COM0011-521: Enhancing Personal Brand – Effective Content?

OBJECTIVE:         To promote my personal brand.

FOLLOWERS:      Business Development, Sales, Marketing professionals, Employers

Often misunBD1derstood, Business Development (BD) is about the process of discovering new business opportunities. It is sometimes labeled as Sales and quite often called Marketing. The three functions are quite different yet overlap. More appropriately, they interact.

BD professionals are busy, largely driven to be successful by incentives, typically money in the form of a variable compensation component in addition to a fixed amount as a base salary. Success is measured by the level of new  business opportunities the BD professional introduces to the employer. Motivated by the desire to maximize the variable component, not to mention retain their job, BD professionals are governed by, and are constantly trying to meet or exceed, quotas or revenue goals. Hence the term “busy”.

Being like-minded and having excelled as a BD professional throughout my career, the most effective content must conform to the following criteria:

  • Relevant – it must relate to the BD profession;
  • Insightful – content should be new to followers; it could be information on a topic one or more followers have requested;
  • Valuable – should be of value such that followers are able to utilize this new knowledge in their day-to-day environment going forward;
  • Concise – brief and convenient; provide just enough relevant content of value to permit followers to decide if it’s worth clicking the “MORE” button or be redirected to additional detail;
  • Credible – content must be current or future-oriented and demonstrate brand expertise so it will be perceived as credible.

Examples of content that I consider most important to my objective include, but are not limited to, the following:

Business Strategies – what BD approaches works and what don’t; examples, case studies;

Relationship Building Tips – people always struggle with how to establish (connect), nurture and leverage relationships.  Support in this area is fundamental;

Effective Networking – another area where people are challenged.  For example, how to join a group of people huddled around a coffee station at an event; or, how to disengage from someone (politely) when he\she won’t stop talking;

Events List – a listing of current/future events pertinent to BD professionals – events they may wish to attend for networking and lead generation or simple enhance relationships;

Jobs Forum – open opportunities and discussions of; employers who utilize BD professionals and those who are considering BD professionals; compensation options and discussions;

Professional Development – opportunities for improvement, including webinars, conferences, and other appropriate venues; community involvement opportunities, e.g. Board Directors.

In the not too distant future, this group may evolve to offer business services such as the following for example:

• Acquisition & Sales – We find prospects and get sales contracts
• Business Development – We discover new business & close deals
• Connecting the dots – We connect you to others and arrange contracts
• Commercial Strategy – We assist with any commercial challenge

While there may be other content of value to this community, the content mentioned above is very effective to building my brand.  I am, however, always open to comments and suggestions on how to improve on this approach.  Thoughts?


COM0011-521: Brief Analysis – Good and Not-so-good Social Media Campaigns

Learn from the mistakes of others. How often have we heard that! You can also learn from their successes. Here’s a brief analysis of two social media campaigns – one that worked (Allen & Overy), and one that did not (Esquire Magazine).

Law has two characteristics that make it an ideal environment for social media – it’s constantly changing, which means that lawyers have to keep current on new developments in their area of expertise; and it’s collaborative, with lawyers in the same practice needing to share information with each other.

Global law firm, Allen & Overy decided to embrace it and chose to use blogs and wikis for knowledge sharing.

Two years after introducing three pilot sites, all of which combined blog and wiki functionality, the firm boosted 30 sites. Some were used by specific practice areas while others were grouped around particular topics, e.g. new legislation.

The initial 3 pilots were largely successful due to their ease of use and the firm’s culture around sharing – seems like they chose the right tools.

In addition to the growth in the number of sites, the content became a source of rich information around best practices. As well as allowing lawyers to disseminate information more quickly, the tools made it easier for lawyers to have queries answered. Instead of sending out an email query to several colleagues, none of whom could see who else has responded, a lawyer could post a blog question and receive several responses, with each new poster able to see the previous answers.

Sometimes, a lawyer would transfer a conversation to a wiki where a group of lawyers could put all their ideas together to produce detailed content. Wikis were also used to prepare for training events and for people to discuss issues raised post-event.

In this case, ROI was measured in terms of the initial objective – improved knowledge sharing. This social media initiative succeeded in that it took pressure off the knowledge function as a whole, and gave knowledge staff more time to focus on more high-end activities, instead of answering questions. Today, Allen & Overy utilize RSS, Facebook and Twitter to augment the above-mentioned social media outreach.

On the flip side, Esquire magazine incurred a “fail” when a campaign to mark the Sept 11 anniversary had an unfortunate technical glitch.

