SEC Charges Adviser with Defrauding Investors via Social Media Sites

On Wednesday, the Securities and Exchange Commission today charged a Chicago-area investment adviser, Anthony Fields, with fraudulently promoting more than $500 billion in fictitious securities on several social media sites and issued two alerts and an investor bulletins regarding the risks investors and advisory firms face when using social media.

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“Fraudsters are quick to adapt to new technologies to exploit them for unlawful purposes,” said Robert B. Kaplan, Co-Chief of the SEC Enforcement Division’s Asset Management Unit. “Social media is no exception, and today’s enforcement action reflects our determination to pursue fraudulent activity on new and evolving platforms.”

The SEC order against Fields alleges he made multiple fraudulent offers through his two sole proprietorships – Anthony Fields & Associates (AFA) and Platinum Securities Brokers. He provided false and misleading information to the public regarding assets under management, clients and operational history. Fields also did not maintain required records, failed to implement adequate compliance policies and procedures, and presented himself as a broker-dealer though not registered with the SEC as one.

The SEC has issued three new publications for both investment advisers and investors:

“Investment Adviser Use of Social Media” reviews concerns that may arise from use of social media by firms and their associates, and offers suggestions for complying with relevant federal securities laws.

“Social Media and Investing: Avoiding Fraud” aims to raise investor awareness of fraudulent investment schemes that use social media, and provides tips for checking the backgrounds of advisers and brokers.

“Social Media and Investing: Understanding Your Accounts” contains best practices including privacy settings, security tips, and password selection aimed to help social media users protect their personal information and avoid fraud.

For additional information on avoiding securities fraud, visit the SEC’s website for individual investors: www.investor.gov.

The Perfect Content Curation Tool?

Maybe I’m just lazy. Maybe I’m overly ambitious. Maybe a little bit of both. All I know is. blogging as much as I would like to is a freakin’ lot of work!

I do write original stuff sometimes – and some pretty good stuff at that, I think. I’m also a decent curator of content. For example, Linked Intelligence has grown into the definitive unofficial source for all things LinkedIn.

But being a good curator is tedious and time-consuming. And a lot of the reason for that has to do with a sub-optimal workflow. At the moment I’ve cobbled together several tools, each to handle a little piece of the flow, but I’m really not happy with what I’ve got. And what I really want seems so simple and so obvious, I find it unfathomable that nobody really seems to have built this yet. If someone has, please tell me, because I’ll buy it, I’ll review it, and I’ll tell everyone else how great it is!

What I want is a single tool to:

  1. Find interesting content to share.
  2. Facilitate either sharing it directly or blogging and then sharing.

Wow – does that really seem so difficult?

Let’s get into the specifics of what that means:

  1. Let’s start with an RSS reader.
  2. Then let me combine feeds and filter them by keyword, author, tag, date, etc.
  3. Then let me 1-click share, yet contextualize it for each channel, all in one interface, e.g.:
    • Shorter comment and a link on Twitter, LinkedIn; longer comment and a link (and selectable image thumb) on Facebook; longer comment and a selectable excerpt and link on
    • Refer to the author with their Twitter handle on Twitter, by name on Facebook and LinkedIn, and by their name, linked to their blog, in a blog post
    • If I blog it, give me the option to share my blog post, rather than the direct link, to the other social media channels

I don’t want to completely auto-blog. I believe in the value of human review and commentary. I just want to make the workflow a LOT more efficient. Let me define a narrow set of rules to give me a manageable short list of content to review, that’s likely to have high quality. Queue that up so it’s as close as possible to being ready to publish. Let me review it and modify it – add the human touch. Then go do all the publishing.

Is that really too much to ask? Is there a tool that can do all this? How close to this are you? And what tool(s) are you using to do this?

Images: Will Lion, catspyjamasnz

Fun with Klout

I’m not going to bash Klout. plenty of others have done that already, and besides, I like getting free stuff, so, more power to them!  I just want to have fun with them.

A few weeks ago, I did a post about Wikipedia’s fundraising ads, entitled Jimmy Wales, Serial Killer?, which got retweeted by a few people. Well, thanks to that, Klout decided that “Wales” and “Serial Killer” were topics I was influential about (sorry, didn’t get a “before” snapshot). Now, they weren’t among my top 3, which were “Social Media”, “Internet Marketing” and “SEO”, but it was in my top 15.

