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Category Archives: LinkedIn

Tag Archives: LinkedIn

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Are you a networking superstar? See How You Rank with LinkedIn’s newest tool

We all know that to be successful in social networking one must share killer content, have an interesting point of view and engage with others to really make a splash. This week, LinkedIn reminded everyone that using their platform isn’t an exception to the rule as the company unrolled How You Rank.

How You Rank is an added feature to the popular Who’s Viewed Your Profile tool, which lets you see who is checking out your professional chops. Now, with the addition of How You Rank, you can finally see how you stack up against others in your network in terms of profile views.

How does it work?

LinkedIn will share your personal stats, which includes your numerical ranking within your contacts, as well as a percentage increase or decrease of your ranking in the last 30 days. Additionally, you will be able to see your top 10 most viewed connections and tips for updating your profile.

What’s the point?

In work, as in life, there is a lot we can learn from the people around us and in our professional circles. How You Rank lets you see the top networkers in your connections and allows you to get a feel for what they’re doing to increase their views. To further boost inspiration, LinkedIn is also offering personalized recommendations to help you optimize your profile, increase or change the kinds of content you share and recommends new professional groups to help you increase your visibility and open up opportunities for advancement.

So, why do we love it? Three reasons:

  1. We’re excited about the increased prospect of influencing and being influenced. In February, LinkedIn expanded its influencer program and created vast opportunity for thought leaders across every industry. How You Rank heightens the need to share original content and encourages engagement by sharing content from other industry leaders and thinkers.  Of course, this potential for increased amplification also reinforces the fact that blogging isn’t passé and that a focus on storytelling will go a long way.
  2. InkHouse is always looking for purple squirrels – those special people who possess more than great credentials, the ones who also have interesting perspectives, unique skills and have a knack for seeing what’s hot and what will come next. How You Rank’s ability to show us how viewers stumbled upon our profiles and help us determine if they could be a good addition to our amazing team.
  3. Recently graduated young professionals can get a handle on the job market in a faster, more efficient way and get a leg up in creating their personal and professional brand – which brings us back to the second reason we’re excited about How You Rank.

We’re excited to see How You Rank in action and continue to believe in the power of LinkedIn to connect us with the people we need to meet, shows us the perspectives we need to read and allow us – and our clients – to contribute to the conversation in an increasingly meaningful way.

Read more from Laura Maas
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Ten Tips to Landing That Dream Job

I’ve been buried under a mountain of resumes lately. We have a job opening in our San Francisco office that we advertised via LinkedIn and the resumes have been streaming in. Well, pouring in, really. It’s an entry-level position and within about two weeks of the job being posted we received over 300 resumes. The majority of them from very enthusiastic soon-to-be grads, ready to start exploring the wonderful world of PR.

Filled with equal enthusiasm I started digging through the resumes. I soon realized that a great candidate might be tougher to find than I had expected. Everyone has seen the tips and tricks on how to make your resume stand out and there are countless online resources and classes that give advice on how to write that killer resume and cover letter.

Yet finding a suitable candidate was like searching for that needle in the haystack. And that digging reminded me of some advice for interested candidates. So, here goes, some friendly advice from me. Next time you apply for a job, keep these tips in mind.

  1. Do your homework. Know the company you are sending your resume to, do some research on the people you are meeting with – follow them on Twitter, connect on LinkedIn, read their blog posts – and be able to explain why you want to join (“because you’re small” or “because you’re in SF” is not good enough).
  2. Based on all that knowledge, personalize your application. Do not address me with “dear sir”, do make a reference or two that shows me you know a little bit about us and do make sure your personality shines through.
  3. That means you should not ever apply with your LinkedIn profile only. That is just lazy. And who wants to hire a lazy person?
  4. This is a no brainer, but spell check and proof read. Too many resumes had too many typos.
  5. If you include links in your resume to your portfolio, companies you’ve worked for, your website even, make sure those links work.
  6. No buzzwords please. They’re nothing but buzzkill.
  7. Show your creativity. Why should we select you? What makes you stand out from the crowd?
  8. If you have a non-traditional background, that’s okay, but in that case it’s especially important that you explain why you want to join us.
  9. Be confident, not cocky. We want to hire capable people but we especially want to hire people we like.
  10. And follow up. This is your opportunity to show us that you’re still interested and demonstrate what you could contribute to InkHouse.

