8 Simple Tips for Busy Executives on Social Media

Executives’ interest in social media is growing. They recognize that social networks can help them build their personal brands, share their expertise, humanize their companies, build brand awareness, and increase revenue.

But there’s one problem. While many executives understand the importance of social, they feel like they don’t have time for social networking. That’s why I sat down with Henry Nothhaft, Trapit’s CEO, to uncover some of his best tips.

Over the course of eight months, Henry grew his Twitter following by 1100% and his Twitter reach by 3900% – without spending a dime on advertising. Needless to say, he knows a thing or two about building a social following. (You can follow him on Twitter or connect on LinkedIn.) So, from one executive to another, here are eight of Henry’s best tips for building your audience.

Tip #1: Be Consistent

Post content to social networks regularly. Consider posting daily to LinkedIn and several times each day to Twitter. A daily 15-minute investment will pay dividends.

Tip #2: Don’t Be Boring

Curate only the most informative and interesting content that you can find. Make sure that your social sharing adds value to your social network. Give people a reason to follow you and engage with you. If you simply retweet already popular content or broadcast your company’s latest press releases, people will ignore you. And you won’t build your company’s brand or your professional brand.

Tip #3: Be Authentic and Show Your Personality

Of course, you want to share work- and industry-related content. That type of content should be the bulk of what you share. But it often helps to supplement business-related content with something that is more personal.

After all, as an executive on social, you’re trying to humanize yourself and your company. And no one eats, sleeps, and lives their work. So, pick an interest or hobby and share about those topics every now and again. For example, Henry posts regularly about digital photography and videography.

Tip #4: Acknowledge Others

Mention people by using the @ symbol in front of their Twitter handle, or in front of their name on LinkedIn. This is a great way to acknowledge a well-written article or a great podcast appearance. When done correctly, mentioning others can be a great conversation starter.

Tip #5: Interact with Others’ Posts

Social networks require interaction. If you only share content and don’t take time to react to what other people post, you won’t be effective. So, take the time to read what others post and show others that you’re consuming their content.

If you’re strapped for time, favorite or like the posts you enjoy or find amusing. Consider favoriting five to ten articles every day on LinkedIn and Twitter. This is an easy way to get social media users’ attention and start to build your social network.

For posts that truly pique your interest, take the time to leave a comment. It’s a great way to demonstrate your expertise, as well as swap ideas with other thought leaders in your industry.

Tip #6: Minimize Your Workload

Make sure that your company has the right software in place. With tools like Trapit, executives can automate tasks and schedule posts ahead of time. What’s more, busy executives don’t need to scavenge the internet, searching for the best content. With a tool like Trapit, marketing managers can easily help executives choose content to share so that their social profiles are always fresh.

Also, if you have an executive assistant or a trusted marketing manager, you may want to rely on an assistant’s help to maintain your social presence.

Tip #7: Don’t Forget Nights and Weekends

Many people check Twitter and LinkedIn at night and on weekends. By scheduling posts during off-hours, you can boost your engagement. But be cognizant of what people are doing when they’re not at the office.

At 10pm on a Thursday evening, most social media users aren’t looking for a dense white paper to read. Instead, consider sharing content related to your interests – like digital photography (see tip #3) – or something that’s easier to digest – like an infographic or SlideShare.

Tip #8: Find the Right Mix of Company-Created and Third-Party Content

Social media experts recommend that 80% of the content shared by employees come from third parties (e.g. other people’s blogs, interesting articles, news, reports). The other 20% should come from the employee’s company.

At first, this might seem contradictory. Executives on social can help build their company’s brand, yet they shouldn’t share too much content produced by their company. Huh? How does that work?

As an executive on social, your primary goal is to serve your followers and customers. If you share only your company’s content, you lose credibility with your followers. Social media users don’t want to interact with corporate parrots, who simply repeat the latest marketing messaging. Instead, they want to engage with someone who shares original thinking and authentic interests. That’s ultimately how you will help build your company’s brand and raise its visibility.

Leading the Digital Charge

If you’re still on the fence about starting a social presence, think about it this way: people now spend more time using apps like Twitter and LinkedIn than they do watching television. That’s why digital and social transformation is a top priority for the majority of today’s CEOs.

To support your company’s digital initiatives, executives need to immerse themselves in the digital experience. Today, it is hard to lead and understand the digital revolution without a personal social media presence. The good news is that, contrary to what many executives believe, building a social presence is easier than they think, and the rewards build up quickly. Use the eight tips above as a starting point.

Humanize Your Company through Employee Advocacy

Learn how to empower your company’s employees on social media through employee advocacy by downloading our ebook.

8 Myths about Social Selling That You Might Believe

Much of what we’ve come to believe about social selling is wrong. Out of fear and out of unfamiliarity, we’ve created myths about social selling, and it’s time to crush our misconceptions. Here are eight of the most pernicious myths about social selling, with explanations of why they’re simply not correct.

Myth #1: Our customers aren’t on social

Have you ever looked to see if your customers use LinkedIn, Twitter or another social network? Chances are good that your buyers use social. IDC has found that 84% of executives use social media to support purchase decisions. Similarly, IDG Connect has found that 86% of B2B IT buyers use social media networks in their purchasing process.

Still not convinced? Ask your customers. It’s the easiest way to find out.