I decided to have a little fun with it, so I posted on Twitter and Facebook, and sent out a shareholder mail on Empire Avenue, asking people to give me +K in “Wales” and “Serial Killer”. Within 5 minutes:

KloutFun

Awesome!

I think, though, I may have overdone it, because within an hour:

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LOL! Oh well. makes for a great blog post. I wonder what kind of perks that’ll trigger for them to send me?

Feel free to +K me in Social Media and help me get back to normal. Or not. 🙂

Happy Birthday to Me, and How Distributed Cognition Enhances Relationships

It’s 9am on my birthday, and already, 65 people have posted birthday wishes on my Facebook wall.

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Several more have Skyped me.

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Sure, it’s just a simple act – some might argue it’s only slightly more social than a poke, but I disagree. Frankly, I think this is really what the social web is all about: using distributed cognition to truly enhance relationships.

How so?

Ever heard of Dunbar’s number? Basically, it’s the theory that the size of our social network is limited by the size of our neocortex, and for human beings, the maximum number of “close” relationships we can theoretically have – the number of people whose names and faces you remember easily, who you can remember details about them, like what they do for a living, the last conversation you had with them, etc.

But what happens when our capacity for social relationships is no longer limited by our brain capacity?

Some people think that tools like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and even CRM or contact management systems have created an illusion of having more “real” friends than we actually do. I suppose, for some, that’s true.

I look at it differently, though. I look at these tools as distributed cognition. Essentially, we’re making our brains larger by using external tools to enhance our memory. I can “remember” hundreds of people’s faces, because they’re right there when I interact with them. I can call them by name – one of Dale Carnegie’s most important tips for winning friends and influencing people. I can easily recall the last conversation I had with them with a couple of mouse clicks. I can see what they’re up to and ask specific questions about it rather than wasting my time and theirs with small-talk questions like “So what are you up to these days?”  LinkedIn already knows, so I already know.

Social media isn’t just a way to have a bunch of trivial relationships; used properly, it’s a way to treat more than 150 people that you truly care about like you treat those 150.like you would if you were smarter, or had better memory.

To put it in Virtual Handshake terms, using Information well demonstrates your Character and helps you increase the Strength of your relationships.

This isn’t a new concept, by any means. It’s the same principle behind The Mackay 66, a collection of 66 questions that uber-networker Harvey Mackay used to build the strong relationships that allowed him to build a phenomenally successful company in the face of much larger competitors. It includes information such as the client’s college fraternity/sorority, children’s interests and birthdates, their immediate and long-term business objectives, health conditions, etc. Before every call, Harvey would pull out the client’s file so he could have that information at his fingertips. As he gleaned little bits of information during the course of the conversation, he would note it in their file.

As a result, his customers were constantly amazed at his apparently great memory, and the remarkable personal interest he took in them.

Cynics might say that it’s just a brilliant ploy to manipulate people. Harvey will tell you that it’s just the only way he could keep track of the information that helped him show how much he truly cared about people. And that’s also good business.

So this is why you should wish your Facebook friends happy birthday. Congratulate your LinkedIn contacts on their promotion or new business venture. Comment on their blog about how adorable their new baby or puppy is. It’s not being manipulative. It’s not being trivial. It’s acting like you want to act towards people you truly care about, and like you would on your own, if you were just smarter. Let social media make you socially smarter.

P.S. In the 30 minutes it’s taken to write this post, 7 more people have posted to my Facebook wall and 4 more have Skyped me. What a great way to start the day!

Your Website Will NEVER Generate Leads (And 9 Things That Will)

135048_no_audience_1 That’s right. Your website has never generated one single lead, and it never will.

It may capture leads, qualify leads and convert leads, but it will never, ever, generate leads.

Think about it. How does someone end up at your website? No one just types it in randomly. Somehow or another, they heard about your site and thought that it might be of interest to them.

This is an important distinction. A great website is an essential piece of your lead generation strategy, but it does absolutely nothing on its own. You have to provide it with a steady flow of interested people for it to do its job. Without actual lead generation tactics, you’ll share your message with absolutely no one.

