6 Essential Tips for Scaling Your Social Selling Program

It’s one thing to have a small group of salespeople use social media. It’s another thing to expand social selling across your entire sales team.

So, how do you make that leap? How do you scale a social selling program across the enterprise? Here are six of our best tips.

1. Document Your Social Selling Strategy

If you haven’t done so already, take the time to document your social selling strategy. Put an end to confusion and random acts of social. Stop praying that a social sales strategy will happen “organically.” Take the time to write a plan.

A thorough social selling strategy will help you:

  • Align your marketing, sales, and sales enablement teams
  • Allocate internal resources
  • Identify key stakeholders and roles
  • Set clear objectives for your team members

A detailed yet agile strategy is best. As your program matures, your documented strategy must adopt and change.

2. Clearly Define Roles

As you document your strategy, create a list of the key roles that your program needs. Without clear role differentiation, your employees may step on each other’s toes; tasks may slip through the cracks; and your sellers will not know where they should turn for help. By clearly assigning roles and communicating those roles to your team, you will nip confusion in the bud.

Here are eight key roles that you must fill:

3. Take the Time to Train Your Employees

We aren’t born with LinkedIn and Twitter accounts. The ability to use social networks is not innate. So, many employees have a learning curve ahead of them. For social sales to scale, you need to train your employees.

A good training program will:

  • Address different learning styles (kinesthetic, auditory, visual, etc.)
  • Be attuned to varying levels of knowledge
  • Be offered on a continuous basis – rather than a one-time deal
  • Take place in a variety of learning environments (online classes, in-person meetings, office hours with subject matter experts, etc.)

Without training, there won’t be adoption, and without adoption, your social selling program won’t take off.

4. Befriend Tactical KPIs

It is tempting to care only about the revenue metrics – how much pipeline is being generated and how many deals are being closed. But before you can think about revenue metrics, you need to standardize best practices across the sales team, and standardizing best practices requires tactical metrics.

These metrics help you gauge whether your best practices are working. They tell you whether your employees are using their social networks, whether certain types of content are getting more engagement, or whether certain types of messaging work better than others.

Once you have strong tactics in place across your entire team, then, you can see how they translate into revenue.

5. Supply Great Content to Your Sellers

Content is a must-have for social selling. Content is how we start conversations and build relationships in the virtual world. As you think about your content strategy, keep these items in mind:

  • Content Library: Your content needs to be easily findable for your sales team. If your salespeople have to search for content, they will not be active on social, and your program will not take off.
  • Third-Party Content: Employees want to share a combination of third-party and company-created content. This is especially true of salespeople who need to gain the trust of buyers. If they share only company-created content, they will look biased.
  • Teams: Divide sellers into teams. Ensure that your sellers receive content that is relevant to their verticals, geographies, and/or products. When content is relevant, employees are more likely to share.

6. Invest in a Platform Built for Social Selling

To scale your program, you need to invest in a platform that was built for social selling at the enterprise level. Such a tool will allow you to:

  • Build a content library and discover great third-party content
  • Assign roles in your program
  • Split your sellers into teams
  • Measure results
  • Reach your salespeople in ways they want to be reached (mobile, email, CRM, web)
  • Grow

This piece of advice might seem like a no-brainer, but many companies run into problems when they rely on point solutions that weren’t build to accommodate salespeople and their needs. Salespeople grow frustrated, and adoption never happens.

If you want social selling to scale, you need the right infrastructure in place.

It’s Time to Take the First Step

Documenting a social selling strategy may seem overwhelming at first. But if your social selling program is not scaling, it is a step that you cannot ignore.

To scale your program across your entire sales team, you need to prepare your team with the right tactics, efficient processes, integrated technology, and a smart, agile strategy.

Our social sales workbook can help you get started.

5 Trends Driving the Demand for Social Selling

Social selling is a relatively new concept. According to Google’s search trends, the term started to percolate in 2012. Then, it slowly began to gain momentum in 2013 and 2014 before it exploded this year (2015).

As you read this, social selling is more popular than it has ever been. This is likely due to five key trends. Let’s take a look at them.

Trend #1: Changing Buyer Behaviors

In the pre-internet days, buyers had limited access to information about companies. In effect, sellers were in control because they were the gatekeepers of information about a product. But with the dawn of the internet age, the power dynamic shifted in favor of the buyer. Buyers no longer needed to pick up the phone. They could find information online and delay engaging with sellers until they knew as much as they could about a product.

To find information, buyers first used search engines, and now, many of them use social media to learn about vendors. 84% of C-level/vice president executives use social media to support purchase decisions (IDC).

So, if your salespeople aren’t having relevant conversations with prospects on social media, your company is missing a crucial touch point in the modern buyer’s journey.