Myth #2: Corporate channels are your most important social media assets

Nope, nope, nope. Social selling is about connecting with people – not logos. Buyers trust people more than they trust corporations. That’s why social selling is so effective. Here’s the latest information from Edelman on the subject:

Myth #3: Social selling is for generating new customers

Of course, social selling will help you identify, research, and connect with new customers. But many sales reps forget to use social to maintain relationships with their current customers. This is a dirty shame, given that Gartner says that 80% of your future revenue come from 20% of your current customers.

Not sure how you can use social selling for engaging current customers? Check out this post: Social Selling Doesn’t Stop at the Sale.

Myth #4: You should pitch your product and services on social

Somehow, this has become the modus operandi of sales reps on social. They pitch their buyers without getting to know their buyers, and when buyers don’t respond, they follow up incessantly. What a turn-off!

Think of social like attending a networking event in person. You don’t want to be the loathsome person who walks up to someone and says, “Hi! My name is Mark! I don’t know who you are, and you don’t know who I am. But you need my product.” That scares away people.

Myth #5: Social selling doesn’t need a content plan

Social selling is all about building relationships, and to build relationships on social, you need content. Think about how you maintain relationships in the digital world. You send people articles, memes, infographics, videos, and more. You fire off a message, saying, “Hey Mom! I saw this article and thought of you!”

Well, the same is true of using social for sales. Content is a key ingredient for any social selling program. Without educational blogs, white papers, infographics, surveys, reports, and videos, your social sellers will not be able to build trust with buyers, and they will add little value to their potential customers’ lives.

Myth #6: Social selling is a distraction for my sales team

As a sales leader, you’re probably worried that social will distract reps. With permission to use social, salespeople won’t call customers or send emails or enter data into your CRM. Instead, they’ll spend their days on Facebook, watching videos of cats getting scared by cucumbers.

That’s not how things should work. Social selling does not mean spending every minute on social. It means using Twitter or LinkedIn as another tool for researching and engaging customers. As a sales leader, you need to set clear expectations around social and explain to reps how to use networks like LinkedIn and Twitter to augment their sales playbook.

Here are some tips: How Sales Reps Can Combine Online and Offline Tactics

Myth #7: My sales reps need to be experts on social before they get started

Argh! This is one of the most frustrating myths. Sales leaders cling to the idea that reps need to attend countless training sessions and fret over their social profiles. Only then – when all profiles are perfect and reps know everything there is to know about social selling – can sales reps start social selling.

That’s not how learning works. You learn by doing. Think about your own experience. When you study a foreign language, you don’t memorize all the rules before you practice speaking the language. No, you learn the rules and practice them at the same time.

The same should be true of your social selling program. Your reps should be learning and doing at the same time.

Myth #8: LinkedIn is the only network for social selling

For many companies, LinkedIn will be a cornerstone of their social selling program. But it shouldn’t be the only network that your team explores. In many ways, Twitter can be a better network for your team. Or, if you’re working in an international context, you might want to explore apps like Whatsapp or WeChat or Weibo.

Time to Bust the Social Selling Myths at Your Company

Social selling is one of the most critical tools for your reps. The CEB has found that social selling is the single most powerful behavior that separates high performers from core performers.

So, what are you waiting for? It’s time to embrace social selling at your organization. Contact us to find out how we can help.

8 Key Roles for Your Social Selling Program

Most sales teams have to generate 85% of their own leads.

That’s a lot of leads. Talk about putting pressure on your salespeople. To help generate and nurture leads, sales leaders are launching social selling programs.

If you’re thinking about using social media for sales prospecting and pipeline generation, take some time to think about the composition of your social sales team. The composition of your team can make or break your program.

Below, you’ll find a list of eight key roles that you will need for social selling success. As you look at the key players, consider your team members’ skills and map them to the functions below. Keep in mind that some people may play more than one role.

Executive Sponsor

You need someone on the executive team to buy into social media and the modern sales process. Why? It legitimizes your project, and it communicates to your sales team that they need to take your program seriously.

The executive needs to be vocal about his or her support of your goals and objectives. To give your executive sponsor confidence, you need to brief him or her on your team’s endeavors and results. And in an ideal situation, the executive sponsor should provide guidance on the project.

If you’re looking to speak with the executive team about using social media for sales, you should check out our list of common objections – with tips on overcoming them and getting the executive buy-in you need.

Internal Project Manager

Who’s going to oversee your program? Who’s going to create a project plan and a series of best practices for your team? Who’s going to give status reports to the executive team?

That’s what your project manager does.

The project manager will work with the vendor’s customer success team (see below) and will manage deliverables. The individual will also be in charge of communicating the vision of your program to your sales team, providing status reports, sharing best practices, scheduling team meetings, and managing risk, issue, and change during the program.

For example, let’s say that your sales team wants instruction on LinkedIn best practices. The project manager will coordinate with the marketing team and set up an instructional session with sales and marketing. Then, the project manager will ensure that the sales team applies the training insights to their own LinkedIn profiles and prospecting techniques.

For tips on recruiting project managers, check out this blog post.

Content Creators

If social selling is going to work at your company, you need content. Your salespeople need blog posts, white papers, infographics, and customer testimonials to share on social media.

Good content makes your salespeople look smart on social media, and more importantly, good content helps buyers identify their problems and solve them, ultimately leading to a purchasing decision.

Most likely, your marketing team has someone who creates content for early, mid, and late stage campaigns. It’s important that your sales team has a say in what gets created. Hold regular meetings with your marketing and sales team, and discuss the types of content that the sales organization needs for success.

Content Curators

Having content is one thing. Curating it is another.

