As the article, “Swimming Through the Social Network Pool” by Adam Warren explains, Linkedin is a website platform where people can create a personal professional profile, connect with other professional profiles, and be updated when a contacts profile changes. Individuals can choose to secure their profiles, or parts of their profiles, that only allows their contacts to see their professional information. The layout of each profile is very similar in design, however individuals can choose to add information in the available fields, or not. For example, I viewed two individual profiles in Linkedin; Megan Kilkeny and Diane Gage-Lofgren, and found multiple differences between their Linkedin profiles. The first profile that I observed was a personal professional contact of mine, Megan Kilkenny the Sr. MarComm Director for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS). Megan has chosen not to fully take advantage of the LinkedIn fields. Such as not including a profile picture, or detailed descriptions about her professional experiences. By doing so, viewers of her profile are not fully informed on her professional accomplishments or appearance. For example, the second profile that I viewed was a Sr. VP of marketing for Kaiser Permanente, Diane Gage-Lofgren. Diane has included a professional picture of herself, which allows viewers to gain more insight to her professional demeanor and personality. Additionally, Diane has written detailed descriptions about each of her work experiences, enabling her audience to better understand her position, expertise, and achievements in the specific field of non-profit health care. It is interesting to note, that the detail the description of her own professional experiences also offers information on the specific brand that she is representing as a marketer. Not only does Diane mention the Kaiser brand numerous times in this section, she also portrays the organizations innovativeness through description of her own accomplishments in relation to the brand. Therefore, I would recommend that Megan take better advantage of this free space, to not only build her own brand equity, but also boost her brand’s image within her professional experience write up section, but her brands as well. Also, since having more links to a webpage across the internet increases that WebPages PageRank, Megan could also help to strengthen her organizations search engine optimization by adding a link to her company’s website (Thurow, 2006).
However, if the staff members of companies do not take full advantage of the branding opportunities within Linkedin, their companies certainly can. Linkedin has created a space where companies can brand themselves, and inform audiences about their products, services, and organization. By looking at the company profiles of each of my contacts, I found little difference in the way each brand has chosen to include certain specific information. Each company has information added to each of the categories that Linkedin makes available, such as brand name, description, logo, examples of current employees, related companies and key statistics. However, there are a couple of differences to note: First, LLS has utilized the “Specialties” space in their LinkedIn page. This allows the company to inform viewers what specific industry, category and segment their brand resides in (or for non-profits, it allows them to specify the cause they represent), in a short and easy to quickly read fashion for the audience. It also enables greater optimization for that specific brand, as this area is a hyperlink to the Linkedin search engine. This ensures that the LLS company page will show on a results page if someone uses the keywords, or related keywords, “fighting blood cancers”, during a Linkedin search (when tested, LLS is ranked #1 in the search results list). The Kaiser Permanente LinkedIn page does not take advantage of this additionally optimization tactic, which could affect their ranking during user searchers. I would recommend that Kaiser Permanente research the most popular keyword phrase for their brand (the keyword phrase that Kaiser Permanente most wants to be ranked first when users search by) and add that phrase to the “specialties” section of their LinkedIn company page. The second difference that I notice between these to company pages, was the neglected opportunity by LLS to promote their sub-brands. LLS is a parent brand organization of multiple sub-brands, such as Team in Training, Light the Night, and Man & Woman of the Year. In the “related companies” section of their Linkedin profile, they could have increased exposure of these sub-brands.
Another way that individuals and companies can utilize Linkedin to build their brand equity, connect with others, and engage in conversations that interest them, are through groups. Groups can be created by brands, or individuals, and are similar in function. They are related to a specific topic of interest, and are joined by members (individuals who have LinkedIn profiles) who are interested in the specific topic. Membership allows people to connect with others who share a common interest, and engage with them. By analyzing the LLS group and Kaiser Permanente group, it is obvious that the organizations are utilizing this LinkedIn space for very different reasons. The LLS group (which has ~1,700 members) is open membership to any individual interested in joining a group that is related to blood cancer. This allows LLS to engage with different types of people and audience, such as employees, affiliates, and also their target market. It becomes a space where people who are directly involved with the brand can build relationships with those who are not, which enables discussions to be extended beyond the internal organization. Furthermore, as their discussions are predominantly related to various campaigns, this space enables the staff to promote call to actions in attempt to acquire and activate group members who may not be currently, or recently, active in their brand or sub-brands. The Kaiser Permanent group profile, not taken advantage of this direct marketing opportunity. Instead their group profile is a space where only employees can connect and engage with each other. Thus, neglecting the potentially large audience of individuals who are interested in learning more about, engaging with, and building a closer relationship with, the Kaisers brand.