Trend #2: The Evolving Marketing Department

By and large, marketing teams have adapted to the modern buyer. They have produced relevant content to attract buyers. They’re active across digital channels – email, social, mobile, and more! And they’re delivering targeted messages to buyers at scale through automation.

But marketers have begun to notice some unevenness in their companies. While they have adapted to the new buyer, their sales teams have not. Salespeople still use old sales techniques like cold calling and cold emails. As a result, salespeople deliver a completely different experience to buyers.

To close that gap, many companies are advising their salespeople to leverage social networks as a way to generate leads, nurture them, and stay in contact with current customers.

Read more about the digital maturity gap between sales and marketing in this post.

Trend #3: The Rise of Sales Enablement

To help salespeople adapt to the modern buyer, more and more companies are christening sales enablement programs and hiring sales enablement staff. These processes and people equip sales teams to have the right conversations with the right people at the right time.

When it comes to social selling, sales enablement plays a crucial role, given that social selling is a skill that must be learned. At one time, sales leaders may have said to their reps, “You should use LinkedIn for prospecting. Figure it out.” Now, sales leaders can ask sales enablement teams to teach social selling best practices to their sales reps.

In short, having dedicated support resources makes social selling less daunting for sales leaders and sales reps alike.

Trend #4: The Need for Authentic Personalization

While marketers can segment their messages and add touches of personalization, it’s hard for marketers to have one-on-one conversations with buyers. That responsibility still lies with the sales rep, especially on social media. And companies are better off for empowering employees on social media.

It’s awkward speaking with a corporate social media. Corporate accounts don’t have names or faces. By empowering your sales reps on social media, you remove a layer of awkwardness and replace it with a layer of authenticity. Your buyers can interact with real human beings, and human-to-human interaction was the original intent of social networks, anyway.

Trend #5: The Consumerization of Enterprise Social Platforms

Let’s face it. Some salespeople have a learning curve on social media, and until recently, most “social selling platforms” were souped-up, feature-laden social media management tools that only a social media manager could love.

Today, there are other options – options that are simpler and more consumer-like. They are designed with the novice social seller in mind, yet still powerful enough for the advanced social seller. This makes it much easier to get your entire sales team on social media.

Added bonus: Since these platforms are SaaS products, sales teams and sales enablement teams can buy them using operating budgets with little or no IT support.

There You Have It

Given these trends, it’s no surprise that social selling has become a “must-have” in enterprise sales organizations. As the customers’ habits continually evolve, the sales organization needs to evolve, as well, and social selling is the most obvious next step.

Want to Learn More about Social Selling?

Check out these resources:

5 Ways to Get Started with B2B Video Content

Rumor has it that video is the next big thing in content marketing. Sure, we’ve had television ads and YouTube in the consumer space for quite a while, but video is moving into the B2B space, too. Are you ready for it? Creating enough original content to make your brand stand out online is tough enough as it is, without factoring in the relatively new need to throw compelling visual content into the mix. Yes, it takes more time, effort, and sometimes money. But, as we all know, content is paramount. And everyone’s new favorite kind of content is video. How do you get started? Here are some tips and ideas to get your video content ideas off the ground.

1. Create a short company video

If you don’t have any video content for your website or brand yet, a simple video that tells the viewer the story of your company is a great place to start. You can feature this video on your homepage and it will come in handy in many other places down the line. Keep it short and sweet. You can take a look at ours here.

2. If you have a product, show it off

Whether you offer a physical product, software, or service, create some short videos that show it off. Get hands-on with your product or do a series of quick how-to videos for your software or service. Address how your business helps the audience you are serving. Your buyer wants as much information about what you offer as they can get before they actually make the effort to contact you. Offer them that in a video format, and you’ll be ahead of the game.

3. Have your customers chime in

If you have happy customers, it shouldn’t be too hard to convince a few of them to tell the story of how your product or service has helped their business. Ask if any of them are willing to participate in short customer success videos, where they can tell that story and offer a few kind words. People love talking about their work, and if what you offer has helped them succeed, they will likely say yes to helping you in return.

4. Join the conversation

There are debates and fascinating conversations happening on social media every day. Find out what those conversations are in your particular industry, and get in on the action. Participating on social media is a good start, but why not create a few thought-leadership videos where your executives can voice their opinions about the latest industry topics? This will help solidify your brand as a leader in the conversation and let your potential customers know what your company stance is on a variety of hot-topic issues.

5. Get personal

If your business has a fantastic office culture and a variety of interesting, hard-working employees, go ahead and give viewers a peek with some company culture videos. These could be short interviews of your standout employees, a virtual tour of your company headquarters, or a quick Instagram video capturing a fun office event. Giving your audience a glimpse of how your company operates will foster a sense of connection and trust.