Fortunately, there are many, many effective ways to generate leads for your website:

  1. Generic domain names – This could be considered an exception to what I said above, so I’ll address it first. Many people will try just typing in generic words as domain names to see what comes up. Some businesses have simply made that generic name their brand (Bags.com, Blinds.com), while others have purchased those generic names as a way to generate relevant traffic (Books.com – Barnes & Noble, Aspirin.com – Bayer). Those one-word domains may be hard to come by, but a 2 or 3 word descriptive domain appropriate to your business might not be, e.g., DallasDivorceAttorney.com or PhiladelphiaDJ.com. Even if people don’t type it in directly, descriptive domain names will generally rank well on searches for those keywords.
  2. Organic search (SEO) – For many small business sites on a budget, this is the #1 source of online lead generation. It’s free, and it’s very effective.if you can get ranked well for keywords relevant to your business. There have been volumes written on search engine optimization, and the nuances of it are constantly changing, but for most small businesses, a simple two-pronged strategy is extremely effective: 1) publish keyword-rich content on your site on a regular basis that’s compelling enough to make people want to link to it, and 2) interact with people to share the link and encourage them to as well. Which brings us to.
  3. Social media – The new social web offers several tactics for lead generation. First, your fans can easily tell others about you and share your content. That’s great if you have a bunch of raving fans who also happen to be active social media users. Most companies have to work for it a little more. As with your website, publishing alone won’t bring followers – you have to proactively seek out people and participate in the venues and public conversations that are relevant to your business. Interaction creates attraction. And when those people link to your content, that helps your search engine rankings.
  4. Advertising comes in many forms online. While the old horizontal banner ads have all but disappeared from most mainstream websites, display advertising is still alive and well on the web. While some sites sell ads directly, most work with advertising networks, which they’ll be able to refer you to. The other approach is text ads, which are usually on a cost-per-click (CPC) basis. These are offered by most of the major search engines, as well as some independent ad networks. Again, the site you want to advertise on should be able to refer you to the appropriate ad network.
  5. Joint ventures and affiliates are a great way to reach new people. One form of joint venture is the “quid pro quo” approach – they promote your product to their list and you promote their product to your list. This is usually only done, though, if the lists are of the same order of magnitude. Otherwise, there will have to be some sort of revenue sharing, or affiliate program. This can be a highly effective strategy and usually involves little or no up-front cost to implement. Choose your associates carefully, though, as their behavior will reflect on you to some extent.
  6. Content marketing is kind of a hybrid of some of the tactics listed above, but it still merits its own entry. The key here is to publish your content on sites (other than your own website) that already have traffic, that already have an audience of people looking for information about the topics you’re creating content about. Videos on YouTube, slide presentations on SlideShare, white papers on Scribd, articles on EzineArticles – the opportunities are endless. If you can get a regular column in a major outlet, that’s even better. Don’t be overtly promotional, but do be sure to always have a link back to your site, if possible, or at least have your domain name prominently displayed. You want to drive direct traffic, not just create brand awareness.
  7. Publicity should be an essential part of any small business’ marketing strategy. At a bare minimum, you should be monitoring Help A Reporter Out (HARO) for media opportunities and pitching relevant local and industry media about your company. Seek out relevant internet radio shows and podcasters that might interview you. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is up-to-date and contains relevant keywords – it’s how many reporters, bloggers and other media producers find expert sources to interview.
  8. Email lists – Depending on your business, you can buy or rent a list of people matching certain demographic criteria. How effective is it? It depends on the quality of the list, the relevance of it to your business, and then having a compelling offer that will drive people to take action. Stick with an established provider and focus the list as narrowly as possible to get to your ideal clients, not just a broad demographic segment.
  9. Offline promotion – Put your web address (URL) on your business cards, invoices, brochures, menus – pretty much every piece of printed material that a customer will receive from you. Use it on billboards, TV and radio ads. Show it on the last slide of any presentations you do. Of course, if you’re not putting a piece of paper in their hands, it needs to be short and memorable – yet another reason to get a descriptive domain name!

Notice that webinars and teleseminars aren’t on the list. Why not? Because you have to promote them, too, to get people to attend and you can only promote them to people you’ve already reached via some other means. They’re a great conversion tactic, but not usually a good lead generation tactic, unless they’re being done as part of a joint venture and you’re accessing someone else’s list.

Note also how many of the items on the list above refer to another item on the list. Each tactic may be moderately effective on its own, but they work best when combined with the others. That’s why an integrated marketing plan is so important. Remember, people have to hear your message an average of seven or more times before taking action. The more channels you’re distributing your message through, the sooner you’ll reach that critical mass in the mind of your potential customers.

