This week, guest blogging for us, is Will Glover, who has returned to the Twelve team for a few weeks as an intern. Here he considers LinkedIn’s announcement that the social network will be lowering the sign up age to 13 and what impact this might have on the platform. You can also read Will’s previous entry ‘I am the challenge Marketers face’ if you have time to kill!
As many of you probably know, LinkedIn, the global professional networking site, has recently opened its doors to teenagers aged 13 and upwards, sparking a great deal of online commentating. Some praise the scheme, most condemn it and the rest, myself included, simply wonder: ‘why?’
At first, their justification for lowering the minimum age required to join the site: encouraging soon-to-be university students to network, seems sensible. Although, having said this, those at a university age are 18 anyway. What I can’t understand is a) how LinkedIn made the leap from undergraduates to 13 year olds and b) why they think said 13 year olds care the slightest bit about networking.
…As Alec Baldwin’s Jack in 30 Rock puts it. Does LinkedIn have the cool factor for 13 year olds?
Unfortunately, the scheme looks to be just another digital gimmick. LinkedIn are not the first to be guilty of this and certainly won’t be the last, but certainly are part of a frustrating trend in the information age to be slightly obsessive about finding new ways of ‘connecting’ and ’sharing’. At the risk of sounding out-of-touch, I wonder how many people get genuinely excited at the latest minor ‘innovation’ in social media.
Don’t get me wrong, sharing information has its place, and Facebook and countless other sites certainly have revolutionised the way we interact with each other. Perhaps we just need to slow down a bit and ask ourselves if the latest bright idea actually has a purpose, or if it is simply another example of social media sites doing something just because it can be.
With the new year often comes new years resolutions – and if yours was to improved your understanding of social media and you are starting to flounder already, I thought it might be useful to highlight a few books that can give you a helping hand!
Understanding Digital Marketing – Damian Ryan and Calvin Jones
A useful resource for outlining potential digital marketing strategies – this provides a more general overview of various different digital marketing platforms such as search engine optimization, e-mail marketing, social media etc, which is a very useful starting point.
My favourite thing about this book is that it provides you with a ‘chapter pledge’ at the beginning of each chapter, which is really useful if you want to pick up the book at various points for advice, rather than read it all the way through, it helps you identify what the chapter will teach you and whether that is relevant to what you are looking for.
Once you have drilled down on the particular areas you want to focus on, it might be worth getting a book dedicated to that area for some more in-depth information.
This is Social Media: Tweet, Blog, Link and Post your Way to Business Success – Guy Clapperton
This book is a really good starting point because it provides a brilliant overview of a wide range of social media platforms (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Ecademy, Flickr, YouTube, Bebo, MySpace, Blogs, Podcasts, Mobile and more)!
The steps are easy to follow and there is also a really useful ‘jargon buster’ feature, which can help you to understand some of the technical (or not so technical) terms that are regularly bandied around.
Definitely a good start point if it is social media in particular that you are looking to crack!
Twitter Power – Joel Comm
The Twitter bible for businesses wanting to try out the microblogging phenomenon! This is honestly the most useful social media book that I have read (and believe me I have read a fair few)! It provides real examples and genuinely useful hints and tips. The book is split it into bite-size chunks that take you through the process step by step – from setting up your Twitter feed and establishing a following right through to the legal considerations.
It also has a useful ’30 day plan for domination Twitter’. Seriously, if you want to join and understand Twitter, this is the book for you.
Other books that you might find are worth checking out, but weren’t quite the ones for me:
The New Rules of Marketing and PR by David Meerman Scott – whilst it had some useful hints in it, I found this one a bit of a hard slog. However, does provide some good blogging tips in Chapter 5.
Social Media 101 – Tactics and Tips to Develop Your Business Online by Chris Brogan – a really interesting read for those particularly interested in social media, but the ‘101’ format means it is probably not the best starting point for beginners!
Public Relations and the Social Web – How to use Social Media and Web 2.0 in Communications by Rob Brown – another really useful overview!
So hopefully in the above you will find something that will keep you on the straight and narrow with your digital media strategy this year…
Facebook credits will initially be used to enable users to buy games etc. through the site. However, it is thought that eventually this will roll out to allow users to use credits to purchase goods on sites outside of Facebook – making it a service to rival PayPal.