Branching into video may seem overwhelming at first, but if you treat it like just another part of your content plan, you’ll be up and running in no time. It doesn’t take a video every day, or even one every week, to make an impact. Videos have a good shelf-life and will serve you and your website well for months at a time. Start small, and you’ll find that the more videos you create, the easier the process will become. As we like to heed our own advice, check back with us soon for more videos about Trapit and exciting video content news.

– Kelly

5 Reasons Why Your Social Selling Program Is Failing

Marketers and thought leaders make social selling sound far too easy, don’t they?

Wiggle your nose. Snap your fingers. Give your salespeople a LinkedIn account, and voilà! Your salespeople and your company will have be swimming in revenue.

Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. Effective social selling requires more than signing your salespeople up for LinkedIn or Twitter accounts. It requires thought and planning. If you’re struggling to see results from social selling, here are five things you should consider.

1. You Don’t Have Objectives in Place

There are so many clichés to describe this problem. “Don’t put the cart before the horse.” “You’ve got to walk before you run.”

Though planning and setting goals may seem like common sense, many companies overlook their objectives. The first step in any social selling program is to understand your objectives. You have to know where you want to go and how quickly you want to get there.

Quick Tip: Limit your focus when you start your program.

It’s easy to want it all – closed deals, pipeline nurturing, prospecting, current customer care, etc. But if you foist all those expectations on your sales team all at once, your salespeople will feel overwhelmed. Choose one area of social selling (say, prospecting), and work on that first.

2. You Forgot to Get Buy-in from Marketing

Even though the word “selling” is in the term, social selling isn’t just for sales teams. You need marketing’s support. Your marketing team can help with the following:

  • Training your sales team on social media best practices – marketers, after all, have learned to master social networks
  • Discovering and providing content that salespeople can share
  • Writing sample messages that your sales team can use

Quick Tip: If you’re stuck, consult these resources:

3. You’ve Made Social Media All about You

The more your salespeople talk about your product and services on social media, the more potential customers ignore them.

It’s time to realize that your customers care about themselves. So, give your customers insights that they want – not a steady stream of product pitches.

4. You Haven’t Invested in Social Selling Technology

Perhaps you decided to duct tape together your own solution. Maybe your marketing team spends their time combing the internet, finding content to share with sales, copying and pasting URLs into a Microsoft Word document, and then e-mailing the file to your sales team.

Sound familiar? Here’s a quick test to give you an idea of what you’re missing. Answer the following questions honestly about your own organization:

  • Can you split your salespeople into teams based on geographic location or products?
  • Can you curate content that is specific to each of those teams?
  • Can your sales team find company-approved content and messages in one location – without having to dig through their email?
  • Can your sales team share content to social media – with a click of the button and without copying and pasting?
  • Can you track and measure your sales team’s social selling activities?
  • Can you measure the revenue contribution of your social selling efforts?
  • Can you do all of these things without wanting to yank your hair out?

No? If you had a social selling solution, you could.

5. Your Sales Leadership Considers Social Media a “Non-Selling” Activity

In 2014, 65% of sales leaders thought that their reps spent too much time on “non-selling” activities.

Typically, “non-selling” activities include items like expense reports and travel. But if you don’t approach social selling the right way, your sales leadership could see social networks as distractions and “non-selling” activities.

How can you avoid this problem?

  1. Build your business case for social selling
  2. Explain the benefits of social selling to your sales executives
  3. Find an executive sponsor to champion your social selling program
  4. Choose a solution that allows you to track and measure your sales representative’s progress

It can be hard to change someone’s mindset. Some sales leaders are stuck in their ways, and they believe in logging cold calls. But armed with the right statistics and some gentle persuasion, you can help foster a culture of social media on your sales team.

How to Find Success with Social Selling

If you want to launch your social selling program, flip through this workbook and learn how to set yourself up for success.

5 Tips for Justifying Your Social Selling Budget

Social selling helps companies engage buyers, generate revenue, and build lifetime customer value. Yet some companies are still reluctant to invest in the technology that’s required to build a uniform, repeatable, and measurable process across the enterprise.

Securing your budget for social selling can be tricky. To help you get the support you need, we’ve compiled a list of tips and key statistics that you can use as the basis of your conversations.

1. Explain Why Businesses Need Social Selling

There’s a lot of buzz around social selling, and wherever there’s buzz, there’s also confusion. Each person in your company probably has his or her own definition of social selling. So, set a common definition of social sales. For example:

Once you have a common definition, then, you can explain why businesses need their salespeople on social media. Emphasize the stats about traditional sales tactics:

  • Cold calling is effective 0.3% of the time (Baylor University)
  • Customers are deleting emails because emails are opened only 20% of the time (Silverpop)
  • With buyers deleting emails and ignoring calls, how will you engage your buyers?

