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LinkedIn-PuzzleLast week, I had the honor of doing a LinkedIn Workshop for the Apex Chamber. We had a room full of professionals at different LinkedIn skill levels who were all able to make improvements to their profiles. After the workshop, I realized that the information would be helpful for a lot of people I know, hence this series of tips for beefing up your LinkedIn profile.

This post focuses on what you can do to passively let LinkedIn support you. Future posts will talk about how to actively use it.

Let Your Profile Do Some Heavy Lifting

1. Update your photo.

Get rid of that glamour shot from 15 years ago and exchange it for something that looks like you. People often look up your profile before meeting with you… it helps if they are looking for you and not  who you used to be. It’s also good to have the same profile pics on all your social media accounts for consistency. I’m also a fan of using a photo that’s professional, yet shows my personality. Show the real you!

2. Use the name people know you by.

Make it as easy as possible for people to find you when they search for you. If you recently got married and your name changed, keep your maiden name, as well as your new last name. If you go by your middle name, don’t use your first name in your profile.

3. Create a search-friendly title.

Again, the name of the game is to be easily found. People aren’t searching LinkedIn for gurus and wizards. Don’t be afraid to have a personality, but don’t sacrifice value for quirkiness.

  • Use a headline that displays a variety of titles people are likely to use to search LinkedIn to find your services.
  • Write a descriptive headline with key words included.
  • Use a combo, like mine: Brand Strategist, Brand Manager, Branding Consultant, Marketing Specialist at Holy Cow Branding

4. Claim your vanity url.

My url is http://www.linkedin.com/in/loranaprice. Create yours by selecting “Settings” from the drop down menu under your name, choosing “Edit Your Public Profile,” then selecting “Customize Your Public Profile URL” from the box on the right. Ideally, you’d want to use your first and last name.

5. Customize your website links.

Rather than having the generic “Company Website” listed on your profile, you can change it to be more personalized. Simply click on “Edit Profile,” then select the “Edit” option next to your website. Use the drop down menu on the edit page and select “Other.” This gives you the option to rename your site. You can do the same for blogs, and can also drive people to specific landing pages on your site. Use search friendly terms here to help generate traffic to your profile.

6. Create a functional summary.

Your summary is the place where you can brag about what you’ve done to get where you are today. Make yourself shine here! Add key words and phrases to help support search (noticing a trend here?). LinkedIn is a silent sales person, just like your website. Use your summary to help make it as functional as possible. Don’t forget to also list your specialties here.

7. Show that you’ve got skillz.

Skills is a relatively new section that will have more functionality in the future. For now, it’s a good way to show specific areas of expertise.

8. Take advantage of sections and applications.

Sections allow you to add more custom areas to your profile, such as certifications and awards. Applications allow you to
connect to other sites, such as your blog feed, Slideshare and Behance. This gives you the opportunity to really cross link
information and expand LinkedIn’s capabilities.

9. Rearrange your profile.

Now that you’ve added all this info, you may want to put some sections higher than others. All you have to do is click and drag when you’re in the edit mode. This is especially helpful if you participate on a board and want to have it secondary to your profession. Just click and drag it beneath your current position, et voila!

Feel free to creep on my LinkedIn account to get ideas.

Next time, we’ll be talking about how to get more out of LinkedIn.

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Twitter for job listing? It appears so.

newspapers

While it seems impossible to give a job description in 144 characters, there are plenty of companies who are giving enough information for job seekers to click.

Employers in almost every  field are using Twitter to list jobs. One can look for a job locally, twitter.com/#!/jobsraleigh, by field, twitter.com/#!/getsalmanagjobs  or by company, twitter.com/#!/electra.

In fact, in an  interview  Zappos  Recruiting Manager, Christa Foley, said not only does Zappos list jobs on Twitter, they do a search looking for people tweeting about their interest in working for Zappos.

She said primarily using Twitter seems to lead to higher quality applicants, who have done their homework, knows what job they want and are actively pursuing it.

Twitter Basics:

  • You don’t have to have an account to read what others are tweeting. Go to twitter.com and put anything in the search field, say, Holy Cow Branding, our tweets will come up
  • You do need an account if you want to tweet or follow others
  • ‘Follow’ means you want to see all the tweets from a person or organization
  • Accounts are free and it takes just a minute to sign up
  • Twitter is just another way to get your brand to the world, it doesn’t stand alone but it can nicely compliment the rest of your marketing efforts, or job recruiting.

