert a LinkedIn button into your personal email signature.

Step 1– Log-in to your LinkedIn Account

Step 2– Go to your “Accounts and Settings” option

Step 3– Click on your “Public Profile” (Halfway down the “Accounts and Settings” page)

Step 4– Under the “Public Profile” go to “Promote Public Profile” and click on “Customized Buttons”

Step 5– Copy the entire code for this button

Step 6– Open Notepad on your computer and paste the code into the document

Step 7– Under “Save As”, save the file name as “LinkedIn.html”, and change file type to “All Files”

Step 8– Open Outlook, go to “Tools” and click on “Options”

Step 9– Go to “Mail Format” and click on “Signatures”

Step 10– Click on “New”

Step 11– Click on “Use this file as template,” then select your saved file. Next, add your contact details as you would like them to read over your LinkedIn button.

Now you are done!!

We would like to know how inserting a LinkedIn button to your email has helped increase your connections on LinkedIn or otherwise helped to get you noticed. Please share your success stories.

-Brie Bellefeuille