Lessons from Sociology: 5 Factors to Help You Sell More

I’ve read dozens of books on sales and marketing over the years, and while I learned a lot, some of the best, simplest advice I ever got came not from one of them, but from a sociology textbook. While you may never have heard of Diffusion of Innovations, it’s the foundational work on which more familiar titles like Crossing the Chasm and The Tipping Point are based.

The book is primarily focused on how innovations are spread within social groups. In that context, the author defines five characteristics of an innovation that influence the decision to adopt or reject it. If we think broadly about the term “innovation” as not just a new invention, but simply an idea that’s new to the individual, then it becomes clear that this is the same decision process someone goes through when evaluating buying your product or service. While every buyer has their own unique set of circumstances and decision criteria, these five characteristics offer an excellent checklist for both your overall marketing strategy and the individual sale:

Relative Advantage is the relative benefit of your offering compared to all other alternatives, including the status quo, i.e., doing nothing. Most marketers focus their efforts here – feature-benefits lists, ROI analysis, and competitive comparisons. Pricing also falls under this category. We’d like to think that if we’re the logical best choice, we’ll make the sale, but unfortunately, that’s all too often not the case. That’s because there are many other factors in the decision process that have nothing to do with pure logic.

Compatibility is a measure of how well the new idea fits into a person’s life. It may be a matter of logistics, e.g., actually having room for a large item, personal preferences such as color or finish, religious factors or cultural factors, or even more complex psychological factors, such as whether your product fits the customer’s self-image. Clearly defining your ideal customer will help you address this. Consider psychographic characteristics as well as demographics. What’s important to them? How do they see themselves?

Simplicity is, simply, how easy the product is to use and understand. Too many choices causes anxiety, and a confused mind says “no”. More complex products will have longer sales cycles and required the more skilled salespeople.

Trialability is a measure of the ability of the prospective customer to try out your product or service before purchasing it, i.e., test drives, free or super-cheap samples or trials, free initial consultations. Money-back guarantees are a slight variation on this. How can you apply this to your business?

Observability is the degree to which the benefits can be observed during the trial period or initial use. For example, it’s relatively easy to observe the benefits of taking aspirin to relieve a headache, but impossible to directly observe the results of taking aspirin to reduce the risk of heart disease.

You can apply this five-point checklist at every stage of your marketing and sales process: product strategy, sales process, campaign, and individual sale. You don’t have to be strong in all five areas, but if you have a gap, you need to be aware of it so you can either address their concerns or make a point of being sufficiently stronger in the other factors.

Want to know more? Read the full article at OPEN Forum.

DiffusionOfInnovation

How a Private Equity Fund Uses Social Media for Building its Investment Pipeline and Raising Capital

 

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Most private equity funds (and the equipment finance industry) are well behind the VC industry with regard to their use of social media. Jeff Bussgang, General Partner, Flybridge Capital Partners, calculates that of the approximately 1,000 venture capitalists in the US actively seeking deals, 10-15% blog.  Sarah Tavel, Senior Associate, Bessemer Venture Partners, calls this blogging and posting of internal analyses "venture capital’s freemium model."

 

We think that increasing numbers of private equity investors will devote more energy to their social media efforts. Private equity investing is a relationship business, and the only relationships that really matter are with the relatively small number of LPs, entrepreneurs, executives, and intermediaries.   As more of our personal relationships move online, social media becomes a very cost-effective way to strengthen a firm’s corporate relationships.

 

Among the few PE funds with an outreach in social media I would include Duane Street Capital, 2xPartners, Healthpoint Capital , and Riverside Company. Another I recently learned about is MCM Capital.  Bobby Kingsbury, Business Development Officer, MCM Capital Partners, was kind enough to provide a case study of his efforts in this area. I interviewed him via email:

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Q. What is your social media strategy?

 

At MCM Capital Partners we have implemented Facebook, LinkedIn, an RSS feed, and a weekly blog into our website in order to promote our brand, increase search engine friendliness, expand our deal referral network, and enhance relationships with those already in our network. Additionally, we are tactically using social media tools to augment our communications to our current LP’s, prospective investors, entrepreneurs operating businesses within targeted industries, investment banks and intermediaries.  Each communication method employed and its content is viewed through the lens of "how does this help our firm" and "how does this improve the likelihood someone will find us?"