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Market your business through graphic social networking

Imagine saving and sharing the things on the internet you like, want to remember or want to go back to, without tracking it all on paper. The art and design industry were the first to use Pinterest as a way to share talent, crafts, photography, and passions. Soon clients, then clients of their clients, begin to share on Pinterest, too. Business’ are catching on and using it as a form of inbound marketing.

 Simply Marketing. While marketing your business is complicated, using Pinterest is simple. A virtual pin board, users share the unique things they find on web, and could become Mark Zuckerburg’s successor.

How it works: Pinterest is open to the public. Gaining access requires an invitation from a current user. Fill out the invite, submit and wait for your approval to start pinning. The fun is not only saving or “pinning” sites and images you find online, but also “following” others who pin things you also have interest in. You can save or “repin” your “likes” after scrolling through various images that catch your attention. This allows you to share your interests with others.

Curate Your Brand’s Content…Virtually! Recently marketing has been taking place through Pinterest’s use of graphics, quotes and categories. Pinterest doesn’t presently have a section dedicated to business; however, organizations that have a Pinterest account have been assigning various branding and marketing categories to their own pin boards.

What to Pin:  It’s important to understand what your audience and clients are interested in before pinning to the pin board. If it doesn’t appeal to the eye, your image will not get repinned; therefore, you will not attract new clientele or followers and your current clients may veer away from the site. Pin board suggestions may include but are not limited to:

–          Links to your webpage

–          Link to your blog and published documents

–          Current Projects

–          Company News

–          Articles or Columns of interest to your employees or clientele

–          Images or projects

–          Photos of the Office and Employees at work

Get ready, Get set, PIN!

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Twitter bird yellingAccording to Urban Dictionary, being “tweetable” means that something is worthy of being written about on Twitter. It may be good or bad – it applies to anything worth a tweet.

What’s even better than being tweetable? Why being retweetable, of course! Being retweetable means that someone else felt your information was valuable enough to pass it along to their followers, too.

On Twitter, you only have 140 characters to get your message out there, and make it noticed. It is important you’re thinking like your followers (who should include your clients and prospects) and using catchy verbiage through a somewhat conversational tone to strike their interest. Start your tweets with a clever pun, quote, or phrase that will make a person look twice at your tweet. Then, continue your update with what you’re promoting toward the end. The better the quality of the information you provide, the more likely your followers will retweet it.

Quick Tips for being Retweetable

  • People love infographics
  • Don’t just talk about yourself (booorrrring)
  • Share things you think are interesting (chances are, others will find it interesting, too)
  • Retweet quality tweets from others, they’ll pay more attention to what you say, too

Now that you’re fully armed, we hope you’ll be tweeting like pros!

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Lady Whispering Social media isn’t just about sending inane information or promoting branded messages. It’s about having a conversation, or, as some say, joining in an online cocktail party. And, as any savvy networker knows, being a good listener is just as important, if not more important, than knowing what to say.

Whether your customer, colleagues and friends are using Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn or are Stumbl(ing)Upon your Delicious(ness), they are communicating. As a B2B business, or even B2C, the most important thing you can do is listen.

What you’ll learn by listening:

1.WHO is talking about your product, industry and business. Are they friend? Or, are they foe?

2. WHAT they are saying. Is it positive? Is it negative? How will it inspire you to grow?

3. WHERE are the conversations taking place? This will let you know if you should be blogging, tweeting or scoping out forums.

4. WHEN are they talking about you? What actions did you take leading up to the onset of the conversation? Is this something you’d want to repeat?

5. WHY are they communicating? You’re a lucky dog if you figure this one out.

Once you have a handle on the listening component of social media, you should prepare to join the conversation. Now, you’ll know who to talk to, where they will be, and what they would like to discuss.

That’s intel at its best, but don’t just take it from us. Check out these stats:

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I’m still not sure how I feel about location-based social networking and if it is something I can use for business. Aliza Sherman wrote an article for Web Worker Daily called “How to Used Location-based Social Networking for Business,” that has some good insight.

I’ve got and account on FourSquare, but to be honest with you, I don’t even really know how to check in. There is also a more local social networking tool called TriOut that is really popular. Now, FaceBook has added a check-in feature called “Places.” It’s not as robust as other independent social networking sites, but it does let people tell their friends where they are.

