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Building badass leads on LinkedIn

(SOCIAL MEDIA NEWS) LinkedIn reported recently that 80 percent of business to business (B2B) leads were through their platform. Here’s how to take advantage.

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You should already have one

Any savvy business owner or entrepreneur knows that having a LinkedIn profile is critical, but how do you utilize your presence in such a manner as to make the connections that will benefit you most?

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Being more strategic about your biz

The new LinkedIn App which was released this year makes it easier to connect to a professional network by streamlining the mobile experience. You still need a strategy to maximize your time and efforts in establishing leads and building relationships for your business through LinkedIn, which now has over 400 million members. LinkedIn reported last year in that 80 percent of business to business (B2B) leads were through their platform, according to an analysis by social media marketing platform Oktopost.

The full guide (strap in, guys!)

The great news is that there are plenty of successful entrepreneurs who share their tips so you don’t have to struggle through trial and error. That’s where influencers such as Crazy Egg and Hello Bar co-founder Neil Patel comes in. He leads readers through a thorough step-by-step guide on Quick Sprout to generate leads from LinkedIn on his blog.

If you are interested in generating B2B needs then will want to read his full article, but here’s a summary of his six step strategy with some of my observations:

Step #1. Optimize your profile for connecting
Patel emphasizes the importance of your first impression, which is can be made through 3 different ways – name and picture, tagline and title, and a message.

Having a professional photo is absolutely critical to show that you are a legitimate and credible person. Selecting a title that targets the specific position you would like to connect to is important if you want someone to check out your full profile.

Step #2. Create your own group
This step was an Eureka moment for me.

Patel states that “You’re going to invite potential leads to join the group you created. You’re going to leverage the group to get more connections and get more leads.” The key is to create a group that will “benefit your potential customers” and if you sell to local businesses, Patel further states that “it’s a good idea to add a location to the name of the group as well.”

A caveat that I would make is to confirm that a similar group does not exist. Also be cautious if using a name that is too narrow of a scope, or is related to a proprietary name both in the private and non-profit sectors.

Step #3. Create your hit list of potential customers
Patel suggests setting a goal of compiling a list of 500 – 1000 potential leads. While that number may seem a bit daunting when a LinkedIn milestone is to have at least 500 connections, Patel reminds us that LinkedIn has over 400 million users.

He suggests using LinkedIn’s built-in search function and to select for title, location, and industry.

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The title is significant in B2B sales as you’re “typically targeting the same level of employee/employer in each company” according to Patel.

While location can be important for some service providers, for web and application development sector this feature may not be as relevant if remote services are acceptable. Based on Patel’s example, a search I ran for “Chief Technology Officer” in six related information technology industries resulted in over 47,000 results. I then fine-tuned to the specific keyword of “Postgres” to determine who had knowledge of this database programming language, which narrowed down to over 200 results. For the purpose of creating a group, these keywords are too refined but this search does provide a starting list that can be put into a spreadsheet.

Step #4. Make initial contact with each member
This step takes the longest – contacting every person on the “hit list” by using the basic connection invitation – and involves refining earlier steps including #1 of creating your profile headline and photo. Incorporating your group that you created will “establish your credibility” in their industry according to Patel, as well as crafting a first impression to will improve your acceptance rate are critical steps. I agree with Patel that making a personal connection by relating and referencing to something from that individual’s profile.

One of the most enlightening points of Patel’s post is on how to send the request effectively. I’ve often struggled with which selection to make, especially if it requires the person’s email address which may have changed from previous contact. Patel recommends selecting the “Friend” option, because “Don’t worry about looking weird to users because you picked the friend option—they will never see it. That information seems to be for LinkedIn only.

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Don’t send too many invites out at once as you could trigger spam alert – monitor your acceptance rate and refine your method.

Patel recommends aiming for a 50% acceptance rate.

