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Social Media for Social Good 4th in Series: Using LinkedIn Effectively

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by Keith McMean

LinkedIn is probably the biggest network for organization professionals to meet and connect on the internet. It’s a bit like Facebook for ‘grown ups’.  Connections are usually based on occupations and interests of the people on the platform. LinkedIn is a great place if you are looking for a new job or you want some professional advice as there is always someone there who can help. It’s also a fantastic place where business owners and managers can improve their business in lots of new and exciting ways.

linkedin(1)Now, I know that some of you out there are wondering how you can improve your organization growth on LinkedIn. Well first off there is a big difference between being a corporate type business on LinkedIn and a small business. Large corporations typically use LinkedIn to headhunt the top people in their sector. Human resource departments use the platform, and other means of finding candidates such as job sites and newspaper publications, to find suitable candidates, I know this because I have helped large corporations to do this.

Small business owners tend to use LinkedIn in a totally different way, it’s typically to find new clients, business partners, employees and to gain different aspects and insights in to their existing business. One of the fantastic things that is happening right now is organizations are being sold on LinkedIn, a great new innovation.

We all know that a successful business depends on networking to grow and one of the biggest innovations over the past ten years or so is the birth of these social networking platforms in helping to assist greatly in business development. One of the great things I love about social networking platforms is the interaction between members and how this can really propel a organization to the top in a very short space of time.

With is membership growing daily it’s not to be discounted for the small business owner, in fact its to be actively encouraged as the ‘go to’ platform but if you are just starting out here are my killer tips on how to succeed:

  1. Use LinkedIn to attract and hire the best people. Posting jobs on LinkedIn is really easy and don’t forget that all candidates profiles, most people still write their profiles like a CV but that’s another story, are conveniently stored so you can look through their skill sets and connections at your leisure. Don’t forget that someone who you might want to hire may have some really great connections you can leverage at a later date.
  2. So why would you go anywhere else if you have a problem with your organization? Just about every solution is there if you just ‘dig a little’. Use the Answers and groups as a starting point. So say you were looking to set up a new division in an area outside your current one, where better to find out locations, hiring staff in fact everything you could think of will be on LinkedIn, you just have to look and ask.
  3. So keeping to the ‘moving’ theme what if you want to acquire some new customers and clients in your new area? Well wouldn’t it make sense to ask for recommendations from you existing happy clients or customers? These are gold when you consider that millions of users can potentially view your profile and having some really great recommendations on there will really help.
  4. So what if you are looking to outsource some of your work you would want to find the right partner. So let’s say you sell food or sports supplements and you are looking for a gym to send your clients who are using them but haven’t found a great place to work out yet? Potentially this could be in any part of the world if you sell your supplements nationally or internationally. Let’s face it if you know nothing about how a gym works what better way than to find someone who can complement your existing business. Before long they will be recommending you and vice a versa.
  5. So what if you are looking for a new supplier? We all know that suppliers and vendors, good ones I mean, are hard to come by. LinkedIn is a great starting place to find new ones and can be used to foster competition among bidders and get the best deals, leading to lower costs for the business.
  6. What about partnering with allied businesses? Let’s say you have a limousine hire company doesn’t if follow that people who hire expensive limousines also like other expensive items like holidays, houses or watches, you get the picture. Using LinkedIn to form partnerships or connections will help gain new clients who can then get great deals, it’s a win-win for all parties.
  7. Visibility is key and if you need to create a business page then go ahead. Company page can offer some great public information where LinkedIn members can search and ‘follow’ companies and brands that they really like and engage with. This will also give you a means to share quality content on what happening in the business.
  8. Keep up with current trends, now I am not saying that you spend every waking moment on LinkedIn but we all know that knowledge is power. Well what you do with knowledge is the real power.  Keeping informed with the latest trends will allow you to be quick to respond to the needs of the consumers. LinkedIn has a section containing the latest news in the business world so use it!
  9. Join your industry associations or group on LinkedIn or start a new one. This has always been a ‘biggy’ for me as being a member of a recognised association builds up credibility in the minds of business partners or customers.  Starting a group is a really easy thing to do and will also present you as a leader in your area.
  10. Connect all you social platforms together in one place so that people and potential clients etc. can find you easily. This also helps to create a buzz about your business.
  11. I know that businesses use LinkedIn and other social media networks to find out what competitors are up to and with whom. I don’t get too paranoid about people watching me, I think of it as a compliment and help where I can.
  12. Use LinkedIn to find potential investors in your business. Be active on your industry forums and groups, present an outline of your business plan and see if there is someone willing to invest money and participate in your business operations. Also, if some business activity is too big for you to perform by yourself, look for someone with similar problem so you can join forces. For example, if you’re an importer of goods from the US you should import the whole container of products so you can keep your costs per unit down. But the whole container might be too much for your market share, so the best way is to find someone to join up with. Both partners would import only the half of the container while keeping all the advantages of economy of scale. A no brainer really.
  13. Using LinkedIn’s ‘Answers’ can really boost your credibility as you can answer people questions and again become a leader in your area. Becoming an expert can be really quick and easy. Now again I am not advocating spending every waking moment on this but having a ‘look see’ every now and again will really help in the credibility stakes. Don’t forget that members who are impressed by the quality of your answers may end up becoming clients. You could expect lots of inquires about your services and turning those answer seekers into new clients and it’s much easier than cold calling.
  14. One of the great things I found out about LinkedIn really early on was that it’s a fantastic SEO (search engine optimisation) tool. I can say that most of the time, when a LinkedIn profile for your business is up and running correctly, it is shown at the very top of a search. Having a LinkedIn profile helps your company be more visible on Google and search sites.
  15. If you are running an event, and I do all the time, LinkedIn is a great place to promote an event. It’s a very effective way of getting attendees. Once a member chooses to attend, that RSVP will be shown on his home profile, making it visible to all his connections. It’s fantastic word of mouth advertising.
  16. Don’t be shy because LinkedIn has a lot of built-in apps which can be utilised to promote and sell your services. Use the SlideShare app to upload a presentation about your business and the services you offer. Have a good dig about on LinkedIn because there are some really cool things going on that will really boos your business.
  17. I would urge you to join groups and seek out customers. Groups comprise members who share the same interests. Sign up for those that reflect the profile of your target market and interact with them. Do not hard sell but rather build your reputation with them at a steady pace that suits both parties. Making comments in the group will allow you to form connections with the subscribers of that group and build strong connections.