Since I am not personally an employee of Kaiser Permanente, I choose to join the LLS group. Once a member, I am able to engage with others by either responding to discussion threads that have already been created, or personally creating an original discussion. By doing so, I am able to show other members that I am not only interested in, but also knowledgeable about, our similar topic. The content that I add to a post, or originated discussion, can add value to other members in the form of useful information. By doing so, it is possible that my own professional brand image strengthens among this audience of similar interests people. In turn, my content/comments could spark a post by another member, and begin a communication dialogue. It is very possible that these dialogues could then result in the building of a relationship based on similar opinion, and professional interests. It is these relationships that groups members can then turn into personal professional network connections on Linkedin or offline. I posted comments on two discussions that were started by an LLS employee. My first post displayed excitement for a cause-marketing campaign which the employee was promoting to the group. Since I am using LinkedIn to promote my professional value proposition to potential future employees or consulting clients, I used the space to add content that would allow the LLS employee to notice that I am an experienced and knowledgeable marketer. This initial post was a way to introduce myself to the discussion, discussion creator, and group. Then, in my second post to a discussion in the same group, I further portrayed my marketing knowledge through the content that I added to the post. However, I took the opportunity to disclosed my relationship with the organization (I was once a marketing intern at LLS), as well as post a link to my website. I believe that my discloser will add credibility to my posts and comments, which increase the chance that the discussion creator, or other group members reading the thread, will follow the link to my website where they can learn about my professional value in greater detail.
Facebook “pages” enable companies to create a profile for their brand, in the social networking site Facebook. To research pages of brands in my target industry (non-profit health organizations), I used the facebook search engine tool bar and the keyword “cancer”. I used this keyword because it is a common keyword associated with a large majority of non-profit health organizations. My search resulted in 114,000 facebook profiles (individual profiles, groups and pages combined). The functionality of facebook search allowed me to narrow down the 114,000 to only facebook pages, and specifically pages that were classified as non-profits. My results list was then shorter, but was still over 500 profiles. Actually, by investigating many of the page’s information tabs, I found a large majority results on my search list were owned by individuals (or rather constituents of a particular non-profit or cause), instead of legitimate organizations. I was able to finally narrow down on two facebook pages that are legitimate non-profit health organizations, by following the links in their info tabs to their home websites. The two organizations are: The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PCAN) at http://www.facebook.com/JointheFight?ref=search&sid=100000524295374.2887383057..1 The Skin Cancer Foundation (SCF) at http://www.facebook.com/skincancerfoundation?ref=search&sid=100000524295374.3263668161..1
The two brands are both utilizing facebook pages to position themselves as a source where facebook members can go to learn about , receive news updates from, and show support for the specific type of cancer that they are representing (pancreatic and skin). By including text of the specific cause in the design of their facbeook page image, fans can instantly understand their positioning. However, the brands are using this space in very different ways. Both organizations seem to be targeting their current constituents, but PCAN has leveraged their page to encourage activation, while SCF’s objective seems to be to strengthen retention of existing constituents. This difference is initially noticed by viewing the specific tabs which each organization has included in the layout of their facebook page. Although both organizations have visitors land on their wall tab, and both also have information tabs, PCAN has added a customized tab called, “Get Involved!”, which includes a call to action and response methods of how fans can support the organization beyond facebook. This tab is a space which SKF has not taken advantage of. SKF only has wall, info and picture (with 2 images of their brand’s logo) tabs on their page. However, when reading the wall comments by SCF, it seems that they are actually interested in using their page to stimulate activation of fans. For example, besides posting industry news updates and prevention tips, they have call to action posts attempting to encourage constituents to take action (most recently they have asked fans to participate in a contest by chase bank that could reward the organization with $25k). Therefore, I would recommend that the SCF modify elements of their page, and use facebook page functions that could strengthen their call to action. Furthermore, I would recommend to both organizations that they make their customized call to action tab their landing page. This will increase the changes that the page is viewed by fans. Besides adding a customized tab, there are other tactics that the SCF could learn from the PCAN facebook page, which could help them reach their objective of achieving current constituents. For instance, PCAN has multiple links to other sites, such as their website, blog and other social network pages, in their info tab. This is a tactic that author David Meerman Scott advises social media marketers to do, in The New Rules of Marketing & PR, as a optimization tactic that can lead people into the buying (or in this case, the donating) process. However, besides placing links in the info tab, PCAN has also utilized the above the fold space that is directly under their image. While SKF simply has include their broad overall organization mission statement, PCAN has added information and a direct link to a current campaign which specifically encourages fans to take action (which is their objective). Additionally, in the lower section of this left sidebar, PCAN has included interactive elements that increase engagement with fans, as well as tactics to reach their objective. While SCF as placed links to their facebook photo library and home website (which is repetitive because they already have a photo tab and website links in their info tab), PCAN has leveraged this space to promote their facebook cause page and upcoming events. Doing so, PCAN is offering their fans additional opportunities of engagement with the organization in ways that involve actual activation (donating or event fundraising).
