The Daily Trap, Creating Personal Traps: The Basics

If you’re lucky enough to have gotten a private beta account, you can create personal traps. Personal traps are traps created by you that learn your particular interests and tastes. In this post I’m going to walk through the basic process of making a personal trap.

To begin, click on the “New Trap” button in the upper right hand corner of your screen.

This will prompt you to enter keywords. When selecting keywords, try and think of a word or words that accurately describe the topic or concept you want to create a trap around.

Be aware that the system will search for content that contains ALL of your keywords, so try and use as few words as possible to describe what you’d like to see in your trap. You can hone in on the finer points of your trap through training. In this example I started a trap on “chocolate.”

After you’ve entered your keyword(s) you will be prompted to give your trap a title. Title it whatever you’d like, this is for your reference. For my chocolate trap I ended up using a descriptive title “Chocolate” but you could use things like “Final Project Biology” or “Work: Information Ontology” whatever best suites your needs and preferences.

You will then be taken to your intitial trap contents and prompted to rate them to train your trap. Ranking is how you tell the system exactly what you want to see in your trap. Use the thumbs up and down to rate content that fits or does not fit with what you’d like to see in your trap. In this case I gave my first three articles a thumbs up because they were all about chocolate (yay!).

If you see an article that does not fit in with what you’d like to see in your trap, use the thumbs down button to let the system know it was wrong. In this case I got an article about coffee, which I also like, but I have a coffee trap, and coffee is not chocolate (silly computer). When you dislike an article you will be prompted to select a reason. Use “is not interesting to me” to identify content that does not fit topically into your trap, “I do not like the source” to identify sources you would never like to see again (so if you hate a blogger or a political point of view, this is your recourse), and “Spam/Abuse” to identify content that is bad on other levels and help us make Trap.it better (sorry in advance for any spam, we’re trying hard!)

If you neglect to train your trap your account will bother you about it. This is to ensure that you get good and accurate content. Trap.it is more than a search so entering your keywords is only half the battle. The system wants you to teach it what you want. Even if all your initial results look good (yay!) the system needs a little feedback to make sure it’s on the right track. It’s kind of like when you are told to do something for the first time, even if you start out doing it right, you feel more confident and do it better and faster when you get positive feedback.

Once your trap has enough feedback it will continue to pull content to fill your trap. Continue training your trap as needed to hone in on exactly what you’re looking for.

Them’s the basics, here’s a couple of notes on selecting a topic:

Traps can be started on all sorts of things and some things work better than others. In my experience general noun-based traps take off the fastest, can be surprisingly fun, and offer a new way of following information on the web (think: bears, forests, ice cream, bacon, britney spears…). More abstract concepts (lonliness, poverty, poetry) can be equally interesting, but the nature of abstract concepts is they tend to offer sometimes more abstract results. Finally, place/location based traps (Portland, Paris, Mexico) tend to be a little harder to start because these keywords end up in a lot of content that isn’t really about these places. We’re working on this, but it may save you some frustration to know. Get creative, go trap crazy, and let us know what works!

-Laura

The Daily Trap – The Daily Trap

I was eleven years young the last time my jaw dropped that dramatically to the floor. Let’s turn back the clock, shall we? Enter summertime, 1997.

It was the first time in my life that I had voluntarily purchased a pay-per-view boxing match. Matter of fact, it was the first time I had purchased anything that didn’t have at least a dozen grams of sugar in it. There was no way to illegally stream anything online back then (did we even have AOL dial-up yet?), and certainly no neighborhood dive bar was going to allow a few snot-nose kids to catch a glimpse of the fight either.

I can’t tell you how many pop cans my buddies and I had to take back to our neighborhood Albertson’s grocery store down the street in order to save up for the epic Tyson-Holyfield rematch. It was one of the more hard-earned, accomplished purchases we had ever made. That was, until a chunk of Holyfield’s ear was spit out into the center of the ring, bloodying up a little spot on the canvas. (In case you need your memory refreshed, click here!)

Jaw, meet floor. Money, meet fire. Just like that, three measly rounds and it was over.

Fourteen years later, my jaw hits the floor with the exact same velocity, and go figure, its cause, a dramatic twist in a boxing match. And what do you know, another monumental waste of money.

Flash forward 14 years.

This past Saturday I order an HBO pay-per-view boxing match featuring one of the greatest pound-for-pound fighters to ever lace up boxing gloves. The heavy favorite, Floyd “Money” Mayweather (42-0) was set to take on a young gun Victor “Vicious” Ortiz (29-3-2) who was making his debut on a stage of that magnitude. Never had the lights shined so bright on the 24-year old Ortiz.

