Getting Connected with Social Media: Can You 'Game' the LinkedIn Publishing Algorithm?

Dear readers, this is my last column. After five years, 256 columns and 150,000 words on sales and social media, I am hanging up the keyboard. Why? Well, when I first started this column, I had a lot of relationships in the PCB industry, and this figured to be where work would come from for me. And it did—for a while. 

But then I started to build a following on LinkedIn, based on my weekly posts there. And business started coming my way from that following. I started a program of introducing my LinkedIn connections to possible business partners and they started sending prospective customers to me. 

Before writing this, I looked through my books and found that 100% of my new clients in the past year were people I did not know one year ago. They either found me on LinkedIn or were referred to me by one of my LinkedIn connections. 

So I am proof that this social media stuff works. And I still firmly believe that social media—in particular LinkedIn, but also YouTube and Twitter—can work for manufacturers out there. It allows you to show, very inexpensively, that you are a company—or a person—to be taken seriously.  Guy Kawasaki said it best a few years ago, “Social media is for people with brains, but no money.” 

To everyone who has read my columns over the past five years, thank you. And now to the column. 

I have been publishing on LinkedIn for eighteen months now, and have written a hundred or so posts. I was looking at some of my posts and the engagement they had generated and wondered if any of the obvious factors really had any bearing. So I compared how my posts had done with other people who publish on LinkedIn and I compared their statistics with mine to see if there were clues that were precursors to success. 

I concluded that the following have little or no bearing on how much engagement a post gets. 

1. The total number of posts published on LinkedIn do not matter.

Your total number of posts published seems to have no bearing on the success of future posts, that is, people who have many more posts than I do don’t seem to average more views and engagement with their posts than me. Of course, their aggregate views may be higher. If I have 20 posts at 200 views and they have 40 posts at 200 views, they have more total views. 

Lesson learned: Don’t be deterred from publishing your own posts on LinkedIn because you can never catch up to someone who has posted every week for the last two years. You are starting with a fresh page, but so is that prolific person who posts each week. 

2. Engaging with other people’s posts and updates has no discernible effect.

I looked through the activity for 10 people who publish their own posts on LinkedIn. More engagement with other people’s posts and status updates does not necessarily appear to lead those people to your posts. Several people I looked at have three and four times the number of status updates and comments on other people’s posts as I did in the last month, yet seemed to average the same post statistics as I did. 

Lesson learned: You don’t need to strive to be visible on LinkedIn for your posts to be successful. 

3. Monster posts don’t have much, if any, spillover effect on future posts.

Having a monster post with tons of views and engagement doesn’t necessarily help with the next post’s reception. I have even seen this with the influencer posts:

  • Jeff Haden’s November 17, 2015 post: 546,000 views
  • Jeff Haden’s next post on December 3, 2015: 23,000 views  

Lesson learned: Don’t think that a monster post is necessary to be successful. And if you have a monster post, don’t think you can cruise from now on based on that post. You are guaranteed no views or comments on your next post—just ask Jeff. 

4. Post frequency has no impact. 

Publishing more often doesn’t seem to change the results on a per-post basis, even if you post once a month, twice a month, every week, or multiple times a day! I reviewed several people who post a lot less often than I do and much more often than I do and our statistics were very close. 

Lesson learned: Post on your own schedule, not someone else’s. 

5. People with larger numbers of followers do not get more views per follower. 

I have 5500 followers. Jeff Haden has 890,000 (between the time I wrote this and published it he may have picked up another 5500). I did some calculations based on the last nine posts we have each published (Jeff has only published nine times in the past year). Some interesting results:

Jeff’s number of followers is more than 160x mine. Here are three observations:

  1. Jeff has better statistics than I do (that was the easy observation).
  2. My stats might be comparable to Jeff’s if I took the time to increase the size of my network 160x.
  3. Jeff’s views and likes per follower are slightly higher than mine, but his comments are much lower. This argues that there is no exponential engagement accelerator with a larger following (for example a following twice as big doesn’t yield two and a half times the engagement).   

Grand Conclusion: You can’t “game” (or trick or deceive) the LinkedIn algorithm with any of these things. 

