Medium – A Means to Express Yourself

I love Medium. Maybe it’s just the clean layout and attractive fonts that make almost every user-created slice of content seem like an insightful thinkpiece from a glossy magazine. Maybe it’s the fact that people put up soul-baring stories or anonymous relationship insights. Maybe it’s because interesting entrepreneurial types share their hopes and fears.

Of course there are entrepreneurs here. It’s a new technology, a shiny bauble to toy with. It’s also the product of Twitter’s co-founders Biz Stone and Evan Williams. I guess after creating a platform known for its brevity they wanted to try the exact opposite? But then Williams invented Blogger (both the platform and the term), so maybe he just wanted to finish what he started, or change it, or push it in a better direction.

“It turns out the Internet, like every other technology, doesn’t trend toward good or bad. It is just a convenience machine for what people want,” he said. “Television was going to make us all better people, smarter and better educated, but people ended up sitting back and watching sitcoms. We want to create something that rewards other things that have more lasting value.” – Evan Williams [source]

Lots of people talk about why Medium is great for writers generally, and trans writers in particular with its effective ways of diminishing harassment. I can’t comment on that. I’m still only a passive participant. I haven’t even left a comment. But the toolset is seductively streamlined so I think sticking a few things up there is inevitable.

It’s built with thoughtfulness in mind. Just look at the writing prompts. In my mind a writing prompt is a sentence or a paragraph that gives you a question or two to answer. On Medium a writing prompt has responses from writers, quotes, pictures, a whole host of ways to be inspired. And hey, you even have people like Matthew McConaughey give muddled inspirational screeds delivered right to your feed if that helps you put something out there.

There are obvious drawbacks – publishing regularly on a content platform instead of your site can have no SEO benefit. But the pros might outweigh the cons: a built-in audience, automatically readable-looking articles, a simple interface, a wealth of social interaction.

So check out the Entrepreneur tag, read a few thoughtful articles, and see for yourself.

How to make a great LinkedIn profile for your company

Despite 3 million companies utilising it and 148 industries being represented on the platform, LinkedIn still seems vastly underrated. LinkedIn is perfect for B2B connections, promoting your company and even headhunting for new employees. For businesses, LinkedIn is only going to become more prevalent meaning that now, more than ever, it’s important to understand how to create a successful page for your brand or company.

Appearance Matters

Ignore what your sympathetic teachers told you- appearance matters. Big time. Well, it does if you’re using LinkedIn as a company. Captivating pictures are the machine behind the internet right now and LinkedIn is no exception. So before we get into the nitty-gritty of LinkedIn, let’s give your page a stunning makeover.

Cover Photo

Anyone who isn’t all that creative in terms of digital design etc have been tempted to use stock photos as cover photos but it’s important to remember that a cover photo is the first thing people see on your page- that’s the point of it. Which means it needs to be captivating but also needs to express what your brand is about without being obnoxious.

A good example of a unique, captivating cover photo is HubSpot’s:

 

Hubspot Cover

 

Featured/Highlighted Products

To truly make the most of the Featured Products section, think of this as your ‘shop window’. This is where you showcase the best of your products, the place to really reel new customers in. There are options such as sharing images of your products, descriptions and of course, links to them. Shop window!

Stay Connected

You’ve created the account, you’ve made it visually appealing which means it’s now time to connect and make the most of the connections you have.

Ask Employees to Connect

If you really want visitors to get a feel for your company through LinkedIn, a great avenue is connecting with your employees on there. They will then be accessible through your company page where visitors can learn more about them and your company as a whole.

Follow Your Favourite Influencers

Influencers are a big deal on LinkedIn. Some of the top influencers on LinkedIn include Richard Branson, Bill Gates and even Barack Obama. By following the top influencers in your industry, not only do you get to fan-girl on a professional level, you can also find incredible insights that could be very beneficial to your company overall.

Stay Current

Once your page has been created, filled and connected, your work is not done. Now is not the time to be a Facebook granny on LinkedIn. That is to say, you shouldn’t make the account and then stay up to date with everybody whilst quietly lurking and judging.

A great example of a current, successful brand on LinkedIn is Dell who do between 4 and 7 posts per day on LinkedIn. Some call it overkill, I call it good online business sense.

Post Statuses

Posting statuses is not only a great way to keep people in the loop with what’s new, what’s worth knowing etc, it’s also a good way to implant yourself in your follower’s minds so that when you have something that you want to promote as much as possible, people will recognise your name and will be more likely to pay attention because of that.

Relevant Articles Are Your Friend

One of the most baffling things about all forms of social media is that even when people follow your pages to keep up with your brand, they don’t want to hear all about you. It’s a sad realisation. You think you’ve finally found somewhere to be shamelessly self-indulgent and it turns out, there is no such place.

