How to Have the Perfect Professional Twitter Bio

Do you use your personal Twitter handle for professional purposes?  Of course you do!  I recently surveyed 150 people and 99% indicated that they do in fact use their own Twitter handle to communicate, network and conduct research in a professional capacity. As a part of that survey, I also asked questions about their bios, how they were set up and what information they added to their bios.  A staggering 85% indicated that they did not put much thought into their bios.  And, 100% of those respondents were concerned that their personal brand was less than stellar and that they were not as professional appearing as they could be.  So, you are not alone if you have had these concerns.  To remedy the situation, here are 8 Best Practices to use to have the perfect professional Twitter bio:Social Media, Twitter

1. A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Nothing could be more true.  When a Tweet appears, what is the first thing you notice? It is the avatar of course – good or bad.  So, if you want to have a professional appearance, the first place to start is your avatar.

Best Practice is to have the same professional photo that you would use for LinkedIn.  You want to look your part AND you want to be recognizable.  For occasions when you get to meet Twitter connections, it is great to actually recognize or be recognized!

2.  Don’t Be Cute with Your Twitter Handle

Not only are you a brand in and of yourself, you want people to be able to remember you. It is Best Practice to use your own name as your Twitter handle. Now, that can be difficult.  For example, there are a lot of Heather MacLeans out there.  I could have gotten my full name, but it seemed long and with a hyphen in there, that might complicate things.  So, I ended up using @MacLeanHeather.

As a point of reinforcement, there is a wonderfully talented person in the industry that I like to keep in touch with.  Unfortunately I always forget her Twitter handle as it is something obscure.  So, I inevitably have to resort to communicate with her via LinkedIn, even though I know that she is on Twitter more frequently.

3. Use Your Real Name

Again, searching, finding and connecting to people can be difficult if you don’t use your real name in your Twitter bio.  Best Practice states using your real name versus nicknames, or variations on your name.  Of course, if you don’t want to be found…

4. What to Include in Your Actual Bio

You are human and not a robot..right?  So, be sure to use a combination of key words that reflect your profession/industry, but also include some interesting personal information. I used to include that I was an airplane nerd, which I am, but I don’t tend to Tweet about airplanes.  Now  I include that I am a dog lover and wannabe chef.  That makes sense to me as I do Tweet, on occasion, about these things.

So, be professional, but have some fun too!

5. Use Links

The great thing about your Twitter profile is that you can include a link to your own website, LinkedIn profile, profile, etc.  Take advantage of this to help people get to know you.

6.  Location

Be sure to include your location data.  People love to connect with people in their respective regions and/or in new areas.

7.  Use of Header

Be sure to select a header image that not only scales, but also reinforces who you are. Having a blurry out of scale image is not good. Neither of course is something totally inappropriate.  If in doubt, look to others that inspire you or that you admire. Get a feel for what they use. Don’t copy of course, but emulate.

8. Completeness of Information

It is Best Practice to complete the details above.  If you really want to connect with people, they will want to know who you are.  Remember, this is social media.  Many people, including me, tend to return follows of people that share no details about themselves.

So, in the end, these are easy tips and Best Practices to follow.  Still have questions, let me know.

Want to learn more?  Feel free to sign up for our newsletter at TaylorMade Solutions (insert “newsletter” into inquiry box)

5 Ways Content Marketing is Essential for Top of the Funnel Sales Process

Content marketing continues to be one of the most important tools in the marketing tool box, and it should be.  After all, when done properly, content marketing helps drive leads.  Known as top of the funnel content, or TOFU as we affectionately call it in the business, why not take advantage of good content marketing?  Here are 5 ways content marketing is essential to your top of the funnel sales process:

3 Reasons Why Content Marketing is Important to Top of Funnel Sales,

Image courtesy of

1. Buyers Want Content

Think about what you do when you want to learn about something.  Chances are that you hit the Web to research products, services, locations, etc.  The better the information that you find, the more informed you feel.  This is essential in terms of beginning of the buying/selling process.  When a prospect is in the beginning stages, that person wants/needs information.  Give them what they want and what they need.

