One of the best examples of social media for real estate agents I’ve seen

I recently stumbled upon Jessica Riffle Edwards, a “realtor” in Wilmington, North Carolina. Her use of YouTube is one of the best examples of social media marketing for real estate agents I’ve seen.

Check out her real estate agent YouTube Channel. She’s made hundreds of videos and has 11,000 subscribers!

These videos provide tips about buying and selling property and talk about life as a real estate agent. They’re simple, to the point, and done just in her car (i.e. they’re low budget – pretty much zero dollars.)

Authenticity and keeping it simple works

I reckon, like most people, Jessica was probably nervous when she first started, but in these videos, she’s very natural and just herself which I think is a key reason they work.

More importantly, these videos show how you can create content for your business. It doesn’t need to be superfancy. You just need to answer your customers’ questions – in an authentic way. Have a look and you’ll see what I mean.

‘How to’ videos work

I found Jessica when I was researching selling my Dad’s house. I put into YouTube ‘how to choose a real estate agent’.

This is a smart video to make if you are a real estate agent by the way. (Or if you’re a small business selling some other professional service, you could make a video that answers a typical question your clients have.)

The point is your potential customers are out there on the web looking for answers to their problems. You can get found and get on their radar by providing an answer.

People get to know you (which really works)

The other benefit of videos is they help the viewer get to know you better. And help them decide whether you’ll be good to work with.

Which, I can tell you, after trying to figure out which real estate agent to sell my Dad’s house, can be the factor that tips the balance of who you go with or even just shortlist. There are so many real estate agents even for a specific suburb, many with good sales and awards etc, I found it mind-boggling to know who to choose (and how to make that choice.)

In the end, having someone good to work with is a little thing that’s really a big thing. And videos give you a much better sense of what a person is like than a webpage with a photo and a sales spiel.

How to choose a real estate agent? Here’s what I did

In my case, I had about 8 names after initial research (of sales in the area.)

I then got that down to 3 real estate agents. 2 of the 3 got there because of their videos. (The third was someone I knew through a connection.)

Here’s a video from one of the Brisbane real estate agents I shortlisted:

I called Nicole Devine after seeing this video. She was nice. When I told her how her videos played a key role in my decision making, she told me she was initially shy of the camera and found it confronting to do.

Which was a good first start I thought – humility in a real estate agent.

Being brave pays off

Most people find a video camera pointing at them confronting. If you feel like this you’re not alone. But I can tell you it’s worth being brave. You’ll get better at it and the nerves will get less the more you do.

Plus you’ll start getting business coming to you, rather than you having to slog it the old fashioned way e.g. running ads or cold calling folks who may not be interested. You’ll realise that “inbound marketing” is a much better investment of your time and resources. Camera fear is a minor hurdle in the scheme of things.

As internet marketing guru Seth Godin says: “If it scares you, it might be a good thing to try.”

Cautionary note: it can go the other way

Having said all that, here’s a quick side note / word of warning / reality check.

There was another Brisbane real estate agent who was recommended to me and had good sales in the area. She also had done a number of videos, but when I watched them it made me think she wasn’t really my cup of tea. I struck her off my list. But I guess she might be right for other sellers.

How do you make a video for your business?

Yes, how does Jessica Riffle make those videos in her car?

I’m guessing it’s just her iPhone mounted on the sunvisor or on the windscreen itself. (If you’re a technical type maybe you can tell me how you think she’s done it in the comments.) Doesn’t look there’s any editing. Just a direct upload into YouTube from her phone. Cost = zero.

If you do this be careful with the audio. You may need a small microphone if the sound is tinny.

In Nicole Devine’s case she’s had a video maker shoot, edit and put it together. Don’t reckon it would have cost too much. There are more videographers now specialising in this sort of work – often for under $2K.

If you think about it, Nicole’s video isn’t just about selling that one Red Hill property, it’s also giving people the confidence to work with her for other properties as well. Like what happened in my case.

So apportioned over a number of properties the cost is more like a few hundred dollars – if you made one video for every 4 or 5 properties say.

Learn more about content marketing

I’ve written a series of posts on creating content that will attract people to your business and give them the confidence to buy from you. Check out these posts on content marketing – what it is, why it’s important, and how to do it.

ps. Only in America

If you watch a few of Jessica’s videos you’ll notice there’s a few where she’s driving and talking (doing her video) at the same time e.g.

Not sure that’s a good idea or even legal? Though anything is possible in America.




Facebook Privacy: advice for beginners

We often get asked about privacy by people who are new to Facebook. They’re concerned about showing their personal stuff to the world. Understandable, but there’s a few answers to it.

One answer is here: comprehensive advice on privacy from Facebook. It includes a range of settings you can change to keep your content in front of the right people.

Facebook are constantly working on the privacy issue – giving people more control and trying to explain simply how it works. So if you have concerns or are just interested, you may find this page from them useful.

The other thing, of course, is to not post things on Facebook you don’t want people to see. Basic I know, but it’s as simple as that.

Usually when I say this to people, their response is to talk about the silly things they’ve seen people post. Also understandable, although …

If you see other people post dumb things, and people do, here’s what you can do:
(a) Hit the ‘Hide’ button on that post (which teaches the Facebook Newsfeed algorithm you want to see less from that person.)
(b) Hit the ‘Unfollow’ botton on that person (so you don’t see their any of their posts again.)

You’ll see a little drop down arrow on the top right of the post. If you click in that you’ll find the options above.

Now, if you’re running a business and you’ve got a Facebook Business Page, you can see that this hiding function could also impact the posts from your Business Page i.e. if people following your Page find your posts annoying or not useful, they may either ‘hide’ those posts or ‘unfollow’ you altogether in the same way.

Implication: make your posts informative or inspiring or just plain useful to your audience.

Facebook can be great tool. That’s why 1.5 billion people are on it right now. Use it to help you with your business, stay up to date with happening in the world, and if you want, share good things with good people. You don’t have to be that dumb person that posts dumb things. No-one is forcing you to do it.

Have I missed something on the issue of ‘Privacy’? Let us know in the Comments below. (Also happy to pass on any good advice to others.)

One last thing: I saw an interview with Mark Zuckerberg where he was saying that the amount of content people are sharing has steadily and significantly increased in recent years. Which suggests people are less scared about posting. I see that with newbies, the fear factor dissipates once they get used to it.




The AirBnB story: Brian Chesky’s lessons for business startups

Every now and again you trip over something on YouTube that makes your day, your month, or maybe even your year. This talk is up there.

In this video Brian Chesky, the co-founder of AirBnB, is interviewed by Reid Hoffman, the co-founder of Linkedin, at Stanford University.

Chesky describes the humble beginnings of AirBnB and what he learnt as an entrepreneur along the way. I found what he had to say beguiling, insightful and inspirational. If you’re starting a new business or you have an idea for a business, you really need to see this.

And, just in case you’ve been living on the moon the last few years and don’t know, AirBnB is the site that allows people to rent out their place directly to other people (for a brokerage fee.)

In the talk, Chesky tells how the idea of renting your home out to strangers seemed “crazy” to investors and how they survived in the early days by maxing out their credit cards. It’s pretty interesting I reckon it wasn’t all that long ago – only 2008.

Now AirBnB is in 191 countries, 65,000 cities and the company has been valued at US$30 billion. With Chesky’s purported ‘net worth’ at US$3 billion. Not bad for someone who was broke a short time ago.

OK, it’s reasonably long this talk (at an hour and a half), but there are some gems of wisdom in it from the co-founder of one of the most successful startups on the planet right now. Plus Chesky is a charming speaker, particularly in this intimate class environment. And besides, when are you ever going to attend a class like this, at Stanford Uni? It’s right here for free.

Make some time in your down time – like lunch, in the evening, or over the weekend, to check it out.

If you’re in major scanning mode, I’ve summarised some the key things I took out of this talk below.

 

“Do things that don’t scale” (at first)

Chesky reckons the best advice he got was from Paul Graham, his mentor at Y Combinator:

“It’s better to have 100 customers that love you, than a million that just sort of like you.”

The idea being if you do things really well, those 100 people will tell other people and you’ll grow virally. As Chesky says: “almost movements in history have grown this way.” And goes on to talk about the importance of deeply passionate customers.

According to Chesky, this runs contrary to the general wisdom in Silicon Valley which he says is often searching for the key to big numbers straight away.

(* Y Combinator is a famous startup incubator that also helped the founders of Dropbox, Reddit and Weebly. Paul Graham is one of its founders.)

 

“You need to meet your customers. You need to understand their problems.”

In the early days, Chesky and his co-founders took the time to meet hosts in New York and live with them. They wrote their first reviews. Along the way, they realised many of the photos their hosts were using were letting them and AirBnB down. So Chesky borrowed a camera and photographed homes. (These first hosts were amazed when the co-founder himself appeared at the door to do it.)

