Archive for February, 2011

Bloggers Digest February 2011

Bloggers Digest is our monthly ritual that highlight posts from other blogs that are of value and interest to online retailers and Internet marketers.

February may be a short month but we weren’t short on great content this month in the blog-o-sphere.

  • Well, the big news of the month was the Wall Street Journal’s exposé on JC Penney’s paid link activities…
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Facebook Likes, Now with Meta Data and Thumbnails

Well, it turns out that Facebook has included all of the meta data and thumbnail info for the like button around the web. This is great news for publishers as…

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10 Tips for Integrating Social Media and LinkedIn in to Your Job Search in 2011

I recently had a chance to meet the younger sister of a high school friend who was in transition for the first time since college graduation.  “I used to always have jobs lined up for me and never had a challenge finding work.” Heard that one before, right?  How about, “I received all of these LinkedIn invites, but I thought they were such a nuisance!” Indeed, the only positive thing to come out of not digging our wells before we are thirsty is to finally realize the power of LinkedIn in helping us build out our personal brand, professional networking, and ultimately being instrumental in helping us land a job.

Since I began blogging in July of 2008 to share with the world my advice on many things in social media, I wanted to devote this blog post to give all of you in transition the same advice that I gave my friend’s sibling as to how I would go about looking for a job in 2011.  Enjoy the tips & advice, and please feel free to add to them in the comments.  Thanks!

1.) Decide on Your Keywords

Keywords are important for your job search for two reasons: A) They will help you better search for potential jobs and B) They will guide you in refining your own LinkedIn profile so that you can use these same keywords to better describe the work that you have done and thus be more discoverable.  Don’t know what keywords to use?  Search for job openings on LinkedIn Jobs or online sites such as Monster and see which types of jobs most appeal to you.  Look at the keywords that they use.  Analyze.  Emulate.  Done.

2) Don’t Forget about Internet Job Boards

I’m going to cheat here and give you a tip that isn’t necessarily directly related to social media: Once you have your keywords chosen, it will make it much easier to use Internet job boards.  Despite the fact that they say the hidden job market is responsible for a majority of jobs created, Internet job boards should not be ignored.  The issue is how much time you should spend on them.  With keywords in hand, sign up to receive daily email alerts from the largest Internet job board aggregators Simply Hired and Indeed.  Now you only need to spend a few minutes a day to cover the latest updates on Internet job boards.  Done.

3) Get Reacquainted with LinkedIn

I am assuming that you might have signed on to LinkedIn way back when and haven’t used it since.  Now is the time to get reacquainted with the platform.  I have published plenty of LinkedIn and job search resources already to help you in this blog.  You can buy my book about using LinkedIn if you need a reference and guide book.  And where LinkedIn back in 2009 used to be a pretty static platform, 2010 saw them introducing new changes and tweaks on a frequent basis, and the pace continues in 2011.  So get reacquainted, but keep the following in mind:

  • While the user interface has changed, the key functionality of your profile being the centerpiece of your existence has not.  Your LinkedIn profile should not be your resume as it is not about your past: Your LinkedIn profile should be about your branding for your future.
  • One new addition to LinkedIn worth mentioning are the “Skills” that you can add to your profile.  Considering that 40% of LinkedIn’s revenues come from their Hiring Solutions software, it can only be assumed that they are building out the ability to search through these skills to help corporate HR departments pinpoint the right talent.  For this reason, you’ll want to make sure that your profile includes these as well.
  • LinkedIn has given you the ability to pay for a new Job Seeker Premium Account.  While this account does provide some advantages, I really don’t think that you need to pay to be successful in your job search.  I know that when I was in transition it made me feel good paying for services because it felt like I was doing everything I could to find a job.  That being said, the best things you can be doing on LinkedIn, like networking with other professionals and gathering intelligence on target companies and hiring managers, are free.  You don’t need to pay to play on LinkedIn’s playground.
  • While some preach that you should advertise the fact that you are unemployed, I believe that putting titles like “Actve Job Seeker” after your name only devalue your brand.  It is unfortunate, but studies have shown that companies prefer the passive job seeker over the active job seeker.  I know how you want to let the world know how you are actively looking for a job, but don’t use your profile for that.  Instead, use your profile to focus on your strengths and value that you will undoubtedly bring to your next company.