And, chances are the prospect will develop a level of trust and/or connection to the source that provided excellent and educational content.

2.  Balance the Selling versus Informing

Again, think back to your own experience.  When you research something new as you begin your buying cycle how do you feel when you start reading an article or blog that appears to answer all your burning questions only to find out that it was a cleverly disguised sales pitch?  Well, if you are like me, you are probably annoyed and click out of the site.  The only time that I don’t feel that way is “if” someone has already won me over with great content AND they did so without being all salesy and pitchy.

The lesson here, is don’t make your content all about you, how wonderful you are and how much you can help someone or some organization.  Top of the Funnel Content that works best is content that is helpful, but generic in nature.  People get turned off by this.  TOFU is intended to move prospects from the top of the funnel down to the middle of the funnel, or again as we like to say to MOFU.

3.  Promote Your Content

So, you have figured out what content to create and you have balanced the salesy tone with useful information that prospects will and can use, but now what?  How do you get people to find and read your content.

You have to share your content of course.  You need to determine the right channels to use for your business.  Most businesses tend to focus on Twitter and LinkedIn Company Groups as the place to promote content.  However, don’t forget about Facebook Google+ and LinkedIn Groups.  Be sure to understand how each channel is used.  For example, if you use all of these channels, be sure that you are posting at the right intervals, using images and the right language.  Also, remember not to spam people.  For LinkedIn Groups for example, don’t just join a group to post your content.  Be sure to join appropriate groups and comment and like posts of others.

The goal of course is to bring your prospects back to your website and to ultimately move them down the funnel.  Finding the right channels and sharing will help you do this, provided you aren’t just pushing your own content only.  Remember to build relationships and contribute to the Group.

4.  Bring in the Experts

In addition to your own team of experts, reach out and create a Thought-Leadership Program.  Build relationships with the Thought-Leaders of your industry and share their content and ultimately determine ways that you can have them participate in your content.  A great way to leverage experts is through interviews.  They are very busy and agreeing to do a quick interview is often the path of least resistance.  The caveat of course, is building the relationship first.

5. Practice Consistency Patience

As mentioned in #3, the goal is to bring your prospects back to your website and to ultimately move them down the funnel.  It would be great if this happened immediately and with every post.  In reality however, this is not quite how it works. It does take time, consistency and patience.  Posting good content on a regular schedule is critical to your success.

When you combine these four practices, content marketing will make a difference in your top of the funnel sales process.  Want to learn more?  Feel free to sign up for our newsletter at TaylorMade Solutions (insert “newsletter” into inquiry box)

The Sunday Brief (May 18, 2014)

Welcome to this week’s Sunday Brief.  The Sunday Brief is intended to share with you a few of my top picks from the previous week.  As I always say, sit back and relax with your favourite cup of Joe and enjoy! (If you have a fav that is not on the list, be sure to let me know).The Sunday Brief

This week my picks are a little different.  I hope that you find them interesting and useful.

1.  Gavin O’Mally (@mp_gavin)’s Pinterest Raises Additional $200M To Turn Site Into Discovery Platform

Pinterest is still struggling to stand out from the rest and to expand its appeal beyond women.  There have been some advances, but based on this post, it would appear that they want to take additional steps to really stand out.  A good and quick read.

2.   The Definitive Guide to Using Content Marketing for B2B

@markfidelman shared this post of Pratik Dholakiya.  Content marketing remains one of the great unkowns for people.  In some cases it is warranted. I have unfortunately seen many people who know nothing about marketing or content marketing selling their services to trusting people.  In other cases, it comes down to fear or thinking that you have nothing to offer. This article helps you get past the latter.  A good and interesting piece.

3.  Agile Selling by @jillkonrath

This isn’t a blog post, but rather a book that will be released early next month.  Jill is one of the best known in the business for her sales knowledge and expertise.  In her latest book, Agile Selling, she doesn’t disappoint.  If you are in sales, this is a must-read.  Heck, even if you are not, but want to understand the importance of agility in our work environment today, this is an excellent read.

