Our Best Words Blog

clip_image002The world has reached 7 billion people. There’s a very good chance that LinkedIn′s world-wide network will be your ticket to find that new career you want or that employee you are looking for.

It’s important that you make your LinkedIn profile as complete as possible. Here’s how:

  1. Be sure to include a photo.
    If you are serious about making connections and/or receiving job offers, uploading a recent photo for your profile is a must! People remember you better when they see your face. Give yourself a unique heading, make yourself memorable.
  2. Be sure your experience is updated.
    Don’t be shy, include your specialties, your goals as well as your professional experience (both current and past). Be sure to include specific accomplishments.
  3. Include individual courses you take under your education.
    It’s not only important to include your educational information from the colleges, universities or vocation schools you have attended, but also any course you have taken over the years. It’s especially important to include any course you have taken to update your knowledge and on the latest techniques of your field. Open yourself up to new opportunities.
  4. Request recommendations.
    Ask your colleagues, past colleagues, and/or clients to reinforce your professional qualities and experience.
  5. Utilize the opportunities available on LinkedIn.
    One tool LinkedIn offers you is their Career Explorer. Here you are able to explore your career options, learn more about these careers, follow companies hiring for positions that are of interest to you, and connect with actual professionals who are on LinkedIn.

1) Establish a Presence
This may sound redundant, but you need to be on the social media trinity: Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. LinkedIn is great for professional networking. Facebook is a more informal way to connect, although the business pages are very much B2B. People can “like” your business page, which is great for branding. Twitter is the cocktail party in social networking; just keep the tweets business-related!

2) Engage Your Peers
Your peers are your potential customers, business partners or employers, so you need to engage them with articles, blogs, comments and postings. It’d s great way to establish your brand and position yourself as a thought leader.

3) Make Sure Your Target Audience Knows Where to Find You
You need to promote the links to your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and blog. An easy (and often overlooked way) is your AutoSignature. Make sure that you link your website and blog to your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

4) Find Your Voice
As the French say: “c’est le ton qui fait la musique”. Decide how you want to communicate with your target audience. Do you want to keep it formal (for B2B) or informal (for B2C)?

5) Pace yourself
Avoid starting with many tweets and blog posts a week that are impossible to keep up. Too much activity can be overwhelming and lead to burnout. It’s better to set up a schedule for your social media and stick to it.

6) Keep It Simple
Tweets, postings and blogs should be fun and easy to understand. Try to avoid using complex language or concepts.

7) Visuals Rule
A picture can tell a thousand words. Use visuals in your blog and postings; people love it!

8) Engage
You are using social media, so be social! React, like, and comment to other people’s posts. Be generous and informative. Again, it’s a great way to brand and position yourself as a thought leader.

Your corporate website will sometimes show an Error 404 page to your website visitors. There are several reasons why this occurs:

  • The URL written in the Address Bar may have incorrectly been written.
  • The link to the page may be broken.
  • The page may have been moved to another site.

From a marketing aspect, the Error 404 page offers an opportunity to engage the visitor. Having a good Error 404 page may even be as important as having great web content!

It provides an opportunity to communicate with page visitors and direct them back to your website. It is therefore a chance to re-engage them.

Many organizations realize this and have created some outstanding Error 404 pages – often using humor.

An example of such an Error 404 page is the one of the UK company “late late gifts”. It fits their brand perfectly.

http://latelategifts.co.uk/next-day-delivery.

Tips for a good Error 404 page:

  1. Avoid using “Error 404”
  2. Explain in simple and clear language what the problem is
  3. Make your apology short and to the point
  4. Offer one or more alternative links to your corporate website
  5. Avoid redirecting to your homepage (your customers and most search engines don’t like it!)
  6. Use the Error 404 page for additional information or to enforce your brand
  7. Add the main menu of the website and/or a search function ((e.g., Heinz)
  8. Add humor (carefully!)
  9. Make sure the Error 404 page has the same look and feel as your website (it is part of your overall branding!)
  10. Include an email link for feedback

According to marketing guru, Stephan Spencer, now that YouTube is more popular than all the sites of the TV networks combined, it may well become more important for your brand or company to be on YouTube than to be advertised on TV.

