Social Media: People vs. Technology

Social Media: It's The People Not The Technology


 In a recent blog post by Bloggertone, Frank Bradley brings up an interesting but often missed point – social media is not about the technology but the people. It’s about creating meaningful dialogue with your target audience. To be successful in your social media strategy and planning, you have to employ the right people leading the effort and dictating which social networking channels are appropriate for your business and its target audience. We often mistake social media as a “must” for any business to succeed in today’s fast-changing Web 2.0, when we first need to understand what the company wants to achieve before jumping in.    

The year 2010 is being dubbed the “The Year of the Social Media Crisis,” according to Breakthrough Communications. This means companies cannot take a blind approach to social media by implementing any and all technologies that are deemed hot without first understanding the fundamental rules, which I’ll go into later. This type of ad-hoc approach can backfire, placing your company on the leader board for social media crisis help. Take, for example, Nestle. In mid-March Greenpeace launched a campaign against Nestle, one of the largest nutrition, health and wellness companies, criticizing Nestle for using palm oil companies that allegedly destroy Indonesian rainforest and threat Orangutan habitat. Nestle responded that they stopped using palm oil in their products. However, when the Greenpeace folks launched negative comments on Nestle’s Facebook wall, the moderator of the company’s page responded:    

“To repeat: we welcome your comments but please don’t post using an altered version of any of our logos as your profile pic — they will be deleted.”    

This is the kind of fire your company can face if you don’t have the right people managing social media. The people who are managing social media – the conversations – should be passionate and aware, but more importantly understand how these platforms work.    

They should understand how to create and build dialogue outside of their standard company policy mumbo jumbo. In today’s world where information can be disseminated within seconds across Internet chat rooms, blogs and social channels, companies no longer have the luxury of communicating the way they used to – going through legal channels and putting out a statement. This is the type of mistake you can run into without the right people behind it. It’s about conversation, and this takes the right people using the right tools. It’s a balancing act. With that said, I want to take you through a series of very high-level steps which are also referenced in Altimeter’s recent webinar slides:    

Research is pivotal. According to Altimeter, researching your customer profiles will provide some good visibility into where your target audience is online, their social behaviors, what social information or people do your customers rely on, how they’re using various channels, and how they’re being influenced in their buying decisions. More importantly, you should understand how they are using social technologies in the context of your products. You can do this by launching a social computing survey – no more than 15 questions. For more information and guidance, take a look at Groundswell by Charlene Li, founder of the Altimeter Group. This book provides a specific list of questions you should be asking. For instance, which social technologies do they currently use, for what, how long, how often, etc.    


With strong research as the foundation, companies should do their own social audit. This is essentially an internal social computing survey to gauge what social networking sites your employees are accessing, how long, for what, how often, etc.  Further, invite key leaders from marketing, product management, the executive team and solution marketing for a meeting (Altimeter suggests a brown-bag meeting, which is not a bad idea) to discuss their experiences with social media and begin to identify key internal experts, which leads me to my next point: Who?    


Social media typically resides in corporate communications or marketing. But, forget where it should belong because every organization is unique. Large organizations will typically allow everyone to socially engage, but my belief is that social media engagement, management and monitoring should be owned by a central point of contact where all information is filtered. You’ve identified the key internal experts, but you have to allocate management of your social media efforts – strategy and planning. People who understand the essence of social media, not because they use it for personal use, but because they understand the business objectives and goals as well as how these social media channels will be utilized to fundamentally help achieve the end goal.    

I’d recommend a communications expert who understands not only the corporate side of business such as processes, crisis planning, etc., but how online community members behave, connect, engage, etc. Remember, you have different target audiences, and they all do things differently – media, analysts, bloggers, users, etc. The social media expert must understand the different personas your company is targeting and how to engage on all different levels. He or she should be passionate about your brand, products and services, but also the relationship management process.    


Now that you have your external and internal research finalized and the right people behind this process, it’s time to define your strategy and determine where you’re going to invest your time and resources. By identifying your key objectives you can align those goals with the right social networking tools. The research allows you to gain strong visibility of your brand discussions online and should give you good guidance on where and why you should partake in social media. For instance, if a majority of your target audience is using communities and blogs to engage and make buying decisions, you would want to build a community to engage with your customers and foster an environment of co-innovation and deeper engagement.      

Whatever your strategy is – the first and foremost priority is the people. And if you have the right people dedicated to cultivating this environment and fostering engagement on a consistent basis, you’ll be on the road to success.    

Road to success starts and ends with a coordinated, integrated approach to social media strategy and execution to stay organized and metrics driven.

Social Media: Balancing Security & Authenticity w/o Controlling the Message

Social media is all the rage. According to a recent report, 94 percent of Generation Y has joined a social networking site. Social media is believed to be leading the next social revolution. In fact, social networking has grown so dramatically that it is now the number one activity on the Web. In response to this social media phenomenon, businesses are moving at a rapid pace to take advantage of the untapped opportunity by making social media an integral part of their business strategy. 