 

Although we are still learning the intricacies of social media, we have been making extensive use of social networking sites to announce LBO transactions, promote our blog and email newsletter, recruit and evaluate potential CEOs for portfolio companies, as well as develop and create new relationships within the M&A community.  Concurrently, we are using our blog to help with search engine optimization, place new contacts into our CRM (Goldmine), and to differentiate ourselves from other firms in our industry by providing value added content to our website.

 

For SEO purposes, we chose to focus on searches on the following terms: micro-cap private equity fund, leverage buyout, Cleveland based private equity, lower middle market, leverage buyout firm, management buyout, etc. We chose these terms based on relevance and by researching our SEO rank on each search engine, then targeted those keywords in which we ranked in the top 100.

 

We chose to use the top 100 because it was an achievable goal. Given our time budget of 1 blog post per week, and given that it’s most important to be on page 1 of Google (slots 1-10), we thought that moving from slots 100 and below to slots 1-10 was much more doable than moving from slots 101 and above. The largest behavioral jump, measured as a percentage-change, is from the top of page 2 to the bottom of page 1. According to Chitika, a search based online advertising network, going from the 11th spot to the 10th generates a 143% jump in traffic, proving a very small percentage of users click through to the second page while searching online. Ultimately, we want our website to be ranked in the top four for these terms, as the top four terms in a Google search account for 70% of all web traffic.

 

Here are a few of the steps we have taken:

 

Weekly Blog:

 

Embedded in our website through WordPress, we started a weekly blog about four months ago. We use our blog to help with our search engine optimization, automating the addition of new contact information into our CRM, as well as providing value-added content to our readers (LP’s, entrepreneurs, investment bankers, intermediaries, etc.). In regards to search engine optimization, we created 5 blog categories (Best Business Practices, Private Equity Related News, MCM Perspective on Macro Economic Conditions, Investment Perspectives, and MCM Specific News) relevant to our target audiences, as well as a list of at least 20 keyword phrases to be incorporated into our posts. After a blog is written, we use Friendfeed to automatically post the new blog to our company Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn pages. The RSS feed helps track new readers and automatically places them into our CRM after readers fill out the required information. In addition, in order to comment on a particular blog we have implemented a form. Visitors fill out the form and their information is again directly placed in our CRM, helping us manage new contacts and track new visitors to our blog.

 

LinkedIn:

 

We are in a relationship based business, and we need to leverage those relationships. Each of us have our own LinkedIn profile and MCM also has a company profile page. I have encouraged each of my colleagues to spend 5 minutes a week building up their network with value added contacts. In five minutes they can add 10 to 15 new connections, which increase our reach and will enhance current relationships. We have added a WordPress blog widget to each of our profile pages and our company profile page in order for our contacts to easily view each new post creating more top of mind awareness for MCM. Any updates or deal closings within our firm are also sent out to each individual and each group in our network through LinkedIn’s own weekly update email. Additionally, LinkedIn has become a great resource to grow our list of C-level talent for our future and current portfolio companies.

 

Facebook:

 

We created a Facebo
ok page for our firm where we post our acquisition criteria, MCM updates, current ongoing searches, recent blog posts, a calendar for visitors to keep track of important dates such as our annual CEO summit and shareholder meeting, pictures of portfolio companies, and we have also added a tab which allows visitors to sign up for our email newsletter under ‘Join My List’. Posting regular updates relating to our business and activities reminds our friends or followers who MCM is, what we do and either to use our services or refer one of their friends or colleagues who might be looking for an equity partner.

 

Monthly Email Newsletter:

 

We send out a monthly email newsletter using Constant Contact to over six thousand investment bankers, lenders, intermediaries, and current and potential LPs every month, keeping them apprised as to types of businesses we are looking for as well as any deal announcements or updates within our firm. We have placed links to Facebook, LinkedIn, and an RSS feed in our newsletter along with a link to each of our personal LinkedIn pages next to our name and email address. We also added a section at the bottom of the newsletter for blog post of the month to help promote our blog. After a newsletter is sent, we click on the LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter widgets on the top banner of the email and tweet it, Facebook Like it, and add it to our LinkedIn page in order to reach our contacts that may not have received the newsletter via email. Using Google Analytics, we have seen a dramatic spike in traffic to our site each month the day of and a few days after our email is sent, demonstrating the efficacy of the newsletter.

