Category Archives: LinkedIn

India users and Social Networks (Observations from the US)

I'm quite a bit active on social networks. It makes sense, given that Social Media Marketing is one of our core services to our clients. What is interesting to me when I network online is how the two cultures that I understand most conduct social networking online.

When I was speaking at a conference in Ahmedabad, India (in January 2011) I briefly eluded to this difference in Social networking styles in the two countries and cultures I'm most familiar with. Given the rise of social media usage and social media users from India, I decided it was time to pen my observations about how Indian users network online and solicit feedback from folks. So  here goes…..

Celebrity Following: This happens in the US and other countries too as celebrities are naturally very popular. I mean what other medium offered such immediate and direct access to the tinsel town Gods until Twitter and Facebook came along? However, I find that celebrity following is a more popular pastime and perhaps a bigger obsession for social media users from India. It is not very surprising given that Bollywood is hugely popular with Indians and Bollywood actor and actress worship is very common to most Indian households. But my observation is that many users tweet and comment exclusively on celebrity tweets and posts and when they don't get the responses they seek, many users become belligerent and rude,  deliberately trying to antagonize celebrities into pointless discussions and unnecessary debate. And in general, most celebrities in both countries tweet and Facebook post mostly one-way messages, with little real interaction with their followers and fans.

Spamming versus Networking: Instead of networking and really forming relationships, many social networkers make job and business requests within minutes of connecting. They get belligerent and rude when they are politely told "sorry, there are no openings". Many have approached me asking me why I wouldn't help out a fellow Indian, a fellow Gujarati (state where my parents are from), etc. Many yet spam their followers, fans, and connections with debates over this topic and the other, making it very difficult to conduct fruitful networking online. LinkedIn is especially drowning in users who post messages and questions and responses on an almost daily basis. Another observation is that many LinkedIn messages are posted in an obvious attempt to gather email addresses for future use.

Content Lacking Engagement/Interaction: A lot of tweets, linkedin status updates, and Facebook posts that I read from social networkers from India lack the true nature of social networking, which is engagement. Either there is a lot of one-way messaging or there are proverbs and words of wisdom shared to which people respond to, but there are few interactions and very little real engagement to make the networking fruitful.

Email Scraping for Spam: I swear that my email is in the hands of EVERY SINGLE "leading" web and "growing" SEO company in India. I say that because I get daily emails from Indian companies wanting to become my "partner" for web and want me to send them my "requirements". I can't say that I get even 1% of similar spam from non-Indian companies who interact with me on social networks.

My observations are not meant as a blanket statement that encompasses every single user of social networks in India. There are many savvy, focused, and interactive social networkers who "GET" social networking. And there are many non-India social networkers who are guilty of what I accuse Indian users to be.

Bottom line reason for this post? The average social networker in India, who is not from the communications or marketing background or doesn't have a specific expertise or celebrity status, has a bit further to go to truly gain benefit from social networking. The learning may also come with better understanding their own goals of being online.

Social networking is a huge opportunity for individuals and companies looking to grow brand reach, engage with prospects, and promote their expertise and company or services. Social networks truly make us a global market place.  Shouldn't we use then use this valuable resource more wisely and with a more strategic focus?


Search Engine Marketing Blog: Social Networking Not for You?

Companies are still not leveraging the power of social networking and the reasons include lack of understanding, lack of awareness of the power of social networking and perhaps the fear of the unknown.  Time and time again, I ask my prospects and clients "how many sales people do you have in your organization". And time and time again they give me a number that is much smaller than their company's total number of employees.  When I point out that each and every one of their employees is a "sales person", they are a bit embarrassed and also a bit perturbed as they never thought about it like that.

Companies are afraid to embrace social networking for more reasons than one. Most claim that they need to know the return on investment (ROI). This shows that their biggest reason for not embracing social networking is that they really don't understand the benefits. Companies are also afraid of employee abuse and not being able to determine who is doing what during company time.

The benefits of getting each and every employee of yours on social networks are many. Yes, there is potential for abuse too and I won't ignore that. However when employees are empowered, policies & procedures are put in place, and monitoring tools (kind of top video monitors for babies) are deployed, employee abuse can be managed appropriately.

Each employee can become a brand ambassador for your company helping build your company's brand awareness and brand visibility. By getting every employee trained on the various nuances of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social networks, your company will see an increase in connections & lead generation activity. And when each one of your employees engage with customers using social networks, you can build better customer loyalty and relationship.
Social networks become a great way for your employees to spread good PR about your company and its offerings. It also allows them to learn what's happening in the marketplace, see what your competitors are doing, and hear what the customers are saying. The fear of the unknown comes in when companies fear "negative" feedback from their customers who may choose to share their displeasure over something, on social networks. However, this is a great way to actually hear the negative feedback, offer a solution, implement a corrective course of action for the future, and turn the customer around to make him or her your biggest proponent.