I am interested in using facebook to promote my personal professional brand to future potential employers and/or consulting clients. Therefore, I have created a facebook page. It is important that the title of my facebook page matches my website url and name. This is important from a search, as well as branding perceptive. Similar titles will enable my audience to find my facebook page easily, while also confirming that my page is a part of the “Elizabeth Kulin Marketing” portfolio/brand. Additionally, I have added a image that includes my brand logo, tagline, and a picture that is also on the homepage of my website. Doing so adds credibility that this page is owned by me, while also adding color, tone, and an astatically pleasing feel to the page. These tactics, as well as additional ones, were implemented from a strategic objective of using a facebook page to increase help my brand’s awareness and create an additional space for my target audience to engage with me.
I have implemented facebook page tactics to reach my strategic objectives of portraying my expertise in marketing to, growing brand awareness among, and encouraging engagement with, my target audience. To start, I have opened my page’s security settings so that all facebook members can access, and fully view, my page (not only my fans of my page). Doing so enables my brand to grow among potential fans, who can view my page easily. When interested individuals do find and view my page, I have designated them to land on my notes, which includes a up to date stream of my blog posts, with space to leave comments, and an RSS subscription link. Since this page both portrays originally created content (my blog content) and enables engagement (the comment boxes), it is a fitting landing page that can help me achieve my strategic objectives. Additionally, my page includes a completed info tab that introduces my professional interests, some personality, and offers instructions/links which fans can follow to confirm the creditability of my personal brand, see examples of my marketing experiences, and learn more about my professional personality. Furthermore, I have chosen to utilize the available toolbar space, and the ability to integrate applications, to add additional tabs. Besides my wall, info, and notes tabs, I have added the tab called “slideshare” which is an application that syncs my facebook page with my slideshare portfolio. I believe that this is a critical application for my facebook page to include, as it enables my audience to view actual examples of my past work (and intern, the potential work that I could do for them in the future) without leaving my facebook page. By designating this application as a tab in my public tab toolbar, I am increasing the chances that fans will click and explore my portfolio.
An additional tactic that I have implemented into my facebook page is the integration with my blog entries and twitter feeds. I used an application designed by my blog platform (posterous.com) to allow automatic posts of new blog entries to my facebook notes tab (and public wall). Additionally, I have also synced my twitter account, using a twitter application, to my facebook page wall. There are a number of applications that allow user to do this. However, it was important to me that I choose one that allowed me to have the most control over which specific status updates fed to each specific online space (twitter and facebook page). As my facebook audience grows I might decide to use these two spaces for different audiences and/or objectives, and at times certain status updates may become appropriate for only twitter, only facebook, or both. Therefore, I choose the app “Selective twitter Status”, which only shows my tweets on my facebook page status (wall) if I designate them to, by adding a #fb to the end of each tweet that I post. Syndicating my blog entries and twitter feeds with my facebook page will also ensure that my page is continuously fresh, has up to date content related to my strategic objectives, is maintained on a manageable fashion.
By: Elizabeth Kulin www.Elizabethkulinmarketing.com Social Networking 101