Because LinkedIn is a business network, it is made up of professional people seeking to make new and meaningful connections. By leveraging the power of LinkedIn, organizations will be able to achieve significant growth in their business.

  1. Finally build a killer profile that will really help propel you and your organization. I have said this before on earlier posts but it bares saying again that adding a profile picture is the single most important thing you can do. There is nothing worse than looking at a profile and trying to figure out if it’s the right person you want to connect with or not.

So that’s some of my killer tips for LinkedIn I hope you use some or all of them to boost your business and I hope you leave a comment on how you are using LinkedIn and other social networking platforms. Till next time…

Keith McMean is a Regular Social Work Helper Contributor, and he is also becoming one of the most sought after consultants and speakers on Social Media Marketing in the United Kingdom. Keith covers all topics from expert level to the beginner. His goal is to provide you with information and resources to help you navigate the digital world.

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News

Study Finds Fringe Communities on Reddit and 4chan Have High Influence on Flow of Alternative News to Twitter

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Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Cyprus University of Technology and University College London have conducted the first large-scale measurement of how mainstream and alternative news flows through multiple social media platforms.

After analyzing millions of posts containing mainstream and alternative news shared on Twitter, Reddit and 4chan, Jeremy Blackburn, Ph.D., and collaborators found that fringe communities within 4chan, an image-based discussion forum where users are anonymous, and Reddit, a social news aggregator where users vote up or down on posts, have a surprisingly large influence on Twitter. The results of the study were published this week in a paper at the ACM Internet Measurement Conference in London.

“Based on our findings, these smaller, fringe communities on Reddit and 4chan serve as an incubation chamber for a lot of information,” said Blackburn, assistant professor of computer science in the UAB College of Arts and Sciences. “Many online hoaxes, false or misleading stories have been traced back to users on these platforms. The content and talking points are refined until they finally break free and make it to larger, more mainstream communities.”

The team gathered information from posts, threads and comments on Twitter, Reddit and 4chan that contained URLs from 45 mainstream and 54 alternative news websites. Activity on the three platforms was measured between June 20, 2016, and Feb. 28, 2017.

They analyzed more than 400,000 tweets, 1.8 million posts and comments on Reddit, and 97,000 posts and replies on 4chan. After analyzing the occurrence of 99 URLs on the top 20 mainstream and alternative news sites, they found Breitbart.com made up 55 percent of the URLs from six selected subreddits, and the nytimes.com made up 14 percent. Breitbart.com made up 44 percent of the URLs on Twitter, while theguardian.com made up 19 percent, and Breitbart.com made up 53 percent of the URLs, with theguardian.com making up 14 percent.