“It’s easier to do something that one person loves first. Go person by person to 100. Then figure out how to scale that.”

The AirBnB founders decided to provide photographers for free. Initially, this seemed a non-scaleable, non-technical solution. Nor was there any data to back this decision. But it did end up marking a turning point for AirBnB. People started booking after that in 2009. And they picked up seed funding from a major investor.

Co-founder Joe Gebbia sums up how connecting with their audience was the major turning point for them:

“We had this Silicon Valley mentality that you had to solve problems in a scalable way because that’s the beauty of code. Right? You can write one line of code that can solve a problem for one customer, 10,000 or 10 million.

For the first year of the business, we sat behind our computer screens trying to code our way through problems. We believed this was the dogma of how you’re supposed to solve problems in Silicon Valley.

It wasn’t until Paul Graham at Y Combinator gave us permission to do things that don’t scale … that moment changed the trajectory of the business.”

 

“The difference between being unemployed and being an entrepreneur is in your head.”

Growing up Chesky didn’t even know what an entrepreneur was. His parents were social workers and wished only that he got a job with health insurance.

In the early days of AirBnB, before it got off the ground, his family asked him about what he was working on. When he told them he was an entrepreneur they said: “you’re unemployed aren’t you?” Chesky insisted he was an entrepreneur.

In fact, he says having to describe to his family the project he was working on, not only made him stand his ground and be an entrepreneur, it forced him to articulate and develop his ideas for AirBnB.

The point is: it’s a mindset. Be an entrepreneur in your head.

 

“Often big ideas sound like stupid ideas in the beginning.”

Chesky and his co-founder Joe Gebbia wanted to be entrepreneurs. They knew they needed a big idea for a business. But initially, they didn’t think AirBnB was it.

One day they had the idea of hosting travellers on air mattresses in their apartment. It came to them when there was a shortage of places to stay for people going to a major conference in town. They thought it was a good lark to try and it might just help them pay the rent. (But they didn’t think it was the big idea.)

Once they experienced hosting people in their home, they realised there was something more to it. That it could have a significant impact on people’s lives – like the friendships with strangers that formed in a short space of time.

It’s something that stuck with them and is even part of AirBnB’s mantra today – the notion of “belonging” (by staying in locals’ homes.)

But it took awhile before they could convince others (including investors) of its potential.

Many people thought it was a mad idea. Even Chesky’s mum at one stage told him: “If you need money Brian, you don’t have to have strangers stay in your home.”

“It turned out the crazy idea that no-one else would do became the big idea.”

In fact, he reckons it was good that others couldn’t see the merit in it because it meant no-one would copy it. (At least for the first few years.)

“Don’t worry about anyone stealing your idea. If it’s any good, everyone will dismiss it.”

A lot of successful business ideas started with someone solving their own problem or frustration. Something that was a nuisance to them. The big idea may, in fact, appear insignificant to others in the beginning.

 

“If you launch and no-one notices, keep launching.”

When you hear the story of AirBnB one of the things you have to admire is the funders’ perseverance, stubbornness and ‘hustle’.

AirBnB didn’t get anywhere initially. The founders launched but barely anyone noticed, and they got next to no bookings. Their earnings at that stage was $200 a week.

So they launched again. And again.

They got so few bookings, they even wondered if they should focus on the breakfast part of the concept rather than the beds. Partly as a publicity stunt, they created ‘Obama O’s’ breakfast cereal to go with the Democratic Convention in 2008.

They managed to make $30,000 by selling the cereal at $40 a box – which cleared the credit card debt they’d been living on.

But it was a tough time for them in 2008. They had few customers despite launching 3 times and finally picking up publicity. They had no money and they’d been rejected by 15 investors.

Chesky talks of how in November 2008 he woke every morning with his heart pounding – worried about their financial position and whether their startup was going to work.

One of his mentors at the time said to him: “I hope this isn’t the only idea you’re working on.”

 

“You need conviction to keep going.”

In the video Chesky talks about what kept him going when things got hard:

“You have to have a deep reservoir of passion. I had a deep conviction AirBnB would work. It was the very first weekend we hosted three people. I saw how my life changed. And how my guests’ lives changed. I thought if other people could experience this, it could be an idea that could spread.”

This was the unique and motivating insight he had that others had not realised.

“Sometimes you hack a problem of your own and accidently discover it’s really cool. My unique discovery was staying in other people’s homes was deeply rewarding and saved money. At the time it wasn’t obvious to other people.”

Chesky is fond of quoting Steve Jobs who he obviously admires. On why you need conviction, he paraphrases Jobs:

“You have to be passionate about what you do because there’s going to be days that are so hard it’s easy to stop believing in it.”

You can see the original in this short clip:

 

 

“Conviction happens from investigating the idea, exploring it and going deeper.”

Chesky’s reflection on how their idea evolved shows you have to trust your intuition and take action:

“Conviction happens by thinking and talking about the idea, by working it out with other people. The more I talked about the idea, the more excited I got. It developed with more and more physical experiences of staying and getting to know the problem. I built a reservoir of conviction.”

Interestingly, he also reflects on how that conviction helped draw in other people:

“Leaders are people that other people follow. A leader has to have conviction.”

Later he relates how this conviction led to the next key ingredient in the firm’s success – building the company’s culture.

 

“15 investors rejected us”

When you look at the success of AirBnB now it seems remarkable that the founders couldn’t find investors. At one stage they offered to sell 10% of the business for $150,000. At that point the firm’s estimated value was $1.5 million. Now it’s $3 billion. So your $150,000 would have turned into $300,000,000 if you’d given Brian Chesky the money back in 2009.

According to Chesky, of the 15 investors they were introduced to at that time, half didn’t reply to them and the rest passed. Including some investors that had already seen the potential in the likes of Google and Facebook. Chesky was told AirBnB wouldn’t work, that people wouldn’t let strangers into their home.

The insight that Chesky had – the experience of having people to stay – was something investors couldn’t see.

“The enemy of a startup is everyone else’s life.”

It takes a massive amount of time, effort and energy to launch a startup. If you’re launching a new business it’s the same thing. One of the biggest challenges is juggling other commitments in your life.

When they started, like most people, the AirBnB founders had other things going on. Getting into the Y Combinator program helped them focus and create a structure to work on AirBnB full time. According to Chesky they worked on AirBnB from 8am to midnight for 4 months which created a productive rhythm free of distractions.

Chesky quotes Paul Graham to highlight how distractions bury startups:

“Startups don’t die, they often just fade away.”

 

“Events and PR were the main ways we bootstrapped.”

The AirBnB founders had a chicken and egg problem. They needed properties to showcase on their site, but people wouldn’t list their homes if there were no people in the market for it.

So they knew they had to get exposure. They tried media outlets to no avail. So instead what Chesky did was start with the small fish and try to get anyone to write about them.

They reached out to bloggers. The idea was that if some people wrote about them, bigger press would follow. Which is what happened. Articles about AirBnB started turning up in search results and mainstream media picked up on the idea.

“If you’ve got an idea that’s noteworthy the more people will talk about it. The more absurd the better because it’s worth writing about.”

Journalists want a story that’s unusual, different and interesting. AirBnB had something new and unusual so eventually they got there.

The other thing AirBnB did was events. In the early days, it focused on big events where accommodation was clearly needed – like the Democratic Convention and music festivals. But once AirBnB started to grow they “turned on” markets in new cities by going there and hosting meetups with hosts. The idea being to generate word of mouth.

 

“We wanted to build a product you loved so much you’d tell everyone about it.”

Chesky has what he calls his ‘7 star design principle’:

“People expect to have a 5 star experience. Instead we aim to give them 7 stars.”

I use AirBnB myself – to both host and stay in places. I’d challenge you to find a better-designed site than AirBnB. It really is good. I’ve thought that ever since I started using it in 2012.

Some years back I was asked at a course which social media platform I thought was the best one. My gut response was AirBnB. It’s not strictly social media I know. But I don’t think any platform is nearly as good design wise. I actively tell other people how good it is. Which is what Chesky is talking about. Plus AirBnB does seem to get better and better.

“To build something people love, you need to do something more than they expect. Every moment is an opportunity to do something more than people expect.”

“AirBnB think about how they can make every frame of the travel experience better. People expect a 5 star experience. AirBnB think about how to make it a 6 or 7 star experience.”

 

“The product is whatever the customer is buying. The website is a communication storefront.”

Despite having an awesome website and all the work that goes into it, Chesky knows the site isn’t really his product. What he’s really selling is the experience of hospitality.

What makes it even more interesting is that AirBnB now has more “inventory” of accommodation than the biggest hotel chains. (Even though they don’t own any of it.)

Chesky reckons there have been waves of the internet. First people buying things online (e.g. on Amazon and eBay), then people connecting together (on Facebook), and now people using the internet to go back into the real world. As he says: “we are an online to offline business.”

 

“Everything can be re-invented. You can design your company.”

