The Hello Bar is a simple notification bar that engages users and communicates a call to action.

Productivity

LinkedIn Invitation

You can have a lot at stake when you’re writing an LinkedIn invitation. You could be trying to connect with your dream employer, network with your ideal clients, or hook up with people to invest in your business idea.

What can you do to boost the chances that they’ll accept your invitation?

If you’ve done any research on LinkedIn, you’ll know that you should personalize your invitations (even though few people actually do so). We’ll come to that in a moment, because it’s an important strategy.

But before you write your invitation, there are a couple of things you should set straight.

What To Do Before You Send a LinkedIn Invitation

You need to get two things straight before you send out any invitation.

First, check that the person you want to connect with actually uses LinkedIn. Just because someone has a LinkedIn account doesn’t mean they actually check it. Look out for the following:

  • Do they have a photo? If not, then it’s probably not worth connecting.
  • How many connections do they have? Anything under 20, and it’s probably a zombie account.
  • Have they completed their LinkedIn profile?

Just because a LinkedIn account seems dead doesn’t mean you should avoid it (your invitation might win them over to using LinkedIn). But it’s a good warning sign that your invitation is unlikely to be accepted.

Second, make sure you’re not putting all your eggs in one basket. Don’t place all your hopes on one person. Instead, cast your net wide, and connect with lots of different people. That way, you’re bound to have some success, and you’ll discover a lot more opportunities.

Have a Reason to Connect

Next step is finding a reason to connect.

This could be that you just met someone at a conference, or have been chatting with them in a LinkedIn group. Both of these are good reasons to send an invitation. Remember to strike while the iron is hot!

Alternatively, you may have to find a reason to connect. The reason should never be about you, and always about the person you’re connecting with.

Good reasons for connecting include:

  • You share a connection in common (ask permission from the connection you share before you use this as a reason)
  • The person you’re connecting with – or their company – recently featured in the news

Hint: “I’m looking for a job at your company” is never a good reason to connect.

Write Your Invitation

You’ve done all the hard work already. Now it’s time to write your invitation.

The best personalized invitations are really simple and just 2 or 3 sentences long. Here’s a template:

Hi [First Name],

[How they know you, and a reason to connect].

Could we connect on LinkedIn?

Best wishes,

[Your Name]

In other words, the only part you have to fill out is the second paragraph. Here are some examples of what you could put there:

I really enjoyed meeting you at the workshop yesterday.

Daniel Jones mentioned that you’d be a really good person to get to know.

I appreciated the presentation you gave at the conference last week [Top tip: include your favorite line from the presentation].

I noticed that your company made record profits this year. Congratulations!

I really liked the blog post you wrote about [topic].

The key isn’t to write a lot. It’s to personalize what you do write.

Your Call

Do you personalize your LinkedIn invitations? If so, how? Let us know in the comments section, below.

unusual business social media

Social networks is a great tool for promoting your brand.

But you can do way more than that with social media.

Here are five ways to use social media you might be overlooking

1. Make a Splash in the Newspapers (Public Relations)

Want to make a splash in the media? Getting your business featured in a news story no longer means writing press releases and pushing them out to journalists.

Instead, you can just share your news on social media.

As PR expert Maggie Patterson explains:

Journalists rely on Facebook to source stories and Facebook itself actively promotes the platform as a “Rolodex” with 1 billion contacts for reporters.

Where your company may have relied on a press release in the past, you can now share your story on Facebook. It provides a low-friction way to report the facts in the case of breaking news or to provide comment on emerging issues that will help get your story to the media and your public faster.

To give the news you share extra oomph!, it’s worth building up relationships with journalists on social media. That way, you can point them to your story when you’ve got something you want them to see. Here’s our primer on finding journalists.

2. Find Out What Your Customers Think (Market Research)

To be effective in business, you need to know your customers. You need to know their likes and dislikes, their wants and needs, their pressing problems.

You also need to know how people view your brand, and get opinions on what you could do to improve your products and develop new products.

Getting this information requires market research. Just a decade ago market research was an expensive endeavor. You had to set up online surveys, or send out researchers to interview your target customers.