I can see that this might be very useful. I do have a PayPal account, but use it rarely and often feel both confused and nervous purchasing items on Ebay via PayPal (not, might I add, that these feelings stop me making said purchases when the need arises). Digital Prefect/social media addict I may be but that in no way instils trust in all things virtual or over rides the natural skeptic in me. So I might feel more comfortable using the known entity of Facebook to purchase my goods online.
But are we really looking for a one-stop-shop from our social networks? Admittedly, whilst I indulge many online fads initially, I do tend to return to the usual suspects for my regular status updates/photo-sharing/gossip gathering/business networking.
Yet, Facebook alone does not negate my desire to Tweet (there are celebs ahoy there and I am extremely nosy) and similarly, I have no desire to conduct my business networking in the same space that I ‘socialise’ (albeit virtually) with my friends. Potential clients may not find last weekends antics either amusing or impressive, whilst my friends have limited interest in the latest networking groups I have joined/presentations I have uploaded/new contacts I have made (though I like to think all are avid followers of this blog *ahem*). If I want people to know my exact location at any given time and earn points for regularly drinking/dining at the same venue, I would probably join FourSquare to do so (though I don’t and I haven’t). I am happy to browse the plethora of e-commerce sites available on the internet, and utilise the payment systems provided should I decide to make a purchase. Facebook does not need to be all of these things on its own.
So do we really want Facebook to become our one-stop shop for all things virtual, or do you think it should stick to what it does best, social networking. What do you think?
Following on from my previous entry about research proving we can only maintain 150 friendships – a news in brief item in today’s Daily Telegraph reports that in fact the average Briton has only 22 “mates”, but only three of these are actually true friends. My social circle is dwindling by the minute! Not to mention the 24 friends we drift apart from as ‘life gets in the way’.
This left me feeling quite distressed and pondering which of my 179 contacts (already slim-line after the previous purge) would qualify as my three true friends.
In all seriousness, I tend to take this sort of research with a pinch of salt, and I hasten to mention that it is not new news – the Daily Mail reported much the same last year.
But it did start the brain cogs turning and wondering whether there is in fact a similar number for the social networking presence we can maintain. How many social networking sites could you consider yourself to be an active member of? I have had accounts on MySpace, Bebo, Ning, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn….the list probably goes on…but only the latter three have stood the test of time and are sites I would consider myself to be active on?
So with that in mind I feel a poll coming on…click the option below to indicate how many social networking sites you are active on…and be honest now!
Although …if the answer is three, that is probably still quite excessive to accommodate our 22 mates and 3 true friends!
Social media is regularly utilised to promote and engage with brands. But often marketers and PR professionals neglect to promote their own personal brand alongside that of their company.
I recently attended an extremely useful training session from Sarah Castle at Think Big Training on ‘Selling Brand You’. It was a sales focused session, but the main premise can be adapted to social media, people buy from people, not companies. The same is true online
Why is ‘brand you’ important in social media???
Brand you is important in any environment, not just because people buy from people, but also because people employ people…you might be doing an amazing job of producing your company’s Twitter feed and contributing to the company blog – but your potential clients and potential employers want to see the personality behind the brand as well, and that’s you. Here are four quick tips to ensure that you are making the most of your social media presence:
Even if you manage your company Twitter feed, make sure that you have one of your own. This can be slightly more informal, to highlight your personality, but should still have some focus on your professional life and not too much detail on your personal! (Try and keep just one of your social networking sites as entirely personal, there can be some crossover but it is nice to have somewhere that is just for socialising with friends …I use Facebook for this)
Make sure that you keep the social networking sites that you use for your personal networking exactly that, personal. Use the privacy settings to ensure that only people you are friends with can see the content – you don’t want potential clients or employers to see you drunk, passed out under a chair with obscenities scrawled all over your face in permanent marker courtesy of your ‘friends’ (not something that has ever happened to me I hasten to add….), it’s not a good look and probably not quite demonstrating the type of passion and commitment that they are looking for.
If you contribute to your company blog and enjoy doing so, why not set up a blog of your own. It still needs to have an element of professionalism in it, and it needs to be interesting and engaging. If you are lucky, your company might let you write a blog for the company, but with you as the figurehead and this can work just as effectively and more efficiently than having two blogs – as long as you are clear where the ownership for that blog lies; with you or with your employer.