However, based on my own experience, here are five factors that do seem to affect overall engagement:

  1. Writing quality: Not as big a factor as you would think, but being able to write in an interesting and engaging style helps.
  2. Photo or illustrations: Having no photo is bad. Using a stock photo is better than nothing. Using something original beats using a stock photo. How much better stock and original photos are is open to debate. 
  3. Headline: Better headlines lead to more views and engagement. I know this from my own experience. 
  4. Post topics: On LinkedIn, a post on social selling will do better than a post on coal mining in Armenia (now I have probably offended all the Armenians).
  5. Luck: LinkedIn has decided to put my posts in Pulse channels a few times. I usually tweet at them to feature my post (except when I have been skeptical of something LinkedIn has or has not done) and have been successful maybe one in ten times. Considering LinkedIn has 130,000-plus posts to choose from every week, I consider myself lucky to have been featured at all.  

And one last point on your number of followers. Regular readers who like, comment and share your posts should help. I have a pretty good following (thank you), but ironically, due to the nature of LinkedIn’s lousy notifications algorithm, only a very few of them actually do get notified when I post.

Hmm...looks like I won’t be notifying LinkedIn about this post either.  

Bruce Johnston is an authority on using LinkedIn to increase B2B sales. He has more than 30 years’ experience in high-tech sales and management and more than 10 years working in the PCB industry. To read past columns or to contact Bruce, click here.

 

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2017

Getting Connected with Social Media: Can You 'Game' the LinkedIn Publishing Algorithm?

01-31-2017

Dear readers, this is my last column. After five years, 256 columns and 150,000 words on sales and social media, I am hanging up the keyboard. Why? Well, when I first started this column, I had a lot of relationships in the PCB industry, and this figured to be where work would come from for me. And it did—for a while.

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Getting Connected with Social Media: Why I Don’t Trust Social Media Statistics or Social Selling Statistics

01-24-2017

Last spring, I wrote about a hoary old (for social media) statistic and showed how people liked to take it completely out of context to use as proof of whatever it was they were flogging. Well, it hasn’t stopped. I found more. Here are four of them.

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Getting Connected with Social Media: Why Most Outreach Messages Fail on LinkedIn

01-17-2017

LinkedIn announced Q3 2016 results on October 27. There are now 467 million LinkedIn members. They also announced 106 million unique monthly logins, which means that 106 million people now log in once a month or more.

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Getting Connected with Social Media: Writing Good Headlines—The One Skill You Really Need on LinkedIn

01-10-2017

The purpose of your LinkedIn Profile’s headline is to get people to read your Profile. And the profile headline has the distinction of being the most under-utilized part of most people’s profiles. Why? Because most people just list their title.

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Getting Connected with Social Media: The Calm before the LinkedIn Storm?

01-03-2017

In the announcement accompanying the LinkedIn acquisition, Microsoft made it clear that one of their goals was the “acceleration” of premium membership sales. A few weeks ago, I suggested that the big opportunity was in Sales Navigator subscriptions. Now it appears LinkedIn has begun setting the stage to start herding members currently using free accounts for business purposes towards Sales Navigator or Business Premium accounts.

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2016

Getting Connected with Social Media: 4 Reasons Why Every Sales Rep’s Toolkit Should Include LinkedIn

12-30-2016

If you can answer “true” to the following statements, you are in good shape. Otherwise, you should be using LinkedIn—effectively.

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Getting Connected with Social Media: Goldilocks and The Three Bears' InMails

12-27-2016

One day, Goldilocks was out for a walk in the forest, and she came upon a cottage. Going inside she found three tables with three laptop computers, all with LinkedIn accounts open on their screens. Each screen had an InMail message on it.

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Getting Connected with Social Media: Why Many LinkedIn InMails Fail--Expectation Dysfunction

12-20-2016

In many cases, the “wrong” is an inordinately high expectation level as to what that InMail is going to accomplish. For example, you are going to need some pretty extraordinary justification to get a CEO to agree to a sales call based on your InMail message.

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Getting Connected with Social Media: Cooking Up Better Response Rates from LinkedIn Messages

12-13-2016

This is the third of five columns on how to write more effective LinkedIn InMails and messages that will get responses from your prospects.

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Getting Connected with Social Media: Customize and Personalize for Improved InMail Response Rates

12-06-2016

Simple message today: Try basing your messages and InMails on the person, not just the person’s title. That means, do your research. Before you send a message to someone you have never spoken to before, read their LinkedIn profile.