Step #5. Continue to engage
To summarize Patel’s recommendations in Part #1 of this step for member engagement:

  • Invite your new connections to your group
  • Be active in your group
  • Post content from tools and industry news – search Google or set alerts
  • Comment, like and share others posts
  • Track who does and doesn’t join your group, and re-invite later once your group is full active

As for making personal connections, Patel emphasizes to “forget about turning them into leads” and instead focus on building a relationship by sending messages through LinkedIn. To avoid coming across too strong, send several messages over a period of 2 – 3 months to a connection before soliciting a sales call. These messages can include a follow-up/thank you for connecting, useful resources, and references to interesting group discussions.

Step #6. Get off LinkedIn
It’s easy to be caught within the spider web of LinkedIn, between the multitude of groups, updates from connections, new posts, and more. Budget your time accordingly, but engage and foster your new and current connections in person when possible. Webinars and phone calls are great options, but if you can schedule some one-to-one time, even better! Take advantage of local networking events and conferences to engage your LinkedIn connections in real life to find real success with your B2B sales.

#LinkedInLeads

Debbie Cerda is a seasoned writer and consultant, running Debra Cerda Consulting as well as handling business development at data-driven app development company, Blue Treble Solutions. She's a proud and active member of Austin Film Critics Association and the American Homebrewers Association, and Outreach Director for science fiction film festival, Other Worlds Austin. She has been very involved in the tech scene in Austin for over 15 years, so whether you meet her at Sundance Film Festival, SXSWi, Austin Women in Technology, or BASHH, she'll have a connection or idea to help you achieve business success. At the very least, she can recommend a film to watch and a great local craft beer to drink.

Social Media

Why your Instagram follower counts might be jacked

(SOCIAL MEDIA) What’s going on with Instagram follower counts? It’s a v-day bug, of course!

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Yesterday, I did what I usually do on Instagram – peruse through my own profile because I enjoy my photos. Though my follower count is nothing to write home about, I was confused when I noticed I had lost about 10 followers and had mysteriously unfollowed about the same number of people.

To quote Alicia Silverstone in Clueless, “I was like, totally buggin’”. Turns out, bug was the operative prefix as a bug was cause for the issue, and many users were feeling the bite.

TechCrunch shared that Instagram confirmed the bug was the problem causing follower counts to change. The social media platform also said that the issue should be resolved by 9 a.m. PST on Valentine’s Day (because the only love worth celebrating is that of your follower count!)

At first, many users, myself included, assumed that the decrease in followers came from an attempt from Instagram to remove fake spam accounts. However, when we noticed that our following count had also gone down, that was when people took to Twitter to complain.

One user wrote, “so I just lost like 4K on Instagram and it unfollowed like 100 people within a matter of minutes? what’s going on [whining emoji] like I’m not mad about my follower count cause I’d rather have less spam followers and better engagement but like why is it unfollowing people?!”

Instagram also used Twitter as a way to explain the issue, which is where they shared that the problem should be fixed by Thursday morning. “We’re aware of an issue that is causing a change in account follower numbers for some people right now. We’re working to resolve this as quickly as possible,” the company tweeted on February 13. “Update: we’re expecting to have this issue resolved by 9 a.m. PST tomorrow. We understand this is frustrating, and our team is hard at work to get things back to normal.”

My follower/following count went back to normal a few hours after I noticed the issue, but it may take just a bit longer for all users to see the counts restored.

Share with us below if this issue threw off your social media game yesterday!

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Fallout from Facebook’s shady program spying on children

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Facebook is barely even trying to be sneaky anymore, paying children to allow them to spy. Shameless.

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Facebook recently landed in hot (boiling) water when it was uncovered that Facebook has been paying teens to install a “research” VPN on their devices that would allow the tech giant to see all of the teen’s cellular and web usage, for about $20 worth of gift cards each month.

The participants were largely recruited into the program as a result of targeted Snapchat and Instragram ads, and offered participants additional incentives to refer friends into the program too.

The purpose of this Big Brother program was not to empower young minds with technological innovation, but to use all of this data to track Facebook’s competitors, keep track of emerging trends, and otherwise be creepin’ on the kids. The program reportedly went so far as to ask users to share screenshots of their Amazon order history pages.  