To further drive home the point, you may want to put those stats into perspective. Think about it: If you buy a list of 10,000 names and you cold call them, you’re likely to book meetings with 30 people on the list. (0.3% of 10,000 is 30.) In other words, you bought 9,970 names that you’ll never use. Oy vey.

Need more stats? We’ve got you covered:

2. Start Small before Expanding Your Budget

If you’re facing skepticism from your sales leadership, try to ease into things. Suggest starting with a small pilot so that you can show some early results. Many sales leaders have uncommitted money in their fiscal year budgets. Most likely, that money is sizable enough to cover a pilot program with your vendor of choice.

Once you show early results, then, expand. Take the time to document a strategy for your sales team and build a more comprehensive budget. Executives in your company will want to know how well social selling can scale.

3. Show How Social Selling Aligns with Other Departments’ Initiatives

Getting a budget approved is infinitely easier when you have buy-in from other departments. Sometimes, your buy-in is literal, in that other departments will contribute monetary funds. Other times, your buy-in is simply support for an initiative.

Here are a few departments that might be supportive of social selling:

  • Marketing
  • Sales
  • Sales Enablement

Once you have identified potential departments, take the time to think about how each department’s interests and initiatives intersect with social sales.

For instance, as social sellers, you’re interested in engaging your buyers. Well, engagement is something that is always top-of-mind with marketers. Likewise, you want to drive revenue through social sales. Surprise! Your marketing team probably wants to drive revenue, as well.

If you’re thinking about how sales and marketing can align around social selling, check out: What’s Marketing’s Role in B2B Social Selling?

4. Talk about Social Selling as an Investment

Social selling requires building relationships and educating buyers, both of which take time. Therefore, we have to change the way we think about the costs associated with social sales.

In short, social selling is an investment. Your company incurs costs today, but social selling delivers benefits for many months and years to come. By investing in training, technology, and pipeline today, you’re setting your team up for success in the future.

It’s like buying a house. The returns from buying a house are not immediate. They often come years down the road – when you go to sell your house. The same is true of social selling. Over time, your investment in social sales will pay off.

Quick Tips: If you’re talking to your CFO, you can frame the conversation in terms of “amortization.” If you’re talking to a CMO, compare social selling to content marketing, which is also an investment that delivers rewards over time.

Since social selling is an investment, it will take time for your program to pay off. So, revenue metrics may not be the best indicator of success, especially when you have to demonstrate success in the short term.

To start, you may want to focus on engagement metrics. Think about numbers related to the amount of content shared, clicks, reach, and network growth. These are early signs that your tactics are working and that your team is on its way to building relationships and driving revenue.

5 Social Selling Tactics Every SDR Must Try

Many SDRs have been trained in the “smile and dial” school of sales. Their leaders expect them to make dozens of phone calls every day, with the expectation that the reps will send the same number of emails. Since they’re graded on sheer volume, the SDRs dutifully reach out to hundreds, if not thousands, of bad leads, who will never buy from you company.

It’s time to change that. It’s time to help your sales reps work smarter, and social selling can help with that. Below, you’ll find a quick list of tactics that your SDRs can use when they are engaging new customers.

1. Research Inbound Leads across Social Networks

This is a sine qua non for SDRs. Social networks are treasure troves of rapport-building information. They give you knowledge about who the buyer is and what interests that particular buyer.

So, take the time to locate your leads on LinkedIn, and look for the following information:

  • Common connections – On LinkedIn, you can see how you’re connected to someone. In the example below, Kim Babcock is a second-degree connection, meaning I’m one person removed from Kim. I could ask Henry for a warm introduction to her.
  • University – Did you go to the same school? Did you go to a rival school? Those small details can be icebreakers that help you build a relationship with the prospect.
  • Past jobs – Where did the lead work in the past? Have you worked with that company before? Did any of your colleagues work for the same company at the same time as your prospect?
  • Recent activity – What does your prospect post about? This gives you an idea of what’s on your prospect’s mind.How often does your prospect post? This helps you set expectations for engaging a prospect. If the person is not active on LinkedIn, you don’t want to message the person two times per day for two weeks straight.

On Twitter, you can unearth similar gems:

  • Professional interests – Your prospects probably tweet about their professional interests. A good SDR will engage in conversations about those interests and be able to weave them into conversations.
  • Personal interests – Unlike LinkedIn, which tends to be more buttoned-up, Twitter brings out a more personal side. You can use hobbies and interests to build a deeper, more personal connection with people. For example, maybe you find out that your prospect likes the TV show Mr. Robot. You might want to make a Mr. Robot reference in passing.
  • Frequency – Some people are active Twitter users; others are not. As you peruse their Twitter feed, look to see how often they post. That will give you an idea of how often you should engage with the individual on Twitter.