And don't feel that you have to take the "each & every" recommendation to heart. It may be difficult to "train" each and every one of your employees to be a brand ambassador. There just may be a few employees whom you want to hide from prospects & customers due to lack of communication or "customer service" skills. By all means hide them for the greater good!

I believe that companies must embrace this new way of doing business or be left behind. Are you ready?

Search Engine Marketing Blog: LinkedIn Email Attack

So I received several emails with the message "messages waiting in your inbox" supposedly from LinkedIn about my connections and contacts. I deleted them automatically knowing that they made no sense cause if someone were to write to me, I'd get notified anyway. Come to find out, LinkedIn was the latest to be targeted for an email attack just like Facebook and Twiter in recent weeks.

This attack was so huge that apparently one quarter of all spam email sent out last week was directed towards Linkedin users. Basically it looked like an invitation from someone looking to connect  and if the link is clicked on, the user is taken to a web page where a trojan horse program gets downloaded and embedded into the user's browser. The purpose of the trojan program is to capture all keystrokes to hijack personal information such as online banking information, passwords to other sites, etc.

Best thing to do is AVOID curiosity and delete anything that looks suspicious. You know that if there was a message waiting for you on Linkedin, you can just as easily log into LinkedIn and read it. Remember, never click on a link that you don't recognize, rather go to the site in question by typing its url in the browser window and thus protect yourself from going to a hacker's website.

Search Engine Marketing Blog: AVG Protection for Social Media Websites too!

Hacking is real and lots of companies claim to offer real-time analysis and detection.

I read about AVG who has come out with a solution called "LinkScanner" which is a real-time scanning solution.  Basically, LinkScanner checks websites and shows you whether or not the sites you are visiting are safe or not. Whether you are surfing the web or shopping online or networking online various social networks, LinkScanner tells you whether those places are safe for you to provide your personal or private information to them.  You get real-time check and the protection is automatically activated for your safety.

It is available for PC and Mac.


Search Engine Marketing Blog: Why LinkedIn is One of My Favorite Social Media Websites!

LinkedIn is one of my favorite social networks. Well, it's in the top three, but you may find it interesting that it's number two after Twitter and ahead of Facebook. Yep, I like LinkedIn more than Facebook because of its functionality as well as it's ability to add value to my professional and business needs.

I remember joining LinkedIn way before Social Media websites were popular and when I was employed at General Motors. I don't even remember when I got my first invitation to "link in" but it has got to be a decade or so. Initially it was made up of the select few career professionals who joined it and then sent invitations to each other. Now of course it has grown to become one of the top professional networking sites for working professionals and business owners.

Although LinkedIn doesn't have as many users as Facebook's 500 plus million, there is no other network that offers you detailed information about professionals in every field you can imagine. The data is well organized, well-searchable, and easy to find and use.  LinkedIn's biggest advantage to you, as an individual or company, is that it allows you to showcase your profile with as much detail as you can possibly add. Your profile becomes an impressive presentation of your company, your skills, your education, your accomplishments and your connections. If you have a captivating profile, people are attracted to you and you'll find yourself being connected to others who become a valuable network for you.

The best way to create a captivating profile is by studying other profiles in your field and outside your field. Yes, even profiles that are not in your field can give you ideas to make your profile more comprehensive and interesting. Also, review corporate profiles of your competition and see what they are saying to make themselves look good. Don't copy but certainly use similar ways to create your own corporate profile so that you can stand head to toe in comparison to your nearest competitor. Testimonials are great for attracting attention of the one who may be tougher to convince simply based on your attractive profile. Testimonials from current and past clients, employees, and colleagues are a great way to let others know what people think of you.
Focus on building a network that is hand-picked with individuals whom you want to be associated with. Yes, you won't always be able to focus on who you want and may need to add people who don't appear to be "valuable" from a connection perspective but that's ok. You aren't getting charged for each connection you add so why sweat the small stuff?

Start building your network with the people  you already know. Do your research and connect others keeping in mind "givers gain". I'd say focus on quality of contacts and not so much the quantity because that'll bring more value in the long run. Also keep an eye on the suggestions for connections that the LinkedIn database offers (on the right hand side of your LinkedIn screen). These people are offered as possible contacts by the LinkedIn database based on the interests you filled out in your profile.
Update your profile frequently to keep it fresh. Send out notes to your connections letting them know if you have information that they find useful. Integrate your twitter feed to LinkedIn because it's a great way to gain the attention of others who may not be in your network directly. Make use of the Answers section to answer other people's questions and post some of your own in a way that engages other people's attention, not spams them.  Use LinkedIn's extensive database to search for company contacts or people whom you wish to reach to showcase what you do and what you sell.
And of course, make sure your profile includes links to your websites including your blog. Share a little bit of your personal information that is not "private" and that may interest others.
So if you've only been thinking of playing on Facebook and Twitter, perhaps it's time to give some attention to LinkedIn. Trust me, it'll be worth it.