Make LinkedIn Answers Part of your B2B Lead Generation Strategy

    If you want to use social media to build leads and generate some powerful credibility then you should turn to LinkedIn Answers.  This is particularly true if you work within a B2B medium, because no other networks offers the same focus on business.
    That’s what LinkedIn is after all.  A network of business professionals.
    It doesn’t take a massive amount of time each day, and you can simplify the entire process using the RSS feed from LinkedIn.  With a tight strategy to it, you can spend about 15-20 minutes each day and form some solid networking.
    First and foremost:
    Find the categories where you have the most expertise, where you feel you can contribute the most.  Each of those categories has a standard icon for the RSS feed.  Subscribe to those feeds so that you receive them via email (or your favorite feed reader that you utilize).
    Repeat the process for each of the categories where you want to engage people.
    When you begin receiving feed updates, you can keep them organized in folders (within email or your feed reader) and check it before you get your day started in the morning.  I’ve met some folks that prefer to do it in the evening hours but you’ll get the greatest benefit from answers in the morning – give people plenty of time to respond to your comments.
    Don’t try to answer all the questions, but select or cherry-pick the ones that provide the most value and give you the most shine.  After all, you’re trying to build leads and credibility.  If you answer everything you’ll waste far too much time and you’ll just be “one of those guys” that answers everything – no one likes a know-it-all.  Stick to a few here and there.
    Your traction is going to vary.  For some people this will work very well, for others hardly at all.  At the very least, offering up your opinions and intelligent answers builds credibility and will help you meet interesting people within your field.  Those people may not be perfect leads but they may generate leads through word of mouth.
    If someone else has answered a questions, don’t be afraid to proactively follow up with the question or add to it if it’s applicable to the situation and you feel like you can add something.  People appreciate all the information that is given, especially when it’s given freely.
    There are many who question the B2B power of social media sites like Twitter and Facebook.  While there is certainly potential within those channels to connect with other businesses, there is greater chance of success within LinkedIn – especially within the Answers section.


    Overcome The Struggles Of Blogging

    Blogging is a powerful tool for engaging prospects.  It has reach, potency, branding power, it can imbue trust and credibility and it’s scalable to virtually any business that gets involved with it.
    With that said, it’s got more obstacles than an urban assault training course that can leave the average joe or business owner completely baffled, frustrated and annoyed with the entire concept.
    Blogging struggles hit all of us, especially when we’re trying to manage a full time gig or multiple businesses online.  There’s always something else to do, emails to answer, calls to make, meetings, conferences, family time – the last thing anyone wants to worry about is stopping.
    And having to shut it all down just to sit and write a post?  Forget it.
    Try not to let blogging struggles bring you down.  You’re not the only one that gets burned out, blogged down (ha.) and bored with the concept.  We all hit our obstacles and have the same struggles.  The important thing is to identify solutions before you start struggling so that when an epic fail is about to fall into your lap you can fix it.
    Lets look at some of the more prominent issues that people face in blogging.
    Establishing A Blogging Schedule
    This is number one on many a list.  It’s the main cause for people to give up, lose focus, lose track and ultimately lose interest.  It can also cause problems with readers if they have a hard to following your blog because they don’t know when you’re going to post.  The solutions are easy.

    • Create an editorial calendar so you know what you want to do on a weekly basis, what you want to write about, what topics, what categories, etc.
    • Take the time to create content in advance and set it up as a delayed publish.  That way your content gets out on the same days every time.
    • Check out aggregating feed content or welcome guest publishing to keep information going on your blog.

    Getting Ideas For Blogging Content
    Often we struggle with what to write about.  We aren’t sure what types of categories to cover and we suffer from the worst kinds of writers block.  This is one of the most frustrating issues for many when they make the time to blog but can’t settle on anything to discuss or they feel like they don’t have anything to say.

    • Check out your competitors and other similar blogs.  Don’t copy them, but try to garner inspiration for a post of your own.  Just because someone already spoke about it doesn’t mean you can’t speak about it with your own spin.
    • Step outside of your cozy box that is your niche.  Consider it “taking a breather” by reading content that doesn’t pertain to your market or your blog topics.  You never know what might trigger a spin on a topic for a new blog post.
    • Just start writing something.  Anything.  Freehand has been responsible for some amazing pieces of work over the course of history, see what it can do for you.