So, there you have it.  This weeks picks!  Let me know what you think, or if you would add anything to the list.

Want more information?  Feel free to sign up for our newsletter at TaylorMade Solutions (insert “newsletter” into inquiry box)




An Interview with C.C. Chapman – The Influencer Series

Influencer Series,

C.C. Chapman

I recently had a chance to check in with C.C. Chapman, Storyteller, Explorer & Humanitarian to talk about some of the changes that we are seeing in marketing industry.  Specifically we discussed influence and trust – two areas of great interest to many of us.  So, grab a cup of coffee and take some time to check out what C.C. shares with us in the Influencer Series.

MacLean:  The industry has certainly changed over the last five years. In the last two years in particular however, the changes have been pretty prolific in terms of the numbers of people using social networks, changing platforms and businesses trying to leverage social to their advantage.  Despite all of this change, what do you consider the most important changes and why?

C.C.:  “I don’t believe there is one single thing, but since you asked I’d have to say it is the smart phone.

Just a few years ago you’d still find many users with a phone that couldn’t take advantage of everything we take for granted now. But, the days of a flip phone are long gone and now everyone is carrying around a full production studio in their pockets.

They assume that they can pull it out of their pocket and interact with any brand they want to. They share great and horrible experiences immediately and rightfully assume that the brand is listening.

This is causing shifts in every corner of business and will continue to evolve.”

MacLean:  How important do you think trust is for both personal and professional brands?   And, do you think that people are putting enough focus on building trust?

C.C.: “I think it is crucial. I grew up in small town New Hampshire and we did business with people we trusted.

Today, I don’t care how big a business is, customers want to feel like they can trust them.

Businesses are not focusing enough on this. Sure, you must have a good product or service first, but after that even if a product is a bit more expensive, customers will buy from the one they have some form of relationship with and trust is very important here.

There are businesses that I’ll never buy from again based on things they’ve done or said. Doesn’t matter how good or cheap their product is.”

MacLean:  With your new book, 101 Steps to Making Videos Like a Pro, where do you think video is going and are there limitations as to how brands should be using video?

C.C.: “Zero limitations on how a brand should be using any technology if it makes sense to them and their customers.

Video is a great medium because humans love to consume it. As bandwidth gets better and better, we can now watch videos on our phones wherever we are.

Blows my mind that every company doesn’t have a video demo of their product. Eagle Creek is one of my favorite brands and they have simple, but informative videos of each of their products. Being able to see their luggage beyond images is important in my buying decision. 

When a customer is buying products online, video will help them get a better feel for the product. it is vital.

Mark Yoshimoto Nemcoff and I wrote the book because we wanted a concise guide that could help anyone get started with video. We saw too many people thinking they could just whip out their phone and shoot something. We both know that you can do this, but we also know that planning and production are important too.” 

heatherannemaclean.wordpress.comMacLean: You are clearly recognized as an Industry Influencer.  Where do you think that we are headed with Influencers? (Influencer is a term that is being thrown about in a lot of different capacities today.  Many people use “influencer” to describe people that blog, have a good following and they pay to write about their brand.  I however, am referring to the more traditional definition of a person who has industry expertise, lives, speaks and writes about their industry.

C.C.:  Influencers have always been around. The difference is that today the social nature of the web empowers more people to be influential to a wider audience. 

I hope brands and agencies will begin to realize that while a large audience is definitely helpful, that true influence can’t be measured by a number or score.

Stop and think about the people who are influential in your life. I know that you’ll have people who influence your technology decisions, career moves and something as simple as what to cook for dinner. That is real influence, not some Klout score or other measurement number.”

MacLean: Do you think that there will be a new role emerge with respect to Influencers? There are many companies now that target “influential bloggers” for pay in order to get them to write positive blogs, whereas I position you and others like you in a different class.  To me I see you more as the real thought-leaders and people who actually can influence others.  I would go somewhere to hear you speak versus some of the bloggers being targeted.