So now the question is, which tool is the best one for me to use? Who should I connect with on there? Does it positively impact my brand? Again, I am not sure how to maximize this for myself, but I can tell you it is an amazing way for businesses to connect with customers and to keep people coming back, especially retail and restaunrants. The Pit in Raleigh is a living testimony to that.

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For years, advertisers have operated under the fundamental assumption that consumers are stupid. It sounds bad, I know, but consider the practice of traditional advertising: you flash evocative images in front of viewers in an attempt to subliminally influence their purchasing habits by informing them that they are currently inadequate, and the only means of overcoming their inadequacy is to obtain a very specific product or service – the product or service you happen to be selling. It’s not exactly giving them the benefit of the doubt, is it?

Ah, the sixties

Self-made sixties ad executive Don Draper, protagonist of the popular show Mad Men, and all around not very moral guy, once explained the practice of advertising to a client like this: “It’s based on one thing: happiness. And do you know what happiness is? Happiness is the smell of a new car. It’s freedom from fear. It’s a billboard on the side of a road that screams with reassurance that whatever you’re doing is OK. You are OK.” This definition, though uttered by a fictional quasi-caricature of callous corporate decision-makers, speaks volumes about the way advertisers have traditionally seen consumers; namely, that they just aren’t smart enough to overcome their basest emotions – their fears and desires – and realize that they’re being totally sold; that consumers are somehow incapable of transcending the commercial experience and recognizing that, above it all, there’s a puppet master somewhere, pulling the strings, trying to influence them for less than altruistic reasons. In the sixties, consumers were considered tabula rasa; lesser entities ad men could uninhibitedly impose their will upon through the power of visual and verbal suggestion. But this is 2010. Why does any of that matter? Advertisers don’t think like that anymore, right? Wrong.

Watch TV without a DVR for an hour or so (a daunting task, I know) and you’re sure to see any number of those tired, unentertaining, run-of-the-mill, market-to-the-gut, disingenuous, old-style ads paraded innocently on screen as if you didn’t know that what you were seeing was a paid promotional piece – as if you aren’t able to discern that the people behind the curtain are trying to make you give them your money, and not just offering you unbiased reassurance or friendly advice on how to better yourself. I don’t know about you, but I find it downright insulting. I also find it exasperating – that experience of being forced into viewing a commercial as something genuine. The only time I want to engage in willing suspension of disbelief nowadays is during things I enjoy – things that actually offer some reward for my strenuous self-delusion… like sci-fi TV shows.

Turmoil

Now, before you write me off as a total cynic, let me say that I realize there are many companies out there that believe wholeheartedly in the product and/or service they’re advertising, and even some that advertise truthfully. Unfortunately, that no longer matters like it used to. Why? Because most Americans are no longer willing to believe that this is the case with any company. All it takes is a few corporate bad apples to ruin the whole bunch, and America has seen more than a few in the last several decades. Whether it’s companies that advertise environmental friendliness and then dump millions of gallons of oil into the sea (I won’t mention any names), or companies that brag about outstanding customer service to cable customers and then force them to spend seven hours on the phone, never fix their ESPNHD channel, and still bill them twice the amount they owe (again, no names, though that last one may or may not have happened to me last month… just sayin’), American consumers have all had their share of bad experiences, and have every right to their trust issues. With this in mind, doesn’t it seem like kind of a bad idea to continue advertising as though consumers are still as easily influenced as they were when skinny ties and lunchtime martinis were the norm? I’ll answer that for you: yes. Yes it does seem like a bad idea, because it is.

But don’t worry, not all contemporary ads are informed by the colossal misconception that every American consumer is a complete ninny. Somewhere along the line, (some) ad firms realized that maybe a few people were smart enough to see behind the facade a bit, and decided that instead of trying to advertise on the paper-thin pretense that the companies they represent actually have the best interest of consumers in mind, they’d just try to entertain. This enlightening idea gave birth to what we all know now as the popular “funny advertisement.” And some funny ads, regardless of their effectiveness, actually make ten-minute commercial breaks a bit more bearable. But, apparently, effectiveness is kind of important to most companies, and, seriously, no matter how many times I laugh at a Geico commercial (or used to – they’ve been pretty blah lately), I still can’t make myself believe they’re as legit as say, State Farm.