    Finding Your Blogging Voice
    Many bloggers sometimes feel the need to write in a specific style.  Some try to be too journalistic, others too formal or corporate, and some just too silly or off the wall.  While those styles are fitting to the right blog and the right person, if that’s not who you are then don’t do that.
    Blogging is about being yourself and applying your personality to a niche topic or giving personality to a business.  People can tell if your fake.

    • Read blogs with different styles and find someone that thinks like you do.  Analyze how they turn their thoughts (that are similar to yours) into written content.  The closer you identify with what they’re saying the more likely it is that the particular style they use would work for you
    • Style and personality can get lost in longer content where people are trying to sound education and sophisticated.  Don’t be dumb, honestly.  If it doesn’t work for college professors that droned on for hours, what makes you think it would work in a blog post?

    Defining these problems and developing your own solution is part of your content marketing strategy for blogging and can increase the success and enjoyment of starting and maintaining a blog to engage your visitors.
    Not to mention it’ll help maintain your sanity.


    Book Review: SEO Secrets

    Before I say anything, let me say that you can turn in any direction on the internet, put your hand out, and you’d be touching a random eBook about search engine optimization.
    The problem with Search Engine Optimization (SEO )books is that the majority of them are produced by people that either have very little understanding of SEO (if any at all) or they provide just enough information to readers to make them dangerous.  I’m honestly not sure what’s worse:  Wasting money and learning nothing, or wasting money and have people discovering tidbits that can destroy their ranking within the SERPs if used improperly.
    My experience with SEO eBooks and other DIY content has been less than favorable, and I have a thundering bad outlook on much of the content put out in this niche (If I hadn’t made that obvious yet).
    That’s why SEO Secrets by Glenn Murray was a breath of fresh air.
    I’m not new to SEO or SEM by any means, so I can spot a book a mile away that just doesn’t put it all together.  Murray has actually put together a respondent piece that takes care of the pressing questions for anyone trying to wrap their head around DIY Search Engine Optimization.
    SEO Secrets manages to touch on the most important topics throughout it’s content without bogging down in technical information that’s completely irrelevant to a new user.  Taken straight from Murray’s website:
    “SEO Secrets’ is a comprehensive DIY search engine optimization (SEO) guide for small business owners, bloggers and SMB marketers. It details a practical 10-step process that will get you to the top of Google. It’s more than tips & tricks, and more than advice. It’s a comprehensive process you can start implementing NOW.”
    There’s no hard sale behind it, that’s fact.  It’s simply a good book.  What I appreciated the most was the detail Murray placed on optimizing a WordPress setup.  This is a great process for users who are unfamiliar with html and need to get their presences established online fast.  Optimizing a content management system like WordPress can get any business in  touch with users fast.
    Couple that assistance with the information provided on article marketing/link bait and information on keyword research for top rank within a niche market and this book is an excellent formula for DIY SEO Success.
    I think what helped me connect with the contents of this book was the story behind it.  Murray lays out how he struggled on his own to make his business work and had to do some heavy research to discover how to make DIY SEO work for his business.  He learned by doing, and the result is by far one of the keener “best practices” SEO books I’ve read in some time.
    See for yourself, check out SEO Secrets today


    Debunking The Myth: “Social Media Isn’t For A Biz Like Mine”