Social media completely changes that. As long as you know who your customers are, you can tap into their thoughts and feelings using social media.

You can use social media to:

  • Monitor what your customers are talking about, so you know their everyday concerns and passions.
  • Ask questions directly to your customers.
  • Listen to what people are saying about your brand.
  • Learn the language of your customers, so you can write better copy.

3. Keep Your Customers Happy (Customer Service)

Did you know that nearly three quarters (72%) of customers who make a complaint to a business on Twitter expect to receive a response in under 60 minutes? That’s according to research by Lithium Technologies.

If you’re not monitoring what people are saying about your brand on social media – and responding to complaints – then you’re contributing to the negative image of your brand.

As Anthony Leaper explains over on Forbes:

Irritated Customers have supportive Friends. They may have a few; they may have thousands. The dangerous fact, though, is this: it almost does not matter how many friends they really have. A single Facebook post that describes a jaw-dropping failure on the part of your company may, if stupefying enough or if told in a funny or snarky manner, be repeated, retweeted, “liked,” and “shared” innumerable times.

For an example of this, check out Ryanair’s middle gimp debacle. That’s exactly what Leaper is talking about.

By contrast, if you’re willing to help your customers online, they’ll respond in kind by recommending your brand to their friends and family.

Leaper again:

If you can discover and address an Irritated Customer’s concerns quickly and effectively, then you have a singular opportunity to convert an Irritated Customer into a Delighted Customer. Their delight, particularly if seen by many in the social media world, may move thousands of people into the column of potential customers who are now predisposed to consider your services—when they may have been on the fence before.

4. Uncover Your Business Persona (Brand Development)

Social media is all about building relationships with your customers.

That means you’ve got to be relatable.

Social media isn’t the place for corporate stuffiness. Act standoffish to your followers, and they’ll give you the cold shoulder in return.

Jeff Mancini, director of digital strategy at Interbrand, says people see brands they love in the same way they see friends.

In a Forbes interview, Mancini said:

We feel for brands similarly to the way we feel for friends. The reason we advocate brands in our lives are the reasons we advocate friends in our lives. That is, we genuinely like them.

Making friends with your customers means you must develop a brand persona. Social media is the perfect opportunity to do this. Don’t worry if you’ve not got it all sorted when you start out on social networks. You’ll discover your voice through talking with your customers.

If you need a bit of extra help developing your brand’s person, check out our 72 questions to help you uncover your brand’s persona.

5. Create a Vision Board (Strategic Planning)

Do you yawn when you hear the words “strategic planning” or “business plan”?

Developing a business strategy can be an incredibly dry process. But it doesn’t have to be.

Why not start out by creating a vision board of where you’d like to take your business?

Pinterest is the perfect tool for this. It gives you access to millions of stunning images, and allows you to group them into pinboards.

You can even create several vision pinboards, covering whatever aspects of your business you want them to. Here are some examples to get you started:

  • What you want to do for your customers
  • The types of products you want to sell
  • The mission and vision of your business
  • Your business’s ethos and values
  • The lifestyle you want to have while running your business

Over to You

What are some of the more unusual ways you use social media in your business?

Gamifcation Social Media

Life’s better when it’s fun. The same is true of business. And social media.

And few things are more fun than playing a game.

Business across the web have latched onto this and have started using games (or game-style interfaces) to keep us engaged. This is gamification, and it’s here to stay.

Duolingo uses gamification to help people learn a second language.

The Khan Academy makes learning math into a game.

And codecademy has done the same for learning code.

All three of these has proved hugely successful.

In a moment, we’ll consider how you can use gamification as part of your social media strategy. But first, let’s look at what’s special about gamification…

Here’s Why Gamification Works…

Have you ever played a computer game? Successful games have three key components.

1. Games Tell a Story

Stories are how humans (that’s you and me) make sense of the world. We all want to be part of a story, and games offer us the change to do that.

Stories don’t have to make a whole lot of sense. Super Mario, for example, is all about an Italian plumber whose mission is to rescue a princess from the clutches of a giant turtle. Weird, if you think about it. What matters is that the story captures our imagination.

