Monday, September 16, 2013

LinkedIn and Branding: (You Determine the Rest of this Title and Determine the Topic)

LinkedIn and Branding: (You Determine the Rest of this Title and Determine the Topic)
Due: Friday, 20 September, by Midnight.
Did you know that the current trend, according to U.S. World Reports, demonstrates that SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises or Businesses) using social media were 56% more likely to see a revenue rise, with 28% reporting a rise in revenue and 18% reporting a fall. This compared to the national average of all businesses (SMEs), with 18% recording a rise and 39% a fall in revenue respectively.

When I first started my professional career it was with The First National Bank of San Jose; soon they were acquired by one of the largest French Banking Conglomerates and renamed. . .Bank of the West.  I learned two important lessons while in banking:

1.    Ask, ask, ask, ask and then ask some more: don’t expect a position of authority or responsibility to simply fall into your lap.  You have to make your goals known to those that matter;
2.    Get to know those in authority: I don’t mean in a personal way, but in a professional manner.  Ask them about their professional journey (stories) and then ask for their advice.  After all, they’ve already learned from their failures (or mistakes) and these are priceless gems they can pass on to you.

Now, on with the business of selling yourself; first and foremost you are not selling YOU personally.  You are selling a business that you’ve spent countless hours developing (studying, going to lectures, taking exams, etc.), countless dollars investing in and paying for (tuition, books, supplies, etc.), and countless hours of saying NO to your social life; you’ve spent more on this business of YOU than most start-ups shell-out the first year.  I could go on with a 10 Best Practices for Selling Yourself, or 25 Ways to Land that Job, or 50 Reasons Your College Education Will Pay-Off; but if you’re like me, I can only remember three items. . .at best.  After that. . .it’s cognitive shut-down!

So, here are my top three when using any type of social, professional networking tool:

1.       Make Sure Your Network is Active: this goes for whether or not it’s online or in-person, one-to-one.  Sure, it’s great to link with your friends, but if they aren’t in the market to sell their skills professionally and move forward in the industry. . .then don’t.  Your active network is most often where insider referrals will be forwarded to you and are more tailored to your skill sets.  An example: say a friend applies for a position, and either a second position is available or they decide that the position is not a fit for them—but an ideal fit for you.  Bam! There’s your referral and that’s networking at its best!

2.       Reevaluate Your Skills and Abilities at the End of Every Semester:  Yes, they change.  You add skills, you develop prior skills, and you develop the ability to behave more like a professional and less like a student after every semester.  Journal and chronicle your path to that hard-earned degree; if you don’t write it down, you won’t remember the process of obtaining advanced technical skills and marketable soft skills.  Most employers are interested in the evolution of your educational knowledge, your technical skills, and your professional abilities.  Learn to take them on this journey by using examples (stories) and describing outcomes (results).

3.       Know What is Being Said (from Employees) About Your Dream Company: just as much as your brand and your image are important to you, it is also important to leaders in industry. . .no matter the discipline.  Take the time to research their website, their competitors, and what their employees are saying about them  Because, eventually if you work for that company, you’ll be LinkedIn to their reputation, too.


Saturday, September 7, 2013

Theme for Sept 13th Blog: QR codes: (you fill in this area after the colon)

This week’s Blog theme will focus on QR codes, their development, and their purpose within the scope of our project.  We will be using QR codes for the following: your own person/professional technical Blog, Facebook, and LinkedIn; your client’s project, website, Facebook, Blog, LinkedIn, and/or directions to their place of business; and the poster session (on your poster) in order to lead our attendees directly to your project.  Additionally, we will use a QR code for a QA survey for our poster expo attendees to complete. 

We see QR codes popping up everywhere. However, does the public understand and recognize a QR code when they see one?  In a consumer directed report (Oct 2011—not much has changed since then--amazing) 81% said, “Yes,” while 19% replied, “No.”  Within that same survey 50% of Smartphone users have scanned a QR code at one time or another.  When we delve deeper and look at the buying/purchasing of those who scan QR codes on a regular basis, we discover that 57% did nothing with the information, 21% shared the information with someone else (known as Viral Advertising—my favorite type of advertising), 18% made a purchase (either online or at the site—that would be me), and 7% were just undecided or could not remember what they did with the information (Really?  People actually do this?). 