You need someone who can write sample messages that accompany the white papers, blog posts, and infographics on social media.

This may be your content creator; it might be your social media manager. The role will shift from company to company.

Regardless of your company’s organizational structure, it often helps if you create a content library, where you can store key pieces of content and key messages.

Chances are good, though, that your marketing team is not able to create enough content to keep your sales team active on social media.

There’s no shame in that. The Aberdeen Group has found that 68% of marketers are unable to create enough content to satiate their audience. So, your curators need to discover additional third-party content that your salespeople can use.

Helpful tip: A good platform will make content discovery easy for you. Here’s a list of 15 questions to ask when evaluating social selling platforms.

Social Listeners

These people have their finger on the social pulse. They spend part of their day listening to conversations on social media to see what buyers are discussing.

At times, the social listeners are looking for insights that will allow them improve their products. Let’s say that they read a product review that highlights ways your user interface could become more intuitive. The listeners can provide feedback to your product team.

At other times, the listeners are looking for opportunities to enter into a conversation with a potential buyer. Say, someone on social media is inquiring about alternatives to Microsoft Word, and your company happens to make word processing software. Perhaps one of your salespeople should strike up a conversation.

Social Sellers

These are your sales team members. Your social sellers are responsible for being active on social media. They are responsible for being professional on social media. And they are responsible for identifying and nurturing prospects on social media.

They have a lot on their plate. And they need the support of the other key players on their team.

From marketing, your salespeople need access to key content and assets. From your analytics team, they need feedback on how they can improve their use of social media. And they need to be kept in the loop by your project manager. Your salespeople need to know how to leverage their sales platform for social media and how the tool fits into your overall sales strategy.

Here are a few resources to help your sales team understand how to use social media effectively:

Use these interview questions to recruit the right salespeople for your team.

Metrics and Analytics

Your analysts need to review metrics and analyze for success. They take their insights and provide them to the project manager so that they can improve their process.

Here are a few questions that your analysts can answer:

  • Which salespeople are the most engaging on social media?
  • Which salespeople are bringing in the most deals?
  • Which types of content (e.g. infographics, blog posts, videos, etc.) are resonating the most with our audiences?
  • On which social networks are the salespeople having the most success?

Vendor’s Customer Success Team

When thinking about organizational charts for our projects, we often focus solely on our internal teams. In so doing, we forget about our vendors.

That’s a shame because your vendor’s customer success managers are equally as important. They can either make for a very speedy implementation or for a very slow implementation.

Depending on your vendor, the customer success team might help with the following:

  • Project planning
  • Guidance for deployments
  • Best practices
  • Migration
  • Training your sales team

When evaluating platforms, make sure you find out more about your vendor’s customer success team. How hands-on will they be when it comes to launching your new program?

Are you ready?

What does your department look like? Do you have the roles needed to transform your sales team into a modern sales team that uses social media?

If you’re ready, we’d love to show you how Trapit can help. We’ll make social selling easy for you and your team.

-Mark

Do you want help launching your social selling program?

Download our social selling workbook!

8 Incredibly Informative Infographics to Guide Your Social Selling

Social selling is becoming more and more popular. And as the topic garners more attention, more and more content is being produced about this “new” form of sales. (See infographic number 1 for more on the “newness” of social selling.)

Wading through all the information can be daunting and painfully time-consuming. To help you out, I dove head-first into a sea of infographics. I fished out the images with the best stats, information, and suggestions for social selling.

Let’s take a look.

1. The Historical Era of Social Selling vs. The Present Era of Social Selling

So often, social selling is framed as a completely new sales technique. However, as this infographic illustrates, social selling has been around for a long time. Since the 1940s, salespeople have taken it upon themselves to build relationships with their buyers.

The big difference: Instead of taking prospects to the golf course like they did in the past, salespeople now interact on social media.

It might be cliché to say this, but Dale Carnegie’s quote is still one of my favorites:

I’ll admit, this infographic is on the tinier side on our page. Click here to view a larger version.

Source: Inc

2. Offline vs. Online Leads

The infographic focuses primarily on following up with inbound leads. It is not entirely geared towards salespeople who are trying to build relationships and generate leads on social media.

That said, the bottom of this infographic is supremely helpful. It showcases the importance of promptness. Don’t respond to an e-mail or a LinkedIn InMail or a Facebook message in 24 hours?

Well, when you do respond, you are going to be old news, and your chances of making contact with someone decreases as more time passes.

Moral of the story: Follow up. And follow up quickly.

Source: Salesforce

3. A Beginner’s Guide to Social Selling

This infographic walks you through the basics of social selling. The key takeaways come at the very bottom of the image:

  1. Present relevant and valuable content to leads that need it.
  2. Never make a direct sales pitch on social media
  3. Position yourself as a resource for solving your prospect’s problems.

I wish that more salespeople took heed of the second tip.

Source: Salesforce

4. How to Build a Social Selling Routine

This infographic picks up where the last one left off. The previous one told people to “present relevant and valuable content to leads that need it.” As you can see, this infographic begins with content.

In other words, content is a must-have for social selling. Without content, you have nothing.

Why is that? First, you need to be helpful to your buyers. Being helpful to someone is an easy way to gain someone’s trust.

Second, you need to appear competent. If you are perceived as a go-to resource for information, people will value your thoughts, and known thought leaders have more sway. LinkedIn’s research shows that 92% of B2B buyers are willing to engage with sales professionals who are known industry thought leaders.