Although Mayweather was unquestionably in control of the fight for the first three rounds, the match started to heat up after Ortiz lead an impassioned charge toward Mayweather, causing the champ to back-pedal toward the ropes in a defensive stance. Ortiz was landing a barrage of punches, although none of them seemed to be fazing Mayweather as he was doing a proficient job of evading any solid contact from the wild strikes being thrown his way.

And then it happened.

Just when the fight seemed like it had a chance to balance out and become something special, Ortiz did something incredibly immature, and rather stupid. The young fighter was obviously flustered and as a result, sporadically decided to lunge at the champ with his forehead like a savage free-safety would to a defenseless wide receiver coming across the middle in a football game. The headbutt was bush-league, it was illegal, and it was an act of cowardice. Fortunately, it didn’t land solidly either, because if it had, the fight likely would’ve stopped immediately. Mayweather very well could’ve broken his nose, or had his teeth bashed in through that jabbering mouthpiece of his.

For his reckless actions, Ortiz was docked a point on the score card and it was clear as day that the young fighter had acknowledged that he made a poor choice the very moment after his head struck Mayweather. Ortiz apologetically chased Mayweather around the ring attempting to reconcile a sense of respect that he obviously had just lost from his opponent, the crowd and the millions of viewers at home watching. Although the headbutt from Ortiz was definitely a cheap shot, I found his reaction to be rather amicable, and you could tell he was legitimately remorseful for his spur of the moment decision to cheat the champ.

At this point, I honestly thought the fight was about to turn epic. Epic, in a positive way from a spectator’s standpoint. For a split second, Mayweather was on his heels and looked less nimble than the flawless boxer that fans have always known him to be. I wondered if the headbutt would anger Mayweather and take him out of his game, perhaps forcing him lose his poise and shoot for an immediate knockout blow. Nobody can dance and strike with Mayweather, but what if he didn’t want to dance any longer? In the process, would the champ let his guard down and give Ortiz the slightest opening that he was looking for?

I highly doubt it, yet we’ll never know…

The fighters were brought back together to meet up to finish what would be the fourth and final round. This is when my flashbacks to the Tyson-Holyfield saga swept through my brain. It had been 14 years since I had seen something this crazy unfold before my eyes.

Ortiz was not ready to fight. He understood what he did was wrong, and was adamant about finding a way to even things out like two grown men should do. For Ortiz, being docked a point in the score book wasn’t enough. He wanted to know for certain that Mayweather was willing to forgive him before he put his dukes back up. Ortiz understood he had lost a tremendous amount of respect from one of the greatest fighters to ever live, and he couldn’t throw another punch until Mayweather dropped the grudge and acknowledged that his opponent was sincerely apologetic.

Mayweather did the complete opposite. He suckerpunched Ortiz. He blindsided Ortiz, knocking him senseless with a blow that not only ended his opponent’s night, but also gave a deep black-eye to the sport of boxing in general. I was shocked that something more cowardly than Ortiz’s headbutt could occur just moments later. Again, my jaw hit the floor.

Mayweather backed up his actions by exclaiming that, “what goes around, comes around,” and that a fighter, “should protect himself at all times.” True. However, I believe there is an expected level of sportsmanship and professionalism that comes along with being the face of your entire sport. Yes, referee Joe Cortez lost control of the fight, absolutely. As you can see in the scene above, both Ortiz and Cortez are looking away from what Mayweather is about to do. You could also argue that Cortez was the one that distracted Ortiz from defending himself causing him to look away. Fighters are constantly warned not to touch gloves unless instructed to do so, because of the chance that the opponent could come in with an unexpected blow instead. But wasn’t this situation a little different? Weren’t the circumstances calling for a refresher, a moment to wipe the slate clean?

The debate about Mayweather’s actions swept like wildfire through my Pro Boxing Trap:

There were plenty of writers out there that took the conservative stance behind Mayweather, and preached that ethical point-of-views obviously don’t belong in boxing. “He should’ve been ready,” they insist. However, there was plenty of content that threw Mayweather under the bus, noting that not only did he cheat himself, but even more so, he cheated the fans and the sport of boxing. Even Juan Manuel Marquez–a current boxing title holder–slammed Mayweather for his actions, questioning whether Cortez even signaled for the fight to resume. Marquez–currently ranked the fifth best pound-for-pound fighter in the world by Ring Magazine–insists that a boxing ring is no place for a man to be “sucker punched.”