    It’s always possible that there exist businesses in the world that don’t jive well with the bulk of the population.  For everything that people do and see there seems to be a niche market and it’s quite possible that not every niche market will do well with Social media marketing.
    I’d venture to say that there might even be some companies that should run far and run fast from social media.  Those instances are probably rare but when you consider the sheer number of people within social media and the diverse interests the world over then there’s a greater chance that social media marketing could be beneficial to you and your business.
    It can bolster any number of the following
    Lead Generation – Simple interest created with content marketing through social media can lead readers to submit information via opt-in forms simply because they find you more interested, are appreciative of the shared content, the entertainment provided, etc.
    Brand Building – Being able to interact with a company in social media builds relationships.  It established a solid foundation in the mind of the buyer with your logo and memories of interactions stamped in the concrete of that foundation.
    Brand Management – Things don’t always go out way and we eventually end up with unhappy customers ranting or stating issues within social media.  This offers opportunities to show everyone else how you can step up to the plate and manage issues that arise.
    Competitive Research – How are the other businesses like yours utilizing social media to see outcomes and elevate their business?  You can easily follow their actions and review their engagement within social media just like any other user.  You can look at their conversations and judge which actions, applications, etc get the best results.
    Generate and Build Traffic – Social media  is a hub for sharing and when people start talking about you or some of the content you post it can spread across the web at a rapid pace for no more cost than it took you to produce the content and spend a little time posting and promoting it.  As more people hear about it, more people will travel through the links to find you.
    Customer Support – Businesses are seeing as much as 20-30% drops in call center traffic because users can engage one another online and find the answers quickly especially within social media.  Imagine the kind of appreciation customers would have if you were the one answering their questions online?  Social media as a free consumer support center?  Yup, plenty of businesses do it.
    Reduced Advertising Costs – While social media is not a typical media channel for advertising (doing so is widely considered to be taboo) it is a great way to get the word out about products and services in a pre-sell, informational kind of “advertorial” means.  Simply existing within social media and engaging people in a positive manner will help create word of mouth buzz about your business.
    I would never recommend social media marketing for every single company, and I think it’s silly to say that everyone needs to be involved in social media.  That just creates a rush within many business owners to get involved and “get it done”.  It’s not for everyone, and it’s certainly not for everyone right now.
    The concept of social media, that being relationship building, is key for success in any business.  If you believe that businesses are built on networking and relationships then building and leveraging those relationships becomes your business.  That’s where social media becomes a handy tool for boosting all your marketing and branding efforts.
    Unless your business is built on silence within traditional media channels… I suppose there are some special forces platoons, hired assassins and ninja’s that wouldn’t do well in social media.
    Most businesses are built around people – it makes sense to go where the people are (you can stop singing the song to Cheers now)


    Is Social Media Marketing Too Hot For Some To Handle?

    When we’re “playing around” in social media, we’re not paving roads or connecting consumer driveways to our travel network.  We’re erecting and building entire cities where we want those consumers to move to, stick around and spend their money.
    Social media, from a “do” standpoint, is one of the most labor intensive moves that a business can possibly make.
    Part of the reason that so many companies stumble and struggle within social media is that they rush in, but that alone doesn’t necessarily guarantee failure.  I’ve seen people with little to no experience rush into other projects and ideas and come out gleaming like gold.  With social media, they’re rushing into something that they believe is built on simplicity and easy to manage.  I think many business owners and marketers fail to see the scope and size of what social media is.
    The term “social media marketing” is just far too narrow a scope for what we (and other people involved in marketing online) are actually doing for clients that want to put social media to work for their business.  Social media marketing is a mashup of what our pappy’s called PR along with content marketing, search engine optimization, search engine marketing, social networking, social marketing campaigns and pretty much anything else you can stuff into that list that involves developing a handshake between a business and a buyer.
    The scope of work is massive, and there’s no way that anyone can survive if they hit the ground running and try to do it all without understand what it all is and how it relates to them.  I don’t want to get off on a tangent about strategy here because that’s a horse we’ll beat to death in another blog post. But ideally, you want to assess and measure the effectiveness of every channel you’re on before you get involved as well as continue to do so in an effort to improve strategy as you go.
    Understand the labor required behind “doing” social media can really help put things into perspective for a marketer that needs to handle a client project and develop a budget.  One thing that many business owners (and even marketers) don’t understand is that as a social media marketing campaign progresses, success increases.  As success increase, so does engagement and the need for continued work on a greater level.
    It takes more effort to maintain a position as king of the rock than it does to actually climb the hill.
    With that expended effort and increased engagement then there is an increase in expense.  This can cripple a lot of businesses that start off with remotely fair footing but soon realize that the longer they engage the more expensive that engagement becomes.  As an understanding of the scope of work increases, businesses begin to hang by their noose of budgets because they didn’t understand the scope of work and costs involved.
    Just because general involvement in social media is free and the base networks don’t often cost anything it doesn’t mean that the labor, research, outreach and engagement don’t come with a price.
    This is not a realm in which we can leave things to hope.  Hope isn’t a plan, it’s wishful thinking. People starving around the world hope for a plate of food because they have little to no control over their next meal.  Soldiers caught in foreign wars hope for the chance to get home without getting shot because they don’t control their ticket home.  People putting their businesses on the line by stepping into social media have complete control over the where, when, how , why and who.
    Too many businesses enact plans “hoping” that it will go viral and take off.  Leave little to hope, take the time to appropriately research your market and how you will engage those people.  If you clearly understand your involvement, the scope of work and the costs involved then you will find that social media marketing is less of a massive struggle and more of a good stout game of tug-o’-war.