With good intentions, Esquire produced a story which was accompanied by a “falling man” image – an image of a man falling from one of the towers, however the image was mistakenly aligned next to a sidebar headline that read “Making Your Morning Commute More Stylish.”

This combination did not go unnoticed by readers.  After mounting complaints (no surprise), Esquire responded with this apology tweet:

“Relax, everybody. There was a stupid technical glitch on our “Falling Man” story

and it was fixed asap. We’re sorry for the confusion.”

While Esquire did the right thing by explaining the situation and apologizing, it didn’t put enough thought into the message. The first two words conveyed a condescending tone. Perhaps they should have started with the apology first! Telling people that they don’t need to get their shorts in a knot is disingenuous. There was either a lack of oversight, which resulted in “…a stupid technical glitch…” or the producer simply demonstrated an insensitive attitude. Either way, both are unacceptable. I found the last line of the apology, “We’re sorry for the confusion.” sent a “don’t care” attitude – it lack sincerity.

The lesson is simple. For good content, every word is critical, and this is particularly true when you only have 140 characters. So think ahead, consider the circumstances and use another set of eyes.


COM0011-521: “You’re Banned from Social Media!!!”

Yesterday, a Nova Scotia (NS) Crown attorney asked a judge to kick a 15-year-old girl off social media as part of her sentencing after she pleaded guilty to a “brutal” assault that was filmed and posted on Facebook.

cyber bullying keypadYou’d have to be living under a rock to have not heard of the rise of cyber bullying in Canada and the US.  Mostly girls, examples of teens that succumbed to the online bullying include high profile cases like Amanda Todd , a 15-year old from British Columbia (BC), and Rehtaeh Parsons, the 17-year old from NS, both of whom committed suicide after repeated online or cyber bullying.

Another case involves a 15-year old girl from NS who was charged after a female student — with autism — was punched at school earlier this year.

“It was a planned attack. It was lunchtime, the accused stood and waited for the victim to come through the hall at lunchtime, stated her name and then sucker punched her, knocked her on the floor and proceeded to grab her by the hair and kick her in the head and facial area,” said Steve Drake, the Crown attorney. “It all happened in approximately 10 to 12 seconds. It was brutal.”

As horrible as this was, it was the actions of a second student who filmed the assault and posted it on Facebook, spreading the episode and garnering unwanted attention, that raised the profile of this incident

The NS Attorney General likens the social media ban to barring a drunk driver from driving or requiring a drug abuser to stay away from drugs. Here’s the issue — How do you effectively enforce the ban when there are a multitude of devices from which one can access social media tools?

I perceive this as similar to “shunning” in certain religious communities in that enforcement responsibility lies with family, friends and the local community to ensure this girl does not access social media.

Will this be enough of a deterrent? Will this engage others, such as parents and the local community to help combat cyber bullying?

What are your thoughts?


COM0011-521: Social Media Use in my Profession

According to Hinge Marketing,, Accounting and Financial services have not been in the forefront of social media marketing. Accountants and financial professionals chose their career for a reason. If they were strongly inclined toward Marketing, they probably would have chosen a different career. These professions are, by tradition, fairly conservative. This environment did not often nurture and encourage the early use of social media. There are a host of regulatory and legal requirements that dictate what one might say or do online.

True, but accounting firms have been making up for lost ground and here are some of the ways in which they’re using social media.

  • Talent attraction
  • Profiling of professionals – i.e. articles in media, Partners on Boards, etc…
  • Promotion – of newsletters, events, testimonials, publications, community involvement…
  • Announcements – of new Partners, clients or wins
  • Information on service offerings
  • Driving future clients to specific content, websites or pages

As a social networking tool focused on business, LinkedIn is used extensively, although not exclusively for recruiting.  You Tube is used to provide insight into the professional services firm environment such as work-life balance and other values.

Twitter is used to promote events in advance to create some “buzz”, during the event to draw attention to a specific venue or speaker and post-event to continue brand building. LinkedIn is also used to promote events, typically during and post-event and links are included to direct recipients to specific content, either a publication, webpage or registration site.

Ultimately, social media tools are used in some combination as part of a Marketing Plan with the objective of moving the right people to action.

A mid-sized accounting firm, MNP, takes a very direct approach to talent recruitment.  It has a separate MNP Careers website, similar to the larger, global firms and it also employs Facebook and You Tube to deliver content to potential employees. MNP is one of the fastest growing accounting firms in Canada and has baffled some of the BIG 4 firms with its aggressive growth record.  Clearly, it is executing an effective Marketing strategy including the use of appropriate social media tools.