Marquez continues on to plead that:

Marquez was spot on. His quote adequately sums up my perspective for the entire blog post. Mayweather spoiled an expensive piece of entertainment for everyone. And then he had the nerve to curse out an old man in his post-fight interview, and proceed to thank the fans that paid to watch him fight. The same fans that were collectively booing him out of town.

In my book, Mayweather’s legacy is tarnished. He was quoted in the ring saying that this fight was just another addition to his “legacy,” and that is absolutely correct. He will go down as one of the greatest pound-for-pound fighters, but he will never earn the tag of one of the greatest champions.

Money Mayweather won’t ever receive another dime out of my pocket. You can count on that.

-Geoff

The Daily Trap, An Important Announcement on the Evolution of Trapit

When we launched the beta version of Trapit back in 2011, it was with the lofty ambition to create a uniquely personalized web for each and every person. We knew that lurking beyond the shallow social echo chamber, crappy search results, memes, and trends is a vast undiscovered web of high-quality, original content with no way of reaching its intended audience, an audience of people frustrated with the growing lack of personal relevance in the web experience and their inability to connect with good content on the subjects most important or interesting to them.

It wasn’t until we built and started using an early version of Trapit that we realized just how big this undiscovered web really is, and how much of that good stuff we’d been missing. Great content that we didn’t know existed simply because it wasn’t deemed important enough by our social networks – or didn’t show up on the first (or second, fifth, tenth…) page of search results. Since our launch we’ve helped tens of million of people connect with hundreds of millions of pieces of content through our award-winning user experiences on web and mobile. What’s better is that we’ve made a difference in people’s lives, from the troubled patient who discovered an experimental cancer drug trial, to the celebrity chef who is using Trapit discoveries to fight childhood obesity and diabetes, to the teacher whose curriculum leverages Trapit to teach digital literacy and expose students to topical content in support of lesson plans.

Perhaps the most fortuitous trend to emerge from our “free app” experiment is the outpouring of interest we receive from businesses ranging from the titans of media, manufacturing, professional services, retail and technology to visionary start-up companies, all looking to tell their own stories and enhance their own customer experiences through the use of Trapit. Clearly our unique approach to content discovery and distribution struck a nerve with the so-called enterprise, presenting us with a path to create a sustainable and profitable business model. Sometimes it’s easy to forget here in the Silicon Valley, but making money is one of the reasons you start a business after all.

What became abundantly clear from the initial engagements with our new business friends is that enterprise customers demand enterprise-grade solutions, far more capable than our free “consumer” offering. So we rolled up our sleeves and got to work building a new, super version of Trapit we now call the Content Curation Center – chock full of advanced capabilities, customization options and analytics. Our customers love it and Trapit content discoveries now reach an audience of over 100 million people a month through their implementations.

This is all very exciting, and while we are as ambitious as a team can be, we must face the realities of our small size. It is imperative to our success and our ability to provide the ongoing innovation and quality of service our business customers demand that we maintain a rigorous focus. It’s true that in the time we’ve been working on the Content Curation Center, we’ve left the free service untouched, no longer reflective of our latest technology advancements nor our standard of quality. After an extended deliberation and with heavy hearts, we’ve decided to end the availability of our free “consumer” apps for web and iPad effective Wednesday, January 15, 2014.

We sincerely appreciate your patronage and support over the past few years and wish you well in your pursuit of great content.

– Hank, Co-founder and Chief Product Officer

The Constant Struggle for Quality Content

Image via.

Any time there’s something you need to tell your target audience, you automatically find yourself in competition with all the other content-creators out there vying for their attention. And to get it — to get their eye on you instead of anyone else — there are competing considerations:

  1. Being the first to get your story out there,
  2. Coming up with a message that will resonate with relevancy to your audience, and
  3. Writing the highest-quality, most intrinsically valuable piece that you can.

In a world already overloaded with content, the final consideration is by far the most important.

Think about the vast majority of the content that’s created: the republished press releases or AP/Reuters wire stories, the unoriginal churnalist pieces put out by content farms, and the run-of-the-mill clickbait you see practically everywhere you look.

Is that how you want to represent yourself to your target audience?

Of course not. Your goal should be relevance, not repetition. Your goal should be quality, not quantity. And if you’re going to put the effort into writing a high-quality piece, you should take the time to make sure it’s not only timely, but timeless as well.

Creating something timeless can be achieved in a number of ways, but there are two that stick out as sure-fire methods of ensuring your content is valuable to your audience. The first is creating content that solves a key problem that your readers encounter on a regular basis. What pains them? Can you create content that helps solve those pain-points for them? If you can, that content will have a positive and real impact on that audience.The second way is by giving your audience content that they can’t find anywhere else. Create content that is unique and provides a fresh perspective on an important issue, and your readers will consistently come back for more.