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Getting Connected with Social Media: Killer InMail Feature—The Response Multiplier Effect

11-29-2016

Prior to January 2015, if no one answered an InMail within a specified period, LinkedIn would give the sender a credit and they could try again. When some LinkedIn members realized that LinkedIn had installed what was effectively a reward system for failure, those members proceeded to carpet bomb LinkedIn members with all kinds of rotten sales pitches.

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Getting Connected with Social Media: Recipe for More Engagement on LinkedIn? Less Likes, More Comments

11-22-2016

Last week someone liked one of my posts and I thought it was someone I knew from an old employer so I went looking at their profile. Wrong person. Oh, well. But then I went to their recent activity page. This person had liked my post—and 94 other posts in the space of one hour. Zero interaction with any of them other than likes. It was like this LinkedIn member had posted their whole home page feed to the recent activity page. I had discovered a serial liker.

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Why Some LinkedIn Activities Generate Red Flag Notifications and Some Don’t

11-15-2016

There are two types of notifications on LinkedIn: the ones at the top right of your screen with a little red number superimposed on the flag—ones that I imaginatively refer to as “red flag” notifications—and “feed” notifications, which consist of notifications dumped in your homepage feed. I don’t know about you, but I receive something on the order of 400 items in my homepage feed every hour, which renders the odds of seeing any one notification as extremely small.

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Getting Connected with Social Media: The Value Hierarchy of Engagement with LinkedIn Posts

11-08-2016

There are a lot of different ways to engage with posts and articles on LinkedIn. Here is my guide to the relative merits of different types of engagements from least valuable to most valuable.

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Getting Connected with Social Media: Social Media—Are you Ready for this New Sales and Marketing Tool?

11-01-2016

I got to thinking about this the other day while talking about content marketing and how content marketing has been around for a long time. Advances have just changed the way that content is delivered.

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2015

What Social Media Cannot Do for You

12-29-2015

Columnist Bruce Johnston reviews the benefits of social media: what it can and can't do for you. Social media and its offshoots, social media marketing and social selling, are tools— no more, no less. They take advantage of your prospects’ habits, who are using social media themselves. Understand the limitations, but use the tools to your advantage.

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Your Secret Cache of Prospective Customers

12-22-2015

Let me start by asking you which is better: Cold calling and pitching someone, or having a friend tell one of their colleagues that they should be talking with you and arranging an introduction?

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Advice: Use the One Loophole that LinkedIn Didn’t Close

12-15-2015

A couple of months back LinkedIn completely overhauled their LinkedIn Groups offering. Much was made of the new look and feel and how the groups feature has become more user friendly, but LinkedIn also took the opportunity to remove some functionality that was very salesperson friendly.

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Getting Connected with Social Media: Benefits of LinkedIn Company Pages

12-08-2015

There are two parts to a LinkedIn company page: the reference or factual section and the updates section. The reference section is where a company can list the nuts and bolts—industry, location, specialties and company size—plus a free form area for a summary of what the company does. This is an opportunity to state clearly what the benefits to a customer. That part of the company page is findable via LinkedIn search, so it is similar to a free yellow pages ad.

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What I’ve Learned from Writing 200 Columns for I-Connect007

12-01-2015

I have written a column for the I-Connect007 folks every week for just shy of four years now. It amounts to about 100,000 words, more or less. Doing all this writing has taught me a lot about the process, and a lot about myself. Here are seven lessons I have learned which may help anyone who is thinking about writing content for their company.

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Getting Connected with Social Media: 5 Mistakes People Make Using LinkedIn Groups

11-24-2015

In early October, LinkedIn announced major changes to LinkedIn Groups. While there will be more work for people who own and manage their own groups, users will be able to join twice as many groups—100— and it appears LinkedIn has a workable strategy to cut down on spam in groups. I run several groups, both my own and on behalf of clients, and I see these changes as very positive.

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3 Ways to Increase Sales with Social Media, Part Two: Credibility

11-17-2015

Last time, we talked about some of the sales oriented activities that you can do using social media, specifically to find prospective customers and then approach them. Today we will talk about the third way to use social media to increase your sales, which focuses on trust. How do you convince potential customers they should give you their business?