2. Conduct Social Searches to Research Members of the Buying Committee

Let’s imagine that the marketing department passes you a lead, and that lead works for your ideal company. You’re probably licking your lips and rubbing your hands together. This is going to be perfect!

Here’s the catch: Your account executive will need to talk to more than one person to close the deal. In fact, CEB’s research shows that 5.4 people will be involved in the decision process. (For enterprise, IDG estimates that 18 people will be involved!) That’s a lot of people, and that’s why it’s a good idea to start researching potential stakeholders early in the buying process.

In the age of social media, there’s no reason to constantly ask prospects, “If you’re not the right person to talk to, who should I talk to at your organization?” I get it. You’re looking for internal referrals so that you can say to a senior level decision-maker, “Joe in Marketing told me that I should talk to you.”

Well, guess what, every other SDR on the block is using the exact same line. Be different. Show your lead that you’re familiar with the company because you took the time to research the account.

It’s fairly easy to do. Let’s say that you sell marketing automation software. Use LinkedIn’s advanced search to find marketers at the target company. Something like this:

For more help with search features, you might want to check these blog posts:

3. Use Content to Add Valuable Insights

74% of buyers choose the sales representative who first adds value during the buying process.

Let that sink in.

As an SDR, you are often the first sales rep with whom a buyer interacts. You’re selling yourself short if you consider yourself a “meeting setter.” You are a value creator. You help determine whether your company wins or loses a deal.

To add value, you first must educate yourself – and not just about your product. You have to understand what’s going on in your industry and in your customers’ industries, and that requires you to consume content. You should read everything your marketing department creates. You should read everything your buyers are reading. (Trust me, they aren’t just reading your marketing department’s content.) You should read everything your buyers should be reading, but aren’t.

As you read, you’ll pick up insights. Don’t be afraid to share your insights. When you come across a great article, share it on LinkedIn and Twitter. Tell your connections what stood out to you. That way, you’re always nurturing your leads.

Don’t be scared to rely on your college network. Often times, your fellow alums are more than willing to help you out. The LinkedIn alumni tool is a good place to start. Outline the companies that your fellow alumni are working for, and then gain introductions into those companies. Your shared life experiences from your college days will help you instantly build rapport.

Too often, sales reps jump to a LinkedIn InMail or a Twitter DM right away, when there are better ways of becoming acquainted with a prospect. For instance, reps might want to join the same LinkedIn group as someone, or ask for a referral from a mutual connection. You’ll be far more effective that way.

If sales reps decide that an InMail is the only way to contact a prospect, they should not open with a product pitch. Doing so would be just as effective as a cold call or a cold email.

Instead, reps should take the time to write a very personalized InMail that is focused on the prospect and not your product. Reps might consider sending a piece of content (not a product brochure) that will resonate with the prospect and add value.

Those are a few tactics and best practices that our sales development reps have used. What about you? Have your SDRs found success with social networks? Feel free to share your tips and tricks in the comments below.

5 Reasons Why Your Sales Content Is Not Working

Sales teams can’t live without content. Content is important for starting conversations with potential customers, building trust with them, increasing conversion rates, and building lifetime value. In fact, users of sales content average 69% more revenue growth year-over-year compared to their peers.

However, marketing and sales enablement teams cannot throw content at reps, cross their fingers, and see what sticks. They need to be deliberate in curating content that will work for both their sales reps and for their buyers. Here are five classic examples of where your sales content has gone wrong.

1. Your Sales Reps Can’t Find Your Content

SiriusDecisions estimates that 65% of your content is not being used.

That’s a lot of money going down the drain. If your company makes over a $1 billion in revenue, you probably waste between $1.93 and $3.33 million of your annual marketing budget on content that never gets used (SiriusDecisions).

Ouch. That’s a huge chunk of change. But there is a solution to this problem. Create a central content library that:

  • Includes all your content assets
  • Is available across devices (web, mobile, tablets) so that your sales team can access it at any time
  • Notifies reps when new content is added to the library
  • Makes it easier for sales reps to share content across digital channels like social and email

That way, your content is more likely to be found and used by the sales team.

2. Your Sales Reps Don’t Know What to Do with Your Sales Content

Okay, you have a library of content. Now what?

Blog post titles like “B2B Sales Teams, Waiting to Engage Buyers Is Costing You” don’t mean anything to your sellers. They need more context so that they can determine where and when to use the assets. Your sales content, after all, is only valuable if your salespeople use it well.