There’s an incredible value to creating a piece that information seekers will find valuable for months or even years to come, something that’s far more valuable than getting a few extra thousand passing pageviews from a user who’ll forget whose site they were on within minutes. If your goal is to build trust, establish yourself as a thought-leader, and to provide enduring value to your target audience, then quality is the one virtue on which you should never skimp.

It’s your name and your brand; what do you want it associated with? In our fast-paced world of information overload, quality is one thing you can count on to never go out-of-style. Let others vie for the gimmicky page views and visits; you’ll be too busy ensuring that the ones you get are the ones that count.

-Ethan

The Connection between Social Selling and Revenue [Research Analysis]

You’ve seen the stats. You know that salespeople who use social media for work outperform those who don’t.

But what does that mean for revenue? Is there a connection between revenue and social selling? We were curious to find the answer, so we dug deeper into the research. Here’s what we unearthed.

Year-on-Year Growth Rates of Top-Notch Companies

Much of the research about social selling comes from a report written by the Aberdeen Group in 2013, which you can read in full here:

It’s tempting to look at the first page of the research report, see the chart comparing social sellers to non-social sellers, and stop reading. Be warned: If you glance only at the first page, you’ll miss all the good stuff – like the connection between revenue and social selling.

When you read further into the report, you’ll see that the Aberdeen Group notes a correlation between revenue and social selling. It’s subtle. But it’s there. So, let’s suss it out.

In its study, the analyst firm divided companies into three groups:

  • Best-in-class companies, which experienced a 16.3% year-over-year increase in total revenue
  • Average companies, which had only a 4.1% year-over-year increase in total revenue
  • Lagging companies, which actually saw a decrease of 8.7% in revenue

Note: For the mathematically challenged (like myself), there’s a slight problem with those numbers. It’s hard to translate those percentages into dollars. Clearly, 16.3% year-over-year growth is better than 4.1% year-over-year growth. But just how much more is a 16.3% increase in revenue – as compared to a 4.1% increase in revenue?

Here’s a scenario that can help us.

Charting the Revenue Gap

Let’s imagine that we’re looking at three companies. One is best-in-class. Another is mediocre. And the third one is losing money (a laggard).

Now, let’s imagine that all three companies bring in $50 million dollars in revenue in 2015. Based on the Aberdeen Group’s research on year-over-year growth, how much revenue will each company make in 2019? (You never thought that you’d have to do another mathematical word problem, did you?)

Click here to enlarge the image.

In 2019 (i.e. Year 5 in the chart), the best-in-class company would bring in almost $91.5 million.

That’s roughly $32.7 million more than the average company and roughly $56.7 million than a lagging company.

Needless to say, that’s a significant revenue gap, which makes you wonder what the best-in-class companies do differently. Thankfully, the Aberdeen Group looked into that question for us.

What Contributed to The Revenue Gap?

You and I could brainstorm quite a long list of things that the best sales teams do differently. They may have more revenue to invest in training. They may have better sales and marketing alignment. They may be more attuned to their buyers’ needs.

Here are the top three things that the Aberdeen Group identified in their study on social selling:

  1. 73% of best-in-class companies expanded their lead generation through social media marketing. (44% of average companies did, while 47% of laggard companies did.)
  2. 70% of best-in-class companies educated their sales team on how to use social media tools. (50% of average companies provided that kind of training, while 30% of laggards provided that kind of training.)
  3. 67% of best-in-class companies had a social media platform in place that enabled them to communicate with customers. (40% of average companies did, while 29% of laggards did.)

In other words, best-in-class companies were more likely to:

  1. Have a strategy for social selling – with measurable objectives in place (e.g. generate more leads)
  2. Provide training to their sales team on how to use social media tools
  3. Invest in technology to support their sales teams’ efforts on social media

What Does This Mean for You?

Whenever we look at research studies, it’s important to remember our high school math teacher’s favorite phrase: correlation does not equal causation. In other words, having a social selling team does not guarantee revenue.

For example, you can build a team that’s full of social selling rock stars, but unless your company has product-market fit, your company will not experience 16.3% increase in revenue year-over-year. Why? Because, without product-market fit, no one is going to buy your product.

With that caveat out of the way, it’s clear that companies with significant top line growth are doing things differently, and one of those things is social selling.

As the report illustrates, the most lucrative of companies are far more likely to embrace social selling. On the flip side, the companies that lackadaisically use social selling aren’t bringing in as much revenue. ($56.7 million less in our example above! Ouch!)