Both Chesky and his co-founder Joe Gebbia went to design school together. Design thinking plays a big role in how AirBnB approaches things.

Chesky says the design approach means they’re constantly looking at how they can do things better – going beyond how things look.

He likes to paraphrase Steve Jobs to explain what this means:

“Design isn’t how something looks, it’s how something works.”

And it’s not just the website.

You can also apply design thinking to everything – including and how you hire people and the office.

 

“People need to be in the mindset of the product. You need to put your product in the building.”

This design approach led Chesky to re-think their office:

“I realised there was a huge opportunity to re-invent the space we worked in. It could give us a big advantage in hiring people.”

One of the things he did was to physically re-create some of AirBnB’s best homes as meeting rooms in their office.

“People need to be immersed in the world they’re working with it.”

As Chesky says:

“You spend more time in your office than your home.”

And this could be a chance to do things differently:

“Almost everything is a creative opportunity”

 

“This is not a job, not even a career, this is a calling, this is a passion.”

In the early days, AirBnB worked out of Chesky and Gebbia’s apartment.

At one point they reached 15 staff all working out of the apartment. Chesky’s bedroom became a meeting room. Out of necessity Chesky went and stayed at different AirBnBs – for almost a year.

Now AirBnB send all new staff to stay at AirBnBs for their first week at work.

Chesky thinks a strong company culture is when people believe in what you’re doing and they use the product:

“You’re not building financial systems, or a website, you’re building a mission, you’re creating a world.”

“Everyone of us has to be a product person – we need to be deeply passionate about everything we’re doing with the product. Staff need to use product when travel. They should be hosting. They should become an expert in every part of the product.”

“The companies where their people are disconnected from the end customer – those are the ones that get disrupted.”

 

“I wanted to have a strong culture where people were deeply passionate and on a shared mission.”

Chesky says the most important cultural event is every time you hire somebody – because they become the people you surround yourself with. Chesky thought it so important he interviewed the first few hundred employees.

And now even with thousands of staff, AirBnB put potential recruits through ‘cultural’ interviews as well as ‘functional’ interviews for jobs. On the cultural side, AirBnB test for important values e.g. staff need to be passionate about giving and hospitality – a core idea for AirBnB.

Chesky says even if the technology changes, there are governing ideas that won’t change in the firm. Those beliefs are at the heart of the firm’s strong culture.

“Culture is about repeating over and over the things that really matter. It can all be designed.”

 

“Starting a company and managing a company you need to be a different type of person.”

In the early stages, Chesky used to do everything but code.

Once their website got traction, Chesky went from building the product to building the company that makes the product. The company, of course, is mostly its people.

He’s had to learn how to hire and manage. And now he’s also responsible for the long-term vision and being the face of the business through public speaking and writing.

 

“You’ve got to be shameless about learning.”

Chesky is shameless about getting feedback because he wants to do things better. He says it’s surprising the help you get if you just ask.

“Most people will help you if you ask them a question. You’ve got to have the courage to ask people and seek out knowledge.”

He’s also built expertise around him:

“I’ve surrounded myself with people smarter and more experienced than me.”

 

“I’ve had to learn how to learn.”

AirBnB has had to deal with raft of unique challenges. (Like the problem of governments trying to restrict AirBnB.) Chesky says: it never stops, there’s always new things to learn when you’re building a startup.

“The biggest thing I’ve had to do is learn how to learn.”

“You can’t learn everything about a topic, so you have to shortcircuit it by learning from the definitive source on the topic. You have to go to the right source. I’ve learnt to seek out the experts.”

And says to scale a business you need to be curious and adaptable:

“We have to be kids at heart in startups – in the sense that you’re curious, open minded, adventurous, welcoming, and not a know it all.”

And backs up his argument with something Picasso said:

“It took me 4 years to paint like Raphael. It took me a lifetime to learn to paint like a child.”

 

“The best way to become an entrepreneur is to just start.”

Whilst the AirBnB founder says he didn’t ever think of himself as an entrepreneur when he was young he says:

“I was always creating things and starting things when I was growing up. It was usually outside of school, usually slightly mischievous.”

After college, he went and got the safe job his parents his parents wished for him. But he quit his job and took the leap into the unknown of becoming an entrepreneur because:

“At my job, everything in front of me looked like everything behind me. It terrified me.”

“Design school taught me I could do anything. I could change the world.”

His advice for would-be entrepreneurs now:

“Even more useful than going to university is to just start something, immediately. Not learn how to start it, just start it.”

 

“Almost all great companies have created the market.”

Toward the end of the talk, Chesky touches on the idea of “disruption“.  The success of AirBnB is often quoted as a great example of how a market (the accommodation industry) was disrupted by a whole new thing enabled by the internet.

But Chesky reckons for any business:

“You have to be able to foreshadow emerging markets, rather than just look at existing markets.”

AirBnB is also cited as a great example of something else we’ve seen emerge thanks to the internet: collaborative consumption and the sharing economy.

 

At design school, Chesky learnt it’s possible you can change the world. You could argue that AirBnB has already done that. If you watch this talk you get the sense there’s more to come.

 

 

Links to more info

AirBnB’s home page

About AirBnB

About Brian Chesky

About Reid Hoffman’s course at Stanford University

‘How Design Thinking Transformed Airbnb from a Failing Startup to a Billion Dollar Business’

Other talks by Brian Chesky (I reckon I’ve nabbed you the best one here already, but there are others here, and new ones may come into this list.)

I suspect we’re going to see more of Brian Chesky.




Internet Marketing for Small Business: how and where to start

If you’re a small business and you don’t have an effective internet marketing presence, you’re not in the race when potential customers are searching for the kind of product or service you sell. And let’s face it, that’s where people looking these days – online.

Many small businesses are missing out because they haven’t done the basic things to put themselves in the running. If you are one of those businesses, here’s a crash course.

The good news is you can do much of it for free. It could cost you as little as a few hundred dollars to get the essentials going.

I’ve tried to keep this as non-technical as I can. If you still find you need help, I’ve provided the name of a techie who can assist at the end.

 

1. Get yourself a website (for $159)

Are you starting from ground zero? If so, this first point is for you.

You need to buy a domain name (website address) and website hosting. There are a heap of companies out there that do it. You can search for them online. The ones I’ve used and recommend are Digital Pacific and Ventra IP. Both are Australian outfits and both did the job pretty well.

A domain will cost you about $15/year and hosting can be $12/month. So there’s the bulk of the cost in this whole article. $159 for a year. Most of the other ‘costs’ below are more about time than outlay.

Should you buy a .com or .com.au address? If you’re doing business internationally go for a .com (or a .net.) If you’re focusing locally in Australia go for a .com.au (or a .net.au.)

 

2. Get WordPress on your website’s domain (free)

WordPress started life as blogging software but is now being used by businesses large and small to build great websites. (The site you’re reading is built with WordPress.)

WordPress sits behind your site. It’s the “back-end” – the place where you input the info, pictures, design and other bits that make up a site. It’s sometimes known as the CMS (Content Management System.) Oh, and it’s free.

There are a few ways to get WordPress on your site. Most of hosting providers offer packages where you pay them to do it. But you could do it yourself. If you need help you could call your hosting service and ask them to step you through clicking the right buttons in their ‘panel’ to get it up. (Which is what I did years ago to get my first site up.)

Once you’ve got WordPress up and running, you need to go to the ‘Settings’ in the WordPress dashboard, then to ‘Reading’, and change the settings to ‘static front page’. This simple step turns what is essentially a blog into a website.

The great thing about WordPress is that mere mortals can work it. No coding or geekiness is required to put content into it. If you’re smart enough to figure out how to use a new mobile phone, you’ll pick up how to use WordPress to get material on your site.

As for the design, you can choose from a range of free design templates for your site.

And by the way, the days of being held hostage to a web-designer that charges $200 to change a date on your site are over!! Wordpress gives you the power to run your site yourself to make simple changes.

YOU absolutely need to be the one driving your website. Your website is a crucial marketing tool. Not just a piece of I.T.

The other great thing about WordPress is that it’s Google-friendly. It does some search engine grunt work for you. You just need to be smart about the words you put into it.

 

3. Work out what words customers use to search online – use the ‘Keyword Planner’ (free) 

The phrases people use when they search online are called “keywords”.

You can get your head around the keywords people use when they’re searching online by using Google’s free Keyword Planner.

Put in the Planner the words you think people may be using for each of your products or services. (Better still, ask your existing customers what words they would use in search and put them in.)

The Keyword Planner will tell you how many searches there’s been for those phrases. And, importantly, it’ll give ‘related searches’ – other words people are using and how many searches there’s been for those words too.

From there you can put together a shortlist of phrases that best describe each of your products & services and get a significant number of searches.

 

4. Put your keywords in key places on your website (free) 

You obviously need to fill in the detail about your business on your website – in the WordPress back-end. As you’re doing so, be mindful of the keywords you use on each page.