4) Getting the Word Out

Once you’re all set up with the above, chances are you’ll want to get the word out to your network about your job search.  The easiest way to do this is to send out a Status Update to your network, but before doing so, make sure your privacy settings are set so that the whole world doesn’t see what should be information for your network only.  You can also message everyone within LinkedIn who you are connected to, but can only send out a message to 50 connections at one time.  Here’s an idea: Why not sign up for a free email marketing service like Mailchimp (which I use and love), ask those in your network if they are OK with you sending them emails using this service, and send them an update about your job search status but also including information which they may find resourceful?  Keeping mindshare in your network is important because you want to make sure that those who know you will go out of their way to mention you when the appropriate opportunity arises.  If done right, a newsletter is a savvy way of doing this, and it could have many more benefits for your career in the future as your mailing list membership grows.

5) Increase Your Connections

The concept that the more connections you have on LinkedIn the easier it will be to get in touch with, as well as be contacted by others, should be a no-brainer by now.  But do you have enough connections yourself?  How many LinkedIn connections should you have?  My answer is: Multiply your age by 10.  Think about it: Don’t you meet more than 10 people a year in your professional or personal life?  Most people meet many more than that.  And if you think about your high school, college, and past employers, there are plenty of people that you could be connecting with.  If you uploaded your contact database two or even one year ago, it is time to do so again.  LinkedIn is nearing 100 million members, so you will probably be able to find a lot more of your contacts on LinkedIn than you could before.

6) Companies: Research and Follow

If you haven’t checked out Companies yet, you should.  LinkedIn made a major overhaul of it recently, and this is where you should be spending your time not only researching companies, but also finding who in your extended network can help you get your foot in the door.  I would expect that, next to Advanced People Searches, this will be where you should be spending a lot of time.  You also have the ability to follow companies and be the first to hear not only about new job opportunities, but also about recent hires and departures, all of which is data that may help you in your job search.  Even as I write this blog post, LinkedIn announced a better way to search LinkedIn Companies, so be on the lookout for other enhancements in the future!

7) Search for Hiring Manager of Target Companies

Now that you have found your target companies, it’s time to make the sale to the buyer.  What do I mean?  Job seeking is just another form of sales, so you need to navigate through the corporate organization and ascertain who the decision maker is that you need to ideally meet.  Hint: Unless you’re in the Human Resources division, the decision maker is NOT the recruiter or HR person.  Instead, look at titles and divisions within the company and try to figure out who your reporting manager would be if you worked there.  That is the person that you need to try to influence into starting a conversation with you.   Even if there is no available job at the time, if the hiring manager likes you and feels you are a strong candidate, “hidden jobs” get created.  Building out long-term relationships with potential hiring managers on LinkedIn is free career insurnace: Buy into it!

8) Join the Maximum 50 LinkedIn Groups

As a job seeker in 2011, you want to be as approachable as well as be able to message as many people as possible.  Similar to the benefit in growing your network, you should join the maximum number of Groups allowed, which is 50.  Obviously the benefits of joining a Group go far beyond the messaging capability as there are discussions forums which allow you to truly engage with others and network in virtual break-out rooms, but at the least, just by the art of joining 50 groups, it will make it easier for potential companies and recruiters to get in touch with you by potentially the hundreds of thousands.

Which LinkedIn Groups should you join?  Just by doing searches on the more than 800,000 groups that are available, you are going to find a plethora of groups that you would want to be affiliated with.  If you’re looking for some ideas, try looking for these types of groups:

  • Alumni – For every college or university that you attended
  • Companies – Many companies have official or unofficial groups for alumni
  • Disciplines – Whatever your profession is there are plenty of groups out there to join
  • Industries – You should join groups that represent industries in which you have experience or would like to work in
  • Big Groups – Just as you should connect with some LinkedIn super connectors to expand your 2nd and 3rd degree network, you should also join some of the bigger general groups that exist.  Two such groups are Executive Suite and TopLinked.
  • Windmill Networking – If you’re a fan of this blog, you’ll want to join my Windmill Networking LinkedIn group for Social Media Education and Open Networking

9) Twitter?

