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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

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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.

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Social Media

Don’t let your Instagram vanish without a trace – have a backup plan

(SOCIAL MEDIA) In a weird glitch, multiple Instagram accounts vanished out of thin air. Don’t be stuck up the InstaVanish creek without a paddle… or at least a backup in place.

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Poof, gone

Can you imagine being locked out of your own Instagram account for no rhyme or reason? Well, dozens of people just found out, and they are PISSED.

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Thankfully, we’ve got a solution to make sure you don’t lose out if it happens to you.

First, some context

According to coverage from Consumerist, “Several Instagram users began complaining about the disabled or deleted accounts on Twitter today [July 6], noting that they received no warning or explanation for why their accounts were no longer active. The affected accounts appear to cover a wide range of users, from business owners, to fan and personal accounts.”

Via Twitter, Instagram did acknowledge a known bug causing the issue and said, “we’re working to resolve this as quickly as possible.”

However, the response came hours after complaints began, possibly because the issue allegedly affected a very small number of user accounts.

Furthermore, while Instagram gave instructions to users on how to reconfirm their identities and recover their account, they aren’t guaranteed to work.

So, bearing all that in mind, we here at American Genius recommend backing up your entire account in order to preserve your content.

Use what they give you

If you still have access to your account, you can utilize Instagram’s recently-launched Archive function. This lets you take photos off public view without removing them from your account; only you will be able to see them.

However, this does you no good if you’re already locked out, nor does it save posts that are publically available.

For that reason, we recommend a third-party backup option for your profile content.

A’int no party like a third party

You have a few different options. Our favorite one utilizes IFTT (If This, Then That). Using this automation tool, you can write a conditional function that says if you post a new photo to Instagram, it will automatically be sent to a cloud drive, such as Google Drive, OneDrive or Dropbox.

Along with the benefit of multiple storage options, we love this solution because you can set it and forget it.

That being said, it is not a complete solution; IFTT will ONLY backup up new photos, instead of old ones. To backup your entire collection of old memories, Instaport seems to be a crowd favorite.

Instaport is a free service that lets you download a backup of your entire account.

Once you download this backup, you could upload it to your preferred cloud storage provider, then set IFTTT to send future backups into that same folder.

Better safe than sorry

Using these tips, you can avoid being a total victim of an Instagram screw-up. Hopefully, this recent one will resolve shortly.

#InstaVanish

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How to quickly make your LinkedIn profile stand out from the masses

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Most of us have a love/hate relationship with LinkedIn, but no matter your feelings, you should be the one who stands out in a crowd – here’s how.

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Your LinkedIn is your brand. That’s it. Whether you are job hunting (or people are hunting you), or are showing off your business, insight, acumen, or simply networking; your profile on LinkedIn needs to stay appealing and not drive potential headhunters, bosses, clients, or networking groups bananas.

Let’s start with a three part list of what you MUST do, what you SHOULD do, and what you COULD do.

Here’s what you MUST DO (as in, do it now).

  1. Get a #GREAT LinkedIn photo. Nothing sells you like the right profile picture. No selfies. No mountain biking. Get a professional headshot. Don’t lie about your age. Wear what you wear when you’re on the job. Smile. People are visual.
  2. Simplify your profile. Cut the buzzwords. Cut out excess skills that don’t add to your vision or that don’t represent the kind of job you want. (i.e. most of us can use Outlook but few of us need to mention that skill because we don’t support Outlook). Focus on the skills that are important.
  3. Keep it current. Your LinkedIn should reflect your career and current responsibilities. Update the description. Add new projects. Change your groups as you change in your career and move towards new levels. Indicate when you receive a promotion.
  4. Extra, Extra! Headlines. Don’t use something lame for your headline. How would you want to catch a headhunter to look at you if you could only say 10 words? Make it standout. There are thousands of managers – but only one you.
  5. Custom URL. Just do it. Pick your own URL. It’s FREEEEEEE.
  6. Get the app. Make LinkedIn a part of your mobile life and check it more often than you do Snapchat.

Here’s what you SHOULD DO (Set aside some time at Starbucks and go do this in the next month).

  1. Tell your story. Your summary should bring to live the content of your career. Don’t leave that section blank. Spend some time crafting a cool story. Run it by your professional mentor. Send it to your English major friends.
  2. Connect. Add colleagues. Add partners from other organizations. Use connections to broaden your network. Synch your profile with your address book. Add people after a conference.
  3. Endorse your connections. Identify people you’ve worked with and give them the endorsements – which can get them to come endorse you!
  4. Ask for recommendations. Ask a colleague, partner, or manager to write you a recommendation to help advertise your skills.
  5. Add a nice cover photo. Again, visual people. Some more on that here.

Here’s what you COULD DO (If you’re feeling dedicated, what you can do to give yourself an extra edge.)

  1. Share your media. Upload presentations, videos, speeches, or projects that you can share. (Don’t violate company policy though!).
  2. Publish original content. LinkedIn has a vibrant publishing feature and sharing your original work (or content you’ve published elsewhere) is a great way to share your voice.
  3. Post status updates. Share your reactions. Share articles. Repost from influencers. Be active and keep your feed vibrant.

That’s a quick list to get started. So go start your LinkedIn makeover (and I’ll go do the same). Let’s get connected!

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Innovative widget places Instagram Stories right on your website

(SOCIAL MEDIA NEWS) Increase your social media reach with this neat new free to use Instagram Stories widget for your company website or personal portfolio site.

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Instagram Stories are a great way to integrate video into your marketing strategy. If you’re already investing time and money in this successful strategy, might as well feature Stories on your website too, right?

Well lucky you, Fastory recently released a free widget to add Instagram Stories directly to your site to feature your nifty marketing efforts on desktop. Even though mobile is still dominant with younger generations, desktop users need some love and access to Stories, too.

Fastory CEO Sylvain Weber noted the “widget is the only one fully based on the brand new Instagram Graph API (no private API, validated by Facebook himself).” This pretty much means Fastory is ahead of the game with the newly opened up API, and are basically development pioneers.

Drive awareness and build loyalty by spreading the wonder of your Instagram Stories far and wide with the Stories Widget. Simply log in to Facebook to get the widget, then sync your Instagram Stories stream.

Next, all you have to do is copy the provided HTML code and paste it on your website. Hooray, now you have a widget that automatically updates your website with your latest Stories.

Keep in mind you’ll need an Instagram Business Account for this to work.

If you have more than one business Instagram linked to Facebook Pages, just select the one you want to use from the drop-down menu when getting the widget code.

You can continue that process to select multiple Instagram accounts and generate widget codes for each of them.

Free for a limited time, you can also utilize the Memories feature, keeping a collection of your Instagram Stories on your site instead of having them disappear after twenty-four hours like usual.

All the Stories featured on your site also include a “follow us” button to encourage user engagement and gain you more followers.

Looking for help jazzing up your Instagram Stories? Fastory was originally created as an easy to use design platform to create and customize Stories.

Their mobile-first marketing suite offers drag & drop design featuring animated headlines crafted in Adobe After Effects, fonts from Google Web Fonts, and motion design.

Story creation and editing is collaborative with varying roles and levels of privileges. Plus, you can track visitors in real time to identify drop off points and areas for improvement. Contact Fastory for Story creation pricing information.

And on the free end of things, check out the Instagram Story Widget.

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