So, ask yourself, Where do you see your organization?

If you want to transform your company into a top-notch company, perhaps you should embrace social selling and set up a top-notch program. Take the time to think about your strategy and train your employees. Oh, and don’t forget; invest in technology, as well.

Learn More about How Trapit Can Help

Give your salespeople the tools and content they need to be best-in-class social sellers. Contact us to find out more about how Trapit works.

The Best Way to Evaluate Your Company’s Social Media Strategy

Marketers, it’s time to come to terms with something: you’re no longer the sole department using social media at your company. HR, Finance, Sales, and Customer Support are using social media for business purposes.

And while that’s a great thing, there’s a problem. Each business unit is acting autonomously, making it difficult to create a coherent enterprise-wide strategy for social.

That’s where you step in. Who better to unite your company’s social media efforts than you, my friend?

It’s a tough mission. You may not know where to begin, but don’t worry. We have you covered. We created a little something to help you evaluate your social media strategy.

A Bird’s-Eye View of Your Company’s Strategy

Let’s start with a bird’s-eye evaluation of your company’s social media efforts. Take a minute to review the checklist below.

Our company, as a whole, has clear goals for social media.

When creating goals, be as specific as you can, and make sure you communicate these goals with the key stakeholders.

We know which departments are on social media and who’s leading the efforts.

To foster a culture of social media, employees need to communicate across departments. It also helps to keep track of who’s leading your company’s social media efforts.

We have a content library where employees can easily access and select content to share on social channels.

Trying to find stuff is a major workplace distraction. Make it easier for your company to use social media by placing content and sample messages in easy-to-access locations.

Our leadership is committed to making social media an integral part of our company.

Without executive sponsorship, your initiatives will not take off. It helps to have a visible, vocal champion who legitimizes your efforts.

We are committed to making our interactions as personalized as possible.

Buyers trust your employees more than they trust your ads, your website, and even your CEO. In marketing speak, empowering your employees on social media is called “employee advocacy.”

We produce and/or discover enough quality content to sustain social conversations.

Content is a requirement for social media. Without content, what will you share on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn?

We understand how to measure the success of our social media efforts.

You need a tool that can produce insights – insights about which tactics are working and whether your efforts are producing leads, pipeline, and revenue.

We have the social media technology in place that will help us build an enterprise-wide strategy.

You need a tool that is flexible enough to accommodate each department’s needs and simple enough that any employee can use it to build a presence on social media.

What Else Goes into Evaluating Your Company’s Social Media Strategy?

This ebook covers it all. Download it and take your social initiatives to the next level!

The 5 Key Elements of Authentic Social Media Engagement

Employee advocacy and social selling have clear benefits for companies. But the success of your social media programs hinges on the quality of your employees’ interactions.

If employees on social media are going to grow their personal networks, build relationships, and drive sales, they need to engage with their followers, and they need to do so authentically. That way, your buyers and customers can see value in their interactions with your employees.

To get to that place, there are five key elements that your employees’ social communications should possess.

1. Consistent

The world of social media is fleeting. One day, there’s a buzzworthy Twitter account that instantly garners attention. Then, after a few days or weeks, the updates become more sporadic, and soon, they stop all together.

In a world of “here-todays-gone-tomorrows,” it can be hard to gain someone’s trust. But consistency over time helps.

People like routine. Think about it. Some people take the same route home every day. Others read the New York Times every morning. Still others check their Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn feed every morning to see what others are saying.

When you are consistent on social media, your followers notice, and they even get excited to see what you’re going to share next.

To maintain consistency, it’s important to create an editorial calendar. Here’s a workbook that will help you build your plan.

2. Relevant

Relevance means knowing who your audience is and what they want to hear about. If you don’t post with a specific audience in mind, chances are good that you’ll have a running monologue on Twitter or Facebook, with little or no feedback from others.

That’s no fun.

Before posting anything, think about your audience. Ask yourself, Will my followers find this post interesting?

3. Credible

Only with credibility will buyers engage with your social media updates. Credible updates have a higher rate of comments, shares, clicks, and retweets. On the flip side, if you haven’t established credibility, you’ll have a lower rate of engagement.

To establish your credibility, your updates need to be both consistent and relevant. But, more importantly, you need to think before you post. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you have the facts right?
  • Are you trying to be humorous? If so, could someone misconstrue your sense of humor?
  • Have you spelled everything correctly in your post?
  • Have you read the piece of content that you’re about to share? Do you think that it’s good?
  • Does the piece of content come from a reputable source?

Credibility is not just about what you say; it’s also about what you link to.

