Personal Branding on Facebook:The Basics

Facebook is the largest social networking site in the world. Facebook has about 650 million users worldwide. Almost everyone is on Facebook. From teenagers to baby boomers, people from all walks of life are using Facebook. In this post, I am going to discuss the basics of personal branding on Facebook.

To sign up for an individual account you need to do the following:

1 Provide your first and last name.

2 Enter a valid email twice.

3 Create a password

4 Provide your date of birth to verify your age.

To get started, you need to fill out the basic information section which includes the following information: your birthday, your sex, your relationship status and if you prefer men or women.

The next step is to fill out your contact information. In this section, you can include links to your websites, blogs, and other social networks.

Facebook also allows you to share your education and work experience. This is a great way to make your profile professional.  To tell your story, make sure to fill out Facebook’s about you section. This is a great place to tell your story. You can sell who you are and what you do.

You can also create a timeline to tell your story. This is a new feature on Facebook. Make sure to upload a professional photo of yourself. Facebook also allows you to create photo albums. Make sure to upload photos that contain nothing embarrassing such as drinking or nudity. Remember you are trying to build your image here. Here is the link to my Facebook profile for you to see an example of what I have discussed so far. http://facebook.com/​dgalantenyc Facebook allows you to pick a custom URL to make it easier to find your profile.

Now that your profile is set up, your next goal is to add friends to your Facebook account. You can do this as follows:

1 Do a manual search for your friends.

2 Upload your address book to see which of your contacts are on Facebook

3 Send email invitations to people who are not on Facebook.

When you find a contacts profile, click on the add friend button. When you click the add friend button. Facebook allows you to specify how you are connected with the person. I would also include a message with your friend request. Try to connect with people who you know well because if too many of your requests go unanswered, you will be blocked from adding friends. Also if people flag your request as spam, you will be blocked from sending messages.  If you want to add more people, make sure that you share an interest with them. You can also subscribe to people’s updates even if you are not friends with them.

Now that you have friends on Facebook, the next step is to post status updates. I would recommend posting interesting content you come across. This is also a great way to share your own content. Next, I would use your Facebook wall. The Facebook wall allows people to publically communicate on Facebook with one another.  Also if you approve of a status update or comment, you can like them. Likes on Facebook serve as a social endorsement. You can look at my profile to see examples of my likes and people who have liked my content. http://www.facebook.com/dgalantenyc .

Facebook pages are also a great way for people and brands to promote their products and services.

In my next post, I will cover likes, status updates and Facebook pages in more detail.

Until then, thank you for reading.

Build your Brand and Spread Ideas Using @Twitter

Twitter is a great social networking site for people and brands to spread ideas quickly.  Twitter is also a great marketing tool for brands to promote products and services. Twitter has a few hundred million users worldwide. Getting started with Twitter is quick and easy. To get started using Twitter you need to do the following:

1 Click on the join link.

2 Provide your first and last name.

3 Provide a valid email address.

Once you join, you will need to choose a name for your account. I would recommend using your name or your business name. You can also choose a name that relates to what you do. I have two Twitter accounts @DanGalante and @TrendSettingSM. The former is my name and the latter is an abbreviation of my company name Trend Setting Sales and Marketing.

Now that you have an account, you should fill in the bio section. Twitter gives you 160 characters to describe yourself. I would suggest using the space to briefly sell who you are and what you do. Make sure to leave space to include a link to your website or blog. Although Twitter provides a place for a web link, two links are better than one.

The next step is to upload a photo of you. Make sure that the photo that you choose is professional and clearly visible to members. Remember, this is your image that you are sharing. Twitter provides users with an option of uploading a custom background. To do this, click on the settings button and click design. Here you can upload a picture from your computer or view different Twitter backgrounds.

Now you are ready to tweet. However before you start tweeting away, you need know the following:

1 Tweets are limited to 140 characters. At first, this may seem annoying, but this is a great exercise for your creativity.

2 Make sure you have something of value to say, nothing will turn people off faster than nonsense.

3 Make sure to share articles and content that you create in your Tweets by including links. Doing this will help you gain followers. Twitter also allows you to share videos and photos in tweets. This can be a great way to share experiences, ideas and to promote a business or a brand.

4 Do not be afraid to make a mistake. Twitter provides a delete button with an icon that is a trash can. This is great if you make a typographical error.

5 Make sure to change-up your message. No one likes the same message over and over.

6 Leave 10 to 20 characters for your tweets to be retweeted.

Once you start tweeting, your goals are to:

1 Get other users to share your content.

2 Build a following

3 Follow other users who interest you.

The Retweet and The Mention

When a Twitter user shares a message from another user, this is called a Retweet. Retweets are sought after because the more your content is shared, the higher your influence is perceived.

Mentions are when a Twitter user references or quotes you in on of their tweets. Some users may use this instead of simply retweeting because a mention shows up quicker than a retweet does in a users timeline.

Retweets and mentions show up in the interactions and mentions section of the Twitter account.

The Direct Message or DM

The Direct Message or DM as it is referred to, allows Twitter users to send messages to other users. I waited to mention this feature until now because Twitter only allows users to send messages to users who follow them. This is a great way to send a private message to users on the site.

Sharing Tweets with More than Just Twitter Followers

In order for users to share tweets with more than a their followers, users need to use hash-tags. Hash-tags are a number bracket next to a word. For example, #business is a hash-tag. Hash-tags create an index of information on a specific topic. A hash-tag reaches more people than a regular tweet or just getting a few retweets. Hash-tags are a great way for users to earn new followers. Follow Friday (better known as #FF or #FollowFriday on Twitter), is a way  for Twitter users to promote other users they like. Job searchers also use #hire #hireme or #hirefriday to try to get their resume in front of potential employers.

Integrating Twitter with other Social Networks

Various third-party applications exist that allow users to share their Tweets on LinkedIn, Facebook, a website and a blog. Users will need to click on the application settings tab to do this. Twitter members will have to authorize these applications on LinkedIn as Facebook as well. I have included a link to my website to show you how I integrate twitter with my site. http://www.dangalante.com/. (You will need to log in to see my tweets on LinkedIn and Facebook.) Integrating Twitter with other social networks can give users a larger reach than using Twitter alone. Users will also get more followers from Facebook and LinkedIn. This has worked for me.

Twitter has unveiled company branded pages to certain companies. This is similar to what Google+ and Facebook are doing.

As you can see, Twitter is a great way for people and brands to share ideas quickly. Brands can influence a large audience all around the world.

This is how people and brands can use Twitter.

Update:  Since I wrote this article, LinkedIn has made some changes. LinkedIn no longer allow users to integrate their Tweets in LinkedIn updates. However, users can still share their LinkedIn updates on Twitter by clicking the Twitter Icon.

Building your Personal & Corporate Brand using LinkedIn

Use of social media is essential in personal and corporate branding.  The networks that brands should be on are LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Google+. Writing blogs and having websites are also essential for building a brand.  Today I am going to discuss how to build your brand using LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a professional networking site that allows people to search for jobs and connect with people they know. You can also make new connections on the site. Right now, 135 million people around the world are using LinkedIn.

The Basics

LinkedIn allows users to sign up for free. To get started you need to do the following.

1 Click on the join today tab.

2 Enter a first and last name.

3 Enter a valid email address.

4 Create a password.

Creating a profile

Once you have created a password you, will need to identify your geographic location and provide information about your employment status. LinkedIn asks you to provide your employment history along with your educational history. The amount of information you provide is up to you but the more relevant information you supply the better. This is because a complete LinkedIn profile shows up better in search results. The LinkedIn profile is the digital resume.

So what elements do I need to complete a profile?

1 Provide information on your current position. If you do not have a position, create one on your ideal career or position. There is no excuse to leave this blank if you are unemployed.

2 Provide information on your previous two positions.

3 Write a professional summary that provides information that describes past accomplishments along with what you can do for potential clients and employers. You should also describe what type of position or client you are seeking.

4 Upload a professional picture that will make your profile look more attractive.

5 Create a professional headline in 160 characters or less. If you leave this blank, LinkedIn populates this with your latest position. My advice is to create your own catchy headline to captivate readers to read your profile; unless you have a great position and have achieved your career goals. The professional headline provides you with an opportunity to quickly sell and market who you are and what you do.

6 Fill out the specialties section with keywords related to what you do. Your idea is to use keywords to optimize your LinkedIn profile to come up in searches on LinkedIn.  Also fill out the skills section and interests section.

7 Connect with customers, colleagues, bosses and professors. To do this quickly, upload your address book from your email account into LinkedIn. LinkedIn will identify which members in your address book are already members. You can then decide which members you want to invite to join your network. LinkedIn is based on a network of first, second and third degree connections. First degree connections are direct connection. Second degree connections are a connection of a connection or a friend of a friend. Third degree connections are friends of second degree connections. You can connect with people by entering an email address for them, indicating that you share a group with them, stating that they are a colleague, stating that you have done business, together or by stating that you were classmates. Make sure not to abuse the contact form otherwise you will have to enter email addresses every time that you connect with someone.  Inmails are a premium feature that allows you to contact people anyone on LinkedIn. This is good if you are not able to reach a person through traditional means. Basic accounts on LinkedIn also provide a feature called introductions. Basic accounts allow five introductions. This feature allows you ask one of your connections to connect you with one of your connections.

8 Get recommendations.  Once you have first degree connections, you can ask them to recommend your work. To do this, click on the profile tab and click on the recommendations link in the drop down menu. This will allow you to choose the position you want to be recommended for. Once you have identified this position you then can send out a request to your connection for a recommendation. Recommendations are social proof and are a great way to boost your credibility online. LinkedIn requires three recommendations for your profile to be considered complete. For recommendations from non LinkedIn members, use the Slideshare and Box plugins.

9 Use the three profile links LinkedIn provides in the website section of your profile. I would include the following links, your website, your blog, your Facebook page, your YouTube channel and your Google plus page. The sites you choose are up to you. LinkedIn also provides users with two additional Links for Twitter accounts. In other words, LinkedIn provides you with up to five touch points to connect with people and to showcase your work.

10 Make sure to make your profile public. LinkedIn allows users to create a custom URL to make it easier for users to find them. I would make the address one that easily identifies you.  My public profile URL is http://www.linkedin.com/in/dangalante .

These are the 10 steps to create a complete LinkedIn profile that will be optimized for search on LinkedIn.  Also public profiles are indexed in search engines such as Bing, Google, and Yahoo. It is important to know that you can determine what activity that you share. You also have the option to hide your connections from your 1st Degree connections. The settings tab will allow you choose options.

Make sure to share content and status updates with your network to engage them. LinkedIn allows people to like and comment on posts. Status updates can be shared on Twitter, with groups and with individuals. Another thing that you can do to build your brand on LinkedIn is to join groups. LinkedIn allows members to join up to 50 groups. I would target industry groups or groups that match your interests. Groups are great places to facilitate discussions. I would also recommend creating a group. This is easy to do. I have provided a link to my sales and marketing group to give you an example.  Groups are a great way to make connections and to share and start discussions. You can also post jobs in groups as well.

Companies can also take advantage of LinkedIn. LinkedIn allows companies to create pages. On these pages, companies can post jobs which are a premium feature. Recently, LinkedIn added the status update feature for company pages. This is great to provide updates about your company along with promoting your products and service. I have included a link to my company page as an example.

As you can see, LinkedIn is a great place for personal and corporate branding.

How to Earn Customer Referrals and Testimonials

Once you have made a sale to a customer, it is important to follow-up with a customer. As a Sales person it is important to deliver on the promises you make to customers. This means checking in with the customer throughout the implementation of your product or service and staying in touch with the customer after the sale.  In this post, I am going to discuss how to earn referrals and testimonials.

During my time as an outside sales representative in New York City, making sales was the highlight of my day. Once I made a sale, I was itching to ask for a referral or a testimonial. In other words, I wanted to ask the customer the question Do you know of anyone who could benefit from my product and services? However, once I made the sale my inner voice told me not to ask for a referral. Now many people would want to ask because they feel that the customer bought their products or services and this shows a sign of trust. But what did the customer really buy? Yes the customer bought you and your products but the main thing that they bought was your promise to deliver value through your offering. How can you ask someone to put their credibility on the line when you and your solution are unproven? Yet many people do.

Asking for a referral right after the sale is a mistake because you have not delivered on your promise and you will seem ungrateful. The customer will think that you are not interested in building a relationship and that you just want to make a commission. Remember your job as a Sales person is to build relationships with customers and to make sales by demonstrating your products value to the customer. Once the sale is complete, it is your job to deliver on the promises that you make to your customer.

Now you are thinking well this is great but when do I ask for a referral? How do I ask for a referral?

I would ask the customer for a referral when you know the customer is happy with the implementation of your product or service. In other words, ask when you have delivered on your promise. If you offer more than one product or service try to cross sell or up sell the customer first. See if the customer will use more of your products or services or if the customer purchases more expensive offerings from you. Once the customer purchases more items from you, the customer is demonstrating that they like and trust you. This is the time to ask for a referral. I usually waited until this point to ask for a referral.

I would ask the customer for a referral by first thanking them for the business that they have provided and trusted me with. Then I would ask if they knew of anyone like themselves that would benefit from my offering. My experience has taught me that the customers were always willing to offer themselves as a reference. Customers who offered me a referral would let me use their names with other clients or pass my name along to their peers.

Testimonials are like referrals. Testimonials can come in a variety of forms. There is a testimonial letter and a testimonial video. The testimonial letter is when a customer writes a letter stating that you did a wonderful job for them and endorses you. The digital version of this letter is the recommendation feature on LinkedIn. The testimonial video is when a client speaks of your performance in a short video segment. When asking for a testimonial, offer the customer the option to choose the option they feel comfortable with. Also be sure to tell them what specific aspect of your service you want them to focus on. Once you receive a referral and/or testimonial, make sure to thank your customer. Should you get new business through a referral, provide great service otherwise your customer will not give you anymore! Keep your customer informed on the status of the relationship with the referral.