C.C.: “Brands have always wanted to get their products in the hands of people that they think would influence others to buy their products. While the tactics may have changed, this certainly never will and it makes sense.

I get sent a lot of products to review and invited to press trips and influencer events. I always make it clear that I can’t promise a good review or a review at all because sometimes what shows up in my mailbox has no interest to me at all.

The most influential people know this. They are busy. They have a lot on their plate. They write and create around things that get their attention. 

All that being said, I have been part of several long term influencer/advocate programs and in the best ones they do compensate the members in some form. This isn’t in exchange for positive reviews, but for honest use, mentions and sharing around the products. They are also long term because while I may write a blog post about a great weekend with a brand, over time and the more I use something they more I’m going to naturally talk about it.

Also, my advice for brands looking to work with influencers is to insure that experiences are part of the equation as well. Giving me a camera to try out is cool, but giving me that camera and bringing me to a beautiful location to shoot with it is even better. It instantly puts an influencer in a situation where they couldn’t imagine creating and sharing their thought about the product right there.”

MacLean:  How do you think that being an influencer impacts your brand and positions you as a thought-leader and a person who is trust-worthy?

C.C.:  “You certainly have some interesting questions.

Me being trust worthy is in my DNA and who I am. I’m a person and not a brand.

Ever word I write, photo I share and company I work with shares something about me to the world. Over the years people have looked to me for my knowledge and experience and I’ve worked hard to make sure that I’m constantly helping others. Does that give me influence? It certainly does, but I never wake up and think, “ok lets make me more influential today.” I know there are people who create with that motivation, but it has never appealed to me.”

MacLean:  Have you ever declined an invitation to speak at, or participate in an event because the values of the event/organization/person didn’t align with yours?  If so, without giving up names/details that would reveal who it was, can you give some context of the why?

C.C.: “I have done both. In most cases it is because how they’ve treated other people I care about.

In the speakers world, we share when an event screws us over or doesn’t treat us very well. It is amazing how many events out there have no respect for their speakers and that gets around very quickly.

Same goes for brands. I can think of several opportunities that I’ve politely declined based on their actions in the past. It doesn’t happen often, but I can think of a few examples. There is also definitely a list of brands that I’d never work with because of what they do and say.” 

MacLean:  Based on your knowledge, experience and expertise, what else can brands be doing to build trust?  Are there other forms of digital media that should help with this?

C.C.: “It really boils down to treating every customer with respect. Listen to their complaints and help in every way possible. You can’t always fix the issue, but making sure they know that they are valued and heard goes a long way.

Make sure that no matter what channel it is, that if you are there, that you are really there and active. You don’t get to choose what channels your customers are going to reach out on. You can direct them to the best ones for you, but in the end it is up to them.

Work every day to keep your current customers happy and to make new ones feel welcomed. This isn’t a technology issue, but a human one.”

Well, there you have it. always brings great perspective and down-to-earth commentary.  As I embark on another significant research area – focusing on influence and trust, C.C.’s insights really resonate with me. I am sure that you will feel the same.

I want to thank C.C. for taking the time to answer my questions.  I am always amazed by the kindness and willingness of our industry’s greatest contributors who are so willing to share  and help others.

9 Media Interview Tips for Start-Ups

Start-ups have a lot going on.  Not only do they have very few resources doing development, looking for beta customers, seeking funding, but they are also trying to do marketing and get some media attention so they can get the customers and funding.  It can be a vicious cycle.  When a start-up gets good media, it can be a real godsend.  If you aren’t prepared however, if can turn out far from what you expected.  But not to worry, here are 9 Media Inteview Tips specifically for Start-Ups.

9 Media Interview Tips for Start-ups,

Image courtesy of

1. Know Your Audience

If you are seeking out media, or they have found you, before you do an interview, be sure to understand who it is that you will be talking to.  When speaking with the producer and/or scheduler, don’t be afraid to ask a few questions. If you are unfamiliar with the reporter, the show or column ask about the themes, the demographic of the audience, examples of who else has been interviewed before, if anyone else is being interviewed for this particular piece, when will it air/be published. If it is TV or radio, ask if it will be live or recorded.

