Category Archives: Business

What women really want from their careers

Great inforgraphic from Ghirardelli showing the results of a survey on what women want. 5,300 working women across 13 countries, asked women questions about what they would need in their careers to feel like they "have it all."

Work life balance is more important now that it was 5 or 10 years ago. That might be because we feel we are far more busy than we were 5 or 10 years ago and value our time. Perhaps salary expectations have changed based on salary growth across the market place.

But it certainly is nice to know that 77 percent of us feel that our careers are successful. I know mine has been Smile

Eileen Brown is a social media strategist and consultant at Amastra, a columnist at ZDNet and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact Eileen to find out how she can elevate your brand and help your business become more social.

Does social media influence your buying decisions?

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You see a tweet. You buy the product. True or False?

False of course. We are not so easily influenced by promoted pages and promoted tweets.  These promotions are just to make us aware of the product.  Then we will decide.

But how many of us would actually buy just based on social media messages alone?

Forrester has done some research showing that less than 1 per cent of sales actually come from social channels. It watched 77,000 consumer orders placed during April 2012 and discovered that:

Although 33 per cent of transactions by new customers involve more than one trackable touch point, 48% of repeat customers visit multiple trackable touch points.  These touch points include searches for the product, pay per click advertising placements onto websites email blasts and newsletters.

Email is important for return business.  If the brand starts the interaction with an existing customer it is likely to turn into a sale. Thirty per cent of sales transactions come from existing customers that have received an email from the retailer. An additional 30 per cent of customers type the retailer’s URL directly into a browser.

Forty-eight per cent of consumers reported that social media posts are a great way to become aware of new products. however less than one per cent of transactions could be traced back to trackable links on social media sites.This indicates that Social tactics are not meaningful sales drivers but are valuable for awareness.

If there are trackable links such as bit.ly and a great analytics engine behind the web site, then social links can be directly linked to sales. But without these processes in place, then the brand needs to focus on awareness and remaining top of mind in its social channels whilst closing sales through other forms of digital marketing, complemented by social feeds.

It is such a shame that many brands still get this wrong…

Eileen is a social media strategist and consultant at Amastra, a columnist at ZDNet and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact Eileen to find out how she can elevate your brand and help your business become more social.

Image credit: Tom Morris

From Employee to Entrepreneur: 10 tips to starting successfully

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I left Microsoft three years ago to start my own business. Since I left the world of the salaried worker and created a company, I’ve had many conversations with my ex colleagues who are planning to start up in business too. 

There is no structured formula for success. Setting up in business for the first time is a lonely, scary place. Everything is different to the safe, secure world of the 9-5 worker.  Timescales differ, responsibilities differ. And yes, the buck really does stop with you.

The great thing about running your own business is the sense of control you have with your working life.  If you choose to work 18 hours a day, weekends and holidays, you can.  There is no boss breathing down your neck with deadlines and stress inducing meetings and calls.  

You can choose to work as much or as little as you choose, turn down clients that you do not want to work with, and delight the clients you do want to work with.  It is a very empowering experience – if you can stick through the difficult times and make a go of it.

So at the start of my third year in business, here are some tips that I’ve found useful in making the transition beyond my first three months in business. I’ve taken time to reflect on how I’m doing, and how things are working out and so far, all is good.

But the tips I tell each of my friends who want to follow in my entrepreneurial steps are:

    • Get a  mentor:  Find someone who runs a small business who can give you help and advice and lead you step by step down the road to setting up on your own.  Their advice is invaluable and you will find yourself with a new friend.
    • Ask questions. Other entrepreneurs have successfully gone down this path before. Ask them how they did it and their tips for success.
    • Have a good, recent business plan. Banks and other Financial institutions will be reluctant to invest in your business without seeing your business plan. Update your plan before you go for that all important business meeting.  A scrappy, out of date business plan does not inspire them to believe in you and your success
    • Be prepared to try it and see. If things go wrong, then change your plan, change your approach and try it again.
    • Refresh regularly: Keep your profile image, biography, company biography and capability document up to date. You’ll be able to quickly send it to anyone that asks for the details. Don’t keep customers waiting for the information they need
    • Reuse knowledge: Use the skills you gained in company life to help you writing proposals, web site copy, press releases and external communications.  Create templates to make your life easier
    • Follow up: If you take a business card at an event, contact the person after the event reminding them of the conversation you had at the event.  Making the connection electronically means that you can be sure that they have your contact details even if they have lost your card.
    • Keep in touch: Use LinkedIn to maintain and keep contact with your ex colleagues. If they change jobs, or leave the company, you will still be able to keep in touch with them and continue the relationship.  You never know. Your skills might be just what they need in their new workplace so it is important that you work at the relationships you have
    • Open up new networks.  Don’t go to the same networking events all the time.  Try a new event.  It might just be fruitful.  You will be a fresh face, with fresh ideas and skills.  you will be able to gauge the need for your skills in the market. 

Eileen is a social business strategist, ZDNet columnist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

Image: TinyTall

LinkedIn now hides your profile details by default

LinkedIn’s settings prevent the use of effective business networking.  Here’s a screen shot of who has looked at my profile recently:

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When i joined LinkedIn in 2005, all profiles were open.  if someone looked at my profile, then it encouraged me to get in touch with them and re-forge the connection – or make new connections and initiate conversation.