Good luck!

 

Read more from admin
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Four Tips For “Spring Cleaning” Your Social Media Accounts

Though it may not feel like it yet, spring is (technically) in the air and if you are anything like me, you can’t wait to say farewell to this lengthy winter we’ve had. As we prepare to pack away coats and boots and open up the shutters to welcome the approaching warmer weather, it’s also a great time to start thinking about spring cleaning, especially for your social media channels.

I’m talking about more than a quick spritz of Febreze. After all, you don’t want to leave digital dust bunnies accumulating in the corners. The reality is that, without a thorough clean up, your social channels can get stagnant.

Here are four tips to help you pull on those rubber gloves and buff up your social and digital personality.

1)      Take out the trash: It is good social media hygiene to make sure you are following and being followed by the right people but, with an overwhelming number of social participants, how do you know who to keep and who to toss? Check out sites like Friend or Follow, JustUnfollow and FollowerWonk, which help you analyze your followers more carefully and figure out if people are following you in return. There are countless other social media tools, and Inc. recently published a helpful list of the top 8 here. You might have thousands of followers, but if they are infamous Twitter bots – what value does that add to your social media credibility?

2)      Assess the mess: While it is nearly impossible to monitor and track the success of your social campaigns in the moment, it is good practice to look back and review them every few months. Measurement and analytics can be provided through sites like Hootsuite and even Twitter itself.  By evaluating your past campaigns, you can determine whether the approach you’re taking is giving you the best outcome to help you maintain stronger tactics and cut out the weak methods.

3)      Polish your assets: Take the time to revamp and freshen up your profile by updating your pictures (personal, cover and background) on all of your social sites. It is also a great opportunity to revise your personal bio or update company descriptions.

4)      Don’t be afraid to renovate: We can easily get stuck in the practice of posting the same type of content, following the same people and sharing on the same platforms. In fact, Twitter celebrated its eighth birthday by introducing a tool to show you your very first tweet on the platform. For some of us, looking back on our first tweet shows how far we’ve come using Twitter and how it has evolved as a critical communications platform. But it is equally important to look forward to maintain a strong digital position. In 2014, we can expect more brands to act as publishers. Today, content publishing solutions like TekGroup and Pressfeed, help companies integrate online newsrooms into their content strategy. Another trend is the rising popularity of specialized or niche social media platforms. For example, new anonymous apps Whisper and Secret are creating buzz and advertisers are trying to figure out how to take advantage of that. But it may or may not make sense for you or your brand to join them. Stay on top of the latest and popular trends and then assess whether it’s a worthwhile social investment or merely a passing fad.

Even though spring is fast approaching, it is never too late to get a head start on a thorough, social spring cleaning. Create a list of goals, establish a timeline and watch your social media blossom.

Read more from Zoe Nageotte
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LinkedIn’s Expanded Influencer Program and the Thought Leadership Opportunity

 

In the past few years, LinkedIn has become the definitive social network for professionals, now amassing more than 300 million members. What began as a small platform for employees to connect across the internet is now one of the world’s largest social networks where millions come in search of networking opportunities, jobs and insightful industry commentary. As you may have heard, this week there has been a significant shift in the way content is created and shared on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn will now allow a small sample of its members to draft and publish their own long-form articles, rather than just major industry influencers like Bill Gates, Richard Branson and Martha Stewart. While these key influencers will continue to exist, and be added to, the new platform will democratize the system of contributed content, crowdsourcing the best posts from members across the social platforms. This sample will be expanded as the service works out the technical details.

Once this plan is fully rolled-out, the average user will now be able to follow, and be followed by, any user that finds their content engaging and insightful, rather than just engaging with connections in his or her own network. This reach will enable CEOs and startup founders alike to have their thought leadership perspectives resonate even further, a key to making people care about your company’s viewpoint. In the words of Beth Monaghan, “thought leadership stimulates demand for companies’ products and services by teaching the industry about what is needed and what the future will require.”