4. Human

It was fun watching IBM Watson triumph on Jeopardy. That said, robots lose their novelty quickly for most people. On the contrary, holding a conversation with another human being never gets old.

And that’s the beauty of employee advocacy and social selling. Your employees – real human beings, with real names and faces – get to interact with your buyers, who are also real, flesh-and-blood human beings, with real names and faces. So, your employees’ social updates should sound like they come from humans, like they have individual personalities.

There are different ways to convey personality on social media. You can use punctuation like exclamation points. You can use emojis and emoticons. You can choose your words carefully – to make your online words sound more like your speaking voice.

Whatever you do, remember that regurgitating headlines doesn’t sound human. It sounds robotic. Add some of your thoughts to the article.

5. Strategic

A good advocacy program will have a strategy behind it. You will have a plan for discovering content, publishing it, distributing it to people on your team, and measuring the effectiveness of your efforts.

Your employees will know, for instance, which networks they will use for professional purposes. They will be trained on the nuances of those networks, and they will understand how to construct their professional brands. Furthermore, your program’s managers will define the right set of metrics so that your team can find the content that resonates with your buyers.

Intrigued? Want to learn more about employee advocacy?

In the past, simply having a presence on social media was enough for many companies. But social networking sites are changing, and so are buyers. Potential customers want to hear messages tailored specifically for them, and they want to hear those messages from someone they can trust.

To maximize the potential of social media, today’s marketers have to change their strategies. That’s where employee advocacy comes in.

We wrote The Rise of the Employee Marketer, an ebook, on the subject. It explains why your employees trump more traditional forms of social media marketing. Check it out!

The 4 Stages of Employee Advocacy Transformation [Infographic]

“Each employee is doing her own thing.”

“Our CMO wants to control the message.”

“As a department, we need to standardize best practices on social.”

Speaking with our buyers, we’ve found that employee advocacy is not static. It’s an evolutionary process, with several distinct stages along the way. To help us gauge the maturity level of our buyers’ advocacy programs, we created a classification system.

We thought that we’d share our system with you so that you can assess your company’s situation. Ready to take a peek?

What Are the Four Stages?

As we developed our four stages, we turned to Altimeter’s research on social media and social business. In fact, the title of this post is a reference to Altimeter’s study on the Six Stages of Social Business Transformation.

Yet, even though we loved Altimeter’s taxonomies of social business, the stages for employee advocacy do not align with those of social business. So, we created our own model.

The following infographic captures the degrees of structure and empowerment that advocacy programs possess.

(Click here to enlarge the image.)

Stage 1: Random Acts of Social

Have you glanced at your employees’ tweets, Instagram accounts, or LinkedIn updates? Chances are that they’re committing random acts of social.

Unbeknownst to you, your employees – 50% of them, to be precise – are discussing your company on social media. By their own volition, they are building brand awareness and speaking with potential buyers. You just don’t know it.

By sharing blog posts, posting photos of your workplace, and doling out coupon codes to friends, your employees are helping your business. But they have no direction. No coordination. Your company’s advocates are on their own, and some are doing a better job than others.

Sound familiar? There’s nothing to be ashamed about. This is where most companies start on their employee advocacy journey.

Stage 2: Spoon-Fed Social

Once companies realize that their employees are posting about them on social, they then consider ways to organize their efforts.

Often times, the company’s first reaction is to control the message. If the company has a social media policy, it is focused on what employees should not do.

Additionally, during the second stage, social updates come from the marketing organization. Typically, a marketing manager feeds content and messages to their employees, which generates the following chain reaction:

  1. The marketing manager sends an e-mail to the employees, saying, “Hey! It would be great if you could share the latest blogs! All you have to do is copy and paste the link with the suggested copy. Thanks!”
  2. As soon as the employees receive that e-mail, they all rush to Twitter or LinkedIn and copy and paste the same message.
  3. All the employees post the same article, with the same copy.
  4. In the end, the posts look like corporate spam. And who likes to be fed spam, either of the electronic or food variety?

Of course, there’s a time and place for command-and-control social advocacy. Perhaps you’re in the pharmaceutical industry, and the FDA has approved three sentences about your drug, meaning that all marketing assets must include the approved language. Or else.

If that scenario sounds familiar, please, supply your employees with the exact verbiage they must use. Nobody wants to get into trouble with the legal department.

But, for the rest of us, we can mature beyond spoon-fed social.

Stage 3: Formalized Social

Once businesses decide to loosen control and empower their employees, they can create a more formal structure for their advocacy program. At this stage, companies realize that the “one-message-fits-all” method of social does not work, nor does the “one-piece-of-content-fits-all-followers” method.