So where does that leave us? I’ll tell you where: in a giant whirlpooling mire of outdated, ineffective, confused, and overused advertising clichés, where the only prevailing philosophy is “bludgeon them over the head with your name enough times and they’ll eventually become so delirious that they break down and buy things from you.”

And then there’s Old Spice™.

To be fair, there are several other companies that advertise well, but Old Spice is a shining paragon of what I’m going to call the New Advertising, because I’m tired of thinking up clever names for things. Seriously, I do it every day. It gets old. Anyway, watch this commercial and tell me it isn’t awesome. I dare you.

This ad, featuring actor Isaiah Mustafa and his chiseled abs, is absolutely great. It’s funny, but it isn’t its absurdist comedy in and of itself that makes it so effective. It’s effective because at its root, beyond all the ridiculousness and faux-machismo, it’s a ruthless parody of old-school advertisements for similar products – advertisements like this:

Or like this:

Yikes. These are funny, but mostly because they’re so corny. Believe it or not, some still adhere to the basic concepts behind this style of advertising.

Consider that Old Spice used to advertise in a similar fashion, and, as a result, was regarded as deodorant for your grandpa. It might be hard to imagine now, but seven years ago, I wouldn’t have used Old Spice if you paid me. It was just… too old. Now, by spoofing exactly what they themselves used to be and how they used to market, the company has totally repositioned their brand, moving it right to the head of the 20-30 year-old male market, without, I’d be willing to bet, alienating older consumers, who, let’s face it, are too set in their ways deodorant-wise to make a switch now.

But there’s another, far more important reason that spoofs in the style of the Old Spice Isaiah Mustafa commercials are better than current run-of-the-mill funny ads. See, ads that successfully parody old advertising clichés actually acknowledge that viewers aren’t blind to the fact that they’re being marketed to. By pointing out how ridiculous and transparent old advertising practices were, ad firms are essentially deferring to the intellect of viewing consumers. In so many words, what Old Spice is saying here is this: “We know you’re savvy, and we know there’s relatively no difference between our product and someone else’s. We also know that you, in all likelihood, are aware of that fact. That’s why we don’t bother to try and beat you over the head with questionable data that you probably won’t believe about why our product is supposedly superior to someone else’s. We treat you like an equal with our ads, and we interact with you under the assumption that you are just as wise to advertising tricks as we are. So if you support our company, you show the world that you are a savvy consumer and an intelligent member of society that scoffs at outdated advertisements and can’t be hoodwinked by their ilk.”

Parodic ads boost consumers one step up on the evolutionary chain of advertising by crediting them with the awareness level of the advertisers themselves, and consumers, if not always consciously, appreciate that, as well as the collateral entertainment. Everyone likes to be in on a joke.

Which is why Old Spice didn’t stop at static TV ads. After the initial success of the commercials, in which a half-naked Mustafa progresses through a rapidly changing series of constructed film sets (another nod toward the artifice of TV advertising) depicting impossibly manly scenarios, Old Spice decided to get interactive. A team of marketers and videographers crammed into a studio for a solid day and filmed Mustafa in real-time, garbed in his signature bath-towel, responding to comments from high profile twitter users, like Ashton Kutcher and Perez Hilton, in typical ridiculous macho man fashion. The videos were immediately posted to Old Spice’s Youtube channel, which allows for user comments and interactions, where they quickly received hundreds of thousands of hits. It was beautiful.

On every level, Old Spice included their viewers in the advertising experience. They invited consumers to laugh with them at the silliness of old-school advertising. They encouraged their feedback. They even let them shape the course of ads by responding directly to their tweets. And by doing so, they completely sold them.

Yep, when I said ads that successfully spoof old-school advertising move consumers up a notch, I was telling the truth. I just neglected to mention that they also move advertisers further up – right to where they’re always striving to be: one step ahead. That’s why I think The New Advertising is an appropriate – albeit kind of uninspired – name for what Old Spice and similar companies are doing now. It’s the next step on the evolutionary chain, progressing the whole paradigm, putting advertisers back where they need to be in order to effectively drive sales. It’s like the 60’s all over again… except less hallucinogens and free love. Though I hear skinny ties are making a comeback.

The Man

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