Source: Sales for Life

5. Account Executive: Social Selling Study

The previous two infographics emphasize content. But wait! Only 3% of sales account executives actively share relevant content to potential buyers. (See infographic below for more stats.)

In other words, there are a lot of unhelpful salespeople out there. Adding value through content can easily set you and your sales team apart from everyone else.

Source: Sales for Life

6. How Best-in-Class Sellers Use Social Relationships to Build a Better Pipeline

The infographic below may seem redundant. “Don’t Broadcast” and “Don’t Blast Messages” are similar suggestions, but I’m happy to see the idea reinforced in this infographic.

Too often, we forget why social selling works. Social selling works because it enables sales people to build a one-to-one relationship. As a salesperson, you can personalize someone’s experience in a way that marketing cannot.

Sure, you can (and should) send general status updates on sites like LinkedIn. But if that’s all you’re doing, you’re missing a huge opportunity.

Source: Salesforce

7. How Content Can Transform Salespeople

This infographic helps you think of ways to prevent blasting content at your potential buyers. Read the “insider tips,” and decide what role you’d like to play.

Are you a teacher, a problem solver, a coach, a thought leader, or a partner? Or are you a hybrid?

Source: Kapost

8. How Best-in-Class Sellers Use Social Relationships to Build a Better Pipeline

Maybe you’re still skeptical about social selling. After all, many of these infographics come from Salesforce and LinkedIn, companies that are invested in the sales process. Well, the Aberdeen Group has done its own research on the topic, which is presented in this infographic.

For me, the most persuasive statistics appear at the very bottom. If you are leveraging social media correctly, you should be reaching your quota and increasing your company’s bottom line. Are you?

Source: LinkedIn

For more on the Aberdeen Group’s research on social selling, check out this SlideShare.

Over to you…

Which of these infographics resonated with you? Did you learn anything new from the data? Let us know in the comments!

-Mark

P.S. If you and your sales team need help finding content, make sure that you check out Trapit. See how it works.

More Social Selling Resources:

  1. Social Selling 101
  2. Templates for Breaking the Ice with Propsects on Social Media
  3. Improve Your Social Selling on LinkedIn with These 12 Tips and Tricks
  4. B2B Prospecting: 4 Must-Have Tools
  5. 15 Questions to Ask When Evaluating Social Selling Platforms
  6. 12 Quick and Essential Social Selling Tips (with Data-Backed Explanations)

7 Types of Content Your Prospects Want to See on Social

A critical part of social selling is defining your sales team’s content strategy. In part, that includes determining which types of content best serve your buyers. Unfortunately, there isn’t a magic content wand that will ensorcell every last one of your prospects. Different buyers consume content in different ways. So, as a social seller, you should offer a smorgasbord of options.

Below, we’ll look at seven types of content that tend to resonate on social, and along the way, we’ll look at the research that explains why those pieces of content work. Let’s get started!

The 7 Content Types

First things first, social sellers must be cognizant of how their buyers use social networks. Most aren’t in a buying mood. So, resist the temptation to spout off product pitch after product pitch. Your pitches won’t go over well.

On a professional network like LinkedIn, many people are thinking about their own career success. They want information that will help advance their career. On a personal network like Facebook, people want nostalgia and distraction. They want to stay in touch, socialize, and be entertained, as this infographic from LinkedIn shows.

That is to say, some of the content types discussed will be better suited for certain networks than others. So, be mindful of where you’re sharing content. With that caveat out of the way, here are a few of the content types that work well on social:

Videos

In the digital world, videos are one of the most effective pieces of content:

Videos can achieve multiple objectives. They can explain difficult concepts, demonstrate instructions, answer questions, provide customer reviews, and entertain your audience.

As you select videos to share, remember two things. First, these videos don’t have to be created by your company. They can be other people’s videos – like this one, from Forrester, on the need to reboot your sales team. Second, most social users will not sit through a 45-minute video. Try to share shorter videos, and if you can’t, try to highlight a specific section of the video using timestamps.

Industry Trends & Research Reports

Prospects are always paying attention to industry trends and research reports. Staying “in the know” helps buyers advance their careers within their companies and maintain an edge on their competitors outside their companies. That’s why it’s important to share general content about industry trends.

Often times, your company will not produce your industry trend pieces (unless you work for an analyst or consulting firm). Rather, you will have to rely on third-party content, which can actually help you build stronger relationships with your buyers.

Think about it. 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 a more impartial image, which buyers like, especially when they are actively trying to avoid sales reps.

Infographics

Content is often text-heavy, but people are highly visual. The human brain processes images 60,000 times faster than text. The more inundated we are with text, the more visual content breaks through the information clutter.

That’s where infographcis come in. These graphics present complex information in simple ways by using a combination of words and images. They can be extremely helpful for busy people who are quickly scrolling through their social feeds. So, don’t be afraid to add a few of these to your marketing mix.

Slide Decks

Like infographics, slide decks are highly visual, and they tend to present complex ideas in simple ways. Often times, the decks are housed on SlideShare, a platform that integrates easily with networks like Twitter and LinkedIn. SlideShare’s compatibility makes it easy for your prospects, in that they can click through the slides on Twitter or LinkedIn; they do not have to visit another webpage.

Here’s an example of an embedded slide deck that might help you become a better social seller:

Analyst Perspectives

In the B2B space, the opinions of analysts matter. Many buyers use them as they are trying to determine how to solve their business problems and which vendors to engage.