How can you make your YouTube marketing experience a success?

1. Produce a video that is fun, something people will want to share with their friends.
The more a video is ‘shared’, the more exposure you’re getting. For the same monetary input, you’ll reach a much larger audience.

2. Be clear about the product you’re marketing.
While it may be great to have your video go viral, if you don’t properly showcase your product or service, it won’t bring in sales.

3. Encourage your viewers to participate and support you.
Remember to have a call to action; you want viewers to click through to your website.

4. Take advantage of YouTube tags.
YouTube viewers often search based on mood, e.g. funny video, happy music, etc., be sure to use these keywords in your tags. Also match your title and description to the tags for stronger SEO.

5. Use YouTube’s Guru channel and market yourself as an expert.
YouTube has channels that viewers can subscribe to or watch, their Guru channel is for how-to videos and advice. If you want to establish yourself as an expert in your field, posting advice on YouTube can boost your sales. Remember to embed your videos onto your website.

According to online statistics, using video marketing can boost interest in your product by 66%. So hop on the multimedia bandwagon, take out your webcam (or hire a professional), and join Generation Z.

Photo Courtesy socialsignals.com

When doing business on an international level, as most technical writers do, it is important to study the culture of the audience you are writing for. Not only do different cultures have different ways of doing the same thing, but it is also common for the same thing to mean different things in different cultures – and not always in a good way!

Take Coca-Cola as an example, when moving into the Chinese market, Coca-Cola branded itself with a word which sounded like ‘Coca-Cola’, but translated as ‘bite the wax tadpole’ or ‘female horse stuffed with wax’, depending on the dialect. When this was pointed out to them, they withdrew their thousands of printed signs, and after studying 40,000 Chinese characters, came up with the more positive ‘happiness in the mouth’ – also phonetically similar to ‘Coca-Cola’, but infinitely more appropriate!

While cultural differences are more pronounced when also dealing with language differences, one should still be aware of them when dealing with different dialects of the same language. Imagine the confusion when American negotiators proposed to ‘table’ a motion, meaning to discuss the motion; their British counterparts understood that they wanted to ‘table’ the motion – to dismiss it. While misunderstandings can be cleared up face-to-face, it is not as easy when dealing with printed documents.

So, when writing technical or marketing documentation it is vital to research the culture of the people you’re writing for, and probably a good idea to find someone from that culture to proofread for you.

Coca-Cola photo courtesy of popsop.com,

A recent study shows that only 47% of companies use social media for marketing. The organizations that do use social media are happy with it. Among savvy social media users, Dell announced that it realized over $3 million in revenues from using Twitter alone. Other businesses report that their use of social media resulted in up to 800% more.

There are various excellent reasons to join the social media wave: lead generation, branding, customer loyalty, direct marketing and e-commerce are just a few…..

Make sure to formulate a social media policy, select the social media that fit your company and maintain them.

There are quite a few options to choose from – so select what fits your organization’s needs best:

  • Business profile on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook
    Start yourbusiness profile with a business account using your company logo as your picture (avatar). Unless you are your own brand (e.g., lawyer, artist, photographer, etc.), it’s wise to stay away from using your own headshot. Avoid mixing personal and business profiles or messages at all times.
  • Develop a marketing strategy specific to this media
    Avoid usingthe same message on Twitter that you developed for email blasts and postcard blitzes. The reason is simple: social media demands two-way communication. By nature, outbound media such as emails are one-way. Make sure to keep tabs on your viral marketing campaign; find out where your message will end up (and how!)
  • Start social networking with peers
    LinkedIn, Yammer and Facebook are great ways for P2P communications. Use them to leverage your networks to invite peers to attend your tradeshow, convention, or webinar. It’s also a great way to find out what other people are doing, and are excited about. Don’t forget: your peers love to share what they know!
  • Experiment with social media tools
    Use basic platforms like Twitter and Facebook and figure out all the features. Also use YouTube for video sharing, and Blogger and WordPress for blogging. They all add a human element to your business or service.
  • Proactively learn from the experts
    Sign up for a few free Webinars to get valuable advice. There are lots of free resources available on the Internet; all that is required is your investment in time!
  • Define relevant metrics and measure
    Organizations need some baseline measurements for checking your efforts; otherwise you will never know if you are making progress. You need to measure and learn what works for your organization and at what cost.