If you read a lot about your industry or discipline, like to discuss it a lot, or perhaps have your own professional blog, you might want to consider investing some time into Twitter.  I wrote a few months ago about how job seekers in 2011 should concentrate on Twitter rather than LI to better differentiate yourself, so check out that post for the ultimate Twitter job search guide.  However, without a content platform or a social strategy, you might not find Twitter to be an effective use of your time, although at the least it should be used as an excellent source of realtime information to help you keep up on the latest industry information as well as a great social tool to network with similar industry professionals.

10) Check Out About.Me

LinkedIn and Twitter are great ways to showcase your personal brand, but one of the best ways of showcasing yourself in a simple and visual way may be on about.me.  This is a relatively new site that was bought by AOL after being public for a short time.  about.me is simple, but it gives you full control as to how people can learn more about you.  Many people use their LinkedIn profile URL as their placeholder on the web, but you have to fit your information into LinkedIn’s format.  about.me allows you to be creative and showcase yourself any way you want to.  Obviously, you can include a link to your LinkedIn profile within about.me as well to help lead potential recruiters to your professional resume.  If you’re curious, check out my about.me profile for an example of what is possible.

There are many other ways to integrate social media into your job search strategy, but these were 10 tips that stood out when giving advice to a first-time job seeker.  What other job search advice would you give on utilizing social media in 2011?

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Navigating The Canadian Ecommerce Landscape

According to Forrester Research, US online retailers look to Canada first when expanding internationally, with 22 of the top 50 online retailers having dedicated Canadian e-stores. This comes as no surprise, as its proximity makes it easy to ship from US fulfillment centers at a reasonable cost, and there are fewer language and cultural differences. For retailers who already have a strong customer base in Canada, expansion into a dedicated …

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Does Your Social Media Department Have a Content Czar?

As businesses embark on a social media strategy, I am finding that social strategy is being owned either by the Corporate Communications or Marketing Department.  If you are one of the few companies that already have a Social Media Department, congratulations!  If not, keep reading, because the advice is applicable to whoever is in charge of social at your company as well, regardless of department.

Social media is only going to become more important for companies to engage in moving forward, but the question then becomes how is your company going to engage with the public on social websites?  Sure, you can have conversations, but I believe part of a successful social strategy, in addition to an engagement strategy, is a content strategy.  This is especially true for B2B (business-to-business) companies who’s customers are looking for more and more information and have less time to call on a company for an explanation by an engineer or sales associate.

As I blogged back in 2009, I believe first and foremost that social media is about sharing.  Because the likes of Facebook (no pun intended), Twitter, and LinkedIn were made for people, not businesses, we all have lots of things that we can share: photos, videos, commentary, interesting articles that we found, restaurant reviews, and the list goes on.  Companies, on the other hand, struggle here and tend, at the beginning of their social implementation, to utilize social websites as additional marketing channels and merely “broadcast” their press releases and other self-promotional news.  Obviously, unless you’re a big music star or B2C (business-to-consumer) brand that has customers religiously following your every move, this strategy won’t be successful.

What can businesses share in social media?

Content.  And lots of it!  Resourceful information.  Content that goes beyond news about your company and represents something so resourceful to your entire industry that you can slowly become the “channel” that everyone in your industry or target customers tune in to for information.