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Getting Connected with Social Media: 3 Ways to Increase your Sales with Social Media

11-10-2015

In this first part of a two-part article on increasing sales, I’m going to explain some of the alternative sales-oriented activities that you can engage in using social media to boost your sales. Always bear in mind that social networks are just tools, but the more tools you have at your disposal, the more flexible your approach can be as the situation dictates.

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A Sales Tool so Effective LinkedIn had to Throttle it Back

11-03-2015

The sales tool I am referring to in the title of this column is the free messaging for LinkedIn group members. It’s a system where members can contact anyone in a LinkedIn group who is also a member—for free.

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LinkedIn’s Social Selling Index Now Available to Everyone (Yawn)

10-27-2015

LinkedIn’s social selling index (SSI), previously offered to Sales Navigator users, is now available to everyone. There have been a bunch of posts and columns on it, most of them of the breathless “Have you got your social selling index score yet?” variety, where the author uses his own exemplary (surprise!) score in the illustration, and the content of the post consists of a show up and throw up regurgitation of the LinkedIn press release.

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2014

The Senseless Six: B2Bs Biggest Lead Generation Mistakes

12-29-2014

Everyone wants more sales and more sales leads, but in an eagerness to generate those leads many companies make the same mistakes over and over again--and then wonder what went wrong. How many of these traits are you guilty of?

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Why 80% of Company Websites Fail

12-22-2014

When you're perceived as being the guy with the answers, you win. Your website is the place to demonstrate your knowledge. Don't be that guy with the equipment list. Be the guy with the answers.

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Why 80% of Company Websites Fail

12-22-2014

When you're perceived as being the guy with the answers, you win. Your website is the place to demonstrate your knowledge. Don't be that guy with the equipment list. Be the guy with the answers.

View Story

Awesome Social Media Statistics and What They Mean

12-15-2014

Columnist Bruce Johnston writes, "What if I told you that having a huge number of LinkedIn connections almost guarantees a sales rep will achieve his sales quota? Today, this and 14 other mind-boggling social media statistics from around the web."

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Awesome Social Media Statistics and What They Mean

12-15-2014

Columnist Bruce Johnston writes, "What if I told you that having a huge number of LinkedIn connections almost guarantees a sales rep will achieve his sales quota? Today, this and 14 other mind-boggling social media statistics from around the web."

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Considering a Social Media Program? Five Fundametal Questions

12-08-2014

You have a choice between the "big four" social media platforms--Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn--plus any number of smaller, new, and emerging social networks trying to gain traction. What should you do? Easy. Just ask your customers.

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Content Marketing: Benchmark Your Company Vs. Your Peers

12-01-2014

Why is content marketing such a big deal? One word: Credibility. Content marketing allows a company to showcase its knowledge in its area of expertise. It's one thing to say you're the best at something, but content marketing allows you to back up your claim.

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Content Marketing: Benchmark Your Company Vs. Your Peers

12-01-2014

Why is content marketing such a big deal? One word: Credibility. Content marketing allows a company to showcase its knowledge in its area of expertise. It's one thing to say you're the best at something, but content marketing allows you to back up your claim.

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Content Marketing: Benchmark Your Company Vs. Your Peers

12-01-2014

Why is content marketing such a big deal? One word: Credibility. Content marketing allows a company to showcase its knowledge in its area of expertise. It's one thing to say you're the best at something, but content marketing allows you to back up your claim.

View Story

10 Ways to Increase Your Company's Visibility Using LinkedIn

11-24-2014

With 80% of professionals using LinkedIn on at least a weekly basis, the site is a tool that should be part of a company’s marketing kit. Companies and staff can use LinkedIn in many ways to both raise their visibility and establish credibility with prospective customers. Bruce Johnston offers 10 examples that don't cost a cent.

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2013

Social Media Resolutions for 2014

12-30-2013

Resolve to be a little bit better. But don't try to run a marathon by April if you are out of breath just getting to the fridge for another beer. Be realistic, but do resolve to up your social media game in 2014.

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The Minimum Social Media Presence for a B2B Manufacturer

12-16-2013

Starting off slowly in social media is a good idea. Trying to do too much, too quickly, is a sure ticket to frustration and pain. In his latest column, Bruce Johnston recommends five social media starting points.

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Need Social Media Content? 12 Easy-to-implement Ideas

11-25-2013

Content is one of the most important aspects of social media marketing: Content shows you are a leader, it shows you have something to say, it shows that you are credible, it is information your customers can use, and it shows that you are a supplier that's worth considering.