Marketers and sales enablement practitioners need to:

  • Organize the content for the sales reps (e.g. according to vertical, according to stage in the buyer’s journey, etc.)
  • Explain why the asset is valuable and in what scenarios the asset should be used
  • Provide sample messaging for the sales team to use

3. Your Sales Rep Haven’t Expanded Their Definitions of “Sales Content”

In a B2B context, “sales content” typically means product fact sheets or pitch decks. However, many potential customers don’t care about product fact sheets – unless they are at the “try” or “buy” stages. If buyers are at the “discover” and “learn” stages, they will glance at the fact sheet and let it disappear among their cluttered desktop.

65% of business decision makers find sales content (i.e. content sent to them by sales) to be useless. To make sure that buyers read your content, sales reps need to move beyond product fact sheets and pitch decks. Sales reps need to make sure that the content addresses the buyer’s concern at their current stage.

For example, if your company offers a more complex solution, buyers often are looking for a consultative sales process. They spend a lot of time in the “discover” and “learn” phases. They want thought leadership content, as well as content about market and industry trends.

One way to routinely provide insightful content to potential customers is through social networks like LinkedIn and Twitter. (To learn more about social selling, check out this cheat sheet.)

4. Your Sales Reps Don’t Share Third-Party Content

Salespeople increase engagement by frequently sharing thought leadership, from a wide variety of sources, including their company’s content. However, reps lose credibility if they only promote company content. It makes them look one-sided and biased.

When it comes to social selling, sales experts recommend an 80/20 rule. 80% of your content should come from third-party sources. 20% of your content should come from your company. As Maribeth Ross of the Aberdeen Group notes:

5. You Have No Insight into How Content Is Being Used

Marketers and sales enablement teams have two audiences for their content. Internally, they need to cater to their salespeople. Externally, they need to cater to their customers. And they need to understand how each of those audiences is engaging with the content. Otherwise, they will not be able to curate the right content for their team.

A mature sales enablement program will connect the dots like this:

Spotting Your Sales Content Pitfalls

Make no mistake. Everyone in the field is busy. Amid the big rush to “do more” and “do it quickly,” marketers and sales enablement professionals may neglect the need to invest in a content library, to provide sales reps with ample context for their content, and to train sales reps to map content to the buyer’s journey.

But as you plan for the next quarter, take the time to reflect on what you’ve done. Sales content is a must-have tool for reps today, so it’s worth the time to get it right.

Download this workbook, and learn how to successfully plan your social selling program today.

5 Barriers Holding Back Your Employee Advocacy Program

Many companies are relying on employee advocacy programs to build brand awareness, engage their buyers, and drive sales on social media. Unfortunately, many companies mistakenly think that implementing an advocacy program will be simple. You simply ask your employees to be active on social media, and voilà, you have an employee advocacy program, right?

In actuality, the path to implementation contains several barriers. But don’t worry! These barriers are surmountable – as long as you’re prepared for them. So, with no further ado, here are five common barriers holding back your employee advocacy program – with tips on overcoming them.

1. Poor Timing

Before you launch an employee advocacy program, identify any competing company initiatives. Let’s say that you want your salespeople to be active on social media, but you plan to implement a new CRM in Q1. Since you’ll have to train your salespeople on the new technology, Q1 probably would not be the best time to implement an employee advocacy program with your sales team.

In addition to identifying any competing initiatives, take the time to create your timeline for implementation. And make sure that your timeline is realistic! If you plan on onboarding 100 employees over the course of 9 months, that’s way too slow. But if you plan on onboarding 1,000 employees by tomorrow, that’s far too aggressive.

2. Lack of Content, Especially 3rd-Party Content

For an employee advocacy program to work, you need content for employees to share on social media. Without content, your advocacy program will never take off.

But here’s the thing: You have to give your employees content that they want to share, and research shows that they want very specific types of content. They want to share a mixture of 3rd-party and company-created content.

Why third-party content? Employees don’t want to feel like company spam bots, who just share company press releases and blog posts. Instead, they want to build their personal brands and supply their followers with a wide range of insights. They’re particularly interested in industry news:

A good employee advocacy platform will make it easy to find third-party content, especially industry news.

3. Unclear Objectives

Before you can successfully launch your advocacy program, you need to understand your objectives. You need to know where you want to go and how quickly you want to get there.

Keep in mind that your objectives will change as your program matures. In the early stages of your program, our customers look at participation rates. Are the employees you’ve invited actually participating?

Later on, our customers typically want to look at engagement metrics: likes, clicks, retweets, favorites, reach, etc. These numbers are good indicators of whether their content and messaging are resonating with their employees’ followers. Does their audience care about what their employees are saying?