As a general rule of thumb you should put your top keywords where you can, but without making your website look like a keyword stuffed mess. Your website still needs to read well for human beings, not just search engine machines.

At the same time, there are some important places to focus on for google. Places where you should clearly and succinctly put your keywords – like the:
– title for pages and posts
– link address for pages and posts (also known as the ‘url’ or ‘permalink’)
– tagline for your site (which is in the WordPress settings)
– name of photo files you upload

If you do this it’ll help Google find you. Google can’t find you if the words people use to search simply aren’t on there.

One word of warning: don’t get greedy with your keywords i.e. don’t try to optimise the pages of your site for a vast array of phrases. This will confuse Google.

Choose the optimum phrase for each page and focus – make it simple, clear and unique what each page of your site is about. This is particularly important when it comes to your products and services.

 

5. Create separate web pages for individual products or services (free) 

For each major product or service your business offers, create a new page on your site. (You can do that in the ‘Pages’ section of WordPress.) Why? So Google can find it when people search for that kind of product or service.

What are the words people use to find that kind of product or service? Use the Keyword Planner to help you figure it out. For the different product pages you should end up with a distinct set of keywords.

The places to put those words in WordPress are: the page’s title, the page’s link address, and the name of the photo files you upload to that page.

For example, you can see here on the Media School site we have a separate web page for each of our major courses e.g. the Social Media course, Linkedin training and Blogging course. The title and link address are distinct and keyword focused for each. So if you search for ‘social media course’, this helps put the Media School’s Social Media course page in the running.

 

6. Get the Yoast plugin for your site (free)

A plugin is a little piece of software adds extra functionality to your site. Yoast is designed to help you get higher in search engines.

One of the important things it does is prompt you to improve key elements of your site for search engine optimisation. That includes: being clear about your focus keyword phrase for each page and getting that phrase in important places like the page title and description. It will even give you a preview of what your search result will look like when it comes up in Google and help you write it to the correct length.

This recommendation is probably “geekiest” one here, but definitely worth it. A lot of the Search gurus swear by Yoast.

To install Yoast, go to ‘plugins’ in the WordPress dashboard. Hit add new plugin, search for Yoast and install.

 

7. Register your business on local business listings (free)

One of the big things Google uses in ranking websites is the quantity and quality of links coming into a site.

How do you get links to your site?

The best way is to acquire links “organically” – meaning people link to your site because they like the awesome content on your site and they’ve given you a link. More on how to do that in the next point.

In the meantime, you can pick up some easy, chunky links by registering your business (and your website) on a few large local business directories. For example in Australia: StartLocal, TrueLocalAussieWeb, and HotFrog.

The other place is industry bodies for the field you’re working in. Often they’ll have a register that can give you a link.

 

8. Create great ‘content’ that helps your customers (free, mostly)

Another increasingly important factor Google uses to determine where your website ranks in their results is how useful is it? Is there content on the site which really helps people with issues and questions they’re struggling with?

Think about your customers’ problems. What are the things they most commonly get stuck on or need help with in your field? Then think about your own expertise. Of all your customers’ problems, which could you answer easily and well?

Put convincing answers to burning customer questions on your website – in a blog section.

To give you an example, in my courses I get small business owners who know they should be doing internet marketing, but haven’t got the foggiest where to start. Hence this article! (Or rather blog post!)

I’ve done a long piece in this case, but it doesn’t have to be this detailed. You could do something simple – even a screen length is ok and better than nothing. It doesn’t have to be all writing too. It could be short – with photos, or with a video or even audio.

I’ve said this is free, but obviously it will take a little time. That said, you should be aware things are going this way online – toward “content marketing”. And if you do it well, it will pay off.

There’s more to content marketing and if you want to understand it better, check our blog posts on content marketing. We also do an intro to content marketing in our social media course.

 

9. Encourage social media shares of your site’s pages and posts (free)

Another factor Google considers when ranking websites is their popularity on social media sites. (This is along the lines of what I was saying about links earlier. Google uses it as a gauge – if page is getting likes, tweets and share there must be something good happening there.)

Maybe you’re on Facebook – using it purely socially. That can be a good starting point.

Once you’ve got your product page up on your website or written a blog post, share it with your friends on Facebook. Let them know you’ve been working hard to get your new site up and ask them for feedback. This gets you off the starting line.

Maybe you’re on Linkedin too? Or you’ve heard it? It’s a network (in a way like Facebook), but focussed on business and careers. It’s another place you can share your pages and posts – with your professional network.

There’s a heap more you can do on the social media front. Other platforms where you can share content and where you can build a following for your business (rather than you personally.)

 

10. Get your business on social media (free)

Social media can help with search ranking, but it can also be a source of direct traffic to your website. Here’s an ultra crash course.

Facebook is the Goliath of the social media world. It’s where a lot of people spend time online. You can set up a Facebook ‘Business Page’ for your business and share content via this Page. That way you can build a following of people genuinely interested in what your business is up to (and not bombard your friends.)

There are other social media platforms too – each of which has a different slant to them. If you bear in mind the flavour and purpose of each, they can help you raise awareness of your business, bring traffic to your website, and add “link juice” to your search ranking.

Quick synopsis: Linkedin is about business. Twitter is more newsy. Pinterest and Instagram are suited well if you have a more visual story to tell. YouTube can bring your business to life via video.

Quick tip: if you’re new to all this, try to do one or two social media platforms well, rather than trying to do many. Also, focus on the platforms where your customers are likely to be hanging out.

More about how to make social media work for your business in our social media course.

 

11. Register your business on Google My Business (free)

Have you ever seen a map come up on page 1 of a google search? The businesses pinpointed on the map got there by registering themselves with Google My Business.

Give yourself a shot at coming up too by registering your business. (This also gives you another quality link by the way – again for free.)

Once you’ve got your listing up, you can increase your chances of it appearing in searches by filling out all the detail, uploading some good photos, and encouraging past customers to write a review of your business. These things appear on Google maps for potential customers. They help give customers a better feel for your business and gain the confidence to go with you.

You can see an example of how visuals help provide a feel for a business via the photos of Media School on our Google Business Page.

 

12. Encourage customers to write an online review (free)

More people are reading and weighing up reviews online when comparing products and services and deciding who to go with.

It’s worth taking the time to encourage your customers to write a review. In many industries, it’s still early days and simply having some reviews will set you apart from other businesses.

The best time to ask your customers is just after they’ve used your service and it’s still fresh in their heads. And of course, it’s a good idea to nab people who are genuine and genuinely interested in what you’re doing.

For many businesses the best place to get reviews is Google. The starting point is to get your business up on Google My Business. Then email customers a link to your new ‘About’ page where they can write a review. You can see an example here – reviews of Media School on our Google Business Page.

Often snippets of these reviews will appear in Google search results – on the Google map. Reviews can be especially important if you’re competing locally.

There are other places where people can write reviews too. This can vary by the industry you’re in. For example, if you’re in a travel related business you’d want to encourage customers to write reviews on TripAdvisor.

You can also get reviews for your business on Facebook. An example here – reviews of Media School on our Facebook Business Page.

 

13. Start an email list on MailChimp (free, mostly)

Email is a simple, free way to start connecting online. You’ve probably even started emailing people you know to get the word out about your business. Obvious, right?

But it pays to do it properly. MailChimp is a professional email marketing platform. It’s free for up to 2,000 emails and while you’re sending less than 12,000 emails a month. (Way more than you’ll need for some time.)

The advantages of a service like MailChimp include: the ability to address each person by their first name, less chance of getting zapped by spam filters and better monitoring of the success of your emails.

 

14. Put a MailChimp sign-up form on your website (free)

Another useful thing you can do with MailChimp is embed an email sign-up widget on your site.

Once people start visiting your website, they may even like, or be interested in, what you’re doing. (They could be prospective customers or “leads” as they say in marketing.) But who exactly are they? If they bounce off your site with no contact you will never know.

One way to find out is to encourage them to provide their email address.

You may have noticed in your own surfing of the net websites keen to get your email address. It’s because they see you as a potential lead for future business and want to stay in contact with you.

When you get further down the track with your internet marketing, you could do what many of these sites are doing – provide free content which gives visitors a better incentive for signing up to your email.

But for now, a starting point is to have a simple email signup form on your site. You’ll see we’ve done this at the bottom of our website. And more prominently on course pages.

How do you do it? Mailchimp has advice on how to set up a sign-up form for your site. Copy the code and paste it into a ‘text’ widget in WordPress. (In the Dashboard, go to ‘Appearance’, then ‘Widgets’.)

 

15. Email useful content (free)

Once you’ve got your email list going, then what? What do you email?

If you just send selling messages your email is going to get trashed. (You know this already.)

Instead, be useful and help your potential customers. Send answers to their problems. To the things they’re stuck on in your field. The things you know about.