As you know, analyst reports are often pricey. So, I’d discourage you from linking to those reports on social. An expensive paywall is the last thing a Twitter user wants to see. There’s good news, though. Many analysts are writing blogs, which offer brief overviews of their reports. Blogs are perfect for sharing on LinkedIn or Twitter because they are short and skimmable.

Case Studies

Many times, the most compelling stories come from your customers. Just because a case study is a traditional content type doesn’t mean that you should ignore it, especially in today’s buying environment.

The average buying committee now has between 5 and 7 members, which means there are many divergent opinions. As a result, many buying committees struggle to determine what their business problem is, how they should solve it, and which vendor they should choose.

In fact, the “how they should solve it” problem proves to be the most difficult part for many buying committees. That’s why case studies are so effective. The best case studies don’t just explain why a vendor chose your solution. They walk readers through the entire decision-making process from start to finish. Understanding how other companies arrived at their decision helps future buyers build consensus at their companies and ultimately get over the hump in the chart below:

What’s more, a good case study tells a story. Not all buyers can read a set of statistics and devise a story. Many need a picture painted for them, and that’s what a good case study does.

Personal Interests

To bring the conversation full circle, we return to the idea of mindsets. Reading business information, all the time, every day, is tiring. Sometimes, to build relationships with customers, you need a dose of levity and personality. So, don’t be afraid to share your interests and hobbies, especially on personal networks like Twitter or Facebook.

Let’s say that you’re a quota-carrying member of a sales team, whose territory is Northern California. To show your buyers that you understand them, you might want to occasionally share a news article about restaurants in San Francisco or photos related to the Oakland art scene – something that you and your potential buyers can bond over on a more personal level, something that will make you seem more human.

But be careful: Make sure that your personal interest content is not off-putting for buyers. You don’t want to lose a potential customer because you offended them on social. So, stay clear of sensitive issues like religion or politics.

Choosing the Right Content

In today’s digital world, buyers are more empowered than ever before. Armed with an abundance of information, buyers self-direct their journeys. In order to capture the buyer’s attention in a noisy market, content isn’t just a “nice to have.” It’s a “must have.”

An effective content strategy for social selling will help your brand engage with potential customers early in the buying cycle and build a relationship with them over time, but only if your content adds value.

Want more help building your sales team’s content strategy? Check out this workbook.

7 Types of Content your Audience Wants

Image via

If you were an advertiser, publisher, or marketer in the 20th Century, traditional media was the way to go. By interrupting media consumers while they were reading, watching or listening to their desired content, you could steal their attention and deliver your message. Back then, of course, you had a relatively captive audience, something that the internet age has pretty much brought to an end.

Today, interruption-based advertising is practically useless. The number of advertising messages we receive on a daily basis is at least well into the hundreds, and the odds are stacked against even the best traditional campaigns. Instead, we live in a world where content is king, and where establishing trust, knowledge, and customer loyalty means everything. That’s where content marketing comes in: if you can position yourself as the thought-leader, as the trusted, reliable go-to source for quality information, then people will look to you for the solutions to their problems.

But that means having the right resources available at your potential customers’ fingertips when they need it. That means having the information all in one place, and having it be accessible at the touch of a button. And that means having it in the right format for your audience, no matter what point they’re at in the sales cycle. So what are the types of content you should provide them with?

  1. Cutting-edge news: Sharing knowledge of the most recent news in your field — including staying abreast of the most recent discoveries, press releases and industry developments — shows your audience that you understand where the future of your industry lies.
  2. Relevant opinion pieces: There are a wide variety of perspectives out there on any topic, and at least in the digital age, people aren’t shy about sharing their own. But most of them simply parrot the same points with only a cursory level of quality information. If you can seek out and highlight the true diamonds-in-the-rough out there, you position yourself as plugged in to the pulse of your industry.
  3. Infographics: There’s a ton of information and data out there, and separating the wheat from the chaff is a daunting task for the casual consumer. But as an industry professional, summarizing complex information is a breeze for you, and telling a quality infographic from mere click-bait is something your audience could find incredibly valuable. If you can present to them a brief summary showing what they should be considering, getting those gears turning could have a tremendous payoff.
  4. Original thought-leadership: You can get very far simply by finding and sharing the most relevant third-party content that’s out there, and there’s absolutely no point to reinventing the wheel. But it’s paramount to establish your own value-add to the subject, whether that’s through social media, blogging, or complementary original content. Without your own voice interjected from time-to-time, you’re just reflecting the light of others rather than generating your own, and customers can tell the difference.
  5. Podcasts/webinars/online video: Grab your audience now with something that catches the eye. Have you put the effort into creating engaging content that goes into deeper detail, like a podcast, video or even a webinar? This takes time and effort to do right, but this is exactly what you ought to be doing if you’re interested in cementing your position as the premier source for quality, trustworthy information. Rise up to the challenge and your audience will be grateful.
  6. White papers/downloads: You have their attention, and they’ve made it to your website. They have a problem and think that you just might be the one to help them solve it. The big question now is this: where are your resources for them? A series of white papers, PDFs or other downloadable materials gives your audience the information they need to decide that your solution is a good one. And finally…
  7. A clear path to a solution: Is it a product you offer? A service? Something else? Make it absolutely clear, and make it easily accessible to anyone interested. If you’ve gone through all that trouble to build trust and to get your potential customers this far along the path, make it easy for them to go the rest of the way. A clean, easy and direct purchase or sign-up page can make all the difference in the world. Don’t create frustration when you can streamline instead.