Try to have a ratio of 70:30 when it comes to your own content vs shared content. Share articles that are relevant to your industry- either helpful or informative. These can be the route to reaching out to other companies, to engaging with your followers and becoming a more reputable company on LinkedIn.

Mix It Up

Videos, pictures, articles and plain ol’ statuses are all great ways of keeping your LinkedIn account relevant and interesting. Nobody in this digital age likes seeing a block of text and nothing more. Try and keep your LinkedIn profile a multimedia mixed bag and as relevant as possible.

 

5 social networking fails – explained!

Who Unfollowed You? Who Cares?

Unfollowers Since the dawn of social networking, people have wanted to know who unfollows/unfriends them. It’s entirely understandable and we all do it. Anybody who doesn’t has far too much willpower and self-confidence for one person! When you sign up to accounts such as unfollowers.me, justunfollow.com etc, find the option to NOT automatically tweet your weekly stats. We all do it, yes, but we like to pretend we don’t and look down on those that make their shameful stats public.

I Know the Days of the Week, Thank You

“Happy Friday! Smile because it’s Friday! TGIF! These terms have nothing to do with our brand or what we do!!!” Especially in the case of Aldi whose staff work weekends. Not only are these posts lazy and cringe-worthy, they tell your followers nothing about your brand, which is the entire point of having a Facebook page in the first place.  For social media staff, this is an easy post to put into the content schedule and a LOT of companies do it so it can be perceived as acceptable but really, what use are these posts? They’re at very best kind of cute and at worst, a little patronising. While it’s not good practice to constantly push your brand, you should at least always stay slightly relevant and think of what kinds of people will be following your page and cater content to them.

Don’t Pretend to Be My Friend

DM spam Oh, DM spam, how myself and everybody else loathe you. I have never spoken to anybody who has said this is an effective form of marketing. It’s impersonal (first mistake), usually self-promoting (I followed you, I’m already a fan of what you do) and generally annoying. Automatic messages, tweets and Facebook posts are fairly transparent as it is but with DM spam, you are fooling absolutely nobody.

#RarelyRelevantHashtags

FF Speaking of spam on Twitter, hashtags are  great for promoting your brand/product, especially if you can think of something witty on the spot that has the potential to go viral but do not hop on to the first trending hashtag that you see just because you think that the opportunity is there to be seized. Also recognise which traditional hashtags are now pointless like Follow Friday (#FF). Follow Friday used to be a great way of promoting somebody you follow because they were genuinely great but now it’s spammy and full of far too many emoticons. The Oatmeal says it best: “#FF… is like trying to get relationship advice by listening to a bunch of bloated sea lions barking at a passing ship.”

Social Me-Too’s

The worst offenders are usually far more sinister than this and generally have pictures of ill children, neglected puppies, dead celebrities but the same approach is taken: like if you agree. Like for this brave baby, like if you are sad about Peaches Geldof, like if you need a vacation. Make no mistake, there are people that genuinely think businesses are doing this from the goodness of their hearts but that doesn’t take away the sinister undertone which is that tragedies are being used as like-bait and marketing opportunities. Not only is this extremely insensitive, it’s not beneficial to your brand. It doesn’t tell the average social networking user anything about your brand or even just your tone.

You can’t afford to ignore social networking

The Dignity Project (a name which seems somewhat ironic today…) tweeted this upon hearing the news that J.K Rowling had donated £1 million to the Better Together campaign. The news itself came as quite a shock to yes and no voters but The Dignity Project did not keep a dignified (geddit?) silence on the news. No, instead they called her a gendered slur.

The Dignity Project have since released a statement saying that their account was hacked. Protip: if you ever find yourself in such a terrible PR nightmare, do NOT say your account was hacked. Nobody believes you. We’re all laughing at you. If it happens, ‘fess up and accept responsibility. It is far more respectable to own up to your mistakes in any situation but especially on the endless pit of memory that is the internet.

In this case, it seems that this tweet may have automatically been shared from the chairman of The Dignity Project’s Facebook account. This is all at once pretty dumb, embarrassing and speaks volumes about how important it is to have more than one person in control of your business’s social networking accounts. Even those who seem like they ought to know the dos and don’ts of social media can get it wrong and there needs to be other people with access to the account for damage control. The tweet pictured is STILL up and has been featured on Huffington Post, The Guardian, Telegraph and now The Dignity Project is being investigated. Yikes. All because of an ill-thought-out tweet and only one person controlling social networking accounts.

The problem that a lot of small businesses seem to have is that they do not take social networking seriously. Facebook, Twitter etc are painted by the media as being shallow, superficial and narcissistic when in fact they are some of the most vital tools available to both businesses and individuals. How you appear online is how you’ll remain to be perceived outside of the internet. If you don’t keep up your social networking, if you ignore customers when they try to contact you, if you personalise your brand to the point that you offend others, this won’t be forgotten in ‘real life’ and will have a negative impact on your business.