Finally, our customers focus on converting those likes into leads. Once they’ve reached “ROI Nirvana,” they know how to connect their content strategy to leads and ultimately to revenue.

4. Divergent Employee Interests

How an engineer wants to use social media is different from how a salesperson wants to use social media, which is different from how a recruiter wants to use social media.

As you can imagine, launching an interdepartmental employee advocacy program is extremely differently. Each department has different professional goals.

As a result, our customers find that their employee advocacy programs are more successful when they empower one department before adding more departments. Often times, it’s best to start with your customer-facing departments.

For example, you might start by empowering your marketers to build brand awareness on social media. Then, help your salespeople engage in social selling. Next, you might help your recruiters build an employer brand.

But avoid trying to do everything all at once. You will spread yourself too thin.

5. Complex Technology

Your social media managers have built domain expertise on social media. As a result, they need powerful tools to build your brand across social channels.

The average employee, however, does not have the same expertise as a social media manager, and as a result, giving the average employee a high-powered social media management tool will be overwhelming.

To get your employees to use social media, you need to select the right tool. It needs to be advanced enough for your socially savvy employees, yet simple enough for newbies on social networks. It should make finding and distributing content easy, and it should provide employees with easy-to-understand stats that help them track their performance.

Launching a Successful Employee Advocacy Program

Building an employee advocacy program takes careful planning. Program managers must consider the timing of the launch, their content strategy, their objectives, their technology requirements, and their “land and expand” strategy within individual departments.

If you’d like more help launching your employee advocacy program, check out Employee Advocacy 101: The Rise of the Employee Marketer.

5 Critiques of 5 Famous CEOs’ Twitter Feeds

CEOs are magical creatures. Simply by being on social media, they improve their companies’ standing in the eyes of potential buyers.

According to the 2012 CEO, Social Media, and Leadership survey:

  • 77% of consumers are more likely to buy from a company whose CEO uses social media.
  • 82% of buyers say that they trust a company more when the CEO and company leadership are active on social media.

So, let’s take a look at a few CEOs’ profiles, and let’s see what makes them so magical (or not so magical)…

My criteria

As I evaluate the CEOs’ Twitter feeds, I will look primarily at three items.

First, does their profile give me a sense of who they are?

Second, what are they sharing with their followers online, and how does that content contribute to their professional identities?

Third, I’m looking to see if they are following the 4-1-1 guideline. “For every self-serving tweet, you should retweet one relevant tweet and, most importantly, share four pieces of relevant content written by others.”

Let’s take a look to see how 5 CEOs are doing…

Gary Vaynerchuk

VaynerMedia | @garyvee

Can you tell that Gary Vaynerchuk is fun? If you don’t know who Gary is, he is one of the big social media evangelists. He wrote the book Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook (pictured in his header image). From the banner image to the bio full of random capital letters, Gary’s profile tells you that he is going to be a good time.

Gary’s smiley profile photo adds to the effect. In general, smiling in profile pictures is a good idea. Duke University researchers found that retrieval of face-name associations was faster for smiling faces (compared to neutral ones). So, show off those pearly whites!

Gary even shows off his pearly whites with emoticons! 🙂

On Twitter, Gary has no problem sharing his thoughts about how social media should be done.

For those who subscribe to Gary’s vision of social media, they will love his Twitter feed. For those who don’t, his Twitter feed might be too Gary-centric. (Though, his videos are focused on answering his follower’s questions.)

As you can see, his feed can become a bit repetitive.

Overall Grade: B+

Report Card: Gary has a strong personal brand. There’s no question about who Gary is, and with his bubbly personality, Gary knows how to get his followers excited about everything he does. Sure, some people may grow tired of the Gary Vee Show, but Gary is true to himself on social media.

For most, though, Gary’s approach to social media–with all his charisma and pizzazz–is not easily replicable.

Marc Benioff

Salesforce | @Benioff

Unlike Gary Vaynerchuk, Marc Benioff has a brief biography. Twitter users have up to 160 characters to describe themsleves, but for Marc Benioff, “CEO@salesforce.com” suffices.

It is surprising that the Salesforce legal department has not asked Marc to augment his Twitter bio. Many larger companies require that their employees use phrases like “Opinions are my own,” and well… Marc Benioff is not scared to share political sentiments on Twitter.

The man has a point of view. That’s refreshing in a world where people are afraid to create ripples. The problem is that Marc is not always good at expressing his point of view. Take this tweet, for instance:

Was the Facebook experiment a good kind of amazing? Or was it a bad kind of amazing? We don’t know.