Back to point 8: provide useful content (this time by email.) In your email write a snapshot of that great blog post you’ve written and provide a link to it (to take readers back to your website.)

This process is what the marketers call “nurturing” your potential customers. Later, after you’ve built their trust, you can float your product or service as a further solution. They will be more likely to buy from you when they feel you know what you’re talking about.

 

16. Get Google Analytics on your website (free)

How is your website performing? Where is traffic coming from (social media, Google search, links in email, others sites?) What pages or posts are readers interested in? How long are they spending on those pages and posts? What search terms are being used to find your site?

Google Analytics is a free tool to help you gauge what’s working.

 

And some bonus tips …

17. Make it easy for people to contact you

There’s nothing like speaking to a real person – especially when you’re closer to buying something. Make your phone and email strong and clear – so it’s it easy for people to contact you. And give them a “call to action” as they say in the marketing jargon. (Make it clear you want to hear from them.)

 

18. Put a Google map on your site

Having customers find you is fundamental to “getting business in the door”.

Show your location on your website via Google Maps. Simply search Google Maps for your address (or your business if you’ve done Step 7), then click on the link button (chain icon). Copy and paste the code into WordPress on an appropriate page e.g. an About page or your front page.

 

19. Check how your website and email work on mobile

Almost half of internet usage is on mobile phone or tablet devices. That includes people checking their email and doing online searches.

If you’ve built your website on WordPress it should come up well. Most WordPress sites do, but you should double check that the design you’ve chosen is working ok. If you’re doing an email campaign, do some tests and see how it looks in email on your phone. (Mailchimp lets you send test emails.)

 

There’s a lot to absorb here I know. Take Arthur Ashe’s advice: “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” 

Start with the basics (at the top of the post), then chip away over time with the others. If you do you’ll be amazed to see your business appear in Google and that things will begin to happen.

As for me, I’m not at all a geek. In fact, I really don’t like a lot of the technical stuff. But I did most of this myself.  These simple steps got my business off the ground, by getting it on the internet. You can do it too.

If it’s all too much and you need help, you could contact Vernon at Phlow. (Vernon is a techie. He’s my go-to guy when I get stuck. And like you, I do. )

At least now you know what you need to get done.

Have I missed some basics? Got any relevant tips yourself? Leave a comment below.

 

For more free advice, sign up to our mailing list in the right-hand column or at the bottom. (Coming up more posts on social media marketing.)

Feature pic by TableatNY on Flickr licenced under Creative Commons




Phil Stubbs

The journey that led me to start Media School

Every good business has a story. The essence of how they came to do what they’re doing. The reason why they’re doing it.

If you can articulate that for your business it’ll give you the seeds of some authentic content to engage with your audience on the internet and the motivation to keep at it.

This post is the story of how I started training people to use new media. And why I love to help them use social media to pursue their own goals and dreams.

 

My business and advertising foundations

I originally studied Business at Queensland University, graduated and realised pretty quickly I needed to do something creative. It led me to work in advertising.

I landed a job at one of the country’s leading ad agencies (The Campaign Palace in Sydney.) It was an innovative place and had won lots of awards for its creativity.

It also had a strong strategic focus and I worked closely with an experienced Strategy Planner. The budgets and campaigns were big and I learnt loads about approaching marketing and communication in smart, strategic, creative ways.

But there was something missing. Authenticity.

 

Work with small business, causes and in media education

I escaped corporate advertising and freelanced promoting small businesses and causes.

It was at that time I stumbled onto a job running an ad course at Charles Sturt University – which gave me the flexibility to work on interesting, worthwhile projects with students. Often the budgets were tiny but we worked out creative ways to get things happening in the media for all sorts of charities, small businesses and startups.

 

Enter Facebook (and social media)

After moving to teach at the University of Western Sydney, one day early in 2007 I got an email from a student asking: “Will you be my friend on Facebook?” 

Err, nope I thought, and anyway what is Facebook?

Turns out now it’s the most influential media platform on the planet. The penny began to drop that year and I set about learning as much as I could – by way of courses and diving in and using these new emerging media platforms myself.

By 2009 I was teaching social media in my advertising courses. And even set my students the task of promoting a new kind of client in my Campaigns class – themselves. I got them to promote their own personal brand with the tiniest budget possible – zero.

 

Carving out a niche online

It was a promotion campaign that worked straight up for a number of students who were offered a job before university had even finished – thanks to employers finding their blog and social media profiles online.

I’d known the power of the media from my days in advertising. But now, with social media, you could get into the media for free. Anyone could find an audience, carve out their own niche and build a reputation.

 

What works on the web

While I was at university I studied who was successful online and why. What I found, ironically after working in corporate advertising, was that authenticity was now the key.

To do something that’s true to you. Something where your passion shines through. Something that helps the world, even a small way, even to a very specific group people. That’s the stuff that works well on the web.

 

My low budget online success

I know this, not just from research at university and my work with students, but also from diving in online myself.

One of my other passions is sustainability. Another is radio. On the side in late 2007 I started reporting environmental stories for 2ser. On the back of it in early 2008 I had a go at launching my own blog and podcast. By April that podcast reached Number 4 in the News & Politics section of iTunes, just above the Channel 9 News.

Further confirmation for me that “the gatekeepers were no longer in control”. You no longer needed a truckload of money to make a mark in the media. It also taught me you’ve just got to get in and give things a go in this new media space. (If I’d worried about ROI in the beginning, I’d never have got that far.)

 

The trouble with university

The future was clearly digital. I developed a Digital Media subject for the university but was told it would take at least 3 years before it would hit the ground – thanks to uni bureaucracy.

I was also being pushed by the uni to publish papers and do a PhD that would take 7 years and produce a thesis I knew would end up on a dusty shelf in a library somewhere.

At the same time my uni subjects had become sausage factories – pumping through ever-increasing numbers of students. Some lectures had 400 people. And around me the academics being promoted were the ones that theorised the most and taught the least.

 

My startup

So instead of spending 7 years theorising, I ditched my secure, well paying job for the potential and risk of my own small business, and to plant my feet firmly back on the ground.

To teach small classes. To really help people. To help them do good things – like launch new ventures and new careers and make a difference in their own way.

To be in the here and now of the new media world that’s changing all the time. And to do my own practical, new media projects.

Back to authenticity. (Some things don’t go away.)

 

The joy of teaching

In the last few years since I’ve started Media School, I’ve had some wonderful people in classes: other small business owners, marketing and communication professionals (promoting big brands and worthwhile causes), and courageous folk starting new careers and launching interesting new creative ventures.

It’s been a joy to teach them and help them learn how to use new media to further their goals.

You can see where they’ve come from and see what they’ve said about us via these links.

And you can even see what a course looks like via our Instagram. (No longer 400 students in a class, but 6 to 12.)

 

And what about you?

How did you come to do what you’re doing now?

Whatever you’re promoting, there may well be the seeds of a great campaign in what’s behind it and how it came to be.

Why you started it.

(Simon Sinek reckons “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” It’s far more compelling. Check out Simon Sinek’s TED Talk. He explains how ‘finding your why’ works.)

 

Get in touch

I’d love to hear what you’re working on, why and how it started, and how I could help. You’re welcome to give me a call on 0403 517242.

If you want to see what we do in courses you’ll find lots of detail about our flagship social media course here. If you come you’ll learn more about creating compelling content and how to get new media to really work for you.

 

Best of luck, Phil




Linkedin for beginners tips - how to use

Linkedin Beginners Guide: 36 tips on how to use Linkedin

We see a lot of people in our social media course who are on Linkedin, but in name only. Literally. They’ve set up an account, put their name on there, maybe their job title and company, some scant info, and that’s about it. They know they should be doing more and suspect they can get more out of Linkedin, but the whole thing is a bit of mystery and besides, where to start?

If this might just be you too, you’ll find this Linkedin Beginner’s Guide useful. In it, I’ve identified practical, actionable things you can do to get Linkedin up and running, and working for you.

And yes, that suspicion Linkedin is important is right. At the time of writing this post, there are 6 million people in Australian on it. That’s about half of the number of people working in the country. Worldwide there are 400+ million on Linkedin, with 2 new members joining every second.

As opposed other social media, it’s clearly focused on business and professional purposes. It can help you uncover new business, find a new job, prepare for a meeting, and give your online reputation a major shot in the arm.

It’s significant and worth getting right. Let’s dive in and see what you can do.

 

1. Fill it out!

Not rocket science I know, but this is the number one problem for most people I’m afraid. As the saying goes: “Nothing diminishes anxiety faster than action.”

Set aside an hour or two at night or on the weekend. Log in to Linkedin, explore the different sections, see what they do, and most importantly start filling in sections. You won’t get it 100% right first go, but you will make a big leap, not only in how your Linkedin looks but also better understanding how it works.

Don’t be shy, put your best foot forward. Think of it like a job interview or a prospective client considering you for the business. What are your major achievements? What sets you apart?