On the flip side, the rise in this trend is giving hackers more motivation and greater opportunities to use the Web as the new threat vector.

Recently, I spoke in front of Women in Technology International group with my colleague, Chris Hewitt. I wanted to focus on three key areas:

  • How social media is forcing business strategy shift?
  • Why social media poses huge opportunity and RISK for the corporate world?
  • Why businesses should adopt processes and policies to maintain and educate on security best practices without controlling the authenticity of the message and voice?

This presentation will highlight how businesses can put security front and center to protect brand and customer confidence while learning to let go of control and reach their audiences through the open dialog of social media.

A Practical Approach to Building Brand and SEO through LinkedIn

LinkedIn has evolved into the largest online business networking platform – totaling 32 million users worldwide.  Prior to the social networking craze, LinkedIn was largely used to connect with past co-workers and trusted colleagues.  Now, however, LinkedIn has extended its capabilities to serve as a brand building platform for professionals looking to network, engage, and communicate with like-minded peers. The surge was accelerated during the recessionary period when laid off workers were looking to locate jobs and hopefully connect with others who could assist in the process.

 Today, LinkedIn continues to grow by adding key features that are essential to not just networking but building a community to share information, discuss and debate, and promote personal and business brand as well as network. However, harnessing the true power of LinkedIn not just to network with your “trusted” and “known” community of friends and colleagues but promoting your brand and thought leadership through LinkedIn.

To gain insight into the use of LinkedIn, build SEO for your profile and blog, as well as launching engaging and meaningful conversations, I spoke with my good friend and colleague Chris Hewitt. He’s not only my trusted friend but someone who truly understands the power of the platform.

In this blog Q&A, I looked at several components – how do you use LinkedIn to build personal brand and network, what are some innovative ways to use LinkedIn to build awareness and some tips and tricks to maximize using LinkedIn. Please read below.

Why is LinkedIn so important for professionals today in building network and personal brand?

Our professional success is largely determined by the recognition of that effort by our colleagues and peers.  Similarly, the growth of our career is supported by the generosity and investment of other professionals.  As a result, we need to nurture those relationships and reciprocate in the growth and development of others.

I believe that it is critical for professionals to be present, be heard, be engaged, and be connected in order to build and sustain success.  The Internet, and advent of Web-based tools, has provided us with a powerful tool in being all those things…often in real-time.  

Currently, LinkedIn is the most popular professional, Web-based social networking tool and, as a result, important.  I think it is important, though, that we are not complacent…another tool might be a better solution; either now (e.g. or or in the future.

One important note about companies.  I think LinkedIn has done an excellent job in providing professionals with ability to build an individual brand while also personalizing an organization through the organic enrichment of ‘company’ profiles.  While many marketing/communications people actively monitor/manage their company profiles, any validated user (based on email domain) can contribute to that profile…a great tool for showcasing a supportive, engaged corporate culture.  

What are some innovative ways to use LinkedIn to build personal brand, promote events, and create awareness?

First and foremost, I believe we need to ground our expectations in a type of altruistic philosophy.  We should look at LinkedIn as a tool we can leverage to return real value by sharing our unique value proposition with other professionals (and aspiring professionals).  With this concept driving our actions, we are better positioned to reach our career/business/networking objectives while positively contributing to the larger community.

LinkedIn, itself, has a variety of tools that can be leveraged to create individual and organizational awareness.  

Certainly the ‘answers’ feature is a great way to share your knowledge with the community.  Additionally, where relevant, you can highlight the strengthen and solutions your company provides.  

LinkedIn AnswersHowever, in the last year or so, I have seen a troubling (and dramatic) increase in self-serving dialogue through LinkedIn Answers.  Users are clearly posting questions to draw attention to their message, company, etc and other users are answering to feed their ‘social competitiveness’ (my idea that a lot of our social networking is driven by our innate desire for higher social status).

So, to me, the innovative is not in the tools but leveraging those tools into concepts.  For example, use LinkedIn as a platform for showcasing your evolving professional concepts and keep your content fresh.  For example, let’s say you had a new marketing concept that you are excited about; one that really showcases your experience/creativity/innovation.  You could use LinkedIn as a platform to create a personal marketing campaign and share your thoughts:

  • Write a blog post and attach it to your profile.
  • Create a mini-series of LinkedIn status message that change on a scheduled basis.
  • Relevantly update your experience to showcase how you used (or could have used) this concept.
  • Create a presentation in Google (upload to Slideshare) and post on your profile.
  • Develop some type of ‘take away’ material that viewers of your profile can download (

You could also create polls and questions (where relevant and valued-added) to drive your message.  The key to this concept is that you regularly (I know…easier typed than done) change out your LinkedIn ‘conceptual campaigns’.  Changing out these concepts once a month would be a powerful statement of your personal brand (not to mention your ability to execute).

SEO is very important today. What are some tips and tricks to make your LinkedIn profile more SEO friendly?