If used correctly, social media marketing can improve your business with new leads. It can bring traffic to your website and create buzz for your product or brand. It can also create inbound links to increase SEO ranking, and improve loyalty and trust with customers.

 

It takes all of three seconds for someone to decide if your website is worthy of their time. Three seconds might seem like no time at all, but when it comes to catching someone’s eye or supplying needed information easily, that’s all it takes to decide the fate of your site.

Want to create a successful site? Here’s a few tips to help you along:

1. Keep the flash and bang to a minimum.
While the temptation is there to make text blink and scroll, all it does in the end is annoy your audience. It’s alright to do it here or there, but not in abundance.

2. Use complimentary colors.
Clashing colors will make your audience flinch away from your site, finding it unappealing and quickly moving on to a different site.

3. Keep the scrolling down to a minimum on the homepage.
The more information someone can take from your site from the initial click the better. In general, people are lazy and don’t want to have to scroll forever to find what they are looking for.

4. Easily understood navigation.
Your audience shouldn’t need instructions when trying to find their way around your site. Keep the fonts legible and make the navigation area standout. If it’s too difficult, then they lose interest and move on.

5. Make the point of your site clear.
Who you are and what you are selling/marketing/informing about should be instantly clear to your audience.

6. Make sure grammar and spelling are correct.
Nothing says unprofessional more than displaying a site, in whichever language you choose, riddled with spelling and grammar mistakes.

(Image courtesy of XKCD.com)

Is Twitter just for people who can’t shut up? Many tweets are irrelevant, and it takes some digging to get to the good stuff. That way, it’s not any different from looking for a good book. Between shelves of fluff, there are literary gems such as “The Perfume”, “Madame Bovary” and “To Kill A Mockingbird”.

Companies (and individuals) can of course choose never to send a tweet into cyberspace. But the problem is that companies will be left behind and their competitors will have the competitive edge.

Tweets are short (140 characters) and resemble sms-speak (not surprising, considering the original twitter concept) and have huge marketing potential.

Following is a short guide to tweeting (courtesy of www.ReputationManagementFor.com with some of my own additions).

1/ Tweeting
When you tweet, you’re sending a message to all of your followers (see 2/) and displaying the message on your Twitter Feed (a list of your tweets). Now, it’s extremely important that you bear a few things in mind when tweeting, as you can end up wasting a lot of time for zero productivity. Don’t over-tweet, but don’t tweet sparingly either. A Tweet a week does not an interest garner. These are some important things you’ll need to keep in mind while tweeting:

  • Don’t treat Twitter like an SEO exercise. Nobody cares for unexplained, uninteresting links, and if all you’re doing is linking back to your website, people will generally ignore you.
  • Don’t make ridiculous spelling mistakes. Tweets are only 140 characters long, and typos and other errors will reflect badly on your company. Spell it right; sell it right.
  • Try not to be too personal, or emotional. You’re marketing your brand, and while that doesn’t mean you should be robotic, attention-seeking will ultimately reflect badly.
  • Develop your own style, but unless you’re a professional comedian don’t make every post into a joke.
  • Make sure to hashtag important keywords in your tweet (see 4/).

Ideally, every time you tweet you want your followers to re-tweet (RT) your posts. That way, you are reaching the followers of your followers.