Don’t make the mistake of not meeting the needs of your audience; if you don’t, there are plenty of others who will step up to the plate. In the 21st century, content is king, but delivering a uniquely valuable message that takes advantage of your unique expertise is what can set you apart. Use these 7 types of content to engage them with that message.

-Ethan

7 Smart Infographics to Guide Your FinServ Social Media Strategy

Social media presents a big opportunity for companies working in financial services.

Do you need convincing? Or perhaps you simply want to look at the evidence in a visually stunning way? Well, this blog post is for you. I chose to hand-curate seven of the most informative infographics on social media in the finance and insurance industries.

Take a look at the infographics, and learn something new!

1. Social Media in the Finance Industry

Creating objectives for new marketing channels can be difficult. What should you focus on? Should you increase leads? Should you build awareness?

The majority of finance and insurance companies have set their eyes on two goals:

  1. Increasing engagement with their audience
  2. Increasing awareness and size of their audience

As the conclusion of this infographic states, few companies are focused on the direct sale. Instead, most organizations believe that they need to build trust with their clients, and from that trust, sales will come.

Infographic via Bloom Worldwide

2. Financial Advisors and Social Media: Making the Connection

Which social channels should financial advisors use? The answer depends on what you want to do.

LinkedIn is by far the most popular network. However, the way that you use LinkedIn is different from the way that you use other social networks. Most financial advisors are using LinkedIn for finding new clients. Facebook, on the other hand, is useful for staying in touch with current clients.

For more information, check out this great infographic from Putnam Investments:

3. Social Media Marketing Landscape for Financial Professionals

So, you have an idea of how other financial professionals are using social media. But what do your clients want from you on social media?

As this infographic shows, investors want thought leaders. They want to know the latest news, and they want educational articles.

In other words, financial professionals need to be expert content curators. To get started with content curation, download our content curation workbook, or check out the following infographic from Financial Social Media:

4. How Financial Services Have Embraced Social Media

Social media advice and infographics often present information as if it were applicable to all countries. But social media use varies from country to country. Bearing that in mind, LinkedIn Europe created an infographic dedicated to the United Kingdom.

As you can see, curating the latest financial news is extremely important in the UK. It’s what investors are seeking out, and when financial advisors can meet those expectations, they see returns on their investments. 31% of British LinkedIn users have found a new company as a result of exploring content on the network. And 23% have learned of a new financial product/policy.

5. Insurance in a Digital World

Ernst and Young conducted a survey of insurance providers at the end of 2013. Most insurance companies see the potential power of social media. They want to enrich their customers’ experience and regain direct control of their customer relationships. However, internal forces like legacy technology and cultural constraints are holding them back.

For more information on Ernst and Young’s findings, check out this infographic:

6. Why Social Media Is Still a Gold Mine for Insurance Companies

If you’re having any doubts that insurance companies should be on social media, consult the data that LeadSift culled together. There are plenty of opportunities for insurance companies to enter conversations on social.

7. 27 Social Media Rules for Financial Advisors

To conclude this list, let’s look at some general best practices. I don’t agree with all of them (e.g. rule number 14), but there are several great tips. I particularly like:

2. Become a resource

21. Don’t tweet about everything. Tweet about what you know best.

22. Consistency is critical.

Which rules do you find most helpful?

I hope that we haven’t created data overload, and we hope that these infographics help you as you create your 2015 marketing plans. Are there any visuals or statistics that you have found helpful in your research? We’d love to see them in comments section below!

-Mark

More infographic posts:

7 Tips for Shareable Social Content

One of the biggest common goals of using social media is generating brand awareness and getting your content out to a larger audience. To achieve this, you need people to share your posts with their own networks of users. But how often do you stop and think about how shareable your blog post, Facebook update, or Tweet really is? Is your content ready to be easily shared across social networks, or are you unknowingly creating hurdles for those who are ready and willing to share? If you’re hoping for your content to be shared, as I’m sure we all are, then make it easy! Follow these tips when creating and sharing original content to make that content more likely to take off on social media.

1. Make your title relevant

We don’t recommend shoving a bunch of buzzworthy keywords in your title just for kicks, but if your blog post (or other piece of content) is about something relevant to your industry, make sure you don’t omit those keywords from your title. Put them front and center so that it’s clear what your post is about.

2. Go visual

If you only choose one new tactic to try to increase your sharability on social networks, this is the one to run with. It seems like every day I see new studies or statistics saying that visual content is far more likely to be shared than your average text block. Start by always including a photo with your blog, Facebook, and LinkedIn posts, and then expand to including images in your Tweets or even creating visual blog posts or original infographics.

3. Keep it concise

Extra-long titles and links make sharing more difficult. Ideally, for Twitter, your post title (or general Tweet) plus your link should still leave room for a follower to share your Tweet and add a few words of their own commentary.

4. Use hashtags when it makes sense

No one likes an overflow of hashtags, but they can be helpful in getting your content seen by a larger audience. Many people search for Tweets by a hashtag instead of just viewing their own Twitter feed, which means that with the right hashtag for your industry, you may be attracting a larger audience that is already interested in content like yours. Be sparing with hashtags and only use them when it is relevant to what you are posting.

5. Make the (actual) sharing easy

A retweet on Twitter is simple enough, but if your blog doesn’t have buttons for social sharing, readers are going to have to open Twitter (or any other social network), type in the full title of your post, and copy and paste the link before sending that Tweet on its merry way. That’s a lot of work. Social sharing buttons make sharing as easy as a couple clicks, removing the effort from the process and making readers a lot more likely to share.