Email Signature:

 

Everyone at the firm has links to our RSS feed, LinkedIn, and Facebook accounts embedded in their email signature to help create more awareness and again drive traffic to the blog and our social networking sites.

Google Analytics

 

We have placed Google analytics into our website in order to monitor traffic, referral sites, keyword searches, unique visits, etc. I go over the statistics every month to see where traffic is coming from, where we rank with certain key terms, how long visitors spend on certain pages, and who exactly is coming to the website, in order to adjust our SEO campaign, write relevant blog posts, and provide value added content to our website.

What results have you seen so far?

 

While neither traffic nor time spent on our site is the true measure of efficacy of our social media campaign, it indicates we are increasing brand recognition and awareness. The real measure of success while we continue to develop our campaign will be transforming our brand recognition and awareness into an increase in deal flow, attracting new investors and talent to our firm, developing relationships with entrepreneurs in our target markets, and helping separate our firm from our private equity brethren. It is too early to provide definitive metrics on increased deal flow or inbound inquires from LP’s attributed to our social media campaign, but we are confident that social media will continue to play a huge part in the marketing success of our firm.

 

That being said, I will provide a few metrics we have been tracking since the inception of our social media efforts in July of 2010. Our deal flow increased by 150% in total from July to October, but we cannot say it was solely attributed to social media. Clearly there was pent up demand over the prior two years making it difficult to measure the efficacy of our campaign thus far. Further, we have only had two inquires from LP’s, but coming from a base of zero any number is a huge jump. Overall traffic to our site has increased 14% on average each month. Referral traffic, (traffic coming from other websites including our blog, LinkedIn, Facebook, and email newsletter) has increased 119% over the last three months, and visitor’s average time on our site has increased from 1 minute and 32 seconds to 3 minutes and 5 seconds.

 

Some other quick stats over the last 30 days derived from Google Analytics: we have averaged over 51 absolute unique visitors to our site per day (80% of our total traffic came from new visitors who have previously never been to our site), visitors averaged 3.75 pages per visit, and 69% of our visitors came from search engines (Google, Yahoo, and Bing), 18% came directly and 13% came to our site through our blog or social networking sites.

 

 

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Most of our traffic is from new visitors:

 

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Search engines are critical for our traffic:

 

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Q. What are MCM’s professionals’ policies on inbound LinkedIn inquires from:

 

1. people you don’t know at all

 

A. If we do not know a person, but are familiar with their firm and they are currently an employee we will accept their invitation. If we do not know the person or their firm we will check their profile and company’s website to see if we would have a mutually beneficial relationship and accept or decline the invitation accordingly. Complete strangers, when we do not know them and have not heard of their firm will always be ignored.

2. people you don’t know but want to know (e.g. potential LPs)

 

A. LPs or people we want to know who contact us will almost certainly be accepted. We will follow up with a note and try to schedule an introductory call in order to provide more information on our firm.

3. people you barely know (met once for 2 minutes) –

 

A. Same principle as with people we don’t know; we will see how much utility the relationship will have for our firm and accept or ignore the request accordingly.

 

We generally will accept invitations from most firms, as the contact or their network will most likely be beneficial for MCM. What most people do not know is that anyone can look at your network (with the default LinkedIn privacy settings) and then inundate your contact list, with inbound inquires unless you change your privacy settings. At MCM we try and protect our network contacts, and have changed our privacy settings so our con
tacts cannot view the rest of our connections list. We continually manage the privacy settings on our LinkedIn pages to prevent any leakage of personal information and limit access to LinkedIn users not in our network.

Q. Similarly, what are MCM’s professionals’ policies on inbound Facebook inquiries from people in the categories above?

 

A. I would say it is pretty similar to LinkedIn, but at the same time anyone can Facebook-Like our page so it is a little more difficult to manage the contact list on Facebook. I monitor the page a few times a week and receive a weekly email from Facebook updating me on our page activity. Here is an example of the weekly update from Facebook:

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Facebook

 

 

Hi Bobby,

Here is this week’s summary for your Facebook Page:

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MCM Capital Partners

49 monthly active users clip_image00814 since last week

72 people like this no change since last week

1 wall post or comment this week clip_image008[1]1 since last week

63 visits this week clip_image008[2]20 since last week

Learn more about how to update via mobile

Thanks,
The Facebook Team

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Q. What tool(s) are you using to pull data in from your social media system into your CRM?