Using the unique URLs across all platforms and the time they first pop up, the team analyzed their appearance in one, two or three platforms, and the order in which the appearance occurred. Examination of the path of a URL reveals the domains whose URLs tend to appear first on each of the platforms.

Flow of Mainstream News

For the mainstream news domains, the group found that URLs from nytimes.com and cnn.com tend to appear first more often on Reddit than Twitter and 4chan. On the other hand, URLs from other domains like bbc.com and theguardian.com tend to appear first more often on Twitter than Reddit. There was no instance where mainstream news URLs tended to appear first on 4chan.

Flow of Alternative News  

The group found that breitbart.com URLs appear first in Reddit more often than on Twitter, and more frequently than they do on 4chan. However, for other popular alternative domains, such as infowars.com, rt.com and sputniknews.com, URLs appear first on Twitter more often than Reddit and 4chan. As is the case with the mainstream domains, there was no domain where 4chan dominates in terms of first URL appearance.

In addition to studying how news is shared on the three platforms, the researchers were able to estimate how much influence each platform has on the information shared on other platforms, using a mathematical technique knowns as Hawkes process.

The group measured the influence of six subreddits from Reddit.com, “The_Donald,” “politics,” “worldnews,” “AskReddit,” “conspiracy,” and “news,” the “/pol/” board on 4chan and the Twitter platform. They found that Twitter has a heavy influence on the posting of URLs from alternative news sites on the other social platforms, and is the most influential single source for most of the other web communities.

“These platforms have become an important piece of the modern information ecosystem,” Blackburn said. “As we continue to see the creation and spread of hoaxes, rumors and false information online, this knowledge is crucial to understand the risks associated with alternative news and to aid in designing appropriate detection and mitigation strategies.”

Blackburn is a co-founder of the International Data-driven Research for Advanced Modelling and Analysis Lab, or iDRAMA Lab, an international group of scientists focusing on modern socio-technical issues with expertise ranging from low-level cryptography to video games. The paper, “The Web Centipede: Understanding How Web Communities Influence Each Other Through the Lens of Mainstream and Alternative News Sources,” can be found here.

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Health

Want to Lose Weight? Snap That Selfie, Set That Goal, Share with Others Says New Study

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About those before and after selfies and public declarations of hitting the gym? New research co-authored by Dr. Sonya A. Grier, professor of marketing in the American University Kogod School of Business, confirms these announcements and progress updates are useful for the achievement of weight and fitness goals.

“Weight Loss Through Virtual Support Communities: A Role for Identity-based Motivation in Public Commitment,” published in the Journal of Interactive Marketing, examines the role of virtual communities and public commitment to setting and weight loss goals.

The study tracks two communities of weight loss groups, surgical and non-surgical over a four-year period. They found that participation and sharing of successes and setbacks in virtual support communities (VSC) is a key part of achieving goals through the public commitment to lose weight.

“In our investigation of VSCs, we find social identity motivates public commitment in support of goal attainment,” the researchers write.

A post shared by Weight Loss Stories (@wlstories) on


Grier says, “The sharing of intimate information and photos about weight loss goals in virtual space is a key factor in motivating behaviors that fulfill that new thinner identity and thus helps people reach their goals.”

Bloggers like Audrey* shared old photos in search of a “pretty and slim” version of herself.

“Here is my picture of 28 years ago when I was young, pretty and slim,” Audrey* wrote in a post. “Makes me wanna cry… I can’t get any younger, but I sure can get closer to that weight! Stop crying, start losing weight, girl!”

Others, like Darlene* shared milestones.

“I have good news to report. My hard work of eating right and working out has paid off. I am now in ONDERLAND!!!! I weighed in this morning at 196lbs! YES, I did it. I reached my first goal to be under 200lbs and before my cruise on October 16th. I can’t believe I did it! I’m so proud of myself.”

Ultimately, Grier says, VSCs allow for relative anonymity, accessibility, availability, and flexibility in how users represent themselves on their journeys. The process of building community, even in relative anonymity helps with keeping participants motivated and accountable.

“Not everyone can get the support they need from the people they interact with in person on a daily basis. It is helpful that technology can support community building and goal achievement in virtual spaces.”

*Names have been changed.

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News

Professor Charts Digital Plan to Fight Domestic Violence

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October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month — 31 days of reflection brought about by years of suffering, survivorship and study that experts say still needs far more attention. Although domestic violence cases involving celebrities, politicians and professional athletes will occasionally trigger calls for action on social media and other platforms, the faces of many lesser-known cases continue to suffer in silence.