It is also very important to speak the language of your audience. Remember to adjust your language accordingly and don’t use industry jargon, unless speaking to an industry publication.  You must be able to present your thoughts using terms and words that the public will understand.  If you are overly technical and can’t relate, people will not care or understand.

2.  Google Can Be Your Best Friend

Be sure to take a few minutes and research the reporter, show and/or column.  Get a feel for the person.

3.  Time

While time is always of the essence with news, try to get as much time as you can to prepare.  This is particularly important for the first few.  Once you have gone through this entire list several times, you will not need as much upfront time for each interview.

4. Develop Your Messages

Seriously think about three specific things that are important for the audience to know.  Write them down and have them in front of you if possible.  This is your guide to bring you back to the three most important messages that you need to deliver.

5.  Don’t Script Yourself

While you have your messages ready and well thought out, don’t script yourself.  If you are being interviewed over the phone for radio, it will be obvious that you are reading.  The same goes for an interview for print.  The reporter will know that you are reading.  This can signal that you are nervous, unprepared or not informed.  These are all things that you want to avoid.

Scripting can also result in confusion for the person being interviewed.  If you are nervous and get off track, you might have a difficult time getting back on script.  The best is advice is to avoid scripting all together.

6.  Think About What-if Questions

One of the most effective things I do for my own interviews as well as my clients, is develop a series of questions – what-ifs.  For each question, think about how you would answer it.  These questions and answers help prepare you for just about anything that can be asked of you and might potentially throw you off your game and/or lead the reporter on a whole different path.

Even if your interview topic is not expected to be contentious, it does not hurt to be prepared.  For example, years ago while heading up the marketing for a global IT company, I was doing an interview with a local newspaper about some specific company topic.  It was all really benign when all of a sudden the reporter asked for my opinion about another IT company that was laying off a significant number of people.  Thankfully I was prepared with an appropriate answer.

7. Review

Always listen, watch and/or read your interviews.  You will always learn something about how you did that you will want to change.  This is normal.  Remember to look for real tangible things to work on versus thinking about things out of your control. Also ask trusted confidants to critique you.  This is not about pointing out everything that you did wrong or right, but rather to look for things that you can learn from to do an even better job next time.

8.  Respect

Remember to respect your interviewer, even if the situation is difficult. Being calm and polite will only work in your favour.

9.  Don’t Ask to Review the Final Piece

A common mistake that rookies make with the media is asking and/or expecting that they will have the chance to review, comment and approve an interview. This is not how it works.  So, don’t even bother to ask.

These are 9 very high level tips to for doing media interviews.  Depending on your role, it could be a lot more involved. Want more information?  Feel free to sign up for our newsletter at TaylorMade Solutions (insert “newsletter” into inquiry box)

US Airways and #myNYPD Demonstrate Need for Professional Community Management

Let’s face it, even with a decade of social media under our belts, there are still examples of social gone wrong.  Two of the latest examples are of course the absolutely terrible tweet from US Airways of a naked lady and the #myNYPD’s campaign, which was supposed generate some love going horribly wrong.  There are many examples, but these two latest examples really demonstrate why you need professional community management. US Airways and the #myNYPD Demonstrate Need for Professional Community Management,

A few years back, community management was all the rage.  Companies of all sizes were wanted community teams to manage their listening and engaging programs.  This of course became the style du jour when companies like Radian6 made it so much easier to not only aggregate all the conversations about your brand into one easy to reference location, but to also be able to respond (a.k.a engage) and workflow the conversations.  This was a phenomenal break through and made the whole process so much easier to do.  Unfortunately, many companies went overboard with their Community Teams, hiring far too many Community Managers, had too few metrics and too few hard core roles and responsibilities.  Before long, Community Teams were viewed by many as people just having fun and playing on social media.   That is neither the role nor goal of having a Community.  When done properly Community Teams save you money, protect your reputation and even find you leads.  Here are 4 things to help you deliver solid results (and create a team with purpose that can protect your brand):

1.  Identity Roles and Responsibilities

Community Managers need to have defined job descriptions with expectations made very clear.  This helps both the Community Manager and Management know and understand what is expected.