 

A. Each CRM has its own code for forms in order for contact information to be transferred into the database. Sometimes you can manip
ulate the form and other times you are stuck using what your CRM provides which possibly will not encapsulate all the data you are looking to obtain. We use Goldmine, and it was a challenging process to say the least.

 

Q. What is your policy on adding emails to your email database; do you add the emails of everyone you meet/who emails you, or wait for people to proactively register on your site?

 

A. We do not add everyone we meet or everyone who emails us, but we certainly do not wait for people to proactively register on our site. At the end of the day it’s a numbers game, and if we feel the person has an opportunity to add value to our fund they will be added to our database and sent our monthly correspondence, unless they unsubscribe.

 

Q. Who built your website?

 

A. Point to Point Inc., a Cleveland based interactive marketing firm has implemented our blog into our website and is in the process of transferring our entire site into WordPress. This will allow us to make changes ourselves in real time and also will allow me to control and adjust our SEO campaign as needed without having to understand or learn how to write HTML. The changes made are instantaneous and can also be undone if a mistake is made.

 

Q. What other tools/technologies are you using?

 

A. I have created an email archive page using Constant Contact in order for people to view previous communications we have sent. It’s also another way for someone to ‘Join our List’ if they receive the communication thru a social networking site.

 

Q. What steps are you taking for proactive marketing, as opposed to reactive marketing? Are you proactively reaching out to your viewers on a targeted basis?

 

A. Everything we are doing right now with our e-marketing campaign is proactive and we are reaching out to our viewers on a very targeted basis. We know our prospective audience uses search engines and social media sites to find relevant information, so we develop content (onsite and off) that is relevant to both the engines and the users. For example, we have a blog category entitled ‘Investment Perspectives’ in which we share our investment theses around certain industries of interest. The investment thesis gives MCM credibility and resonates with entrepreneurs and the intermediary community, as it illustrates forethought as to the types of businesses we are searching for in a particular industry. We realize with our e-marketing initiatives we are currently thinking a little outside the box given the dynamics of our industry, but I believe we will see a paradigm shift in the not too distant future in the ways in which PE firms market to the deal community.

 

Q. Are you soliciting directly to potential investors and targets who didn’t approach you? If so, how if at all do you use social media to make the cold call easier?

 

A. That is a very good question and one we have talked about internally as we prepare to raise our third fund in the coming months. We are planning to reach out to a number of potential investors and targets using LinkedIn. Sending InMail to potential LP’s with a brief introduction of our firm will break a lot of the ice and also help alleviate some of the awkwardness and unfamiliarity of a cold call. During the exchange of InMail we will be able to determine if our interests align with the prospective LP and proceed accordingly. Going forward social media will hopefully turn what used to be a cold call into a warm lead.

 

Q. How much time (launch and ongoing) and money has the social media initiative cost you?

 

A. We do not track time like a law firm, but the efforts spent to continue our e-marketing initiatives have been significant and are shared throughout our firm. It takes a total team effort to create, edit, post and continually update and monitor our blog, SEO campaign, and social media sites. I have been very fortunate to work with colleagues who understand the importance of our e-marketing campaign and have given it their full support. It has taken a lot of time and we had to learn how to walk before we ran, but I believe it will continue to be beneficial and pay huge dividends on a go forward basis. In the future I could see hiring someone full time solely to work on our e-marketing campaign, as four of our professionals collectively spend on average 15 to 20 hours a week on our social media outreach, depending on the time of the month.

 

Q. Some funds are concerned that increasing visibility will attract inappropriate deal flow, a deluge of job-seekers, and other people who want to suck up your bandwidth. How do you mitigate that cost of being more visible?

 

If we felt that the attention we were receiving was irrelevant or hampering our day to day initiatives, we would take steps to improve our process to make it more relevant to our desired audience. We have not had to deal with an influx of spam-like inquiries thus far, and truly do not anticipate it as we control our connections. Our goal through our entire e-marketing campaign is to gain relevant visibility, but I would be more than happy to spend a few extra minutes a day reviewing the inappropriate deal flow and deluge of job seekers as it means MCM is becoming more visible. It doesn’t hurt to spend a little time answering a few questions or sending an email with our acquisition criteria in order to prevent inappropriate deal flow in the future. You never know where that person may end up that is seeking a job or what deal that intermediary may show you next.