    The Facebook Vs. Google Throwdown Continues

    Where does Facebook stand in comparison to Google?  Is the Social Media Giant that’s boasting nearly 500 million users as of June 2010 ready to pummel the search king?
    To some that might seem like an odd question, because comparing a social media network like Facebook that’s built on connection and sharing to a network like Google that’s build on search with some other useful perks is a bit like comparing apples to oranges.
    Is it though?
    Size has a lot to do with that comparison – there are only so many people in the world and if they’re in one place then they’re not in another.  Networks like Facebook have been shoving back against the biggest names online like Google for several months now, and statistics are showing that Google is seeing a dramatic decrease in user traffic while Facebook is showing climbs similar to the first hill of a monster roller coaster.
    In the United Kingdom, we’re seeing growing trends in social media and social networking use that have trumped search engine visits.  Facebook is topping the charts with a wopping 55% of all social site visits.  It’s not surprising at all as the userbase for Facebook continues to grow.  Questions that were once asked within search engines are now being asked among growing friends within social media communities.  Answers are found faster by polling followers than digging through search results.

    Most people still turn to search engines for their core functionality – organization of web content and delivering relevant results based on content – so there is little worry about Facebook dominating as an info source but it does threaten the largest revenue source for the search engines;  Advertising.
    Facebook has seen growing success with the new Like button integration on other websites.  This has allowed advertisers to target people more directly for up to the minute updates based on things they like online.  This makes every target market a living, breathing and growing source within Facebook where advertising is concerned, and business no longer need to rely on manual updates for relevant content to show.  Google missed the buck on that one.
    It will be interesting how Google alters their own services to try to maintain their hold on their advertising profits.
    Do you think search engines are on a decline?


    Keep Social Media Marketing Simple

    I regularly devour social media content be it in books or blogs, articles, etc and a lot of what I see are bits of practical advice on how businesses should participate in social media.  The problem with the content that’s being shared is that while it may seem practical to folks that are involved in social media already (to the point of being academic) it’s can tend to be out of reach for the common business owner.
    How useful is the content if the people you’re targeting don’t always understand it?
    There’s a lot of discussion about social media strategy and social media tips and techniques but the best approach in anything (especially for an individual or new businesses jumping into the mix) is to keep things simple.
    Business owners should find the best area where they’re comfortable with marketing an stick to it.  Just because a social media “strategist” told you that you have to be on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and 5 other sites doesn’t mean you have to.  This is a fairly new “beast” anyway, business owners would be surprised at how many “strategists” have been doing this for less than 6 months.
    If you know your customers are in one given place and you network well there, then start participating there.  It’s easy to build up the right kind of reputation and add value to a community when you can focus on one location.  This simplification makes it easy for a new business to manage marketing within social media and by focusing the efforts in a small space of the web there’s a higher chance for better conversion due to proper engagement.
    As a business owner, don’t water down your efforts spreading out across the majority of social media sites.  Do what works and stick to it.  It’s extremely easy to use additional automation tools to branch out later and reach other networks.  Sites like can help you broadcast to multiple networks without having to actively engage people there full time
    Focus breeds success.  Start small and expand to other networks slowly as your marketing efforts pay off.  And they always will with simplicity at the center of your campaign.