Your LinkedIn profile should include reference to your current company and your work there, but it should primarily be about you as an individual. It is your online CV, not your companies, that’s what a company website is for. Make sure your tagline refers to your expertise, not your current position within your company…that is all included in your employment history. Your past work experience can also include some reference to how your work has developed you as a person, as well as the specific tasks you carried out. Use the links to promote your own Twitter feed as well as your company’s, and if you have your own online ventures or blogs, include those too.
These pointers are not just important if you are thinking of changing jobs, they are important if you are looking to sell your company as well…a company is only as good as the people it employs, potential leads will want to know more about you before they decide if they want to work with you as well as your company.
Hopefully this post has encouraged some of you to go out into the world wide web and shout about…you!!
Whatever happened to ‘let’s hear it for the girls’?! Recent research by London Business School has highlighted women’s lack of natural flair for networking . Perhaps more crushing, for those that consider themselves to be digital savvy – it seems that they are also missing out on the wealth of opportunities for social networking.
It seems it is not the social side that is causing the problem – many women have a large group of friends that they can regular call on at all hours of the day when they are in a bind, but we are the weaker sex at maximising the networking side of our social network – for business purposes.
With this in mind, listed below are five handy hints for us ladies, on what we should be doing to maximise our social networking prowess – it’s not rocket science, but it does take a bit of confidence:
Sometimes it is the blurring of lines between the social and the business that makes us weary of taking a big step towards online networking…so perhaps decide which networks you want to use for business purposes and which you want to reserve for your social contacts – for example you might focus on Twitter and LinkedIn for business and reserve Facebook for catching up with friends.
Make full use of Twitter and LinkedIn to catch up with old work mates – if you are not still in regular contact now, it can be the easiest way to find out what they are doing. Their career might have taken a new turn or they could be working within a company that is particularly relevant to yours, use the opportunity to re-instate a mutual business connection.
Engage with people – if used properly, social networking should not just be about linking up with people you already know, it should be about extending your networks. On Twitter, seek out the experts within your sector and try and engage with them – respond to their queries with your point of view. It may take a while to establish a connection, but demonstrating your professional credentials and providing interesting insight can help this along…
Be proactive – create your own group on LinkedIn. That is not to say you should do it for the sake of doing it, but have a browse around the groups and see if there are any gaps that might enable to you to communicate with like-minded individuals. If you don’t quite have the confidence to create your own group, you should be actively contributing to the groups that are particularly relevant to your business. Sharing advice and seeking advice from others is the best way to build up business relationships.
Once you have started to make some contacts online, have the confidence to ask them to meet in person for a coffee. This gives you the opportunity to put a face to the name and turn your virtual relationship into a real life connection…
Online business networking can take the difficult part out of face to face networking – when you finally meet up you already know a bit about your contact and so conversation and information sharing should flow more easily. Its networking, the easy way! And apparently us ladies need some assistance with that….
(This post will also be made available in the ‘Guides’ section).
The world of social media has got very exciting indeed this month with big players Google and Microsoft both flexing their muscles in the social networking arena.
Google launched Buzz for Gmail on 9th February – allowing users to integrate social networking with their email management. There have been various teething problems and criticisms including privacy issues and the fact that you may not want to have personal updates from some of your email contacts whom you have only emailed once. However, the figures speak for themselves with Google reporting over 160, 000 Google Buzz posts and comments per hour.
Google Buzz has failed to capture my imagination though for one simple reason: I am not a Gmail user. In my capacity as Digital prefect I have of course read up extensively on the development and I am almost intrigued enough to set up an account just to have a go. Almost. But not quite.
Then enter Microsoft into the ring with new social networking partners Facebook and MySpace. The announcement comes hot on the heels of the LinkedIn partnership formed back in November. This news leaves me hardly able to contain my excitement. Many are already complaining that Facebook and MySpace are not the appropriate sites to integrate into Outlook, which is largely a business tool, and I quite agree – I use my Facebook account purely for personal reasons (as well as a little social media based research….), the LinkedIn partnership on the other hand is perfectly positioned.
However, these critics seems to be somewhat missing the point, what is exciting is that a key player is forming relationships with existing social networking sites that we know and love. I don’t have to wander into the unfamiliar land of Gmail and GoogleBuzz if I can embrace the warm and cuddly, familiar territory of Facebook with my existing email client. I hope that this integration spreads across other email clients, managing my LinkedIn through outlook and my Facebook through Hotmail would be a dream come true indeed…