2/ Following
When you follow somebody on Twitter, it means that you’re going to automatically get updated with every tweet of that user. You can opt to get as many people to follow you as possible, or to expand your brand awareness and market influence to targeted users (journalists, institutes, bloggers, magazines, etc.).

The easiest and simplest way getting followers is to include obvious links to your Twitter account on your website, and any email correspondence you send out. If you don’t tell people to look for your Twitter account, you’re relying on people looking for you speculatively, and that can be a slow process. Also, you can enter your contact list from GMail, AOL, MSN, Hotmail and Yahoo! accounts to see if the people you already speak to use Twitter. Following people you know on Twitter will encourage them to follow you.

3/ @Mentions
If you have a look at your “homepage” on Twitter, you can see a few tabs below the Tweet box. One of these tabs says ‘@Mentions’. A @Mention is when somebody puts a ‘@’ sign, followed immediately by a username. When somebody @Mentions you in a Tweet, it’ll show up both on their Tweet Feed and on your @Mentions page (which your followers can’t see. A @Mention is useful:

  • To engage other users who are not in contact with yet. They’re then more likely to return the favor.
  • If you’re Tweeting their material. Their details do show up on a RT, but a @Mention will show gratitude and let the person know you’re passing on their content/posts.
  • When tweeting original content. Start the post with “RT” and end it with @yourtwittername. It makes it easier for people to find you and associate your Twitter account with the content being (re)tweeted.

4/ The #Hashtag
While we have already mentioned that this shouldn’t be an SEO exercise, that doesn’t mean that none of the same principles apply. The #hashtag is the king of Social Media Optimization – an opportunity to make use of ‘keywords’. People searching Twitter for posts on specific subjects will generally find #tagged posts first. Tips to use #hashtags:

  • If you want to talk about a #subject, #location or #person (without linking to their Twitter account), use the #hashtag.
  • A #hashtag can be used to emphasize a specific part of your tweet, and generally adds context to any content or comments you might be posting.

Twitter posts show up in Google search results. Although it is unlikely that a Twitter post will outperform a highly contested keyword by normal SEO standards, a clever campaign on a specific subject will get attention.

5/ Trending
Twitter keeps track of when a term (or #term) is being used a lot on Twitter. It records Trends that appear by geographical demographic, and a general worldwide tracker. Thus, if a #term (with or without the #hashtag) is popular in e.g., the US; users who’ve set up their “Trend Feed” to the US will automatically see a list of the “Trending Topics” for that country. Users can also click on a topic that is trending (e.g. budget cuts).

There are many innovative ways to turn social networking and social media profitable for business. On your Twitter homepage, you can link to your own website. You can also add Twitter to your website homepage. Your tweets will now automatically be displayed.

6/ Shortened Links
As mentioned before, tweets are limited to 140 characters. Most website links (e.g., to articles you RT) take up a lot of character space. To solve this problem, there are several free services around that automatically shorten your links. The most popular are tinyURL and bit.ly.

Wishing you Happy Tweeting!

(Cartoon courtesy of Johnny Ancich of Past Expiry)

clip_image002

The Globalization-Group published an interesting article. It helps business owners and their employees to understand why their business cards might not be effective in some countries.
Although business cards may seem small and uncomplicated, there are some issues when it comes to using them in foreign markets (and languages). The article provides some excellent tips to help business go smoothly when working with international clients.
Size, non-translation of certain elements, and even the way a business card is presented differ depending on the country and situation. Before traveling, the business card must be translated quickly, smoothly, and without incident. Various preferences and reference materials must be provided to the translation supplier in order to have the business card translation process run smoothly.
Standard Business Card Dimensions by Country
Standard business card dimensions differ from country to country, and the business card must have the correct size. If the corporate headquarters are in the U.S., but the business card is printed in multiple languages, U.S. standard dimensions can be used. However, if business cards are printed for someone based in one of the international offices, then the designer (or the translator) and the printer will want to use the standard dimensions for that country.