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Stop Using Only 10% of Your LinkedIn Brain

11-11-2013

There are a wealth of ways and opportunities to use LinkedIn that will improve your professional life. What benefits are there, what returns on your investment from the time and effort you put in to LinkedIn can you expect?

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Generating B2B Sales Leads Using Social Media

09-23-2013

There are numerous schools of thought on how often and how hard you should be able to pitch your product or services in your social networks. There is general agreement that for every 10 to 20 pieces of helpful, informative, and entertaining content, you earn the right to make a pitch.

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11 Bad Habits Found in LinkedIn Groups

09-16-2013

Are you wondering why you aren't getting value from your LinkedIn Groups? You're probably exhibiting one or more these bad habits.

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Five Things Learned from the Axing of LinkedIn Signal

09-02-2013

So why did LinkedIn get rid of Signal? Who knows? Aside from the usual vague "we're always improving LinkedIn" explanation, the company had nothing to say. It was probably due to a combination of being little used, little understood, and replaceable with other features.

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A Success Story: Using LinkedIn & Social Media to Sell PCBs

08-19-2013

Last summer Bruce Johnston wrote a column about Judy Warner, sales and marketing manager at Transline Technology Inc. The column revolved around her unique approach of using social media, and in particular LinkedIn, as the central part of her sales efforts. One year later, Johnston catches up with Warner to see how business continues to change and improve.

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Your Website's a Brochure; Make it a News Magazine & Profit

08-12-2013

The role of a website has evolved and if you still have a boring, static site, you're missing a huge opportunity. It used to be that prospective customers would go to a website to check specs and capabilities. For all intents and purposes, it was an online brochure. Brochures can only last a year or two before they become outdated--a static website served this purpose well. Websites are now becoming newsmagazines

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LinkedIn Connections: An E-mail List that Doesn't Go "Bad"

07-22-2013

LinkedIn is the prospect database that updates itself. If you have a prospect in your e-mail database and he changes companies, bye-bye, he's gone. If that prospect is a LinkedIn connection, he's still a connection, just one at a different company.

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Back

2012

Social Media Isn't Free

12-31-2012

There are three things that you give in return for the right to use a social network. Each may have a small cost and, in aggregate, they are usually well worth the benefits you receive, but you should probably be more aware of them than you are now.

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The Return of the Social Media Mythbusters

12-24-2012

So, you think you know all there is to know about using social media to boost your company's image and sales? Think again. Bruce Johnston does a bit of digging to debunk several myths related to Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, and more.

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A Short Course: Using Social Media to Generate Sales Leads

12-17-2012

Social media requires a different mindset, but it's not rocket science. Bruce Johnston tells you what you must do to get sales leads and turn them into sales using social media.

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Stop Selling on Price: Ways Social Media Can Help, Part II

12-10-2012

How can companies use social media to earn higher prices? By building trust and credibility--traits that customers will pay more for.

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Stop Selling on Price: Nine Ways Social Media can Help

12-03-2012

Social media can help companies stop competing on price by increasing a company's reach; that is, the number of people that know about the company. The more people that know about a company, the larger the number of people where price is not their prime consideration in selecting a vendor.

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Using Social Media Marketing to Increase Brand Awareness

11-19-2012

Everyone asks me where to put their content. With so many platforms to choose from, which is best for your purposes? Easy. Go where your customers are.

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The Five Types of Salespeople You Find on LinkedIn

11-12-2012

Salespeople often take different approaches to LinkedIn, and Bruce Johnston sees the same types over and over again. Follow along and see how many of these people you've come across.

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Not Using Social Media? Here's What You're Missing

11-05-2012

Social media allows you the opportunity to be perceived as a leader. Presidents and CEOs who are active and speak out on social media are seen as industry leaders. They aren’t just worried about what’s going on in their plant; they have something to say about things affecting their industry.

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Do You Really Need Social Media? Take the Quiz

10-29-2012

Social media: It's about business, money, finding more prospects, making more sales, and having better, deeper relationships with your customers. Social media can help you become more profitable and put dollars in your pocket.

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Five Ways to Scope Out Vendors Using LinkedIn

10-22-2012

What can you tell about a company from its presence on LinkedIn? A lot. There are tools and tricks found on LinkedIn that can help you figure out quite a bit about a company.

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