So why do we scan a QR code in the first place? Of those questioned, 46% just said they were curious what this odd little jumbled cube could do (If they only knew the algorithm behind it!).  Those who were aware of the technology said they wanted to get more information about a company, product, deal, or event; these techno know-hows comprised 41% of the users. 18% stated they wanted to take advantage of a free gift, coupon, and/or discount---now there’s a great reason to have a QR code on your business site.  While 16% wanted to gain access to exclusive content, another 6% just wanted to buy something.  The remaining 3% just didn’t have a direct reason for scanning a QR code (there they are again!).

You can’t open a brouser and not be aware that the online market is growing exponentially; I know that price comparison, value hunting, and time/gas/effort saving is a driving force for me to shop online and stay clear of the brick-and-mortar shopping experience.  Honestly, it’s no wonder when you ask the non-scanning bunch what would motivate them to scan and use a QR code that gaining access to discounts, coupons, and free items topped their list at 43%.  The next runner-up was to gain more information about a product or service (26%); followed by the desire to gain access to exclusive content (25%).  The last three confessions on their list were: making a purchase (23%), obtaining more information about an event (22%), and gathering more information about a brand or company (18%). 

When we continue to survey the population of Smartphone users, we discovered that men found QR codes more useful that women did, 44% men vs 36% women (What?! Really?!).  Interesting information when it’s often assumed (okay so I’m using a nice word here) that women like to shop and browse more often than men. . .or is it browse, browse, browse, browse, then shop.   

Still, users have mixed feelings when it comes to whether or not a QR code is useful. In the same survey 18% thought that QR codes weren’t useful (maybe they need a better Smartphone), while 42% had mixed  feelings about the usefulness of a QR code, and, finally, 41% thought they were absolutely useful after scanning, viewing, and receiving the information they were looking for from the website, webpage, and/or both (I like these people!).

So where did our users find their QR codes?  You won’t believe it. . .magazines and newspapers (35%).  Others were packages (18%), a website (13%), direct mailing (11%), a billboard (how the heck did they get up there?!) or sign (11%), email (4%), while others scanned front store windows/displays (7%). Most users found QR codes easy to scan (70%), however, what was the challenge (and I agree) was finding a free app for their phone to scan the QR code.

Face it, barcodes have been around since the 1950s; they fully started being integrated into the market/retail arena in 1974 (we thought it was “Big Brother” technology back then).  What corporate/retail once held complete control over, is now in the hands of every consumer: to scan, to purchase, to pass on. . .and, more importantly, to use for their own brand. . .the brand of YOU.  With that said, this week you are required to create a QR code for your Blog.  Directions for doing this task will be in the Google drive folder, along with peer reviewed research articles (if you care to read and use them).  Feel free to find studies of your own, as we will be convincing our clients to use QR codes for promoting their brand.   Have a balance of research (peer-reviewed, popular) and your opinion within your Blog.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Theme for Blogs Due September 6th: Social Networking Security or Lack of When Promoting Your Brand

Today’s social media platforms make it simple to obtain immediate feedback from current/potential customers; additionally, social media platforms afford the business owner/client a venue for real-time conversations with their audience. 

Two valuable Internet (social media) tools that help the business owner/client track what is being posted about them are:

Users of these tools can set-up and receive alerts when key words, phrases, or topics are being used within a given social media site and/or Blog that pertains to them (Example: searching Google for their company’s name).

It is our goal, as a team, to help our client:
1.     Manage these conversations
2.     Provide information that corrects false statements
3.     Provide valuable feedback to improve their product or service
4.     Communicate important information about your client’s offerings
5.     Increase consumer participation
6.     Control and manage their digital footprint
The following social monitoring tools are also available in order to navigate the social network maze (some are paid-for services, some are free):

Alterian SM2
Social Mention
Twitter Search
An exhaustive list can be found at:  

Keep in mind that our client can also set-up their Facebook page to target a specific audience, demographic area, and/or both:

Now that you have all of these amazing tools to share with your client/team over the course of the semester, your Blog theme this week (due September 6 at midnight) will be:

Social Networking and security. . .or lack of when promoting your brand.
 (Please be sure that the theme (above) appears somewhere within your Blog's title.)

Other great how-to resources to consider: