In the past, I’ve researched the Internet to identify experts’ social media accounts, blogs and publications for the topic in which they’re experts. This sounds easy to do with all the search engine and social media search tools available, but it takes a lot of time to create a high quality list.
Little Bird is a web-based app that aims to be the little bird that tells you who the experts and influencers are in any topic of interest. The app identifies these insiders based on number of top insiders that follow them for a selected topic. This is where Little Bird shines. It’s an ideal tool for PR and marketing agencies who need to do research for their clients in a variety of fields and topics.
Although much of its functionality revolves around Twitter, it does venture beyond that. Plus, it’s in beta and the company has announced plans to integrate LinkedIn and Google+.
Little Bird’s functionality has two key components: Insiders and Actions. The Insiders section is the olive green bar (Topic, Emerging, Listeners, etc.) in the first screen shot. This lists top experts, oldest accounts, most followed, most active, emerging accounts with most insider followers and listeners who follow the most insiders.
With all the noise in social media, it’s tough to pick up things worth reading in a specific topic. Enter the Actions section, which digs deeper into topics and insiders. Here you can learn what the experts are reading and sharing, search within a topic, and compare a Twitter account with the insiders.
In Hot News, Little Bird shares the most popular links from insiders. It also lists the top blogs by inbound links and most recent posts in Blogs. Search allows you search the entire web – not just social media – for content on a topic.
One of the more useful features is the Compare tool for finding experts to follow and engage. You can enter a Twitter username to compare against the experts in the topic. It tells you how many of the insiders follow the entered Twitter username and how many don’t.
This tool also lists the most recent new followers and the first experts who followed the Twitter username. When you use your Twitter username, you can find insiders that you’re not following for a select topic.
Businesses that use Little Bird will be able to identify experts with a few clicks. They can use the information to start talking with the right people and building rapport.
You may wonder if you could simply use a free search tool that looks, for example, at Twitter bios for keywords in the topics of interest. But we know what a person’s bio says doesn’t mean the person is a true expert on the topic. Little Bird relies on a community to find the real experts – in other words, it looks for those walking the talk.
What do you think of Little Bird? How do you find experts on a topic?
A hotel in Vegas failed to listen when a customer complained on Twitter about the hour-long wait to check in. (Ridiculous!) A competitor caught the complaint and responded. Rather than tweeting something like “Come to our hotel,” the competitor was empathetic and said, “Sorry about your bad experience, Dave. Hope the rest of your stay in Vegas goes well.”
The customer switched to the competitor’s hotel on his next visit. And upon hearing about his experience, a friend booked 20 guests for an event.
Clearly, companies can benefit from monitoring not only their brand online, but also their competitors.
Yes, people say negative things about companies in social media. But they also post compliments. So should you respond? Or should you just ignore it thinking it’ll die down?
When companies don’t address publicly posted complaints, they lose an opportunity to save a customer and perhaps gain a few more. Isn’t this worth monitoring online conversations?
What do I monitor?
Of course, you’ll watch for your company’s and competitors’ names. You’ll also want to look for mentions of your company’s executives, products, services and your company’s links.
Other keywords depend on your business. For example, you could use keywords containing geography and your type of business. Let’s say you run an Italian restaurant in Alexandria, Va. Monitor for “Italian restaurant Alexandria” and “Italian restaurant Washington DC” as you might find people asking, “Anyone know a good Italian restaurant in Alexandria Virginia?” When you do, you can ask a fan to respond or suggest your restaurant by sharing a few specialties. Better yet, offer a free dessert if they mention the conversation.
People may ask, “Where can I find good cannoli in Alexandria, Va?” So you can monitor Italian food items, such as “Alexandria Virginia cannoli” or “Alexandria Va spaghetti.” Adding “Va” or “Virginia” eliminates all the others as there are many, and not just in Egypt.
You can also use phrases and exclude terms to eliminate unrelated results. For example, the Italian restaurant wouldn’t want results for cannoli recipes. Use “cannoli -recipe” to have Google Alerts search for cannoli, but omit any that mention “recipe.”
How do I monitor conversations?
Many tools can help you monitor social networks (Twitter, Facebook, etc.), blogs and comments, discussion boards and forums, videos, news, images and Wikipedia for mentions. It can be as simple as setting up a basic Google Alert where you enter search terms and the frequency of the emailed updates.
Some tools send you automated updates. Others require you to go in the tool and do the search.
Here are some free tools to get you started:
- Google Alert
- Google Blog Search
- Google Video
- Social Mention
- Twitter search
How should I respond to a problem?
First rule: respond quickly. You don’t need to have a solution when you respond. Just apologize and be polite and empathetic. Customers can be forgiving if a company admits its mistake. It’s how the company responds that matters. Accept there will be negative comments and reply to those comments as soon as possible.
Here are a few phrases for ideas of how a company can respond:
- Apologize: I’m so sorry for your experience. I apologize for keeping you waiting.
- Request follow up: Please follow us so we can DM. Please contact us at email@example.com or call 555-555-5555 and ask for Joe.
- Show appreciation: Thanks for letting us know. Thanks for telling us about it so we can fix it.
- Say what you’ll do next: We’re looking into it. We’re working to come up with a better way to prevent that from happening again.
- Follow up in public and private until issue is resolved: We’re upgrading our software to permanently fix the problem. We’re revising our policy to reflect the changes. Everything is back online again – thanks for your patience!
- Compensate the customer: We’ve given you a full refund. Please enjoy your next visit on the house.
The Vegas hotel is an excellent example of how to respond to a mistake a competitor makes. Rather than exploiting it, the hotel showed empathy and left it at that. Here’s an apology letter from Southwest Airlines to Kevin Smith – yes, that guy who’s a director – for kicking him off a flight.
Avoid deleting or requesting the removal of a comment. That adds salt to the wound and brings more attention to the negative comment.
Every situation is different. The key is to respond quickly and politely. It would help to create a plan with different situations and how you’d respond to each. A hotel could run into problems such as ventilation, housekeeping services, supplies, customer service desk wait times and the check out process to name a few.
Your brand stands a better chance of surviving and thriving when you monitor and respond. The complaining customer may turn around and write something positive. It means keeping customers, bringing in new ones, having an unhappy one turn into a happy one and maybe getting a few evangelists.
LinkedIn gives you two ways to provide references to others. One is recommendations where you write a paragraph explaining why that person would be a good hire, partner or connection. The other is endorsements. Here you endorse people’s skills with a quick click.
Although these take little time and effort than writing recommendations, they matter. When you collect enough endorsements, people can easily identify your strongest skills and expertise. Here are the top tips for taking advantage of endorsements.
1. Endorse others with care. The most effective way to receive endorsements is to endorse others because people like to return the favor and it reminds them to look you up. When they see you’ve endorsed them, they’ll visit your profile and endorse your skills. On every user’s page, LinkedIn lists the top skills for that person.
Also, LinkedIn sometimes displays four connections as the screenshot in Fig. 1 shows and asks if you want to endorse them for the skills listed. When you prefer not to endorse someone for any of the listed skills, go to that person’s profile and select the skills and expertise you are comfortable endorsing.
2. Reconnect with connections. Endorsements give you a good and easy excuse to check in with someone. You don’t have to write an email to reconnect. Just visit the person’s page, select the skills and endorse.
3. Manage your skills. You can control which endorsements appear in your profile with Manage Endorsements. It allows you to emphasize the skills you want to highlight and hide the ones that aren’t as important. Maybe you used to be a software developer in a previous career, but prefer to move away from that field. You can hide all endorsements mentioning software and app development. The next two screenshots show how you edit and manage endorsements. (Fig. 2 and Fig. 3)
4. Control your endorsements. Just like you can control which skills to display, you can also show or hide endorsements by connection. Some people abuse the endorsements feature endorsing others they barely know or for the wrong skills. If you’d rather not display an endorsement from someone for whatever reason, you can hide that person’s endorsement. Or, maybe you prefer to only show endorsements from notable people. It’s up to you.
Don’t feel obligated to endorse every skill or expertise that LinkedIn shows. You can remove some and add some. If you’ve never heard someone speak in public, then you shouldn’t feel obligated to endorse that person for public speaking.
Go visit LinkedIn and spend a few minutes endorsing others. You’ll be receiving more endorsements soon.
How do you make the most of the endorsements in LinkedIn? What tips do you have?
One of the great results from connections is finding that someone else has arrived at the same destination from a different direction. Nurture Marketing is the brainchild of Judy Schramm, CEO at ProResource. I work with a group of entrepreneurs that have developed a similar philosophy which we call Nurture Marketing 2.0. The main focus of both our concepts is how to personally connect in a digital world. The goal is to develop mutually satisfying relationships based on trust. Here is how our approach works…
First, you have to work at it everyday. Yes I know, the digital world wants instant accomplishment. With social media as the new source for connections we think that all we have to do is set up a profile and invite people to visit our websites and somehow, magically the products and services are sold. Nice try! Valuable relationships are still produced by consistent effort over time.
Imagine your approach as a set of stairs with enough room for two people on the same step. Building a trusting relationship looks like climbing the staircase together. Before you start to climb . . .
· Prepare and Research. Prepare an honest, professional representation of who you are and what you do, because your profile makes the very important first impression. Then, research. Get to know the person that you are contacting. Read their profile and get a sense of who they are and their interests. Decide whether both of you may benefit from the connection.
· Step One: Permission. Send a professional introduction and invitation to connect. Accompany the invite with a message commenting on their profile, something that caught your interest. Keep it short and positive. You are asking for permission to continue a conversation. If they accept the invite, picture the two of you occupying the first step on the staircase.
· Step Two: Beginning the Conversation. Your response is based on their response. Talk with the people that are interested in talking with you. Thank them for accepting your invitation and ask a question about what they do or an interest that they have listed on their profile. Make it open-ended and friendly, not personal.
· Step Three: Genuine Discussion. Continue the thread of the conversation and give them a concise piece of information about what you do or share a particular challenge that you have encountered. Look for a need, want, or desire, basically some part of their life that is a challenge. Are they looking for options? Begin to analyze whether you have a solution or does their expertise offer a solution for you. Remember, a genuine connection can work both ways.
· Step Four: Building Trust. Now you can ask questions based on the information that they have given you and you can begin to develop mutual solutions. Usually, this is the step where an appointment is made to chat. An invitation to connect on Skype or over coffee is appropriate. Be prepared to answer questions and allow the conversation to be about their needs and how you can help them. Be a good listener and provide honest solutions. Remember, effective marketing for the long term is still based on relationships of mutual trust.
The rest of the staircase involves time, patience, listening and providing the parts of the solution one at a time – in other words, Nurture Marketing. Regardless of the technology we use, we are still on this planet to make friends and to serve them. That marketing strategy never changes.
Laura Like is the owner of likemychoices.biz. Since 1999, she has been developing online communities for some large companies, and helping entrepreneur-minded individuals to transition from employment to ownership.
Yes, LinkedIn has changed things again. Before shaking your head, learn about these valuable updates that will do a better job telling your business and professional stories. With a cleaner look and enhanced image features, LinkedIn profiles adopt a more visual design with bold headers and icons highlighting sections for an instant snapshot of the person or company. Refer to Fig. 1 for an example.
You can add larger photos on your company’s pages and attach images to your updates, a long overdue feature. New sections such as Projects, Volunteer Experience & Causes, Organizations and Languages reveal a richer, deeper story.
The more visual approach allows people to do more than read. They can see you and your company in action when you share presentations, videos and photos in the Summary, Experience and Education sections. Those recommendations you’ve worked hard to collect stand out. If someone recommended you in your current job, the recommendation will appear in the current job’s description as Fig. 2 shows.
These changes make it worth updating your profile and company page. The following features will be powerful allies in your connecting with others.
Everyone’s recent activity appears at the top of the profile. This includes status updates and LinkedIn activity, such as receiving endorsements. This is why it’s important to update your profile and company page on a regular basis. It’ll be the first thing people see when viewing your profile or page.
Editing also becomes an easier task with every section including the editing toolbar. The toolbar varies based on section capabilities. In the Summary, for example, you can edit it, add a link or drag it to move the section as shown in Fig. 3. Review this checklist for your LinkedIn profile to make sure you have a more complete profile.
Along with easier editing of your profile, you can now add information for your contacts. No one except you will see these additions. Go to Contact Info to access this feature to add information.
Skills and Expertise
Many people have complained about the endorsement feature where your connections endorse your skills. Now the Skills and Expertise section has value because it’s easier to spot a person’s most endorsed skills. LinkedIn lists the skills in order from most endorsements to least.
To take advantage of this, add your most important skills that don’t show up so others will endorse you for those skills. Another valuable feature in skills is that you can add and remove skills and manage endorsements. You can hide all endorsements or select people whose endorsements you don’t want to display. Just go into Edit Profile mode to make the changes.
Commonality and Connections
A neat feature is the graphic under “In common with [name]” that shows what skills and LinkedIn Groups you have in common with the person whose profile you’re viewing. Move the mouse pointer over the circle for more details.
Visit any company page and LinkedIn shows you how many connections you have by degree. If you want to connect with someone, visit the profile to find out what you have in common with each other including connections and companies.
You can get more specific in searching your network. Rather than searching everyone, you can go to a connection’s profile and search within that person’s network. If you want to find someone you know in the airline industry, jump to the Connections section in my profile and click the magnifier icon to search. This is just one way to narrow your in-network search.
Now go explore these powerful new features that might just lead you to your next client or employee.
What LinkedIn features do you recommend?