2.  Clearly Define Metrics

One area that I personally experienced was that many companies didn’t have any metrics set for their Community Teams.  When they were implemented, the buy-in and acceptance was difficult.  Teams felt that suddenly they had to perform and be robots.  This was not the case, but  the individuals didn’t like the expectations, that should have laid out clearly at the beginning.  Metrics can and do change over time, but you need to be measured and measuring your team.

3.  Training

This is an extremely important component.  We all assume that people have common sense and that they will or won’t do certain things. I am not sure of the behind the scenes scenario with US Airways and the individual that thought it was appropriate to ReTweet the photo of a naked woman, but either it was a case of a disgruntled employee, someone with zero common sense or someone who wanted to get fired.  Either way, you need to train your employees with the understanding of what your brand is, what your voice is, what is and is not appropriate.  In addition, you need to ensure that you have a clear escalation process in place to address rogue employees, errors in judgement and/or community members.  You need to act fast in these circumstances.

4.  Have a Playbook

A Playbook helps everyone understand exactly what they are doing and what they need to do while monitoring and engaging on behalf of your brand.  It also helps Management to have the confidence that there are proper processes in place.

For more information on Playbooks, feel free to contact me through TaylorMade Solutions.  We can help!

11 Reasons to Celebrate LinkedIn’s 11 Years

First off, Happy Birthday LinkedIn!  As a Tween, you have a lot to be proud of!  So, let’s take a look at 11 Reasons to Celebrate LinkedIn’s 11 Years.11 Reasons to Celebrate LinkedIn's 11 Years TaylorMade Solutions

After starting out in Reid Hoffman’s living room in 2002 and officially launched on May 5th, 2003, the results are not too shabby.  Let’s take a look at the highlights:

  1. After one month, LinkedIn had a membership network of 4,500.
  2. LinkedIn operates the world’s largest online professional network on the with more than 300 million members.
  3. LinkedIn is used in over 200 countries and territories.
  4. 67% of LinkedIn members are located outside of the United States.
  5. Professionals are signing up to join LinkedIn at a rate of more than two new members per second.
  6. The fast growing demographic is students with over 39 million (students and recent college graduate.
  7. LinkedIn is currently available in 22 languages:
      • English
      • Simplified Chinese
      • Czech
      • Danish
      • Dutch
      • French
      • German,
      • Indonesian
      • Italian
      • Japanese
      • Korean
      • Malay
      • Norwegian
      • Polish
      • Portuguese
      • Romanian
      • Russian
      • Spanish
      • Swedish,
      • Tagalog
      • Thai
      • Turkish

8.  LinkedIn has continued to evolve to offer products/services that professionals seek – for example a publishing forum for all users.

9.  If you include a photo with your profile, you are 11 times more likely to have your profile viewed.
Executives from ALL Fortune 500 Companies are on LinkedIn.

10. There are more than 1.5 million unique publishers actively using the LinkedIn Share button on their sites to send content into the LinkedIn platform.

11.  More than 3 million companies have LinkedIn Company Pages.

With the increase in use and importance of LinkedIn for your personal brand, your corporate brand, have you thought about what your LinkedIn Profile looks like? If  you haven’t, you should and we can help.  For more information on LinkedIn Audits, contact us.

The Sunday Brief

Welcome to the Sunday Brief!  I have compiled a list of blog posts that I found particularly insightful and useful for clients and friends alike.  Sit down with a cup of coffee and check out this week’s Sunday Brief:The Sunday Brief

1. The Value of a Social Media Audit

My favourite post this week comes from Kathi Kruse, of Kruse Control Inc. She wrote about something very near and dear to me, the value of a social media audit.

I full heartedly agree that every company needs to do a social media audit from time-to-time.  In addition, don’t just have anyone do a social media audit, have someone who understands audience, personas, marketing and communications.  Remember, social media is not a strategy unto itself.  As a result, you need an auditor who knows and understand the bigger picture.

2.  Fight The Tyranny of Writing Authorities

There are so many books, blog posts and people willing to give advice these days.  And, of course I realize that I am one of them, so the irony of this is not lost on me.

However, that being said, I particularly enjoyed Jack Steiner’s  83,168 Mistakes Every Writer Makes.  It is a great read and tells you to listen and yet throw out advice at the same time.  The key take-away?  We are human and we need to have our human voice in what we write.  If we were to listen to every bit of writing advice, everything would be dull and boring crap written exactly the same way.  Love it!

3.  Times are Changing, are you?

Number three for me this week is sales-related.  Jill Konrath, always a good read, doles out interesting food for thought in My Boldest Sales Predictions – Ever.

Jill focuses on people learning agility.  I have to agree with her.  With our ever changing environment, those who are agile survive.  They are able to adapt more quickly and make the changes needed to be happy, productive and producing results.

These are just three of my top reads from this past week.  What would you add?

If you missed the posts I shared this week, you can view them here.

Is LinkedIn the Next Tool for Super Spam?

Remember the email from a certain part of the world that offered us millions of dollars if we helped some widow or bank employee get unclaimed money out of the country?  Or, more recently how about those super annoying calls from people that claim to be calling from California because they somehow know that our computers are either not working properly or have been hacked?  Of course the best part of the call is that if we give them control of our computers they can fix it for us…ya, you know what I am talking about.  I found it ironic that some of these crafty souls moved from email to telephone, but now I fear that they have found a new medium: LinkedIn.  In fact, I can’t help but wonder if LinkedIn is the next tool for super spam.

I really hope not.  I love LinkedIn.  I think that it is a very well done social network for professionals.  It has been a very effective tool for networking and engaging with industry experts for me, as well as countless others.    Let’s hope that what I am noticing is just an anomaly, and that the spammers haven’t found a way to ruin it.  That being said, there are some ways that you can be on the look out for potential spammers; and some best practices that I adhere to, which will also help to deter spammers:

1. Make Strategic Connections – It’s Not A Numbers Game

LinkedIn next spam tool?

A sample of a request I received. This LinkedIn profile no longer exists. I would say that the spammers were shut down.

While some argue that you should connect with everyone who asks, I am not one who prescribes to this.  LinkedIn is an important networking tool and like in real-life, you don’t invite everyone into your private or semi-private life.  You want to build a relationship.

When I make connection requests, I do so carefully.  Equally as important is who I accept connection requests from. I don’t automatically press “accept”.  To the contrary!  I check out each person.  If I have met the person, that is one criteria for acceptance.  If I have not actually met the person, but I am in the same geographic region or industry, I will likely accept.  The probability is increased when we have mutual connections.

If however, I have never met the person, we are not in the same geographic location in the world, we are not in the same industry and we have no mutual connections, there is a very good chance that I won’t accept.

Key Take-Away:  Focusing on your industry and mutual connections is a great way to help get the spammers at bay.

2.  Play Investigator

If your goal is to increase your numbers, or if you don’t feel comfortable pressing the “ignore” button, do play investigator.  Take a look at the person connecting with you.  Does the avatar look real?  Or, does the quality seem a bit off. While this can’t be a guarantee that someone has set up a fake profile, potentially using someone else’s photograph, it is a symptom.  Google the person and the company that he or she claims to work for.  Can you find the company?  Better yet, can you find any reference for that person connected to the company?

What is the message that is being sent?  Is it one offering you a financial deal and/or benefit?  Like the phoney email sent offering you huge sums of money, this is yet another scam.

Is the person asking you to contact him or her via email to act upon this deal?  What is the email being used.  Is it a company email?  Is it a gmail? Is it a hotmail account?

Depending on how you answer these questions, you should also have a good indication about the validity of the request.

Key take-away:  don’t be afraid to check out the person requesting to connect.  After all, this is your professional network and you want quality connections – and no spam.