According to the report: “Facebook sidesteps the App Store and rewards teenagers and adults to download the Research app and give it root access to network traffic in what may be a violation of Apple policy so the social network can decrypt and analyze their phone activity.”

Oh, and if the privacy concerns of this whole program weren’t terrifying enough; it has been going on since 2016.

Almost immediately after the news broke, Apple banned Facebook’s Research VPN and shut down the iOs version of the Research app, before Facebook could suspend the program voluntarily. Apple also released a statement condemning the program and Facebook’s shady choice to hide it in the iOs Developer certificate rather than the App Store (where apps that collect personal data have been banned since last summer).

This entire debacle highlights the murky borders of online consent when children and teens are involved. Not only are teens less likely to be aware of the risks of sharing their data, but also often parental “consent” is not real. There’s no verification of parental consent; if a teen checks a box in an online form saying that they are their parent—the website is none the wiser. The same is true for many age verification processes.

If you are a real parent reading this and want to check to make sure that your teen’s not selling their personal data for pennies, you LifeHacker has instructions to help you identify whether or not they are in the program (and get them out of it!).

This entire debacle is a nice reminder that large tech companies may offer innovative services, high salaries to employees, and strange new ways of keeping in touch with people we’d probably forgotten by now, but the product is not the social networks they build.

The product that Facebook, Google, Amazon, and other giants are really interested in is data – we’ve been reporting that for over a decade now. Their treatment of people that may not even be able to consent to sharing their data highlights this narrow goal. If you a not a person, but rather a collection of market insights, what does your age matter? It’s just another variable for the algorithms (robots).

The upside of this entire debacle is that many parents previously unaware of this type of program are now talking to their children about this topic.

Further, this gives politicians more tangible evidence of why media companies like Facebook should never get a free pass for bad behavior.

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We’re skeptical of FB’s reason for killing the Moments app

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Facebook is killing Moments. Turns out, most people don’t know it exists – here’s what we’ll all be missing.

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January was the longest year ever, amirite guys? Now all that’s over, we can finally say goodbye to toxic things like Whole 30 oversharers and, if we’re lucky, terrible products from tech giants.

I love writing about tech companies’ failed attempts at ~cool~ new products. Honestly, it’s become a personal hobby, or, dare I say, delight. Nothing warms my ice cold heart like seeing Google Glass, Google+, and the Facebook “Moments” app go up in flames.

*record screeches*

Wait, hold up… there was a Facebook Moments app? What the heck is (or was) the Moments app?

In case if you didn’t know like most people, here’s what you need to know:

Moments was originally created in 2015 as a way for Facebook users to privately share photos outside of the standard Facebook platform. The app implemented machine learning and facial recognition technology to help group photos, and then “recommended” who to share the photos with based off who was in the picture.

Get off my lawn.

If there’s anything we learned in 2018, it’s that we can totally trust Facebook with very private and personal information!

And I know what you’re thinking: why would this crappier and creepier version of Google Photos be necessary? Spoiler alert: it’s not.

In a moment of temporary sanity, Facebook announced it’s shutting down Moments and the app in its entirety on February 25th, citing a notable lack of downloads.

Here’s the interesting bit, though: no other reasons were mentioned like security or privacy concerns, and they insisted it’s pulling the plug only because not enough people downloaded it.

Considering Facebook bullied hundreds of thousands of users into downloading the app, so much so that in 2016 it was #1 in the App Store for several days, do we really believe the “no user base” excuse?

What else is going on under the hood of Moments that isn’t being revealed?

Given the recent controversies surrounding Facebook’s lack of data transparency and unethical decision making in this realm of personal data, I have a hunch something else might be behind this sudden “no downloads” rhetoric.

Only time, and perhaps another amusing congressional hearing, will tell.

In the off chance you’re one of the seven people with photos on Moments, you’ve been forewarned, and make sure to delete all of your data from it in case if Zuck pulls another Cambridge Analytica.

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