In a recent post to the official LinkedIn blog, Ryan Roslansky, director of product management at LinkedIn, highlights his thought process behind the added focus on content: “Every professional has valuable experience to share. Trying to grow your business by reducing customer attrition? Read the post from Monica Adractas, head of customer retention at Box, on churning out churn. Just starting a career in sales? Read the post from Brent Beshore, the founder/CEO at adventur.es, on how to sell anything.”

From a communications perspective, this change presents an opportunity to broaden your thought leadership capabilities by getting your most insightful commentary in front of a new audience. Now, rather than only engaging with your own connections, your point of view can be accessed by LinkedIn’s 300 million members. Additionally, LinkedIn plans to build in a platform to measure and track the analytics of your content, allowing you to hone your message based on the reaction of your audience.

However, before diving into drafting a mass of content, take a moment to read LinkedIn’s own best practices for publishing content. This document offers advice for what to write about, what to avoid and how to produce the best content. Here’s a few of the questions they offer to get you started:

  • What concrete advice would you give to someone hoping to enter your field?
  • What your industry will (or should) look like in 5, 10, or 15 years and how it will get there?
  • What is the biggest problem your industry needs to solve?

With LinkedIn’s popularity, this focus on expert commentary will likely threaten the status quo of today’s media landscape. By crowdsourcing the best articles, LinkedIn can promote a larger amount of content to their exclusive membership base, an advantage over traditional media outlets. For CEOs and thought leaders with the capability to draft engaging, relevant content, this is an amazing opportunity with the sky as the limit.

If you’re interested in reading more about this news, John Hall offers an interesting perspective in his recent article for Forbes. For more information on how LinkedIn can support your lead generation, read this article from Danielle Laurion on our InkLings blog.

Read more from Alex Ingram
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How to optimize your LinkedIn profile for maximum exposure

 

Are you on LinkedIn? With more than 259 million LinkedIn users in 200 countries, the answer to that question is most likely, yes. But, the really significant question:  is your profile optimized? Having an optimized LinkedIn profile is important for many reasons including job searching, networking and highlighting your professional expertise. However, have you ever thought about the power of LinkedIn for lead generation? Below are some helpful tips to optimize your profile in order to generate leads for your business. These five tips will make it easier for people to find you via LinkedIn and Google searches, and will also increase your professional credibility when connecting with others.

1)      Include a professional photo and make your profile public. Your photo should be a headshot – with only you in it. LinkedIn is not Facebook where it is fine to have group shots. When setting up your profile, make your profile public. There is really no point in being on LinkedIn with a private profile. LinkedIn is all about building connections and using those connections to tap into your second and third degree networks.

2)      Use industry relevant SEO keywords in your professional headline. There are 184 million unique monthly visitors to LinkedIn. That’s a lot of people checking out the site and a lot of activity. In order to break through the clutter to be found, it is important to use the 120 characters in your professional headline to your advantage. Rather than only stating your job title, add in your industry or expertise. By using relevant search engine optimized (SEO) keywords in your headline, you will have a greater chance of being found by similar professionals. For example, saying, “Social Media and Public Relations Professional” on top of “Account Executive at InkHouse Media and Marketing” will increase your chances of people in the same industry looking to connect with you. A potential lead.

3)      Edit your LinkedIn URL to be your full name. Did you know 40 percent of LinkedIn users check the site daily? To make it even easier for people to find you quickly, edit your public LinkedIn URL to be your full name. This is another SEO trick to help you rank higher in Google when people are searching for you. For example: http://linkedin.com/in/FULLNAME

4)      Add in professional Skills and Expertise. Again, think about SEO keywords that define your professional career. You can add up to 50 skills and expertise, but focus on adding a solid 10 that summarize you as a professional. Endorse others first, so they will endorse you back.

5)      Add in keywords to current and past employment. Don’t just list your current and past jobs with your title and company, describe what you did and accomplished. LinkedIn should serve as your online resume where people can instantly find out your expertise and get an understanding of your current and past experiences.

It is not enough to simply set up a LinkedIn profile and to leave it. By having an optimized LinkedIn profile, not only will people in your industry have an easier time finding you, but they will be able to see your level of expertise and want to connect with you. It’s all about building your network to help you discover new connections, and potential leads.