Instead, companies with formalized social plans realize that it makes more sense to create teams of advocates with common interests. Perhaps you group your EMEA sales team together. Your APAC sales team forms another group, and your Americas team yet another.

Each team receives suggested content and copy that will be relevant to the team members and their followers. Note: It’s suggested copy and content. At this point, companies begin to provide training. That way, employees can start to take control of their own social networks and write their own updates.

To reflect this change in employee autonomy, the tone of the social media policies change. Not only do these policies mention what employees can’t do, but more importantly, these policies also mention what employees should do. (No one wants to live in a state of panic, asking himself, Is this against the rules?ˆ)

In sum, your employees are still learning about social during the third stage. There’s still some hand-holding, but with more training, your employees will arrive at the fourth stage.

Stage 4: Strategic Social

You know you’ve arrived at the fourth stage when your employees are no longer happy “just” being on social media. They want more. They want to understand how to master LinkedIn and Twitter so that they can meet their business objectives. They want leads. They want pipeline. They want new hires.

A stage 3 advocate becoming a stage 4 advocate is like a teenager becoming an adult. In stage 4, your advocates are fully grown social media users. Here are five signs that your employees are fully matured:

  1. They understand who they are, how to represent themselves, and how their online personas fit into their personal social media ecosystems.
  2. They understand that certain types of content resonate better with different groups on different social networks.
  3. They have started to grow their social networks and form deeper connections with their followers.
  4. They have the trust of their social community, and many will even be seen as thought leaders.
  5. They have nixed random acts of social from their lives, and there’s a purpose behind their social presence.

Which Stage Are You at?

Are you just getting started, or are your employees old pros?

Asking yourself that question is critical, especially when it comes time to choose an advocacy solution. There are many vendors out there, and each has a lot to offer. But we’d encourage you to find a platform that will allow your employees to grow and mature. Don’t settle for one that only allows you to spoon-feed content to your employees.

If you need help moving your business to the next stage of transformation, leave a comment below. I’d love to help you brainstorm ways to do so.

-Mark

Want to Help Your Employees on Social Media?

Download our workbook on personal branding. This social media plan will your employees:

  • Develop their personal brands
  • Identify the types of content that they need on social media
  • Create an editorial calendar for their Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Twitter accounts

The 5 Stages of Employee Advocacy Recruitment [Infographic]

By now, you understand how to set yourself up for success with employee advocacy. You’ve already recruited your first group of employee advocates, and now, you’re looking to add more people to your team. But how do you get your employees interested in your program?

To pique your employees’ interest, you need to put on your marketer’s hat. Your advocacy program is not going to publicize itself. So, you need to think of creative ways to market your advocacy program internally, every step of the way – from the awarness stage to the evangelist stage.

Below, you’ll find an image that will help you think through the 5 stages of employee advocacy recruitment. If you have any tips for recruiting advocates, we’d love to read about them in the comments section below.

The Recruitment Funnel

As a marketer, you’re familiar with the buyer’s journey and the sales funnel. You understand that some customers move slower through the funnel than others. You understand that some buyers leave the funnel before reaching a decision, and they never come back. Other people leave the funnel, and they come back 6 months later.

The same is true of recruiting employees for your advocacy program. Some of your co-workers will find out about your program, and they will become an advocate as soon as possible. Others will want to take their time and make an informed decision.

It’s your job to gauge the level of your employees’ interest and tailor your message to your employees appropriately. Take a look at the recruitment funnel to start getting some ideas. (Click here to see the image enlarged.)

Awareness

During the awareness stage, your employees learn that your program exists. Since your program is not going to market itself, here are a few ways that you can call attention to your advocacy program:

1. Dole out compliments. Publicly praise your employees for their social media posts. When you say things like “I loved your tweet about the latest trends in artificial intelligence,” other employees’ ears might perk up. They may not know that they can use Twitter at work.

2. Call attention to your executive sponsor’s social media presence. Your program should have an executive sponsor. Not only should she be a vocal proponent of your program. She also should lead by example. Weave your executive sponsor’s social posts into conversations and presentations. Your employees might not realize that the executive team supports social media.

3. Celebrate your employees’ milestones. For example, imagine that a salesperson brings in his first deal that was influenced by social media interactions. Celebrate it, and let everyone know that social media pays off.

Just as your buyers don’t want to receive cold calls and cold pitches, neither do your prospective advocates. Lighter touches will indicate that social media is valued in your company. Furthermore, they give you the opportunity to introduce your advocacy program – without selling it too much.