    Taking The SEO Plunge

    To some, the thought of diving into search engine optimization (SEO) is a bit like joining a polar bear plunge.  Thrusting your body into a pool of icy water isn’t at all pleasing to the mind, and the body would certainly protest.  Forcing yourself into an SEO situation without knowing much of anything can certainly make the eye begin to twitch and the skin crawl.
    The net is buzzing with talk of SEO and how those SEO techniques apply to small and large business.  Website owners that dream of making money from traffic are doing everything possible to stack the odds in their favor.  For someone that is limited in SEO knowledge, having the forethought and knowledge of where to start is like a 6 year old trying to reinvent cheese.  Like any business related goal, SEO techniques require careful implementation.  Thankfully, it’s not as in depth and difficult to grasp as many think.  Once you understand the basic concepts, and put together a plan of action, SEO techniques suddenly become very simply and doable.
    It’s not rocket science, or even on the same level as chemically engineering cheez-whiz.  Let’s take a look at a simple example to understand the concept of how the search engines work in relation to site indexing.  This will help you grasp the initial concepts of how SEO techniques apply to your site.  We have one man who will represent Google.  Your actual website and the content within is going to be represented by a room full of 50+ people.
    Google approaches the door, opens it and steps into the room.  As he enters the room (your site) a crowd of over 50 people turn and look to him.  They say nothing to greet him, they simply stare.  Each person is wearing a nametag that says “hello my name is” but the remainder of the nametag is blank.  Somewhere, among the crowd of people, someone randomly says “spoon”.  The entire group then breaks out in a chorus of “spoon!” over and over again.  Google leaves quickly lest it suffers a seizure from the assault.
    Google moves on to the next room.  As he enters the room, the mass of people within suddenly form a single file line.  Each person greets Google in turn with a clear but short statement of who they are and what they do.  As Google reaches the end of the line, he has a fantastic picture of the reason why this group of people is gathered here, what they have in common, and how useful they are as a social group.  He finds that his trip here was useful, and he puts this room at the front of his memory.
    You don’t want your site to resemble anything even remotely unfriendly or unwelcome to search engines.  You certainly don’t want the above first example to be the experience a real visitor has to your website.  It’s important to prepare your site not only for the major search engines that will index them, but also for the various forms of traffic and visitors you will be receiving.


    3 Tips For Small Business Lead Generation

    Every upstart and small business is often worrying about leads – mainly because if you have enough leads to sustain you and you’re not worrying about them anymore then you’ve probably moved beyond “small business” status.  There are a number of ways you can push yourself in the right direction to create a magnet like effect for leads, and other times you need to hammer away at the anvil to make your own.
    While these tips aren’t meant to shortcut a tried and true lead generation system, they can certainly jumpstart your efforts.
    Try these out if you find yourself stuck and in need of some new leads:
    Find & Engage
    Point your browser to and start plugging in keywords that are specific to your product or service.  If you can locate conversations that are currently taking place surrounding what you do then you can jump into the conversation or send a direct message via Twitter to offer help.  You can also poll them for feedback on their likes and dislikes within the industry and share information that they would find valuable.  Make a habit of this and people will begin to recognize you as an expert and someone who is willing to reach out to consumers.  You will, without a doubt, bring in new clients with this direct lead generation method.
    Yelp! It up
    The great thing about customer services sites like Yelp is that anyone can view the content that’s being posted in reviews.  These sites encourage people to lay it all on the line;  the good, the bad and the ugly.  For any business, it’s worth their while to troll these waters and eaves drop on customers for lead generation purposes.  Look over what they have to say, examine the feedback.  Make sure you don’t take it personally, even if it’s ugly.  Don’t get drawn into a back and forth but take the time to work with those people who comment regardless of their position.  Keep them happy, make them happy again and show everyone else that’s watching how hard you work to make it so.
    If you want to get something (leads, traffic, business) then you have to give something.  If you create value for other people after you network with them you have a higher chance of connecting on a social and business level.  If you approach users online from a pre-sell standpoint where your intention is to educate first and sell later, then you have a greater chance of completing conversions for the campaigns you’re running.
    The hard sell is a thing of the past and it’s an ineffective lead generation method.  If you try to force a user into a buying process, you’re destined for failure.  If you tried to force a horse in a specific direction without trust you’d more than likely get kicked.  Consider this when you’re working on building leads for your business.  Put hard sale aside and examine what you can give before asking for something.