Read more from Danielle Laurion

Welcome to Wonderland: The Social Media Edition

In the digital age, the landscape of every industry can change with the click of a few keys and the push of a button. Business moves faster than it ever has before. We are all constantly looking for ways to keep up and stay on top.

Social media is no different. Right now, it’s a lot like falling down Alice’s rabbit hole and looking for the right treat to eat so you can unlock the door and, hopefully, not get lost in what is clearly a topsy-turvy world.

Consider me your social media Mad Hatter, guiding you through the strange changes of digital Wonderland’s top social media platforms.

Twitter is the new Instagram?

Like our friends Tweedledee and Tweedledumb, Twitter and Instagram are currently fighting to maintain control over their individual user base. The result? Twitter has denied Instagram access to its database and Instagram has denied Twitter access to its photos. Twitter then announced the addition of photo editing and filters as a response. According to Bits blogger Nick Bilton, the Twitter app will offer eight filters and allow users to crop and enhance photos in the platform. The biggest losers, like in any battle, are the users. Removing the ability to cross-pollinate content is like painting the white roses red. It’s crazy. Users will drop a platform if it is too hard to share one piece of content in multiple places. Users like instant gratification – and complete integration. Not to mention that it makes marketing harder.

Myspace is bringing sexy back?

Well, Justin Timberlake is trying to make Myspace sexy again. If you read my post on Digg coming back from the dead in October, then you know how surprised I am that Myspace is throwing itself back onto the digital stage. Of course, I had to sign up. And like the Caterpillar, I find myself asking, “Who are you?” And like Alice, it seems that the new Myspace really has no idea. It isn’t really a place to connect with friends or colleagues. You can listen to and discover music, but how can you find your friends to share your favorite findings? I have to say that I agree with Gizmodo’s Sam Biddle when he writes that it tries to marry too many features from other social networks, such as, “Spotify-style music streaming, YouTube-style video streaming, pseudo-tweets, a Faux Facebook News Feed, all swirled together.” It’s not an intuitive platform and it is unclear to me where Myspace hopes to end up. I suppose, if you don’t care where you’re going, then it doesn’t matter which way you go.

Are LinkedIn groups going the way of the oyster-bed?

LinkedIn groups were like pots of gold for business professionals and thought leaders alike. It was a place to discover what’s hot in a given industry and to share your thoughts on any topic with the people who will take the most interest. It started as a friendly place for eager oysters to share their insights, to talk of cabbages and kings, if you will. But then the rest of the oysters swarmed. The purpose was lost – LinkedIn groups have become cluttered with thoughtless commentary, linking back to content that hardly fits the discussions at hand. If it fits the discussion at all. The jury is still out on this issue, but we hope for the best – and that the moderating Carpenters can stop the spammy Walruses before they clear out the oyster-bed.

Of course, this wouldn’t be Wonderland if there weren’t a little bottle of vaguely marked liquid to bring you back to your normal size and show that everything is, more or less, right with the world. So I bring you this nugget: Google+ is still trying very hard to make itself relevant. The platform launched Communities, a new feature that allows users to set up a place, other than their own page, or a business page, to cultivate discussion around any topic imaginable. Essentially, Communities create a new way for you to share your content with your target audience. Regardless of this new addition, we are all still waiting for Google+ to become more than just a fabulous SEO tool. According to Janko Roettgers at GigaOM, Google+ has 400 million registered users, but only 25 percent of those users are active. And they may only be active because they’re using the site to make video calls or to “Hangout.”

With that, I wish you a very merry unbirthday, and will proceed to sit back with a cup of tea as I watch the insanity unfold.

Read more from Laura Maas
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Why LinkedIn and Twitter’s Break Up Is Better For Your Business

As most of us know, LinkedIn and Twitter had a very public falling out this past June, ending a two-year relationship. Like many of the flings I’ve seen fall apart, when rumors spread and the going got tough (or LinkedIn faced a massive password breach) Twitter dropped the professional networking site like a hot potato…poor thing.