Don’t know what information to share on social websites?  Where can I begin to show you that your business is filled with a plethora of stories and advice that are just waiting to be told, such as:

  • Original blog post entries compliant to your social strategy
  • Conversations from your social conversations that you can repurpose into a blog post.
  • Crowdsourcing content your fans and followers through social engagement like asking questions or polls.
  • Guest blog posts from others that you feel are aligned with your brand and mission, like your partners, or industry thought leaders.
  • Stories from your fans (or customers) that are aligned with your brand.
  • Interviews with other famous people aligned to your brand (could be blog posts, videos, or audio)
  • YouTube videos
  • 3rd party information from thought leaders in your content strategy categories via content curation

…and the list goes on.  If you think about it, there is no lack of content that you can be creating, or repurposing, to share in relevant communities in social media.

Internal Social Media Roles

So where does a Content Czar come in?  You’ve invested money in a Social Media Strategist, who owns the ROI of your social media program, and a Community Manager, who owns the engagement.  Who owns the content piece?  Who is internally owning the editorial calendar for your social media content, including your blog, sourcing this strategic information internally and externally to meet your editorial calendar, and making sure that this resourceful information gets shared appropriately in the relevant social media communities?  That is the role of your Content Czar.  And once you realize that your Content Czar and content marketing initiatives are the best organic way to improve the SEO (search engine optimization) of your company, you’ll create this position by decreasing budgets from other marketing disciplines that may now be redundant or less relevant.

It’s time for your company to recognize the importance of content marketing as part of a comprehensive social media strategy and invest in the right talent in the appropriate internal department to reap the full potential benefits of sharing in social media.

If you’re looking to find out more about content marketing, check out this list of the Top 42 Content Marketing Blogs, of which Windmill Networking is proud to be listed on.

Which department and who is in charge of content marketing at your company?

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6 Tips for Ecommerce Testing

If there’s one thing you can 100%, hands down be sure of in ecommerce, it’s you can never rely on your gut feel for web design, marketing, copywriting, etc. There are very few sacred cows in conversion optimization. “Best practices” are always worth challenging within the context of your business, product mix, customer base, web design and layout and current online shopping conditions…

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51 essential link building tips | Econsultancy

I’ve been fortunate enough to write over 275 blog posts across a variety of different SEO blogs, some have been successful, others have had more a lead balloon vibe. Often you have no idea beforehand which ones are going to work.
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Simplifying bidding on the Google Display Network

If you use managed placements to manage bidding or targeting on the Google Display Network, you might have at one point questioned why you saw three separate default bids in your ad groups: a regular default bid, a managed placements bid, and a Display Network bid.We’ve heard feedback from advertisers that it’s confusing to work with these three default bids (and most of you don’t even use default bids for your managed placements–preferring to set bids individually)…

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In Defense of Klout Measurement for Social Media Influence

My social media consulting clients always ask me as to who they should be trying to “influence” on social websites, and I always have to remind them that any social media user could potentially be an “influencer.”  That being said, some people or businesses use social networking sites more than others, some have more reach than others, and some are considered to have thought leadership in their industries or professions more than others.  So, although an exact measurement of social media influence is impossible because it will be different based on 1) the context of what exactly you’re trying to influence as well as 2) a big question as to how many people will actually act upon the recommendation of an “influencer.”

I blogged earlier this year looking at two tools to measure social media influence: Klout and PeerIndex.  Of course these are only two potential tools that a social marketer has at his or her disposal.  In fact, there are many tools to measure social influence, but they mean nothing without a relevance filter for the particular product or industry.  For instance, Ashton Kutcher could have a high Klout score, but I certainly wouldn’t consider him influential in the B2B business services market.

With that in mind, and a disclaimer that I have no professional relationship with Klout other than that I met their CEO Joe Fernandez at BlogWorld 2010 and he was a cool dude, I want to blog in defense of Klout as a measurement tool for social media influence by giving a very good example of why the score works as one practical metric.  The example I use is something that I know a lot about: the social media industry.

