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How to Use LinkedIn in 2017 for Business

How to Use LinkedIn in 2017 for BusinessLinkedIn has changed a lot since November 2016. This is when the professional social media platform was acquired by Microsoft in an astounding $26 billion deal. That is a lot of money, even for one of the largest software companies in the world and, if they were willing to pay the price, it means only one thing: LinkedIn is worth every single dollar.

This is something you should keep in mind as you are planning or adjusting your marketing plans. You cannot ignore LinkedIn as a powerful and affordable platform to grow your brand image and to attract new customers, investors, and business partners.

As you may have probably noticed, some changes to the look and functionalities of LinkedIn have already been implemented. In this article, we will tell you what else is different from the point of view of promoting and advertising your business on LinkedIn. Let us get started!

1. The Hashtag Is Coming Back
Some years ago, LinkedIn experimented with the hashtag (even before Facebook took the idea from Twitter) but it didn’t really catch on so they quietly snuffed it. At that moment, the professional community did not regard the hashtag as a “serious” and “professional” way of highlighting skills, keywords or core values.

But things have changed tremendously since then, and everyone knows how important the hashtag is, even corporate CEOs. So the hashtag is back, currently on the LinkedIn mobile app, but quite soon on its web platform as well. This means that you can use the experience you gained with using hashtags on other social media platforms to enhance your LinkedIn content and make it visible for the right keywords.

2. LinkedIn Pulse – A Powerful Content Marketing Platform
LinkedIn Pulse is one of the best free marketing features of this social media platform. For one, you can showcase your expertise, tag your articles with relevant keywords and include backlinks to your website.

On the other hand, there are the instant notifications sent to all your connections every time you post a new article. Yes, everyone you are connected with gets a personal notification of this – and since people are highly likely to click on mobile push notifications, your content will have more readers and sharers than ever.

3. Lead Generation
The new LinkedIn platform includes new tools for businesses to attract the right candidates, to showcase their expertise and their potential as employers. These new tools will not only help you increase the chances of attracting talent to your company, but will also improve your credibility and image among potential customers and business partners.

You can also take advantage of the new Sponsored InMail function which is proven to get you three times more replies than regular emails. However, in order to work in your favor, a Sponsored InMail should only be sent to a qualified lead, so that it is not marked as spam by receivers.

4. One Word: Remarketing
So far, LinkedIn has been quite deficient in the remarketing department, but no more. From now on, you will be able to create, select and target specific custom audiences, almost in the same manner as on Facebook. While the remarketing tools are still in the beginner phase on LinkedIn, its in-depth professional targeting tools are spectacular: you can target specific job titles, within companies of a specific size and located in a specific area.

Combined with the remarketing tools, you can now target junior CEOs from medium-sized enterprises who have interacted with your business three months ago, or who failed to complete a purchase following a LinkedIn ad.

5. Sponsored Content Outside LinkedIn
The value of this feature is immense – even though it is still unclear how many websites will be included in this program. However, you will be able, based on the LinkedIn profile data you collect from people who click on your ads, to track them and show them ads on other websites they are browsing.

Most likely, LinkedIn will partner with news and professional websites and forums, which their users are usually browsing.

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How to Use Facebook Advertising to Validate Your Business Idea

how-to-use-facebook-advertising-to-validate-your-business-ideaAre you on the brink of launching your home-based business, but you’re just not sure whether there is a market for your products or services? This is a genuine concern for any entrepreneur: even a home business requires some investments (legal fees and taxes, equipment, etc.) If you can’t find customers to market your products to, you’ll have lost valuable time and money.

In the past, we have discussed various ways in which you can validate your business idea, but today we will focus on one single aspect: using Facebook ads to see how many people are likely to at least connect with your business, and examining your offering, more closely.

The Advantages of Using Facebook to Validate Your Business Idea

Why Facebook? Without making false claims, Facebook is among the largest worldwide public forums where you can meet potential customers, if any. What sets it apart from any other online platforms to advertise your business is the fact that you can gain valuable insights into the demographics and behavioral characteristics of your target customers.

People willingly share lots of personal data with Facebook lots of personal data. This isn’t just how old they are, where they live, or what educational background and job they have, but also their marital status, whether they have children, have recently bought a house or a car, and so on. Apart from this demographic data, they share their hobbies and interests and their states of mind at various moments. All of this is invaluable to you, the online business operator.

How Do You Do It?

First of all, you should have at least a landing page in which you include an opt-in form for people who are interested in knowing more about your upcoming business. This is a small investment, certainly, but it it provides a less expensive option for testing out idea than to launch the business cold and see that no one buys your products.

This prerequisite being met, you should go to Facebook for Business and start creating your ads.

1. How to Create a Facebook Ad
The process itself is self-explanatory. For this reason alone, Facebook is a great option for small business owners: you don’t need any special technical or design skills to create a great ad. Just remember to stick to the rule of 20% words on the ad surface, and use either a short movie made with your phone, or a still image (you can use various free apps to edit it and apply filters to it).