Linkedin runs on the words you put in there. Good, well-crafted content will help you get found and give others confidence to work with you.

If people find not much at all when they land on your profile, it doesn’t really do you a whole lot of good. That’s the pep talk, now let’s get into it.

 

2. Be clear about your goals

Action is key, but before you start it’s important to have a direction. What are your career goals? What do you want to known for? Being clear on where you’re heading will help you fill in your Linkedin profile, decide who to connect with, make better use of Linkedin’s features, and create content to post.

Importantly too, it will help you be clear on the most fundamental aspect of Linkedin: the words and language that describe your work. Also known as your ‘keywords’.

 

3. Be clear about your keywords

Keywords help you get found on Linkedin. Yours should describe: what you do (the field you work in and your skills), who you help (the kind of people they are), and where you work.

To give you an example, my field is ‘social media’. But you can, and I have, used related terms such as ‘digital media’ and ‘internet marketing’. On the skill side, its’ ‘training’. But there are related words of ‘teaching’, ‘classes’, ‘courses’, ‘trainer’ and ‘educator’. The people I help include marketing professionals, small businesses, causes and startups. And I mostly work in Sydney, in the Eastern Suburbs. If you look closely you’ll see I’ve peppered these words in my profile.

As you write your own profile be aware of what you want to be known for and use those words.

 

4. Put those keywords in key places

The most important places to put keywords on Linkedin are your ‘Headline, ‘Summary’, ‘Experience’, ‘Skills’ section, and website links anchor text (in the ‘Contact’ section.)

Don’t overdo it, though. Avoid “keyword stuffing” as they say. Your Linkedin profile needs to read well for humans, not just Linkedin’s algorithms. Authenticity is still paramount.

 

5. Secure your Linkedin “vanity URL”

When you first sign up to Linkedin the web address for your profile will have all this gobbledy-gook in it (a whole bunch of letters and numbers.) You can strip that stuff out and get yourself a useful URL. (E.g. mine is www.linkedin.com/in/philipstubbs.)

You can then put this simple web address as an email signature, on your business card, in your resume, and as the website where you want people to know your credentials. A simpler url also nudges the search engines to find you.

To do it, go to www.linkedin.com/profile/public-profile-settings. In the top right you’ll see ‘Your public profile URL’.

If your name is Jane Smith, it’s probably already taken. In which case I’d advise including your middle name. There’s a guy called David Scott who did that. He’s stuck with his unusual middle name (Meerman) across everything online to differentiate himself and done pretty well.

 

6. Craft your Linkedin headline

There’s a number of sections to fill out in your profile, but the one that’s most important is the ‘headline’.

Your headline tells people who you are and what you do. It’s a chance to stand out and attract people who are good connections and possible leads for work.

Most of the time on Linkedin when you see other people on there – e.g. in your news-stream – you’ll see their name, their photo, and their headline. It’s a simple snapshot of who they are.

Like the headline for an article or an ad, yours should sum things up and draw people to you. The other big thing you need to do is include your critical keywords in it.

To change or write your headline, go to Profile, click on edit profile and then the little pencil icon.

The other associated info you’ll see just underneath your headline is where you’re located and what industry you work in. These are simple items to fill out, but also critical to your visibility in Linkedin. Make sure you do them.

 

7. Enter your contact info

There’s only a little button for this on your profile page, so many people overlook it. However, it’s a chance to get your email and phone number on there. Only people connected with you can see your email and phone. If you’re doing a good job of branding yourself and selling your services it means your connections can reach you.

In the same area, you can also add your website(s) and Twitter account(s). Worth hooking up if you have them. This helps people find out more about you and boost your branding.

 

8. Add a good profile image

One of the goals of your Linkedin profile is to build credibility. A blank (ghost) photo is not a good look. It’s also a fact that Linkedin members with a photo get 11 times more profile views on average.

Again, no need to be shy. This is about building the brand of you.

What sort of pic should you put on? A head and shoulders shot is best – as it’s going to be small on the screen and you want people to recognise you. On that note, it’s also a good idea to use the same pic across your other social media.

Does it need to be photographed professionally? No, not necessarily. It could be a simple shot against a blank background or even a selfie. Just make sure it says this is a professional person. A snap from your holiday in Bali is not a good idea.

 

9. Add a background pic

You can also now add a visual as a header to your profile. (To do it find the ‘Edit Background’ button at the top of your profile.)

A background pic will make your profile look more professional and more interesting. Go for a photo that represents you and your field. And try to make it interesting or striking.

If you don’t have a photo for it, you could go to a photo stock library and pay a little (between $10 and $60) to buy one. There are heaps of libraries out there if you google it. Some big ones are iStockphoto and Shutterstock.

The tricky part with libraries is finding a shot (you only need one) that’s not cheesy or cliched. There’s some alternatives in this article and my collection of stock photo sites.

 

10. Tell your story in your Summary

Your Summary is the first real impression people will get of you, after your photo and headline.

This is a place where you can speak to the reader in a human voice and give them a feel for who you are.

A good way to do that is to tell your story: where you’ve been (your past successes) and where you’re going. And don’t just think about you, think about who you help and how you help them.

Keep in mind the goals I asked you to define at the start. And weave your keywords into the narrative. Altogether, ideally, you’d paint a picture of what really drives you. Known by the marketing gurus these days as “your why.”

Remember the aim is to put your best foot forward – as you would in a job interview (if your objective is to find work) or speaking with a prospective client (if your objective is to find new business.)

It’s also a good idea at the end of your Summary to include a ‘call-to-action’ and a way to contact you (to save people having to click on Contact Info.)

How long should your Summary be? It’s a juggling act. Of course, a lot of people scan text online and don’t read much, but then some will want to know more if they’re considering trusting you (to buy from) or investing in you (to employ.) People also will read more if it’s well written.

 

10. Avoid cliches

There’s a lot of people on Linkedin who sound like shiny robots. They flood their text with glowing adjectives and overdo the jargon.

Write clearly and succinctly – as if you’re speaking one on one to someone. The best way to improve your writing is to read it out loud and then fix the waffley bits. Cite real achievements. Specifics persuade people. Vague generalities do not. (They make their eyes glaze over.)

Should you write in first person or third person? There are pros and cons both ways. (I lean toward first.)

 

11. Nail the company, job title and location

For each job in the ‘Experience’ section, the key things are the company name, job title, location, period and job description.

Linkedin job position

If your organisation has a Company Page on Linkedin, it should come up as you type. Once saved, it’ll give you a link to more info about the Company on your profile.

Again, it’s worth pointing out you need to nail the keywords in your job title and you need to make sure you have the location in there – to make your profile findable.

 

12. Draw from your CV (resume)

You really should fill in a good amount of your work history in the ‘Experience’ section. That includes the Description bit. It gives you depth and it’s a place to enter more of your keywords.

When you’re starting with a blank screen this might seem a lot to do. One simple way to get things going is to dig out your CV and draw from there.

You could copy and paste from CV, but I’d suggest you also edit and tweak it to make it read well.

In the description section for your job, one way of formatting is to divide it into ‘Key responsibilities’ (which is a way to enter your skills/keywords) and ‘Achievements’ (which is a way to show what you can do.)

 

13. Add “rich content” to your profile

You can add media to your text. It can be a document, photo, link, video, or presentation. This “rich content” brings your work to life and makes your profile more interesting and convincing.

You’ll see the buttons for it at the bottom of the job position.

Linkedin media

You can pick up a link of a presentation from Sildeshare or a video from YouTube or Vimeo and it’ll appear in your profile with a visual.

Phil's Linkedin profile media

 

14. Round out your profile with other sections

On your Linkedin profile (under Experience but near the top)  you’ll see coloured squares identifying other sections.

Linkedin profile sections

Click on ‘View More’ to find more sections and then start adding your info.

The purpose of adding more about you here is that it rounds out your profile and adds to ‘substance’ to upur profile – proof you can do what you say you can. They’re also another chance to put in keywords which will help you get found.

There’s a bunch of sections available, but the ones I’d suggest you consider / have a go at are: ‘Courses’, ‘Volunteering’, ‘Organisations’, ‘Honours & Awards’, ‘Projects’, and ‘Certifications’.

Note that ‘Courses’ are short courses you’ve done with training providers, whereas ‘Education’ is more like your Secondary and Tertiary Education at larger institutions.

 

 15. Add your ‘Skills’

Linkedin Skills

Skills is another area where you can highlight your strengths and insert keywords. Your Connections can then endorse you for your skills.

It’s slightly controversial this one. Yes, it’s very easy to others to endorse you and you them. But it does say something if you’ve got a 50 or 100 people saying you’re good in particular area.

To get it going, find the Skills coloured square, click Add Skill and fill it out. You can submit 50, but best not to overdo it. 20 is ok. Your connections can also add skills you may not have thought of. You can re-order skills or delete them.