  • United States, Canada: 88.9 × 50.8 cm / 3.5 × 2 inches;
  • United Kingdom, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland: 85 × 55 cm / 3.346 × 2.165 inches;
  • Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, Norway, Sweden: 90 × 55cm / 3.54 × 2.165 inches
    Japan 91 × 55cm(or 90 x 55 cm) / 3.582 × 2.165 inches;
  • China, Hong Kong: 90 × 54 cm / 3.543 × 2.125 inches;
  • Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary, Israel, Kazakhstan, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Ukraine, & Multiple Latin American Countries (Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, and more): 90 × 50 cm /3.543 × 1.968 inches.

Culturally Appropriate Business Card Etiquette
Business cards hold differing importance in some countries. Know the appropriate way to give and receive business cards in each country. The most notable example is Japan. The book Kiss, Bow, or Shake Hands includes the following recommendations for culturally appropriate exchange of business cards in Japanese business:

  • Cards are presented after the bow or handshake. The card must be presented with the Japanese side facing the business partner, so that it can be read immediately.
  • Read the card presented and memorize all the information. Ask for help in pronunciation and in comprehension of the title and make a relevant comment.
  • Handle cards very carefully. Do not put them in a pocket or in wallet, and never write on a person’s business card in his/her presence).
  • In Japanese culture, business cards are usually given and received using both hands, and Japanese business cards often contain additional details to emphasize qualifications.

Preferences for Business Card Translation
Indicate the following preferences where appropriate to ensure that the business card translation supplier provides what you need the first time:

  • Preferred terminology used on other company cards (i.e. preferred job titles, department names, taglines, or product names).
  • Existing name translations or whether to include names in both languages.
  • Exclusion of address from translation.
  • Preferred international contact information (i.e. non-toll-free phone number with country code that can be accessed outside the U.S.

Reference Materials for Business Card Translation
Provide the following optional reference materials to ensure that the business card translation supplier has everything needed for appropriate translation:

  • Existing company style guide, especially if related to translation and/or business cards.
  • Existing company glossary, especially if related to translation and/or business cards.
  • Existing translation history.
  • Example of an employee’s business card that has been translated or created in the target language.
  • Other reference material including existing translations for logos, slogans, names of products, names of people, etc.

clip_image002E-mail cold calling still works. If done correctly, it can be a highly effective marketing tool. However, the email must be compelling. Writing such an email is not easy.

Here are some tips on composing a good email:

1. Make each email personal.
Decisions makers want to receive an email that is tailored them. Generic emails with a standard offer are ignored. Explain why you sent the email in the first place (e.g., following an exhibition or a one-on-one meeting) and describe your offer as a one-time great opportunity especially for them. This is even more important when the decision maker is referred to you and you were therefore not in direct contact yet. Make sure to tie in the decision maker’s issues, concerns, problems or challenges.

2. Make it legit.
With the current strict regulations concerning unsolicited emails, any email you send as part of an email campaign must have an opt-out. Explain how you got the email details of the decision maker (e.g., after downloading a white paper, registered to receive your newsletter). Make the opt-out as user-friendly as possible; avoid asking for the reason.

3. Keep it short and to the point.
According to researchers, you have less than 20 seconds to capture the reader’s attention. This means that the first three lines (including the header!) are crucial. Once readers lose interest, they will delete your email – forever. If the email is to the point, chances are higher that there will be a follow-up.

4. Make it non-spam and readable in preview.

Decision makers are busy. They have spam filters to avoid their inbox from clogging up. The subject line of your email must explain in a concise way what the email is about. “Great Offer” and “Free Trial” are terms that immediately alert spam filters. Decision makers also scan their inbox in preview mode. The first paragraph of your email must entice the reader to open the email and read it in full.

5. Talk to your reader.

You want the reader to be in touch with you. This can be asking a question, a request for more information, downloading a white paper, an invitation for webinar or subscribing to your newsletter.

(Image courtesy of paythetroops.org)