LinkedIn has been layering extra levels of security and privacy onto its new accounts.  If you upgrade your account to a subscription option, then you will be able to see who has viewed your profile. For users with the basic subscription you will not be able to see everyone who has viewed your profile.

For new users too, there is an issue.  The default setting on LinkedIn is for your details not to be viewed by default.  This raises an interesting question.

Why do you want to hide your details if the whole purpose of your joining LinkedIn is to effectively carry our business networking?

You don’t attend business meetings and refuse to share any details about yourself.  You give our information about your name and job role.  You hand out your business card and chat about what you do – unless you work in the security services of course.

But now, more and more people who have created accounts on LinkedIn find that they are hidden by default from their colleagues and potential new employers.

Here’s how to change the setting and check whether your LinkedIn account is showing the details that you want it to.

Look for the Settings link under your name in the top right hand corner of the home page

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Click on the Profile tab on the left – and the link Select what others can see when you’ve viewed their profile

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Choose your display options

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Click on Save Changes.

Perhaps you want to be anonymous for a while – as you are building up your profile, or looking at profiles from a company where you might like to work. But many new users of LinkedIn are not aware that their profiles are hidden – and are unaware that they can easily change this setting.

LinkedIn are trading ease of connecting with the desire to earn revenue outside of traditional advertising – and compromising the ethos of the service.

Not good…

 

Social Business, Social Media for businesses

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I often get asked what the term Social Business really means.  Is it the new name for social media?  Is it something else entirely?

Here are the main differences as it applies to business.  I’ve broken the main points down into the top line bullet points and highlighted the main differences between the two.

Social Business

Breaks down organisational silos.  In the social business collaboration enables virtual teams to work together efficiently on projects without the need to send attachments round, keep multiple copies of the same document that gets out of date.

Democratises data.  Project and workflow information is available to everyone in the team that needs the information.  Enterprise search enables documents to be discovered, permissions ensure that the right documents can be seen by the right person.

Anywhere, Anytime working.  Project teams can work remotely. Conferencing tools enable sharing of information, virtual face to face meetings, and synchronous work streams and engagement.

Flattens hierarchies.  In the social business, internal communications tools means that you can communicate with the right person in the company without navigating the hierarchical layers of management.  Work with the person in the organisation that has the skills you need.

Social Data. Keeps communication flowing and knowledge sharing inside the business

Social Media

The earphones of the brand. Listen to what your customers are saying about you, engage them in dialogue, build relationships and solve problems.  Discover nascent brand issues before they magnify to major problems.

The brand microphone. Use your brand advocates to tell your message on your behalf.  With appropriate advocacy programs and incentives schemes in place, your brand advocates will become an extension to your business.

Community Engagement.  Have a relationship with your customers and partners that goes beyond the sales cycle.  Build enduring feedback loops, gain innovation, ideas and change sentiment.

Competitive credibility.  With thought leadership papers and leadership posts you can show your expertise in the marketplace against your competitors.

Search visibility.  With updated, fresh and engaging content, you will be easily discovered and visible in search rankings.

Social Connections.  Keeps two way conversation flowing between the business and its customers and partners

Both social media and social business conversations enable a rich dialogue inside and outside of the organisation.  To be successful in your social media activities externally, you need to have a ‘joined up’ business internally.

Good business practices will deliver excellent customer charters, customer service and customer satisfaction.

It all starts from within.  Is your business a social business yet?

Eileen is a social business strategist, ZDNet columnist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

Image credit: jasminejennyjen

Bottlenose organises your social media streams

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Brands rely on good social media dashboards to filter the ever growing data stream and keep track of competitors and partners.

Its frustrating having so many different feeds of information and subscribing to more feeds can often overwhelm you. 

 Bottlenose is a new social media dashboard that has entered private beta this wee and aims to combat the growing challenge of social media overload giving you a unified stream of information.

It detects what topics are interesting to you and intelligently  personalises your feeds.  Messages automatically categorise themselves.  It automatically learns your interests.

  It can be customised to show you what you want to read, not what the people you follow are broadcasting.  You can surf their stream more easily

All of your social networks are woven into a unified stream so that you can zoom in and out of conversations that are interesting to you.  It has an interesting feature, Sonar, depicted above which organises your streams and tells you what’s trending, and the people involved in the trend.  Clicking on a person person gives you information about them and what they are about.

You can also build rules and alerts so that you only see the topics that are important to you and build your own tags so that the message can be found.  Have a look at the video here:

It’s useful tool for individuals too who are trying to predict what’s hot and what trend is coming next. It’s useful if you’re trying to improve your online brand too.  Bottlenose makes sense of the stream.  It’s certainly worth a look when beta access is opened more broadly.

…Or will it just add to our ever increasing workload?…

Eileen is a social business strategist, ZDNet columnist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for BusinessContact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

Google favours large businesses in SEO and searches

If you’re wondering why your small business isn’t getting noticed on Google, then have a look at this infographic from SEObook.  It seems to penalise small businesses who are trying to get presence through SEO and frequently updated pages. 

Google Longtail Infographic.

 

You can also keep up your own brand presence by keeping up your social activities on sites like Twitter, LinkedIn and your blog – to keep your visibility up as much as possible..

Or perhaps it’s time to change the way you search – or think about change your search provider?

Eileen is a social business strategist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.