Using LinkedIn to Reach the Right People at the Right Time – Free Webinar 11/30

3229285946_e2e1391972 Wouldn’t it be great if you could connect with your ideal clients before they needed your product or service?  And wouldn’t it be even more amazing if you knew immediately when something occurred that triggered their need for your service?  Imagine running an appliance repair service and receiving an email any time someone in your service area has a broken appliance – before they start the process of finding someone to fix it. Or running a Chinese restaurant and knowing any time one of your regular customers gets a craving for Chinese food.

Science fiction?  Well, yes.  But the reality of what’s currently possible may be closer to that than you think.

Most marketing is focused on creating a message that matches the prospect’s need and attracts them…after they’ve started the buying decision process.  But there’s a window of opportunity before that, between the time that something occurs that causes the need – the "trigger event" – and the time they start the buying process.  If you can connect with people during that window, you can establish yourself as a trusted advisor and perhaps even block out the competition entirely.

image This is known as "trigger-event selling", and Craig Elias, coauthor of SHiFT!  – Harness the Trigger Events That Turn Prospects into Customers, is the world’s leading expert on the topic. He’s also, like me, a very early adopter of LinkedIn and uses it as one of his core business tools.  With in-depth profiles of more than 80 million professionals, LinkedIn is one of the best tools for directly identifying and connecting with people who match your ideal client profile.  It’s also a great place for identifying trigger events – new hires, promotions, new projects, and other company news that may not make it to the usual public channels.

Craig and I will be conducting a free webinar next Tuesday, November 30, at 2pm EST on using LinkedIn to connect with your ideal clients, monitor for trigger events and establish yourself as a trusted advisor to them before they even start the buying process. This webinar will be jam-packed with practical how-to information that you can put into action immediately. Register now to reserve your spot.

P.S. – This is seriously advanced stuff.  I’ve used it with a handful of my high-end clients, but this is the first time I’ve taught it to a group. If you’re serious about using LinkedIn to improve your sales process, you don’t want to miss this.

Top image: Anders Ljungberg

Twitter Automation #FAIL

Some people have this crazy idea that automating content to their Twitter profile will be effective. Besides the fact that, for any real business trying to reach real people, it doesn’t work, you also run the risk of ending up with something like this:

TwitterAutomationFAIL

There are a couple of key lessons here for business owners exploring social media:

First, use automation with care. I generally recommend reserving it for mundane, low-risk tasks like following people back on Twitter, scheduling a Tweet for later, perhaps even automatically following people who meet certain criteria. All of these are low-risk, i.e., if they fail, they won’t affect your image or reputation.

Secondly, if you use any automated content publishing, e.g., syndicating your blog to Facebook or your LinkedIn updates to Twitter, check them fairly regularly (at least a couple of times weekly). If your social presence is worth investing time and effort into at all, it’s worth checking regularly to make sure you’re not embarrassing yourself.

Social Networking for the Equipment Leasing & Finance Industry

Pool Equipment

I just learned that the Equipment Leasing & Finance Foundation has finished their study on “Social Networking for the Equipment Finance Industry 2010“.  The executive summary is available at http://www.leasefoundation.org/IndRsrcs/MO/SocMed10/ ; the full study is $300.  The author is Suzanne E. Henry.

The study shows that B2B social media marketing in the equipment finance industry is still in the nascent stage, with participants waiting for clearer directions and guidance for return on investment and development strategies.  For context, in its report, "B2B Goes Social," marketing agency White Horse reveals that 86 percent of B2B firms are using social media, compared to 82 percent of business-to-consumer (B2C) organizations. However, B2B firms aren’t as active in their social media activity with only 32 percent engaging on a daily basis compared with 52 percent of B2C firms.

The study is a good overview of social media for a B2B executive with little background. The best part of the study are the case studies of:

GE Capital, undoubtedly the largest equipment leasing and finance industry player, which has been exploring and using social media for more than a year. The organization encompasses corporate lending, vendor/dealer financing, core equipment financing, and specialty finance, including GE Commercial Distribution Finance Corporation, which offers inventory financing;

Duncan Aviation, the largest family-owned aircraft support facility in North America, which offers comprehensive service for nearly every make and model of business jets and turbo-props; and

American Express OPEN Forum. American Express OPEN is the leading payment card issuer for small businesses in the United States

For more on the use of social media in the investing industry (at no cost!), see our research.

(Image by billjacobus1 via Flickr)

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