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Over the past few months, we’ve had a wave of people contact us asking for help with their digital marketing and social media efforts. It’s been overwhelming how many of you are excited to take time to learn more about digital marketing this summer!

Most of the people coming to us for help started their careers before the mainstream “digital age” of MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram, and all the other instantaneous connection services we’ve all come to love (or hate…or love-hate). These folks are senior-level executives or management-level staff from businesses and nonprofits who want to improve their own skills and understanding of the online marketing space.

Below are our most common questions about social media and digital marketing.

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1. What’s the point of having a LinkedIn account if I am not looking for a job?

LinkedIn is a great resource for connecting with other professionals. Whether you’re staying up-to-date with people you know, or finding new business contacts, LinkedIn is the place to be active.

In addition to having your connections in one place, an up-to-date LinkedIn profile helps you control your personal brand. What do I mean by personal brand?

Consider this scenario: You have set up a business meeting with Sally at Acme Inc. You’ve never met Sally before but you know she’s a key decision-maker when it comes to external partnerships. Before you meet her, what’s one of the first things you (or your assistant) will do? You’re probably going to search for Sally online. LinkedIn does a great job at making sure it’s accounts are at the top of your search page.

An active LinkedIn profile helps people find you and gives them the information you want them to have.

Finally, LinkedIn is a great place to do some professional development. Did you know that thousands of interesting articles are published within the LinkedIn platform everyday? You can adjust your profile to get curated articles specific to your interests and industry so you can stay on top of trends and ideas in your field.

2. How do I find the time to be on social media?

Of course it can seem daunting to be on social media in a professional capacity. After all, you might have someone working for you whose sole job is to manage your company’s social media.

Social media does not need to take up hours of your time. Think of it as reviewing your morning paper: You can skim information and focus on the really important bits of news.

Try this approach: Take 5 minutes every morning before work to log in and see if anyone has reached out to you. Search for your brand or business to see if people are talking about you. Review trending topics and add to the discussion if you have a relevant point.

Keep things simple. There are lots of great tools you can use – some from your desktop, others from your cellphone – that make managing your social networks much easier.

3. What is this ‘Content Marketing’ everyone seems to be talking about? What is this and should I pay attention?

Content marketing is using some sort of media – blogs, videos, images, etc – to drive people to your website. This content is useful information in the eyes of your audience. This usefulness is  crucial difference between that and traditional marketing.

Here’s a great example: Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) has a blog where they publish some really great articles. One of their posts is called 6 things to look for in a quality tent. This article explains to MEC shoppers how to make an informed tent purchase.

Say Terry is looking to buy a new tent. He finds this blog – maybe via a social media post or searching on Google – and reads up on the 6 things he needs to look for in his new tent. While this article doesn’t overtly promote MEC tents, Terry knows that MEC is the place to go to buy one when he’s ready. Now when Terry goes into a MEC store or when he searches MEC’s online store, he knows exactly what he’s looking for. MEC made him feel smarter about his decision and more confident in their products.

The first goal of content marketing is to inform, inspire, educate, or delight. The secondary goal is building brand awareness and affinity, which leads to sales.

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