2. How to Set Your Budget
If you are simply testing out your business idea, the best type of bidding is for the cost per click (CPC). Set a lifetime budget for your campaign of no more than $100 – $200. This is a simple way of making sure you do not spend too much on the campaign. Setting a lifetime budget means that the money is used up as people click on your ad, and the campaign stops running when there is no money left in the budget. Why do we recommend the CPC bidding format? Because you want to find out how many people are at least interested in what you have to offer. More on this in the next item.

3. What Metrics to Focus On

Facebook insights are among the most varied and in-depth metrics on offer from any social media platform offering advertising options. Once you set your advertising campaign, you can go to the Adverts Manager page (by clicking on the arrow in the top-right corner of your Facebook profile) and discover a detailed breakdown of your ad campaign performance, including: click-through rate (CTR), average cost per click, reach, impressions, cost per people reached, etc.

At this phase of testing out your business idea, the most important metrics to measure are impressions versus click-through rate. This will show you how many of the people who saw the ad were at least curious enough to find out more, and clicked it.

4. How to Corroborate with Insights on Your Landing Page

Of course, Facebook insights need to be tied with the traffic and CTA metrics on your landing page. Did people like what they saw once they reached it? What percentage of them agreed to share their email with you and receive more news about your upcoming products? By analyzing and corrolating Facebook CTR data and the CTA rate on your page, you can estimate whether you have a viable business idea or not.

5. Get the Most of Facebook Ad Insights

If your business idea looks like it could take off, it is time to go back to the Adverts Manager page on Facebook and download insights related to the people who clicked on your ad. From these details, you can build a profile of your potential customers, in terms of demographic and behavioral details. This profile will be extremely useful to you in creating marketing messages and targeting future Facebook ads at the right type of audience.

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Marketing 101: Essential Advertising Laws for Your Business

Marketing 101 Essential Advertising Laws for Your BusinessMarketing is the heart and soul of doing business and, in many of our articles, we have touched on the various advertising channels and techniques which home-based business owners should use for promoting their products and services. Today we shall approach a different topic related to marketing which any business owner should know about: the laws and regulations concerning advertising.

These days, marketers cannot make any wild claims they wish about the products and services they are promoting. They cannot post statistical numbers which are untrue, testimonials that were paid for and not offered by customers without prompting from businesses, and other such misleading and potentially ambiguous content. Now, this does not mean that we believe that the readers of our blog would resort to misleading advertising. However it is easy to break an advertising regulation without ill intent and get sued by customers who misunderstand your statements in marketing materials.

Before we move on, you should know that all marketing and advertising rules are made and enforced by the Federal Trade Commission and we encourage you to visit their website frequently in order to be up to date with the latest changes in applicable regulations. And now let us focus on the core aspects of advertising regulated by the FTC:

1. The Lanham Act
This particular regulation is not addressed to consumers, but to business entities. Thus, if any company feels their trademark was used by a competitor in marketing and advertising materials in a deceptive manner they can sue and win if they can prove that:
⦁ There were false claims made in connection with the product;
⦁ The deception included in the advertising material affected a large number of consumers;
⦁ The deception represented a significant, or a major part of, the advertising message;
⦁ The product was resold across states;
⦁ The trademark holder was injured and likely to incur loss due to the deceptive advertising.

What does it mean for small business owners? If you open an online store reselling products under trademarks, make sure that every claim you make about the characteristics and benefits of the product is in full agreement with the official description provided by the trademark holder.

2. Pricing Regulations
These regulations apply to any kind of special promotions and discounts which companies promote in their advertising. Thus, whenever you promote a discounted price, you should also publish the catalog (regular) price for which the item is sold, allowing people to discern the benefit of the discount.

Another aspect revolves around promoting your price for an item as lower than that practiced by comparative-sized companies or retailers. Whenever you make such a claim, you should be able at any moment to back it up by a market study of reasonable diligence. For example, it is fair to say that your price for a pair of shoes is $30 compared to $45 in similar store; however, it is dishonest to search for the highest price practiced by a few boutique stores and state that you sell shoes normally priced at $70 for $30.

Thirdly, be very careful of the use of the word “free” in your advertising materials. There are laws against the abuse of this word as clickbait, for example in the situation when people will receive a free item, but only on condition of making a purchase.

3. Testimonials/Product Presentations
Except for celebrity endorsements (which are generally known to be paid), whenever you offer compensation for testimonials, this should be specified within the advertisement. Also, whenever you feature customers using your product, if you apply any kind of retouching to the photos or videos, use the products outside the normal environment and normal conditions which the average customer will experience, this should also be stated in clear terms.

4. Spam Policy
In the US there is a zero tolerance policy against unsolicited emails. Since most small businesses use email marketing in order to gain more customers and keep the existing ones loyal and engaged, it is very important to know that each of your email messages must contain a disclaimer in the footer stating that it is not an unsolicited email and to offer simple and clear steps for unsubscribing from receiving further emails. Needless to say, if you receive an unsubscribe request, you must follow through at once and refrain from sending any other message to that email address, except for the confirmation that the user was unsubscribed successfully.

As you can observe, these rules and regulations are quite simple, straightforward and make lots of sense. Be honest in presenting the features and benefits of your products, disclose any paid testimonials you publish, and refrain from spamming people and you will be safe.

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