Now, months later, the drama continues. At last week’s TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco, LinkedIn Founder Reid Hoffman discussed the sudden removal of Twitter feeds from LinkedIn. So how is he faring after the split? Better than ever. Hoffman declared that the networking platform “got better” after Twitter cut off the site. Are these the harsh words of a scorned lover, or an accurate assessment of the site’s well-being post-breakup? I say, it’s pretty accurate.

There is no denying that whenever big news breaks or celebrity gossip leaks, the world is all “a-twitter” to share their own opinion in 140 characters or less. But LinkedIn offers a very different value proposition. Currently operating as the largest professional network on the Internet, with more than 175 million members in more than 200 countries and territories, the real value of LinkedIn for businesses is the ability to connect one-to-one with other business professionals—not sharing whatever in the world (or Twittersphere) comes to mind.

With all the hype around social sites (Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Pinterest) we often forget that LinkedIn is not just a networking site to utilize when you are looking for a new job. It is the ideal platform for businesses to promote themselves, employees’ expertise and thought leadership initiatives, as well as highlight news and recent successes. Taking it one step further, LinkedIn offers a way for businesses to build communities through relevant discussion groups. By posting thought-provoking content, a business can quickly and effectively engage its key constituents in meaningful conversations. What’s more, LinkedIn is one of the highest traffic referral sources for blogs, so posting expert content on relevant discussions will ultimately drive more eyeballs to your company blog.

I tend to agree with Hoffman that once the excess noise from cross-posting from Twitter was removed, the site got better. In a way, it restored the sanctity of the platform, with the conversations becoming  more industry and business focused—as they were meant to be.

The split helps clarify how best to use each network. Twitter, for the most part, is about reaching the most people, and LinkedIn is about reaching the right people.

Read more from Kari Hulley

Social Media Etiquette from the Ghost of Emily Post

According to a recent report from DOMO, 70 percent of CEOs at Fortune 500 companies have no social media presence.

I find myself asking how can this possibly be a real statistic? In her piece for Forbes, Victoria Barret writes that social media isn’t a passing fad—one of the major reasons to utilize social media is because that’s where your customers are.

Barret is right. Social media has been changing the game for businesses on a global level for several years, allowing them to share their products, brand and point of view everywhere from Canada to Australia. Platforms like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google + allow businesses the opportunity to not only sell a product, but to have real personality and engage with the audience that matters most to their business—their customers, clients, potential new hires and even existing employees.

It isn’t enough to have a company account for each profile. Having a human element and engaging in a meaningful way is what moves the needle and turns a company’s fans into fanatics.

Although the report does not indicate why CEOs are opting out of these platforms, it’s a fact that CEOs are time-strapped. But one could also theorize that there is concern over a speed-induced, unintended faux-pas. I consider social networking to be an activity similar to attending a cocktail party or a networking event. Although using social media should be seamless and feel natural, there are some scenarios that leave you wondering what the right move is with this kind of social interaction.

For these situations, I have consulted with Emily Post’s own social media etiquette guidelines and adapted them for CEOs. Here are five valuable tips to ensure your etiquette is top notch when you take to the social networking realm:

  1. Think before you post. Is what you’re about to say to your followers relevant? Does it matter? Stay on topic—if your business is focused on security, you probably shouldn’t tweet or post about the latest hot button social issue—like what you think about Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy’s stance on gay marriage. It isn’t relevant or productive.
  2. Introduce yourself. It’s OK to add someone you don’t know personally on a social networking website, but be sure to send a message explaining why you’re connecting with him or her. Not only will you have a better chance of getting your friend request accepted, you’ll start building a relationship. For LinkedIn users: the generic request note doesn’t count—personalization is imperative to starting off on the right foot.
  3. Don’t put in writing what can be said on the phone. Whether it is a direct message on Twitter or a message on Facebook or LinkedIn, it is inappropriate to use public forms of communication to talk disparagingly about a client, customer, reporter, colleague…or anyone. If it is something that must be said, but you don’t want it to be seen by anyone other than whom you are intending to message, pick up the phone or schedule a lunch. And of course, remember the Golden Rule.
  4. When it comes to Twitter, unfollowing is perfectly acceptable. Someone’s tweets used to make sense in your feed, but they’ve switched gears or generally don’t provide information you consider to be valuable. As a CEO, you don’t have time to sift through tweets or updates that are irrelevant to you. It’s OK to unfollow those users. It is also acceptable to opt out of following someone simply because they follow you. If you’re interested in social media or marketing, there is no need to follow someone who tweets primarily about, say, pet supplies. They may be following you for your knowledge and expertise.
  5. You can reject a client’s friend request. It can be awkward to get a Facebook friend request from a new or potential client. It’s OK to decline. Keeping work and play separate is smart, especially if you do not have a prior, friendly relationship with the client. You can send them a message explaining that you prefer to connect with clients in a different way and provide them a link to your LinkedIn profile. If you’d prefer not to personally connect at all, sending the client to the company Facebook page—which collects fans as opposed to friends and is not linked to your personal account—is another viable option.

