Yes, fake accounts exist on Linkedin too

Lately, I have been receiving strange connection request on LinkedIn that range from Ayesha Gaddafi (yes, the daughter of former Libya PM Muammar al-Gaddafi), Managing Director of a large multinational company, HR Director of RedMart and Director at Merrill Lynch.

While I have a fairly active profile on LinkedIn, I also know that it’s strange these people would connect with me given we have no business dealings and also do not belong to the same Linkedin group. A review of their profile usually indicate that they have just joined LinkedIn, have no profile photo and they have loosely filled profile with little or no real job experience other than their latest role.

I am sure like most social media outlet, LinkedIn is also subject to a decent level of fake accounts. Facebook fakes stand at around 8.7% (87 million) so I am sure if we apply similar trends to LinkedIn, we would likely get the same percentage of fake LinkedIn professionals masquerading as successful businessmen or senior executives.

While LinkedIn has been a tremendous outlet for business connections and job opportunities but like almost every single social media outlet, it has to be taken with a pinch of salt how ‘real’ these connections truly are and what’s stated in their LinkedIn profile.

Fast economic growing countries like Singapore and Middle East are inundated with the fake degree problems with people looking to creatively boost their resume in order to seek a better job opportunity.

Many of these same fake degree holders will also use social media to give themselves a better edge in seeking better job opportunities in the workplace including crafting a perfect fake LinkedIn account.

This article first appeared on Linkedin on Aug 6, 2014.

8-steps of Retail Social Media

Manage the social media noise well will create buzz and win customer loyalty for any companies.

I have been developing social media strategies for my previous 2 employers mostly in creating and retaining influencers that will impact the business bottom line and help grow revenue. Social media can help businesses expand their markets and gain shares needed to grow their online reputation. The business SEO & SEM ranking will also get a favourable boost and customer engagement gets more direct.

However, before you plug into the social media game, you need to check the following:

1. Check your identity
For big companies with legacy issues, the first thing you need to do is to consolidate all your social media identity. Ensure there is no more than 2 (1 for your business and 1 for your corporate stuffs). This ensure your customers can easily follow you without having to decipher which twitter / facebook / linkedin get them to your business. Delete everything else that do not represent your business.

2. Promote relevantly
If you have more than 1 websites, the rule applies. Point all your customer fronting sites to 1 twitter/facebook and all corporate fronting websites to the other corporate twitter/facebook. This allows your customers to find you easily. Twitter and Facebook accounts are like phone numbers, 1 is often enough. The more accounts you have, you dilute the impact social media can do to support your business.

3. Engage relevantly
There are hundreds of social media that you can get involved with but the few that matters are obvious. Identify what channels you need to make an impact. For retailers, the defaults are twitter and facebook because they matter when customers provide direct feedback. For some like GoPro, an action camera retailer, Youtube played a great role in showcasing all their customers videos online and promoting it via twitter and facebook.

4. Build relevantly
Build an internal social media team by focusing on customer loyalty. Ensuring you capture and respond to all customers feedbacks. Start from groundzero. This is especially important for companies that have not had social media at the top of their priorities. Make it the teams’ priority for 6 months to engage all social media feedback. Keep marketing/promotions to the minimum. Start from the base. Make your customer feel that they are being listen to and proactively fixing the problem they raise. The goal would be to get to all problems before they become one.

5. Respond relevantly
If you followed step 4, you would realised that the biggest social media gap all companies have is managing customer feedback online. Responding well and getting problems fixed online is an art. Your social team need to behave like human and less like robot. Good answers are appreciated, standard replies are frown upon. Learn to reach out to customers whether if the problem is directed at you or not.

Over the past months, I tweeted to 4 retailers, one which is a recognised leader in customer service. Here’s the actual time it took for them to respond to me via Twitter.

Nordstrom – 10 minutes. In fact, they replied me even though I deleted my tweet 5 minutes later
Airbnb – 2 hours
Grandst – 6 hours
CourtsSG – 1 day/24 hours – because it was after office hour.

Apart from CourtsSG, the rest saw my tweet during their office hours and tweeted a proper response to address my problems almost immediately. Nordstrom which is famous for their great customer service took their great service to the social front. Nordstrom is the best in the business and your business’s role model if you want to make social media work for you.

6. Empower relevantly
Ensure your empower your social media team to resolve problems with your internal team. This is the only way you can convert your customers. You need to prove you can solve their problems.

7. Market relevantly
Once you have established a good customer response streak for at least a year. Good news, you can now consider your social media channels your best marketing tool. Start promoting your best products and services through these social media channels and your followers will respond.

8. Sustain
Finally, they key to all these is to sustain your formula. Ensure your keep up the response rate for your customers feedback.

Follow these 8 steps to establish your own Social Media strategies and they will be incredibly rewarding for your business in the long run.