Jill Theresa Messing, an associate professor in the School of Social Work at Arizona State University, is working to address that silence. Reversing the negative use of technology in intimate partner violence, Messing is working to create a safe space for victims in the technology space of digital applications. She is part of a team that is developing myPlan, a new app designed to help college-age women spot the signs of an abusive relationship — and find their way out.

Highlighting the resulting impact of domestic violence on our communities, Messing recently discussed the efforts and research in play to stem the problem long described as the “quiet epidemic.”

Question: In recent years we have seen increased reports about domestic violence as a public health threat. How do we define domestic violence, and what are some examples of its impact on public health?

ASU: “Domestic violence” is the term generally used by the public and practice communities to refer to violence within intimate partnerships (e.g., people who are dating, in a relationship or have a child together). Violence is generally understood to be physical (e.g., pushing, slapping, hitting) or sexual (e.g., forcing a partner into sexual activity with violence or threats).

Professor Jill Messing

Other abusive actions such aname-callingng, put-downs, harassment, stalking, control, jealousy, financial abuse, threats and other behaviors are also considered domestic violence. In the research literature, this form of violence or abuse is often termed gender-based violence or intimate-partner violence.

Intimate-partner violence disproportionately affects women and can lead to physical- and mental-health consequences. In addition to injury that results from violence, intimate-partner violence leads to depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), substance misuse and other negative outcomes. In the most extreme cases, intimate-partner violence escalates to homicide.

Knowing what a healthy relationship looks like is just as important as being able to recognize red flags for abuse. Healthy relationships include mutual respect, safety, open and honest communication, compromise, equality, independence, freedom, support and privacy. Everyone deserves to be in a healthy and safe relationship.

Q: Despite an increase in education and resources for domestic violence, there still seems to be a reluctance on the part of others to get involved or reach out to those who they suspect of being abused. What is the most important thing a person can do if they suspect abuse?

ASU: Friends are often the first to know about abuse. The most important thing that someone can do if they suspect that a friend is being abused is to talk to their friend in a kind, non-judgmental manner. Many people who are being abused would like to talk about it but are scared. Listening to your friend, being supportive, and not telling her/him what to do can be very effective. Ask your friend what you can do to help.

Starting in 2018, ASU’s School of Social Work will also begin offering new degree programs to better educate and equip students with the tools they need to spot and stop domestic violence. Coursework will include focus on technology-based abuse, intimate-partner violence risk assessment, teen dating violence, violence against women in the global context, and the domestic violence social movement. The courses will be offered as part of undergraduate and graduate certificates in domestic violence.

Q: We have heard some of the ways technology has enabled domestic violence (harassment, stalking, etc.), but how is it also playing a role in addressing the issue?

ASU: Technology is an important tool for education and can connect people to helpful community-based resources. I have partnered with colleagues at Johns Hopkins University to develop the myPlan app. Because women are more likely than men to be abused, to suffer injuries due to violence and to be killed by intimate partners, myPlan is for female-identifying students who are in a relationship with a male or female partner.

The app provides the user with a private, safe and non-judgmental space to consider their values and to weigh the risks and benefits of their relationship. It’s tailored to each person’s unique situation and provides a safety plan as well as free and often confidential resources. MyPlan is available for iPhone and Android devices and is completely free. There is also a version for friends. If you think a friend is being abused, myPlan can provide help and advice specific to your friend’s situation. Visit myPlanApp.org to learn more.

Unfortunately, technology is often used to abuse, harass or stalk someone in an abusive relationship, and technology safety is an important aspect of staying safe. The National Network to End Domestic Violence has information about staying safe online. There are also confidential and even anonymous resources like the National Domestic Violence Hotline and Love is Respect that can help.

Q: What is new research telling us about domestic violence?

ASU: Much of my research focuses on the development and use of risk-assessment instruments that provide information about the danger that an abuser poses for a domestic violence victim. Risk assessments can be used for women to assess their own danger or a friend’s danger, or they can be used by practitioners who work with victims or offenders for safety planning. The criminal justice system is increasingly using risk assessments to make determinations about whether a domestic violence offender should be released on bond or the conditions of that release. Some of my current research is developing culturally competent adaptations of a risk assessment for immigrant, refugee and Native American victims of intimate-partner violence.

At ASU, we are also learning from students who are placed in domestic violence agencies across Arizona through our AmeriCorps internship program. Since 2015, 149 AmeriCorps members from various disciplines have volunteered more than 72,000 hours serving vulnerable survivors of domestic violence and their families. The students are getting an opportunity to learn more about domestic violence through hands-on experience while earning a stipend and education credit that they can put toward future tuition or student loans. Members have already earned more than $409,000 in scholarships and educational awards through the AmeriCorps program.

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