6. Create digestible content

People who are most active on social media are busy and won’t often have time to sit down and read through a 1,500 word blog post from beginning to end. That takes some focus and dedication. Go easy on your audience by breaking down your content into smaller points or even separate posts so that readers can quickly get the information they’re looking for. Visual content, how-to posts, or content that suggests a few tips on a topic are all easily digestible, and therefore, more easily shareable.

7. Help your audience

What does your audience need help with? What are the pain points that they face on a day-to-day basis? Think about creating content that helps address these concerns that your audience might have. Take an industry problem and turn it into something shareable by giving valuable advice or relevant information on the topic. If a reader finds your content genuinely helpful, the chances of that reader sharing the content go way up.

By eliminating any hurdles that your audience may have in sharing your content, you might notice an upswing in the amount of people who are willing to share your content with others on social media. Combine quality original content with some of these tips and you’ll be on your way to creating shareable content.

– Kelly

7 Reasons Why Social Selling Is Like Dating

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, it is time to reflect on our relationships–both of the romantic and professional persuasion. Because believe it or not, dating and prospecting have a lot in common.

Think about how your last romantic relationship started. My guess is that it didn’t start overnight. It took time and commitment to develop that relationship.

Well, the same is true for your sales relationships. Don’t believe me? Here are seven pieces of dating advice that you can apply to your social selling.

1. Know where you can meet people.

In the dating world, you have options for meeting new prospects. You can meet people at coffee shops, bars, art galleries, through friends, and on online dating sites.

On social media, think about where your prospects hang out. Are they on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, or Google+?

If you don’t know, think about your latest customers. Search for them on social media sites like LinkedIn and Twitter. If they are on those sites, you might find more people like them.

2. Listen.

Before you begin engaging with a buyer, listen. You don’t want to put your foot in your mouth – just like you wouldn’t want to embarass yourself during a date.

So, observe your buyer’s behavior. What type of content does my prospect post? How frequently does my prospect post? What are my prospect’s interests? How does my prospect engage with people?

Use that information to inform your conversation. If your buyer isn’t effusive, don’t bombard her with emoticons and exclamation points. If your buyer doesn’t respond to every tweet, don’t freak out if he doesn’t respond to your tweet.

3. Play the field, but choose wisely.

When you’re dating online, you are presented with a smorgasbord of potential partners. If you choose just one potential suitor, you may end up disappointed if your interest does not return your affection. But if you try to pursue everyone, you will spread yourself too thin, and you won’t be able to develop any kind of relationship.

Apply that same mentality to social selling. Don’t focus all your energy on one person. At the same time, don’t try to be everything to everyone. To help you out, you need to develop your buyer personas. What types of people should you be targeting?

Fill out a worksheet like this one to help you narrow your options.

To download this worksheet as an interactive PDF, click here.

4. A first date is not an audition for a marriage.

Your first date is just an audition for a second date. In most cases, it does not immediately lead to a marriage proposal. Similarly, your first interaction with someone on social media will not lead to an immediate deal. You need time to build a relationship with someone before you can seal the deal.

5. Don’t push too hard too soon.

Imagine this. You go on your first date. He treats you to a lovely dinner at your favorite restaurant. You flirt. You laugh. And then you scream. At the end of dinner, he kneels down, whips out a ring, and proposes to you.

Bam! Your first date is ruined. Too much, too soon.

Now, let’s recast that scenario for social selling. You strike up a conversation with a prospect. You treat her to some great content. She’s eating it up. You continue to talk. The emoticons are flying. Then, you go in for the hard sell right away. “Do you want to buy my product?”

Bam! You just scared away your prospect. Too much, too soon!

Make sure you assess where the buyer is along the sales funnel before you pitch the person on your product. Do they know they have a problem? If they are still unaware of their problem, you can’t sell them a solution.

6. Don’t be creepy.

In the twenty-first century, you’re going to search for both your dates and prospects online. As a salesperson, you should do some research before speaking to a prospect. (See rule number 2.) However, you don’t want to take that too far.

On a sales call, be careful not to mention everything you found out about the person.

“I saw your adorable picture of your puppy on your Facebook profile.” Creepy, why were you looking me up on Facebook?

“Did you know that we have 25 LinkedIn groups in common?” Kind of weird. Why do you remember that detail? And is that pertinent to our sales conversation?

“Your content is so good on Twitter. I retweet everything you say.” Eek! Tone down the eagerness, bucko!

7. Develop your skills.

Some people are naturally suave and debonair. They were born with an innate ability to charm the socks off of people. Others need time to cultivate their dating skills.

Don’t expect to be immediately good at social selling. It might take some time for you to develop your talents. Be patient. With time and some coaching, you’ll find the right prospect at the right time.

Want more social selling tips?

Check out these posts:

6.5 Untraditional Ways to Keep Your Sales Team Informed in Real Time

Being a sales leader is no easy task. You worry about leads, hiring, motivation, reporting, technology, competition, compensation, training, knowledge gaps among your reps… And the list goes on.

Unfortunately, we can’t tackle all those challenges in today’s blog post. (We couldn’t even do it in one book.) Instead, we’ll look at one important task: keeping your sales team informed. Face-to-face meetings and lunch-and-learns aren’t the only way to disseminate information. Smart sales leaders use an assortment of communication methods and tools to educate their reps on the competition, the industry, and target accounts.