    5 Content Marketing Errors That Make You Look Dumb

    A great foundation of content marketing, whether you’re dealing with blogs or articles (and just good copywriting in general) is a sturdy conversational tone within your content.  This gives you the ability to snatch up the grammar rules and bend them a little.  Sometimes a lot.  The main point of it is not to generate the perfect thesis for college, it’s to emulate the way people speak – even if there is a dash placed somewhere it shouldn’t be.
    It may very well make a professional editor twitch, a college professor tug on his mustache curls and my own mother smack her forehead in frustration but it works.  Many people find it credible, and enjoy the conversational tone that flows through much of the copywriting these days.
    The problem with writing in a conversational tone, and content marketing in general, is that sometimes we don’t always use the brightest people to make our content sound like it’s written like people.  Content marketing is a big part of any business online, especially when you use content syndication in social media.  To anyone writing that content, a simple mistake in grammar might seem silly.  Unfortunately, the truth is that a number of people (especially educated ones) won’t bother with your content and likely won’t subscribe or continue through your marketing process if you make simple mistakes that make you look dumb.
    It’s harsh, but it’s extremely true.  Buying from dummies is out of the question.
    There are an uncountable number of mistakes to be avoided but not everyone has a bachelor’s degree in English.  Let’s simplify it for the crowd – 5 Mistakes To Avoid
    Here are five mistakes to avoid when blogging and writing web copy.
    You’re & Your
    I don’t even carry a degree in writing and this obvious flub makes me pull my hair.  Unfortunately the next generation of bloggers is, in my opinion, getting extremely lazy and this one is becoming a lot more common.  This is one of those “you forgot to proofread your content” errors and it tells your readers that you just don’t care.
    If you are having an issue differentiating, then here’s the basic rule:  “Your” is a possessive pronoun as in “your blog sucks”.  “You’re” is a contraction for “you are” as in “You’re destroying your content by mixing up your and you’re”
    Its & It’s
    This is another common mistake in content marketing and copywriting that can be avoided by taking the time to review your content and think about the message you’re trying to convey.
    “It’s” is a contraction of “it is” or “it has.”  “Its” is a possessive pronoun, such as “I think that monkey is about to fling its poo”.  Try to use this easy rule of thumb that’s common in the writer world – Speak the sentence out loud and use “is it”.  If it doesn’t fit then “its” is likely the right choice.
    There vs. Their
    I think short of the people in every generation that just don’t care about what they say or how they say it (I’m biting my tongue) this is more often a simple typo than any major “duh” issue.  It can be avoided with an appropriate proof read – that means stop rushing through your content and take 2 minutes to read the copy over you lazy git.
    Keep these examples in mind:  “There can be used a multiple ways – as a pronoun (“there is no spoon”) and a place (“I went there once”).
    “Their” is a plural possessive pronoun (“I was staring at their funbags”).  If you’re talking about more than a single person and something they possess then “their” is the way to go.
    Affect vs. Effect
    I think we can all claim a mulligan on this one.  Even I have to stop and think about which one is appropriate and mentally sort it all out.   Ignorance is no excuse, nor is laziness, so if you take the time to sort it out you’ll get this one right in the end.  Worst case scenario –
    “Affect” is a verb as in “My ability to haggle about my copywriting prices will directly affect how much I get paid for this content”.  “Effect” is a noun, plain as can be.  “The special effect left something to be desired.”
    If you still have difficulty remembering, just remember that you can’t put “The” in front of a verb.  No “The” before “A”.
    The Dangling Participle
    I once had a teacher who used to tell me that my participle was dangling, and I never understood it – mainly because I refused to follow the rules.  I’m an animal like that and I just can’t help it.  It’s probably the most egregious of writing errors and yet it does generate some amusing content.  Amusing, but almost impossible to understrand
    Check out this example from Tom Sant’s book Persuasive Business Proposals:
    “After rotting in the cellar for weeks, my brother brought up some oranges.”
    Please keep your decomposing family at a distance
    The issue with the example and similar forms is that the participial phrase beginning the sentence isn’t intended to modify or change what follows.  Readers however mentally expect that when it’s read.  They think everything is related.  When speaking in a conversational tone you need to set things up so that your opening phrase does modify what immediately follows otherwise you leave your readers hanging, and your participle danglin’