Your LinkedIn profile is likely not going to carry enough search engine equity to compete against other websites for general keyword concepts (e.g. ‘real estate professional’, ‘Experienced MSCE’, etc.).  So, you should rather focus your energy on personal characteristics combined with key concepts, skills, or experience.  For example, if you regularly speak on a particular topic and any special phrases (e.g. ‘Your Ness’  as seen in ‘You, Me, and Dupree’).  Also, if you have a branded product, service, or concept you should include the relevant text in your tagline, summary, specialties, and experience.

In order to generate greater search engine visibility for your LinkedIn profile, focus on ‘inbound links’ (links to your profile from other websites).  If you want to use your LinkedIn profile as your main online presence (versus a website, blog, etc.), take every opportunity to link to your ‘public profile URL’.  Some examples of linking opportunities are:

  • Part of your posted biography (events, speaking engagements, etc.)
  • Press releases
  • Social networking websites (Twitter, Facebook, etc.)
  • Attached to your comments on blogs, articles, etc.

Lastly, and in my opinion most importantly, is what actions you want visitors to take after finding your profile.  Focus on engaging visitors (especially search-generated visitors) to your profile and driving them to a particular action.


Job Seeker (visibility/candidacy) 

  • Change your status to reflect a concept relevant to the organization you are seeking an interview or position (e.g. industry article, thought, etc.).
  • Create a relevant blog post that details a unique, differentiating strength/idea that would be too long for an interview or resume.
  • Post a copy of your resume or other supporting document (via LinkedIn Applications) that could be downloaded (note: make sure that document prominently displays your contact information)

Product/Solution Provider (awareness)

  • Customize your website link, use action-oriented hyperlink text and drive them to your website.
  • Post relevant documents using LinkedIn Applications.
  • Tie in relevant blog posts and links to your website.

Why should marketers today care about LinkedIn?

The LinkedIn community organically generates high quality and well-qualified audiences that we, as marketers, would love to reach with our messages.  Additionally, there are enough explicit and implicit profiling attributes to segment various audiences (e.g. industry, company size, region, skills, etc.).  As a result, LinkedIn presents the opportunity to engage highly targeted audiences.

While we wipe the dollar signs from our eyes, we have to be thoughtful in our approach to these LinkedIn audiences.  Our tendency is to ‘blast’ the rich LinkedIn community with our concept/message/offer.  However, we need to focus on content and actions that authentically create dialogue.  Share our knowledge and resources and allow opportunities to grow naturally from that dialog.

With the sophisticated SPAM filtering built into today’s email systems and software, I believe social media SPAM is going to be the next digit intrusion; just look at the number of multi-level marketers on Twitter generating empty content (and all following one another).

Key steps to getting started:

My advice is to build and grow your presence under the guidance of a personal brand strategy:

  • Who are you?
  • What have you accomplished?
  • Where are you going?
  • What’s your unique brand position?

Don’t start by building another resume…create a dynamic, engaging presence.  Your experience should be coupled to concepts not tasks, duties, and responsibilities.  In developing your personal brand strategy, ask others to help define your unique characteristics and provide guidance for your message. 

While it may be tempting, don’t count connections…build meaningful connections within your network.  You will want to be able to make connections to people within your network.  

My personal connection philosophy:
If you can’t happily and meaningfully introduce a person at a cocktail party or networking event, they should not be a connection.  

Also be authentic with your connections.  Did you work with someone previously but had issues with their work/performance/approach?  Do not connect with them…your personal brand equity is also tied to the people you trust to be within your network. 

One special consideration for job seekers…always preserve your brand, even when the search isn’t going well.  It is far too easy to type, post, and hurt what you have been building.  Your profile is a statement of your personal brand and needs to be carefully protected.

Should you promote your personal blog versus company website?

Your profile allows for the use of multiple links; use them to identify what it is your linking to and why:

  • Use your profile to promote yourself, your skills, and accomplishments.
  • User the descriptive sections of experience to highlight relevant experience as well as company objectives (e.g. 100 word company description).
  • Use a company profile to promote your brand, messaging, and positioning.
    • Encourage the members of the company to enrich the profile.

How should you integrate other social networking sites to LinkedIn and why?

Yes…however, where it is relevant (okay, you may now move the needle from my broken record of ‘relevance’) and where it is targeted.  The inclusive of Blogs and applications like Slideshare/ Docs is a great way to tie together various concepts to form a better picture of your professional profile.  Similarly, you can post your LinkedIn profile/badge across your other social networking properties to engage visitors.  For example, use your LinkedIn profile as your biography and focus your energy on maintaining that content (versus managing multiple biographies).

Lastly, don’t feel that you have to create a hyper socially networked profile that will be the envy of all your Twitter followers.  Be authentic.  If you are an active member and/or passionate about a group, display it on your profile.  If you like to socialize your reading list through LinkedIn, awesome.  The main point is not to make your LinkedIn profile a dizzying blur of social media NASCAR badging.  

To leave with a quote from Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby ‘This sticker is dangerous and inconvenient, but I do love Fig Newtons.’