At InkHouse, we see real value in social media. If media outreach and strategy is the butter, social media is the garlic and olive oil blend for the proverbial bread. From extending the life of the latest and greatest media hit to creating new connections or nurturing more seasoned ones, social media, done well and with class, is a must.

Read more from Laura Maas

The Interest in Pinterest: Why Marketers Should Take Notice

Pinterest is taking the social Web by storm. For those who haven’t received an invitation, Pinterest is an online, free form of scrapbooking that allows users to “pin” photos of admirable fashions, creative crafts or virtually anything of usual interest from around the Web. Recently awarded the Crunchies Best New Start Up of 2011 Award, it’s no secret that Pinterest is gaining traction.

I know what you’re thinking – “another time suck.” I have fallen victim to this obsession of “pinning,” like many other Pinterest users, creating boards with images of things I love.

But Pinterest can be – and is becoming – so much more, because of its “social curation” model and incredibly simple user interface.

According to a recent survey from Shareaholic, Pinterest drives more referral traffic than Google+, YouTube and LinkedIn combined. When I say referral traffic, I’m referring to the site that drives traffic to your individual site. For example, I “pin” this AWESOME jumbo Jenga set. From there, if I click on this “pin,” you are referred back to the site where it originated (in this case HGTV), providing details on how to make it, where to buy it and so on.

In July, Pinterest owned .17% of referral traffic, and now drives 3.6% of referral traffic back to the pin’s source site, as of January 2012. What makes this statistic even more surprising? This booming social site is still “invitation only,” generating status among early users in the same way that Facebook did. By the way, Facebook stands as the number one referral traffic driver with 26.4 percent.

As is true for every social site, there’s a business benefit behind the pin. Retailers were among the first to see this in action. Pinterest is generating 11 million hits in a single week. Jason Falls (@JasonFalls) noted that one retail site increased its web traffic a whopping 446% through its use of Pinterest, resulting in five times its normal sales from this referral traffic.

In addition to the impressive traffic referral percentages and a seemingly simple boost to search engine optimization, Pinterest users are also highly engaged. A number of brands are building “pinning” presences on Pinterest, with boards collaged with mouthwatering foods from Whole Foods or items in Etsy’s vintage market place. News sites, like The Wall Street Journal and PBS NewsHour Art Beat, are also building presence, with visual reads of their publications through photos and videos.

Pinterest is becoming a model of envy for other sites. Its basic design and structure is part of the appeal and will ultimately be a game changer in Web design. And it’s as easy as a push of a pin. (Pun intended.)

While some might say that Pinterest is just for women, Pinterest has manly categories, too, such as   cars & motorcycles, men’s apparel and technology. Or could a macho alternative, called Gentlemint, capture the attention of the male audience, like Chris Brogan? But gentlemen, if you’re looking for inspiration for next week’s heart filled holiday, Pinterest may be your best bet.

Could “pinning” be the new “winning?” How “pinteresting.”

If I haven’t sparked your interest in Pinterest, here are a few helpful guides on how Pinterest can work for you:

Read more from admin
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10 PR Predictions for 2012

2011 was a good year for PR. It’s growing and changing for the better, as I wrote back in June. While it’s harder to break through the streams of tweets and updates that fly at us each day, PR has an unprecedented opportunity to tell stories through new vehicles. The stakes are higher though, so we have to be smarter and more creative. I used to tell clients not to worry too much about negative coverage because Google’s memory is short. Well, it’s gotten a lot longer this year with archive searches, so you can Google this post next December and call me prescient or just plain wrong.

  1. Infographic Saturation. Like all shiny new toys, infographics are suffering from an abundance of enthusiasm. Data visualization is an important piece of content marketing, and one that isn’t going away. However, in the next year we’ll see a bit of a contraction in infographics as the market tires of the onslaught and demands quality design work that is based on great data and equally interesting insights.
  2. PR Skills Move Well Beyond Media Relations. Recruiting is a challenge for the PR industry overall, which is enjoying a nice period of growth (a November 30 Forbes article cited the PR industry’s growth at 11% in the past 12 months). At InkHouse, we call this a good problem, but a problem nonetheless. A successful PR professional today must have a wide array of skills. Gone are the days of cranking out press releases and simply excelling at selling stories to the press. PR pros have to be good at both of those today, but they also have to understand the fast-changing social media and content marketing world and be able to write like never before. It’s one thing to write a formulaic press release, but an entirely other writing challenge to ghost author a blog post for a CEO in her tone and style.
  3. The Phone Matters…Again. We had a few years during the blog explosion when some PR professionals slid into the keyboard, choosing to type their media correspondence behind the safety shield of their monitors. Email and social networks are important tools of the trade. However, to have good relationships, you need real conversations. PR people who pick up the phone get better coverage, period. In the late 90s, we used to send FedEx packages to reporters to convey importance because they stood out from the regular mail and daily barrage of faxes. Today, the phone is worthy of a resurgence since very few people use it anymore.
  4. Social Chaos Comes into (better) Focus. When clients object to Twitter, the first concern is the sheer exposure to followers they probably don’t know. The second concern is due to intimidation by the Twitter fire hose. Those of us in the industry have found ways of filtering and focusing social content. I am the first to admit that it took quite a long time for me to get my system to a place where it really works for me though. It’s a manual process. I chose Tweetdeck because it helps me filter by list, search term, Twitter handle, etc. This year, LinkedIn Today launched, and it is one of the few places I look each day outside of Tweetdeck. The content is dead on and I always see something I missed elsewhere. Facebook and Google+ have both added new functionality to make content streams more customized and to enable people to group their contacts by topic and share selectively. This will only improve in 2012 and I, for one, am thrilled.
  5. The Influence Bubble Deflates. Influence metrics like Klout work because they play to our narcissism. And they are addictive. People get attached to their influence scores, and some check them every day. As Klout discovered, people become so attached that changes to the algorithms can create a lot of frustration (see The Next Web’s Klout’s scoring changes incite a riot of complaints). Aside from personal frustration, these changes also have an impact on social media measurement. We used to use metrics such as Klout in our social media reports, but the ever-changing metrics make it impossible to benchmark and often make it appear as though our clients have lost ground in the social sphere, when they have actually gained ground. My prediction: it’s becoming clear that no influence metric is truly accurate, yet. Until we can benchmark and show real influence (what of the figures of major influence who are not involved in social media?), influence metrics may be relegated to points of interest, not points of real value.
  6. Content is Critical. Content, content, content. Good, creative content. This has always been the basis for good PR, but now it’s more critical than ever. Blogging and social channels have opened up an opportunity to have direct and meaningful conversations with your target audiences. To do this, you must begin with great content, told through the right lens. 2012 will bring more of this, and to prepare, check out our piece in PR News on the tenets of good storytelling and this one on what to blog about. Then check out this infographic on MarketingProfs about content marketing.
  7. Tech Product Launches Take a Back Seat. Remember the days of big bang technology product launches? If you happen to work at Apple, you only have to think back to the iPhone 4S. However, for the rest of us, product launches have lost their luster for the press. A product launch tells a reporter that 20 other reporters are going to be doing the same story, which is a major deterrent today. Product news is important though. Unless you have a product launch that will change the shape of a market, you might consider casting a smaller, and more focused net on the few reporters who will write longer, more in-depth stories. Good PR people know how to couple this kind of launch with quality content – demo videos, infographics, Slideshare, etc. – to populate the launch through social channels and directly to the target customer base.
  8. RSS Feeds Lose More Ground. From a content syndication standpoint, we use RSS feeds every day at InkHouse. However, from a consumer’s perspective, as Twitter lists, Google+, Facebook and others provide new ways of filtering content, RSS feeds will lose more ground. My personal favorite tools are Twitter Lists and NetVibes.
  9. Measurement Gets Measured. PR and social media measurement is a big market (Salesforce acquired Radian6 this year for $326 million). Measurement is critical, but it can also be very pricey. Tools like Radian6 and Sysomos are fantastic, but I have yet to find a tool that gives us everything we need. Good PR needs access to listening tools to find hot topics and competitor information, but we also need a platform for acting on that information. PR measurement is certainly growing up and I see more on the horizon in 2012 as the industry defines what is required in much clearer terms. Until then, my trusty Google Analytics, NetVibes (the free version) and a cadre of other free social media monitor tools will get us by.
  10. Transparency Trumps Spin. Yes, it is the job of the PR professional to position a company’s story in the best possible light. This will always be the case. Transparency, though, has gained in importance as social media has taken off. It’s no longer about talking at your audience, but about communicating with them. The coming year will only bring this need into sharper focus. This is one of the nice side effects of social media – it keeps everyone honest!
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Social Media as a Ubiquitous Force? Not Quite

I came across a Mashable article the other day that stopped me in my tracks. Shockingly, only 50 percent of adults in the U.S. use social media, according to a new survey by Pew Internet. Being entrenched for so long in a field where social media is ubiquitous (in fact, it’s a primary job requirement), I had a hard time believing that this could really be true. That is, until I got a call from my parents the other night.

I live states away from my family, and while it’s always great to catch up with them, when it comes to discussing my job, or any form of Web activity – social or otherwise – I know I can count on some laughs (after I hang up, of course). Just for fun, here’s a quick 60-second “take” from our recent chat:

Dad: Hey there, Jill! I was just thinking about you – wanted to see if you and your hubby have set up your family email account yet? I wanted to send you guys this great email I got the other day.

Jill: [Read: another chain email. Groan.] Hi, Dad. No, we’ll probably just keep our own – feel free to send it to Patrick, though. [haha]

Dad: Hmmm…well, it would be easier if you got a family email so we could keep in touch with both of you. But anyway, your Mother wants to talk to you, hold on, let me give her the phone. Oh, and your brother should be home soon – he finds out about football tryouts today.

Jill: Great – I saw on Facebook that he made varsity this year! And Jana has been tweeting about it all day.

Dad: What?! Wait – he did?! How do you know?

Mom: And WHAT has Jana been doing all day?

Jill: I saw it this morning. Anyway, don’t you think it would be easier to use Skype so I can see all of you guys?

Mom: That sounds technical – but speaking of, did your Dad tell you? We just switched to high-speed Internet a few days ago. The kids staged a coup, something about needing to get to the Google in under two hours, I’m not really sure. What ever happened to microfiche? That’s what I want to know.

You get the point.

But while my parents may have a long way to go before jumping on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or any other social media channel, many others are coming in droves to embrace social media use. A similar study conducted by Pew in 2008 showed that just 29 percent of all Internet users used social media; however, social media adoption has more than doubled in three years, reaching 65 percent in 2011. Surprisingly, the growth of social networking is driven by seniors, with social media usage increasing by 150 percent in just two years in the 65+ age demographic.

Email is still the most popular online activity, with 61 percent of respondents indicating that they use it every day. Search engines come in at 59 percent as the second most popular daily Internet activity. Today, about 43 percent of Internet users interact on social channels regularly – and that number continues to rise steadily.

When I do make the long trek home and see my (seven) younger siblings – heads facing downward with smartphones and iPod Touches permanently fused to their fingertips – I realize that it’s only a matter of time before the social media usage gap between these generations closes for good.

A quote by author William Gibson may say it best:

“One of the things our grandchildren will find quaintest about us is that we distinguish the digital from the real…In the future, that will become literally impossible.”

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