This is how to earn a referral and testimonial in a nutshell.

How to Get Customers to Pay On Time While Keeping their Business

When we deal with customers, it is important to get them to pay their invoices in a timely manner. What a timely manner means is dependent on your company’s payment policy. Are these customers C.O.D or are they net 30, net 60, net 90 or longer? This payment structure is based on the length of the sales cycle.

What can we do to make sure that customers pay their invoices on time?

Develop and nurture the relationship with your customer.

Do the following:

1 When you complete the sale, put all details in writing. Agree on a method of payment with your customer.

2 Follow through with the implementation of the sale and check in with your customer to make sure they a happy with their purchase.

3 If the customer voices concerns or has an issue with your product, address it immediately.

4 Make sure that you honor the warranty and be willing to look up the invoice for the customer if they do not have this.

If you do these four things, your customers will pay 95 %percent of the time.

I did these things but the customer will not pay?

In a large organization, the accounts receivable manager will handle the customer by sending past due notices and charging penalties. However if you work for a small company as I did, this will be entirely on your shoulders.

In any case, you as the sales representative should call and/or visit the customer. When you follow-up with the customer, you should speak to the customer to try to work out a solution to the get the invoice paid. Remember before you go in with guns blazing that you want to keep this customer doing business with you. It is important to be polite and never raise your voice or swear. Should the customer get nasty and state that they are not going to pay, you should state the following: It is my job to get the company off your back. I am the last nice guy they plan to send. Take care. After you deliver this line, head for the door. This is a tip that I learned from Jim Cathcart and it works every time! I have used this as an outside sales representative and the customer would say hold on what do you mean? I would answer well after me, my manager has to get involved and he charged fees and refers this to collection and credit agencies. If my manager has to get involved it will get ugly. You are nice people and I would hate to see that happen. So what could we do about this? Many would pay that day or within a week. In many instances, I was also able to keep customer doing business with the company.  You should not be afraid to ask customers for money that you are entitled to. Your landlord and suppliers demands payment for services rendered and so should you!

As a result of my efforts implementing the strategies above, my receivables (open invoices) were the lowest in the company! This allowed me to earn more commissions, make more sales and develop great relationships with my customers.

Customer Service Rules in the Digital Age

In my post Building the Brands of Tomorrow, I stated that one of the things that companies needed to do to build the brand of the future is to listen to their customers. This means handling customer complaints promptly. We are in the digital age. In this age, social networks are the wave of the future. Today’s consumer is an empowered consumer. A customer can quickly share their thoughts about a product or an experience on Facebook, Twitter, Google and many other networks. Brands need to be present on social networks to interact and engage with the empowered consumer. More and more consumers are consulting their social networks for product recommendations.

Many companies are not fielding the empowered consumers’ complaints on social networks. In other words they are not providing customer service on social networks. Whenever we have an issue with a product, we have to call an 800 number which makes you listen to prompt after prompt.  When you finally do get a person, you have to relay to them all of your information. Once you do this, they in turn transfer you another person who is either a specialist or the next person up the chain of command. It seems that no one can handle your issue.  Heaven forbid you are waiting for 20 minutes or more; there is a good chance that you would be disconnected. This practice is wrong because it frustrates customers and they tell every one of their horrible experience with your brand. More and more consumers are venting their frustrations on social networks. As I discussed before, local word of mouth marketing has become global marketing. A message shared on a social network can spread all around the world within a matter of hours.  Ignoring customer complaints is just bad for business and will destroy your brands reputation.

A Product’s quality needs to be top-notch to cut the need for customer service. However, we know that with even the best products; issues arise. Customer service needs to be transformed. This transformation has to take place at the corporate level because as I stated before, people see brands as one unit and as a result; companies need to take each one of their brands and create a task force. This task force should consist of members from top management, brand managers and members of the sales and marketing departments. Customer complaints need to be fielded in real-time on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Waiting time for customers on 800 numbers also needs to be reduced.

Remember that meeting the needs of your customers is critical to keeping them buying your product. It costs more to earn new business that to keep the business your current customer base generates today. Resolving customer’s issues can lead to up selling or cross selling of products and services during the exchange! By providing a customer service experience that makes a customer sit up and take notice, you help to improve your reputation in this new digital age. As a brand, don’t you want to reap the benefits or local word of mouth marketing or global marketing?

2011 in review Thank you for reading! Happy New Year!

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,100 times in 2011. If it were a cable car, it would take about 18 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.