In this post, we’ll take a look at six-ish untraditional ways to keep your sales team informed. By using these tactics, your reps won’t have to wait for the marketing and sales enablement teams to create instructional content. They’ll stay up to date in real time.

1. Keep up with Competitor’s Corporate Accounts on Social

To grow revenue, sales teams need to understand what their competitors are doing and then use that information to leapfrog the competition. While your product marketing team should supply detailed competitive analyses and positioning, many sales teams crave more information about their rivals.

One way to learn more about the competition is through social. By keeping up with their social updates, you can see how they are positioning themselves, find out about major product releases, and keep tabs on who is interacting with their brand online.

To keep tabs on your competition on LinkedIn, simply search for your competitors’ company in the search bar at the top. Then, click the “Follow” button so that you see the company’s updates in your LinkedIn news feed.

Note: The companies that you follow on LinkedIn aren’t private. They will show up in your LinkedIn profile – like this:

If you want a stealthier way to follow your competitors, you should check out private Twitter lists. With a Twitter list, you don’t have to follow the company or person to see their updates, and you can set your list to private so that no one else can see your list.

To learn how to create Twitter lists, check out this instructional post from Twitter.

2. Build a Twitter List for Competitors’ Sales Reps

Maybe your market is rather small, and you know your competitors’ sales reps by name. Maybe your territory overlaps with a rival sales rep’s territory, and you keep bumping into him or her. Whatever the case may be, if you know your rival sales reps, you should keep tabs on them online.

Unfortunately, LinkedIn makes this tricky to do. The easiest way to track a rival sales rep is by becoming a first-degree connection, but that’s an extremely awkward connection request to send.

Alternatively, you can check out someone’s “recent activity” on LinkedIn. But this is a tedious process. Whenever you want to spy on your competition’s sales reps, you’ll have to manually look up those reps and check the reps’ activity. Updates won’t come to you.

Here’s an example of “recent activity” on LinkedIn:

A more convenient way to spy on your rival sales reps is through Twitter. Locate them on Twitter, add them to a private Twitter list so that no one else can see your list, and track what they are saying and with whom they are engaging. You never know when they might strike up a conversation with one of your prospects, for instance.

If you’ve never seen a Twitter list, they will look something like this:

3. Save a Web Search related to Competitors

Social networks are a great way to keep tabs on your competition, but they won’t tell you everything. Sometimes, you still need to do a web search to see your competitor’s press releases and to see what industry experts are saying about them.

A good sales tool like Trapit makes it easy for sales reps to create and save web searches for their competitors. That way, they always have the freshest content at their fingertips, and they will always know what’s happening.

4. Follow Industry-Related Hashtags on Twitter

Everyday, Twitter users are chatting away about niche topics. Twitter organizes these conversations through hashtags – like this one: #socialselling.

Just think of the benefits. By monitoring conversations, you can learn about your industry, and by adding value to conversations, you can start to build relationships that could end in a business transaction. A good social selling tool will enable your reps to listen to and engage in those conversations directly from the platform.

Not sure how to find hashtags for your industry? Check out this post: How to Find the Best Hashtags for Social Selling on Twitter.

5. Save a Web Search for Industry-Related Content

Let’s say that you work for a consulting firm that helps companies with their digital transformation initiatives. Not only will your sales reps need to understand your company’s take on digital transformation; they need to understand what other people are saying about the topic.

In addition to following the #digitaltransformation hashtag, reps should create a “digital transformation” web search. That way, they can read blog posts, watch videos, listen to podcasts, and look at infographics on the subject whenever new content pops up. Here’s an example of what it might look like:

6. Create a Private Twitter List of Prospects and Their Companies

No one can manage your pipeline for you, and in today’s marketplace, listening is essential for success. While there are many ways to listen to your prospects and current customers, social listening is a must. It will help your reps have more productive conversations on the phone, on email, in person, or on social.

While many sales reps feel most comfortable on LinkedIn, Twitter is a great place to listen to your buyers. Unlike LinkedIn, which tends to be more buttoned-up, Twitter users often mix their personal and professional interests, and to build rapport with buyers, you often times need to connect on a more personal level.

By creating a Twitter list, you can group your prospects in whatever way you want. Some reps organize their lists according to prospect temperature. They create one list for cold prospects, another for warm ones, and yet another for hot ones.

Other reps choose to group Twitter users based on accounts. Below, you can see a Twitter list for Trapit employees. If Trapit were one of your target accounts, this list would make it easy to research, monitor, and engage with key stakeholders at Trapit.

6.5 Create an Email Digest of Information

Why is this only a half tip? Well, because email is a bit more traditional, and most email digests don’t happen in real time. (That’s a good thing; just think about how many emails you’d get!) Nevertheless, many sales teams that we work with enjoy receiving a daily or weekly email digest of curated content.

Of course, this can be a lot of work. We’ve worked with companies that have employees whose sole task is to find and paste links into emails for their sales teams. That’s a waste of time and resources. Instead, look for a sales tool that builds an email digest for your sales team with little or no effort from your marketing and sales enablement teams. That way, your sales reps can have the most important information all in one place.

Untraditional Methods All in One Place…

In this post, we’ve looked at 6.5 ways to keep your sales team informed about the competition, the industry, and target accounts. To use all 6.5 methods, your sales reps would have to flip between Twitter and LinkedIn and Google. That’s a lot of moving parts to keep track of.

What if your team could use one platform for all 6.5 strategies? With Trapit, you can. To learn more, check out this data sheet.

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