The most significant aspects of stories is that they follow a journey and along the journey there are obstacles.

The leads us to the second component of computer games…

2. Games Set Challenges

Games follow a story, and stories have obstacles.

That’s why, in any good game, you’ll find obstacles in your path.

In a sports game, the obstacle is the opposing team. In a fighting game, it’s your adversary. In an action game, it’s the bad guys you come across.

In some games, the challenges are a set of mini-missions or tasks you must complete.

In Duolingo? The obstacles are the words and phrases you’ve let to learn.

Games draw players in because the obstacles get gradually harder. Each new obstacle should test and slightly extend your current skill level.

So it makes sense that learning can be turned into a game.

As your skill level develops, you’ll want to take advantage of the fact that…

3. Games Track Your Progress

Each obstacle you overcome in a game is a new achievement. Effective games give you the opportunity to celebrate your achievements, and to look back over your past achievements.

Gamification works because it uses all three elements of gaming. When a process is gamified, it:

  • Becomes part of a bigger story
  • Sets gradually harder challenges
  • Tracks your progress

Look at any gamified app or process, and you’ll see these three elements at play. All three elements motivate you to keep playing.

You might also see:

  • The opportunity to compare your progress with others. This creates competition.
  • Fun! Think of Duolingo’s quirky owl mascot.
  • Rewards. When you succeed, you win a prize.

 Is Gamification Right For You?

Gamify Social Media

Gamification is primarily a motivation tool. It’s about turning a difficult and complex progress into a game. What you were avoiding becomes fun.

With that in mind, gamifying your social strategy is a good idea if:

  • You’re only just starting to use social media
  • You’ve got good intentions, but you rarely get around to updating your social media feeds.
  • You feel overwhelmed by everything that needs to be done on social media.

Still game? Then read on…

How to Gamify Your Social Media Strategy

Now you know what gamification is all about, how can you use it in your social media strategy?

Step 1: Make Sure You Know Your Bigger Story

Social media is never the end goal. Rather, it’s a tool to help you achieve a bigger goal. This could be selling more stuff, winning more clients, or networking with leaders in your industry.

What’s your goal in using social media? This goal is the bigger story that your social media strategy is part of.

Another way of looking at your big story is to think about your brand identity. How will you use social media to develop your brand’s story?

Step 2: Set Yourself (Little) Challenges

You know your bigger goal. Now break it down into smaller goals.

For example, your ultimate goal might be to use social media to drive sales. But you don’t yet have a Facebook page for your brand, let alone any fans. So break your goal down into mini-missions. These could be:

  • Learning how to set up a Facebook page
  • Preparing the images and copy for your Facebook page
  • Setting up your Facebook page
  • Idea-storming for what you could share on Facebook
  • Getting your first 100 Facebook likes

And so on…

With each challenge you overcome, you’ll see further into the horizon, so you can then set yourself more challenges.

Remember, keep your challenges simple. Make sure they only challenge you a little bit. That way, you’ll stay motivated.

Step 3: Track Your Progress

Each time you complete one of your mini-missions, make a note of what you’ve done. Over time, you’ll be amazed at what you’ve achieved.

Notice that this gamification process doesn’t need to be complicated. You can do it all with a pen and paper. Or if you prefer, you can do it in a word process, or using a spreadsheet.

Step 4: Treat Yourself!

When you complete a mission, give yourself a treat! This could be as simple as taking five minutes for a coffee break or snacking on your favorite food.

For bigger goals, you can reward yourself with a meal out, or a weekend vacation.

After your treat, you’ll return to your next mission rejuvenated and ready for the new challenge.

Step 5: Make it Fun!

Social media has made the world way less formal. So don’t be afraid of having fun as you achieve your goals.

Want even more fun? Find another business that’s in a similar place to you in their social strategy. Set up a series of challenges together. Then see who can complete them the fastest!

That’s Gamification – Now Get Playing!

Now you know how to gamify your social strategy, go out and do it!

Also, let us know what you think about gamification in the comments section, below.