Another accounting firm launches a myriad of thought leadership.  Perhaps a more cautious approach, it has employed Twitter and LinkedIn for a few years for various promotional aspects of its Marketing plans, however, it is still too reliant on traditional media (online newspapers/articles) and advertising, including banner ads and limited inserts.  While it has very recently started using infographics and short videos, very little, if any, blogging is evident and Google+ remains a future tool. Recent campaigns didn’t effectively target influencers which could have amplified the messaging further. Listening to specific, relevant communities appeared limited. Content splitting is recommended as it could increase the “storytelling” to engage with its target audience(s), build relationships, and increase shareability of content. There are indications that future launch campaigns will improve the use of effective social media tools, including for example, slide share.

Professional Services firms, specifically accounting and finance, are making great strides in their use of social media to improve visibility and credibility, demonstrate expertise, and, connect with and understand client communities. Already in use by many prospective clients, Social Media can help Professional Services firms grow faster and become more profitable. Stay tuned!

Bob Giddings

COM0011-521: Things I’ve Discovered Listening Online

Listening is important!listening2

It’s a skill and some do it more effectively than others. And it’s even more complex in an environment with multiple social media tools. With the volume of content that fills the news feeds of FaceBook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc., it is a real challenge to keep up with it.

A few weeks ago, I started listening to a number of communities specific to my self-branding objective and here’s some of what I heard.  But, before I go any further, it’s worth noting the benefit of a social media dashboard such as Hootsuite to make listening to various tools easier. I set up Hootsuite, with a number of communities, including: KPMG Canada, Deloitte Canada, Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton (RCGT), Collins Barrow, BDO, Imagine Canada, and Ernst & Young (EY).

In general, after weeding through the myriad of promos from Hootsuite, I found the posts were a mix of announcements related to events, newsletters, thought leadership, memberships, presentations by professionals, community involvement activities, information about professional services, client testimonials, articles, profile building and jobs.

Interestingly, a pattern emerged. For example, BDO posted more about jobs than the others. KPMG posts were broad including events, topics of interest (e.g. ethical outsourcing), and thought leadership. Most of Collins Barrow’s posts related to community involvement, such as partner appointments to Boards. Image Canada, a not-for-profit organization, posted mostly about members renewing their membership – their posts were publicly saying “thanks” for your renewal.

While I was not listening specifically to Hootsuite, I found their posts to be very repetitious – informative, yet repetitious. While every post was social media related and not just about their specific products, I found the discussion about the death of the Social Media Manager intriguing.  I was encouraged to read more. I learned that rather than being the prime responsibility of a single individual, the task of optimizing social media tools/channels is evolving to be part of everyone’s role.

Shhhhhhhh – did you here that?

Bob Giddings

COM0011 – 521 Blog Post #1 – My Favourite Social Media Tools

Welcome to my first blog post.  Hope you enjoy it!

What is my favourite social media tool? What’s your favourite? How does one chose? What a challenge! Perhaps the most appropriate basis for deciding is one’s experience and familiarity with a particular tool. I have “tinkered” with Twitter recently, specifically re-tweeting corporate tweets, and connecting it to my LinkedIn account. When I post on LinkedIn, be it a newly created post or sharing a corporate post, a shorter version gets tweeting. I have a Google+ account and see the potential of a more integrated networking platform, considering gmail, Google search engine, etc., although it’s still a bit early to rate it over LinkedIn, despite Goggle+’s success (500 million registered users as of May 2013). Until this week, I’ve not had a Facebook account, so it’s a TBD. From my perspective, it comes down to two social media tools – LinkedIn and YouTube.

linkedin icon

I’ve used LinkedIn for many years, have in excess of 600 contacts (1800 in Outlook) and find it a useful tool for connecting, nurturing relationships and disseminating content of interest to contacts. It is a valuable business development tool. Some have mentioned that LinkedIn is the business “equivalent” of Facebook. With respect to the above-mentioned applications I agree, however, I have not seen the multitude of photos and videos.  Instead, it’s more posts and links. We’ll see if this holds true going forward as I have recently created a Facebook account.

you tube icon

YouTube is another favourite for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it is unique in that is it all videos.  With respect to the saying “…a picture’s worth a 1000 words…”, I find it much easier to digest the multitude of content, especially since in my case, it’s mostly a one-way scenario – I don’t post video content, especially as it relates to a non-business application. While there is definitely an “entertainment” factor, I value YouTube for its educational content, specifically it’s “How to…” video tutorials. For example, I am renovating a bathroom and wanted a refresher on how to tile a floor. There are more “How to tile a floor” videos than you can digest.  This would be a typical application for me.

Until next time…

Bob Giddings