On the flip side, you can endorse your Connections. Find their profile and click on Endorse. Or scroll down to their Skills and click on the + button next to the skill. Make it a genuine endorsement for someone you genuinely admire.

 

16. Don’t be afraid to connect

The people you know or meet can often be the catalyst that leads to a new job or consulting work or a sale. Your professional network can also provide advice and support, as well as introductions and opportunities. (This is another pep talk to help you get over your shyness for the next tips – which are about building your network online – the essence of Linkedin.)

 

17. Search for people you directly know

Start with friends, family, work colleagues, and clients. Put their name in the search box. Alternatively, put the name of their business in the search box to find them.

‘1st’, ‘2nd’, ‘3rd’ against people’s names show how many degrees of connections away they are. For 2nd degree connections Linkedin shows who you know in common.

 

18. Connect via ‘Pending invitations’ and ‘People you may know’

You’ll see in the top left in the navigation bar a little figure of a head. Hover over it with your mouse and it’ll show ‘Pending invitations’ and ‘People you may know’.

‘Pending invitations’ are people who’ve reached out to connect with you. There may be people there you know and want to connect with.

Same for ‘People you may know’. Scan through and connect. This starts to work better once you’ve inputted where you’ve worked and built your connections.

 

19. Connect with people after you’ve met in real life

Sometimes I meet people at a business function or a meeting or a seminar that are doing interesting things work wise. In the old days, I might have got a business card, taken it home and shoved it in a desk drawer.

Now I get on Linkedin and send a connection request the next day – reminding them where we met. I use the business card to remind me to do it. (Once you’ve done that you can ditch their business card.)

 

20. Find contacts via your gmail, hotmail, yahoo email address

This is a quick way to increase your network on Linkedin. You can send a bulk invitation to people you’ve interacted with on email. Hover over ‘Network’ in the navigation bar at the top and click on ‘Add connections’. Once put your email in it’ll pull up a stack of people. Don’t send an invitation request to everyone. Tick people who know you.

 

21.Upload your contacts book to find connections

In the same place, you’ll see ‘Import a file’. You can import a file of your contacts. (You may first need to go into your contacts and export all your contacts as a file onto your desktop.)

Once it’s imported, Linkedin will identify which of those contacts who are on Linkedin. And similar to how it does with email (above), it will ask who you want to connect with.

Again, you shouldn’t overdo it and send invitation requests to everyone. Choose people you have a reasonable relationship with. This can be another fast way to build your connections. And connections are key to Linkedin.

 

22. It can be ok to connect with people you don’t know

It can be worth connecting with people who are a good contact in your field &/or where you have something strong in common. This applies to people inviting you to connect (‘pending invitations’) and for you reaching out and building your network.

If you’re going to reach out to people, though, you need to make sure your profile is solid and credible for a start. Also that there might be mutual benefit down the track. And that it won’t be seen as pestering them.

Willy nilly connecting (which happens a lot on Linkedin) is not a good idea.

 

23. Explore and use Linkedin Search

There are 6 million people in Australia on Linkedin and more inputting information about themselves. Linkedin’s search function allows to tap into that and find people in your field.

If you’re looking for a job you can find other people with that job title and learn about their career pathway. You can find companies you’re interested in, learn who works there and what’s happening with them. You may even be able to track down who’s likely to do the hiring in the Company.

If you’re chasing sales leads you can specify typical job titles of your prospects and your industry. Once you’ve found prospects Linkedin shows if you know anyone in common.

Next to the Search box at the top on the right-hand side you’ll see ‘Advanced Search’. If you click on it, you’ll see your options for refining your search – by keywords, title, company, and location.  On the left-hand side of the Search box you have options to search by People, Jobs, Companies, Groups, Universities, and Posts. Check out this article on Linkedin Search to go from beginner to more advanced use of search.

 

24. Write personalised connection requests

Before you send a connection request it’s best to click through to their profile and connect from there. Reason being that you can wrire a personal note with the request. After you click the ‘connect’ button on their profile you’ll get Linkedin’s default “boilerplate” text inviting them to connect.

You can, and should, tweak the standard text to personalise it and make it more human. Include their name and write how they know you or mention where you met them. Find something in common.

You can review how you’ve been writing to people at www.linkedin.com/messaging.

 

25. Ask for and give ‘Recommendations’

A Recommendation is like a testimonial. It’s proof you’ve got the goods and helps build trust.

The best way to get a Recommendation is to write one first for someone you’ve worked with. Once you’ve done it, Linkedin will ask them if they want to write one back.

To get started go to www.linkedin.com/recs.

You’ll see there you can also ask your connections for a Recommendation.

Who do you ask for a recommendation? You should balance close contacts, people you know were impressed with your work, and people who look good (title wise.) Not everyone you ask will write a recommendation for you. Of course, it helps to ask people you got on with well.

Help the people you ask. Prod them with what they could write about. Give them some thought starters.

Once you’ve been given a Recommendation you can choose whether or not to show it. You can also move those recommendations up or down on your profile.

 

26. Explore the Jobs section

If you’re looking for a job, click on the Jobs tab in the navigation bar at the top. Or head to www.linkedin.com/jobs

Linkedin will use your skills, location and other info you’ve inputted to suggest jobs to you.

You can also search for a job. The advanced search gives you options to search by industry, job function, and location.

Once you click on a job you’ll see: who posted the job, where to apply (which can be via Linkedin), desired skills and experience, the number of applicants for the job, more about the Company, and similar jobs.

If you’re looking for staff for your business you can also post a job.

 

27. Use Linkedin to prepare for meetings and interviews

Before a meeting and or an interview you can use Linkedin to find out more about the person you’re meeting and their company.

If they’re on Linkedin you can research the organisation’s services, culture and news. You can find out more about the background and career paths of the people who work there, including the person you’re meeting. You may even have things in common with them – connections, groups or education. A mutual connection might be able to give you an inside scoop or let you know where to find more info. You can also research the industry via industry groups on Linkedin.

Company and industry knowledge is often a important element in landing a job or new business.

 

28. Join Groups

There’s a group on almost possible niche you can think of on Linkedin. To find a group, use the Search box at the top and then the Groups filter on the left hand side.

To get to the Groups section of Linkedin go to www.linkedin.com/groups Otherwise hover over Interests in the navigation bar and drop down to Groups.

Why join a group? You can learn what’s happening in your industry – find issues, articles and events. You can ask for answers to things you’re struggling with. You can demonstrate your expertise – via your own content and useful articles you find. If you’re in the same group as someone you can message them directly (even if you’re not connected.)

 

29. Follow Companies

Use Linkedin’s Search box to find and follow companies you’re interested in. They might be organisations you either want to do business with or get a job at.

If you explore their Company page you’ll be able to see who works there, the kind of roles and job titles they have, their products and services, and the latest on what’s happening with the Company. In fact, if you hit the follow button their updates will go into the newsfeed.

You can get a Companies only newsfeed by going to Interests (in the navigation bar), then drop down to Companies. Or go to www.linkedin.com/company/home. You’re welcome to check out and follow

You’re welcome to check out and follow Media School’s Linkedin Company page.

Bonus tip: if there’s magazines that produce useful articles in your field, find them in Companies and follow them. It can be a useful source of news to keep you up to date and source articles to share on social media.

 

30. Set up your own Company (business) page

A Linkedin Company page can help lift your business’s credibility.

On the page itself, you can provide more info about the business to prospective customers, including what you do and why you do it. You can create a Showcase page about aspects or products in your business and you can identify staff who deal with particular products.

In your updates, you can let followers know about news and provide content and ideas that will help them with their own work. (So the page becomes one of the tools in your content marketing.) That can include blog posts, videos, web links, and special offers. And you can post job opportunities at your business.

Your page comes with analytics so you can see what posts by the business work best.

Once you’ve set up your page it’s a good idea to get staff to follow the Company page and share updates on Linkedin.

You must have a business email to set up a Company page.

 

31. Post useful content

Back to your personal Linkedin. On your Home page near the top you’ll see options to “Share an update”, “Upload a photo” or “Publish a post”.

When you put info in here it goes into the news-stream of the people you’re connected with. This is where you can build your personal brand by carefully posting content that’s useful to your network.

It could be a blog post you’ve written or a post by someone else or an article you’ve found. It could be a video. It could be a presentation you’ve done (and posted on Slideshare) or your newsletter (on a platform called Issuu.) It might be an interesting event that’s coming up.

If you’re stuck on something you could ask a question of your network. You could ask for an introduction or a referral to a company you’re interested in.

Some important tips for you. Remember this is about business. The goal is to build credibility and your professional brand. Make it relevant and helpful. Be careful about being too self-promotional.

And some other useful tips: photos and videos tend to get more interaction on all social media (including Linkedin.) Questions get interaction.

Liking, sharing and commenting on others posts helps them and gets your name in front of them. Posting good content on a regular basis is how you build credibility.