3. Take Your Time

Again, if you are not comfortable pressing ignore, but are suspect, wait a few days.  I recently got a request that not only offered me a financial deal, but the avatar was a bit wonky and I couldn’t find any reference to the company and/or the person when I did a search.  I did hit ignore and ultimately the spam feature, but kept the request for use in the blog post that I was going to do.  As I was writing this post, I thought that I would do one more check.  Sure enough, the profile is no longer available. Enough people saw the request for what it was and answered like I did.  The person or persons was shut down.

Key take-away:  being timely is important as it speaks to your personal brand; however, if you are uncertain about a particular request, waiting a day or two might result in action already occurring to fix the issue.

With a bit of due diligence we can keep the spammers at bay.

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Interview with David Alston – The Influencer Series

David Alston is the Chief Innovation Officer at Introhive, an advisor to multiple startups, a director at ScribbleLive, an advocate for kids coding and the transformation of the Maritime economy to one underpinned by tech, and supporter of alternative energy approaches.  He also wears a cowboy hat, sings Johnny Cash songs and is one heck of a photographer…oh and just another tidbit, he has been consistently named as one of the Top CMOs on Twitter by Social Media Marketing Magazine.  @DavidAlston Influencer

I had the privilege of working with David, so I can honestly say that his passion and conviction are contagious.  His knowledge and expertise in marketing and innovation are phenomenal.  I was so pleased that he agreed to be a part of my Influencer Series.  So, let’s get to the questions, cause I know that you want his responses.

The Interview:

MacLean:  Marketing continues to change and evolve.  What do you see as the most important skills for people to have to meet the demands of today and the next year?

Alston:  Content marketing is now as commonplace as community engagement. You also have to be tracking and understand all of numbers behind each online property & digital campaign. In order to stand out, you need to be able to successfully blend the art of marketing (creativity and relationship building) with the science of marketing (analytics and cross referencing multiple sources of data).

MacLean:  What has been the most significant change you have seen in marketing over the last two years and why?

Alston:  Marketers have become publishers. Of course that’s also created a lot of noise for customers to sift through and thus just publishing the same kind of stuff you were publishing three years ago probably won’t cut it. Taking a stand on issues, being bold with creative content, unique partnerships and infusing marketing directly inside products and services are now a must.

MacLean:  Community Management was all the talk a few years back, but it seems to have taken a backseat.  Do you think that people have lost sight of the value and/or that it is just an oversight and will re-emerge because of the true value that it can bring?

Alston:  Hopefully for companies where it’s disappeared it’s because it was absorbed into the roles of any employee that would typically be in contact with customers – PR, sales, customer service etc. Companies that ignore people in social channels completely, will pay the price today just like they would have two years ago.

MacLean:  What advice would you offer businesses in terms of hiring marketing professionals?

Alston:  I’ve always been a proponent of investing in marketing early on when it comes to startups.  Marketing is as much about strategy as it is about brand and collateral. Marketing should also have a seat at the executive table early on because it’s about building a market/demand for a product or service, getting marketing/sales into the offering, strategic positioning vs competitors, and creating content and influence in a space you want to be a leader in. Translation – you need to focus on adding someone with the experience on how to get this done. They can build out the team with more junior staffers for specific functions later.

MacLean:  What do you think will be the next big thing in marketing?

Alston:  Real-time marketing! The idea of creating engagement experiences using real-time content and looping potential prospects into the traditional sales funnel, similar to how marketing automation does it for non-real-time. (Full disclosure – I am on the board of directors for ScribbleLive).

MacLean:  Finally, you have been very active in innovation and getting kids into coding, what can marketers learn from collaborating more with this side of the business?

Alston:  Much of the success around progress with kids and coding has been tapping into the existing communities supportive of the cause and utilizing the act of documenting the cause on video, as a way to fan the flames of the movement. There is nothing more powerful than an idea who’s time has finally come.

As always, David offers great insight and ideas and I sincerely thank him for taking the time to answer my questions.

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