Klout as One Measurement Tool of Social Influence

I have added Custom Social Media Influencer Analysis to my own social media consulting services because of demand from my clients.  While I can’t divulge how I go about analyzing and determining social influence for any given company, brand, product, or industry, I can tell you that it involves looking at a number of different factors and a lot of “analog” analysis of users on the various social platforms and their conversations.  One of the metrics that I look at, without doubt, is Klout.  When I look at Klout, I initially look for “anchor” people that I am fairly confident are both influential in that industry as well as an active social media user, and from there look at a number of factors, including who they influence and who they are influenced by – excellent data which Klout provides.  This introduces me to other profiles to analyze.  From there I look at whether these people with high numbers are even relevant, and then I make a list to do detailed content searches on.  There are a lot more factors that go into this list, but let’s look at an analysis of social media influencers just based on what the Klout scores reveal: (Twitter handles are followed by their present Klout score)

If I had to ask you who do you think is truly influential in social media, meaning that if they posted a blog article about a new tool that it would induce many to try it, would you have listed some of the people on this list?  I believe you would.  Now for my analysis:

1.) Klout Measurement is Primarily about Twitter Influence. I’m sure that I’m going to get a comment on this blog that Facebook at the present, and LinkedIn in the near future, are also analyzed by the Klout measurement tool.  But just for the sheer fact that probably 99% of tweets are public where as Facebook and LinkedIn posts aren’t necessarily so, those who actively tweet on Twitter, especially those that have a large, relevant, and engaging following, yield huge influence in social media.  That is why @TweetSmarter should be on this list, because they are endlessly tweeting out the greatest tips on Twitter from across the world with great frequency and have a huge reach on Twitter.  FYI @TweetSmarter has about 240,000 followers, is listed on more than 13,000 lists, and has tweeted almost 40,000 times!

2.) The New Mass Media are More Important than Bloggers. I often refer to Mashable as the CNN of social media.  They really are.  Everything they say gets hundreds of ReTweets by a wide variety of people.  Furthermore, their frequent introductions of new social tools and tips on a daily basis have a plethora of readers who will act upon what they say.  That is true social influence, and that is why sites like Mashable as well as TechCrunch have higher Klout scores than the New New Media of bloggers and authors.  The measurement tool for social influence is working.  After all, if you were trying to introduce a new product to the social media world, would you rather get prime coverage on Mashable or a blogger’s site?  I would pick Mashable in general, but for certain genres (like blogging) ProBlogger may make more sense.  But remember, this is a list for general influence on the general topic of “social media.”  This leads me to:

3.) Is the User Relevant to Your Product? I had a tough one with Huffington Post. Once again, similar to Mashable, Huffington Post is undoubtedly influential enough to be bought out by AOL, and thus deserve a very high Klout score.  The question is, how influential are they in the scheme of social media?  Huff covers social media along with a lot of other topics, so it is not their primary focus.  But, you know what, Mashable is covering a lot of different topics as well.  This is why a relevance filter needs to be added to any Klout score.  If there was any user on this list that I have my doubts about vis a vis yielding influence on the topic of social media, this would be the only one.  I left it in there for the purpose of this paragraph as well as to get your feedback!

4.) Influential Social Media Bloggers are Social Influencers. The remaining people on the list are definitely top notch influencers in the realm of social media.  Is Problogger influential on LinkedIn or Guy Kawasaki influential in the realm of Social Media for Non Profits?  Maybe not as much as others with lower Klout scores.  And that is the point I am trying to make and why I wouldn’t add them to lists on those topics (unless you tell me otherwise!).  That being said, when any of these individuals write a book or come to town, they will have a big audience paying $$$ to see them and potentially acting upon their advice.

In my mind, and with the above reasoning, the Klout score measurement makes perfect sense as a tool.  Now, if we were going to look at people who have scores in the 60s and 70s there may be more debate, but I hope that you’ll agree in this example that Klout is doing a pretty good job as one tool to measure social influence.  While I don’t question the above scores, what you do with these scores to embark on a certain action for your business is a completely separate subject for debate.

So, do you still not believe in Klout as a measurement tool for influence?  A fan of Klout?  What do you think about the topic of social influence? The mic is yours!

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link building – Tips For Link Building

Backlinks are the key to search engine rankings. Don’t just sit there and let yourself get buried on page 7 of Google while your competition steals all of.
link building tips – Google Blog Search

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