 

32. Publish a post

You can write your own article on Linkedin’s publishing platform (known as ‘Pulse’.) It’s more than a status update, it’s more like a blog. You can format the post and add images.

The idea of doing this is that it showcases your expertise and helps build credibility. It contributes to people’s first impression when they look at your profile – as these posts sit at the top of your profile and can be read by anyone.

The post also pops up as a message in the notifications box of your connections. And it goes into Linkedin’s big Pulse collection. People can then follow you if they like your work. Non-Linkedin users can also read Publisher posts, unlike your normal status updates.

You also get stats on your posts to see how you’re going and what kind of people are reading them.

 

33. Decide what appears in a Google search (your ‘public profile’)

If you Google search a person’s name, you’ll often find a Linkedin profile or two comes up on page one of the search results. Actually, try it for your own name and see. If you’ve made a start on Linkedin your profile could well be on there.

Some newbies run scared of this, but the thing is that you can control your Linkedin profile. You can’t necessarily control other results about you.

On Linkedin you can put your best foot forward and position yourself in the best possible light – via the info you put in the different sections of Linkedin.

You can even decide to show some info for people on Linkedin, but turn it off for the public searching on Google. In the ‘public profile settings’ page, you can tick or untick what you want to show to the public. “You’re the boss of your account” is the latest slogan from Linkedin themselves.

 

34. Tweak it

“There is no great writing. Only great re-writing.” ~Louis Brandeis

If you end up making a big dent on the work here, you’ll be well and truly on your way. If you want to make your profile really hum though, you need to come back to it, re-read it and re-work it. That’s true of any writing. Success is in the tweaking.

 

35. See it as an investment

Linkedin is not going away. Because of its business orientation, it’s probably the most solid of the social media platforms. It’s not a fad. You’re going to have this branding platform for a long while to come. So see the time you put into it as an investment.

Yes, there’s some work to do in the beginning, but once you have all the main bits done, it’ll become more a matter of checking in now and again. And once you become more advanced, it’s more about publishing content and reaching out.

 

36. Do a Linkedin course!

Doing a live course somewhere will force you to sit down and do it!

We offer one of those – a one-day Linkedin training course where we step you through how to use Linkedin (the above and more.) BYO laptop and login and we’ll get stuck in.

It’s a dedicated day to get your Linkedin up and going. And to leave with a better understanding of how it works. With the time, we show examples and go into areas in more depth – including a whole lot more on how to use Linkedin strategically to find new business or new work.

 

If you have any questions about the course or any of this you’re welcome to get in touch.

And if I’ve left out anything important (that beginners need to know), by all means let me know – via the Comments below.

Good luck! Phil.




Content marketing for beginners: how and why it works

People have been getting pretty tired of marketing messages being ‘pushed’ on them for some time. Now with the internet they are really over it. No one wants to click on your banner ad. Fewer people are opening your emails. And pop-up ads drive us nuts.

There is another way though. And that’s to get your head around how this new media really works, and work with it. The video here provides a great intro to how you can make a mark on the internet.

Instead of interrupting people with your message, what you need to do is give them something so good they not only thank you for it, the reaction you get is: “wow that’s amazing, I have to share this.” So they go on Facebook or Twitter or Linkedin or Pinterest and pass it onto their friends.

Think about it: people are on the internet to discover things, communicate with their friends and represent to the world who they are. You can create ‘content’ that can help them with that.

Don’t think of the internet as another way of advertising. Instead put material on the internet that’s interesting, useful, insightful, inspiring, enlightening, unusual and maybe even educational.

This kind of marketing has been called many things, but the name you no doubt have heard (and will hear more of) is “content marketing”.

Simply put, content marketing is about creating material your audience enjoys paying attention to, that they want to share, and that demonstrates you’d be a good person to do business with.

This post is the first in our series of posts on content marketing. In the posts to come we’ll get stuck into how to do it.

Have another look at the video in this post. If you can really do what it suggests i.e. switch people’s thinking you’ll be onto something that’ll go gangbusters on the internet. In the posts to come we’ll also look more closely at the secret sauce that goes beyond ‘the how’ to supercharge engagement with your audience – understanding ‘the why’ of content marketing.

Useful links:
Our series of posts on content marketing
Articles we’ve found on content marketing
Videos on content marketing

What do you think? Leave us a comment and let us know …

By Phil Stubbs




How to win at content marketing: tell a compelling story

How do you breakthrough when everyone has cottoned on to the idea of content marketing?

Tell your audience a story. People love stories. One that’s unique and from the heart of the business.

The video here is about a business that’s in the business of telling stories. It explains how finding and telling your unique story can work …

How do you find your story? You need to dig and ask the right questions.

Ask yourself what’s the idea behind your business? What’s ‘the why’: why are you doing it? Dig deep: what brought you to the point of starting it?

Now put yourself in the shoes of your customer. What is it you do that rings true for them. How are you making their lives better? What brings value to their lives?

There’s truth and power in the answers to these questions.

If you tell a compelling story based on a fundamental truth you have a better chance of your audience engaging with you. If they see the value in your idea they’ll begin to participate.

If you really are doing something that’s making people’s lives better they’ll adopt it to be part of their own story. And they’ll share it so it’s part of their communities.

This is the art of good content marketing.

Want to learn more? Check out these resources – yours for free:
Our series of posts on content marketing
Articles we’ve found on content marketing
Videos on content marketing
Videos on storytelling

Have your own ideas about content marketing? Leave a comment below.

By Phil Stubbs




Content marketing elements table

The elements of content marketing

New to content marketing? We’ve broken it down to its component parts:
– the types of content
– the formats of content
– where you can distribute content
– the triggers that encourage folks to share your content
– a checklist of essentials before you publish
– your objectives and how you measure your content marketing

Thanks to Econsultancy for a living example of content marketing. They’ve visualised the parts in this ‘periodic table’.

Read on to find out what all this means in lay terms.

Types of content
These are all different approaches you can take to creating content. Different angles if you like:
– how to’s
– reviews
– interviews
– beginner’s guide
– ask the experts
– Q&A
– compilation
– best practice
– case study
– research findings
– trends
– opinion piece
– vision for niche
– biggest tip
– inspiration
– quote
– product demo
– mindmap
– template
– checklist
– timesaving tips

Formats of content
You can package your ideas in different forms:
– video
– article
– blog post
– image
– infographic
– visualisation
– slideshow
– ebook
– webinar
– elearning
– event
– game
– app
– tool

Distribution / sharing platforms
There’s many ways you can get your content out there:
– website
– email
– blog
– forums
– Facebook
– Linkedin
– Twitter
– YouTube
– Google+
– Pinterest
– Instagram
– Slideshare
– partner sites
– traditional media
– traditional advertising

Sharing triggers
As you’re creating your content it’ll help you to keep in mind the triggers that will spur people to share it. Reasons vary. It can be they find the content:
– funny
– moving
– controversial
– unbelievable
– illuminating
– uplifting
– charming
– cool
– cute
– sexy
– shocking
– disgusting

Often it’s tapping into very essential human qualities that are the source of people’s urge to share. More in this post on the humanity of social media sharing.

Checklist
Before you put your content out there make sure the work is:
– search optimised
– headline optimised
– device optimised
– copy edited and crafted
– used plain English
– used appropriate tone of voice
– credited sources
– checked facts
– sorted formatting
– fits brand guidelines
– included a call to action
– invited feedback

Measurement
You should of course track how your content has performed – against these kinds of objectives:
– traffic
– leads
– branding
– sales
– search position
– members
– shares
– engagement

OK it’s a bit dry all this component stuff. What it does though is lay the foundation for all the different ways you can do content marketing.

Our series of posts on content marketing will help you dive deeper – into the stuff that’ll set you apart, that’ll engage your audience and get your content marketing to touch some deeper nerves.

You can also find more via our collection of free learning resources:
Articles we’ve found on content marketing
Videos on content marketing

Have we forgotten anything? Let us know in the comments below …

by Phil Stubbs




Why blogging is good for you (by Seth Godin)

When you start blogging you’ll have small numbers of people reading it – especially in the early stages.

In this video Seth Godin says: don’t worry! He argues what matters is the humility that comes from writing your blog.

What Seth means is the process of writing forces you to make your topic clear and simple for others to understand. You’re going to have to think it through and get it straight in your own head first. (In fact it’ll also help to do a little research before you start writing – so you understand the topic a bit better.)

By going through this process you’re actually learning more about your field. And pretty much training yourself to become more of an expert.

How good is that then? You learn more about your field and you get the side benefit of being seen as a thought leader by potential customers.

It doesn’t matter if you’re not the “expert” you’d like to be now. Don’t worry if you’re just starting out and you feel like a fake. Just be humble and start.

Starting the process is an important change in how you think about yourself.

And as Seth says: “if you stick with it and you may even get good at it.” (This beast called blogging.)

We run crash courses on blogging. Find upcoming dates of our blogging course in Sydney.

By Phil Stubbs