Interest

This is the stage when employees develop an increasing interest in both your program, specifically, and social media, in general. They know that your program exists. They understand that social media is important to your company. They now want to learn more information about how your program can help them.

At this stage, you can rely on traditional marketing tactics. For example, you can give presentations to individual departments, and you can explain how social media will help members of that department grow. You might have a few one-page PDFs or some short videos that show the value of social media in the workplace.

But don’t be scared to be more creative and to have some fun. Think of alternative content types – like game boards and quizzes. For example, you might refer your sales team to Microsoft’s Social Sales IQ test. After your salespeople take the exam, you can show them how your program will help boost their IQ.

Consideration

At this point, some advocates will be ready to commit to your program. They get it. They understand how social media will help them.

But there will be others who want more assurance. They will want to dive deeper into the specifics of your program and how it has helped your employees. That’s what the consideration stage is for.

For potential advocates in the consideration phase, prepare some advocate testimonials. Show your more reluctant advocates how social media has helped their colleagues. For example, you might include the story of a recent hire, who was swayed by an employee’s social media presence.

Or a salesperson can share his keys for success. In his testimonial, he can discuss how being active on social media has helped him hit his quota every quarter.

Decision

Once your employee has committed to the program, it’s time to set the employee up for success. You’ll want to do the following:

  • Assess each employee’s current social media skills
  • Offer training to the employee
  • Introduce your company’s social media policy to the employee
  • Help the employee create goals and milestones

Evangelist

Congratulations! Your advocate is part of your program! She is proudly representing your company on social media. Now, you want to secure your advocate’s commitment to your program. Furthermore, you want your best advocates to help you by referring new advocates to your social media program.

Here are a few ideas for turning your advocates into loyal evangelists for your program:

1. Make referrals easy. How can you make it easy for employees to refer prospective advocates to your program? Do you have an online form people can fill out?

2. Foster a culture of social media. Encourage your employees to talk about social media in meetings. Have them ask questions like, “How can social media help us solve this problem?” Try to create an environment where using social media is the norm in your workplace.

3. Value your employees’ feedback. As you constantly strive to evaluate your advocacy program, give your advocates a voice. Listen to your advocates’ ideas for improvement, and make it easy for employees to leave feedback. For example, you might ask them to fill out a quarterly or annual participation survey.

Your Best Asset

Happy, satisfied, and informed employees are one of the best marketing investments that your company can make. But your employees won’t become your biggest champions on their own. They need guidance and content along the way.

If you need help thinking through your advocacy recruitment strategy, feel free to contact us. We’d love to help.

Good luck!

-Mark

We Also Suggest:

The 4 Ground Rules of Social Selling

More and more sales organizations see social networks as a crucial way to engage their customers. As a result, social selling has experienced tremendous growth in recent years.

Unfortunately, many sales teams are doing social selling wrong. They’re using LinkedIn and Twitter in ways that damage relationships with buyers. That’s why it’s important to set ground rules with your sales team.

Here are the four ground rules of social selling – taken from our Definitive Cheat Sheet for Social Sellers.

Rule 1: Nix Hard Pitches

Pitches turn off people on social media. If you solely talk about your product or services, LinkedIn and Twitter will not work for you. Focus, instead, on adding value. 74% of buyers choose the sales rep who first adds value during the buying process.

Rule 2: Focus on Building Relationships

Social is a two-way street. No one likes being talked at. Yes, make sure that people hear your message, but remember to show others that you are listening to them, too.

Rule 3: Relax and Be Yourself

Social selling is about, well… being social. Of course, you need to be professional. But don’t forget to show people that you have a personality. After all, people buy from people they like and trust.

Rule 4: Content Is Your Friend

Without engaging content, your social selling efforts will most likely fail. Select content that shares unique points of view and will challenge your buyer’s status quo. To do that, you’ll need access to blog posts, infographics, research reports, industry news, and more. Product one-pagers won’t cut it.

A Quick Word about Content

Social selling experts recommend that 80% of the content pushed by sales reps comes from third-party sources (i.e. other people’s blogs, news, interesting articles, research reports, etc.). The other 20% should come from the rep’s company.

Why’s that? If you share only your company’s content, you lose credibility with your buyers. You come across as biased. By sharing other people’s content, you project expertise, not just blind loyalty to your company.

Introducing the Definitive Cheat Sheet for Social Sellers

With those ground rules in place, your sales team will begin to attract buyers – rather than scare them away. But those four rules are just the tip of the iceberg. There’s still much more to learn – like, how do you set up your profile? How do you find buyers online?

To be successful, sometimes you need to be pointed in the right direction. That’s where our cheat sheet comes in.

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