Though Marc Benioff is an active sharer on Twitter, he has yet to learn how to craft a good message for the content he curates. He could stand to offer more context to his tweets.

Furthermore, it is odd that Marc rarely (if ever) shares Salesforce’s created content. His marketing team actively posts tips and tricks on their blogs, but they do not trickle up to the CEO.

Overall Grade: C+

Report Card: Marc gets an A for effort. It’s good to see a CEO be so active on social media. That said, someone in his marketing department could give him a few pointers. For one thing, his header image could be redone, and he needs to learn how to effectively share content on Twitter. With a little more effort, Marc could be quite the force on Twitter.

Peter Cashmore

Mashable | @petecashmore

Unlike Marc Benioff, Pete Cashmore, CEO of Mashable, understands the aesthetics of Twitter. His Twitter picture complements his header image, and the colors pop off the screen.

With such vibrant colors in his profile picture and header, you’d think that his Twitter profile would be equally as vibrant, but his original content is sporadic. (In fact, he has not been too active on Twitter this summer.) A good example of his created content is this Vine of edible Legos, posted on May 24:

As the CEO of a publishing company focused on tech, “geeky” videos like this one will resonate. He clearly knows his audience.

Pete has a problem that very few companies face. He has far too much content to share. Every day, his team churns out countless new articles, which makes it easy for him to find branded content to share with his followers. As you can see, his links tend to come from mashable.com:

By sharing only content from Mashable, Pete positions Mashable as the one-stop place to get all your news. This is good from a company’s brand perspective. However, from a personal brand perspective, it gives the impression that Pete does not read widely.

For that matter, it is questionable if Pete reads the articles at all. If you look at the chain of articles on May 14 and 15, Pete simply posted the headlines of the articles. I’d be curious to know what Pete thinks of the articles. What part of the article stood out? Why is he sharing this article? Is this the most popular article on Mashable from that day?

Overall Grade: B

Report Card: Pete shows great potential on Twitter. He just needs to put in a little more effort into how he curates his articles, and it would be nice to see some more activity–even during the lull of the summer months.

Love the Vines.

Jeff Weiner

LinkedIn | @JeffWeiner

You know, normally, I would encourage someone like Jeff to include a header image. But the strip of blue behind his profile picture actually works. He is CEO of LinkedIn, and a similar blue is the primary color in LinkedIn’s brand.

What I find refreshing is the fact that Jeff, the CEO of LinkedIn, is active on Twitter, another social media platform. He recognizes that Twitter is not a direct competitor, and he uses the platform to build his personal brand.

In fact, Jeff shows that he has a keen awareness of what is happening in the social media space. For instance, on August 6, Jeff Weiner shared this video:

Jeff added this comment:

Remember Marc Benioff’s “Amazing” post about Facebook? This Twitter post is the antithesis. Jeff explains why he is sharing this video. He thinks it’s a cool idea, and by referencing the app “Yo,” he subtly indicates that he has stayed on top of the latest trends in tech.

As far as I know, LinkedIn has no stake in the “Push for Pizza” app. Jeff’s post is not part of some corporate spam campaign on social media. It’s just something that he found cool. Jeff understands the “4-1-1” rule. (For every self-serving tweet, you should retweet one relevant tweet and, most importantly, share four pieces of relevant content written by others.)

Of course, Jeff has plenty of self-serving tweets sprinkled into his feed. Take, for instance, the Bleacher Report article on athletes. (See the first image in this section.) Sure, the article did not come from LinkedIn, but it helps build LinkedIn’s brand image. It gives the company a hip, cool factor.

Overall Grade: A

Report Card: Overall, Jeff gets Twitter. He may not create cool images like Pete Cashmore or Jack Dorsey (below), but he understands how to give context to his shared articles. Plus, he is good at mixing content about his brand with cool, third-party content.

Jack Dorsey

Square | @jack

First off, kudos to Jack. As an early adopter of Twitter, he landed the Twitter handle @Jack. Unfortunately, most of us are not that fortunate, and we have to settle for a creative combination of our first and last names.

Similarly, most of Twitter users cannot get away with a bio-less Twitter presence. Under Jack’s name, there’s a giant void. As the CEO of Square, Jack perhaps assumes that most people will know who he is. Or perhaps he is trying to cultivate the image of a man of mystery–one who does not smile, wears Ray Ban sunglasses, and loves tying the knot. (What’s with the header image? Is that a picture of a square knot?)

When you get into Jack’s Twitter feed, you can tell that he has a strong appreciation for visual aesthetics. The imagery in his profile is stunning, and his followers love it, too. The image of the tortoise (below) received 54 retweets.

When Jack is not serving up a healthy dose of eye candy on Twitter, he keeps his readers abreast of the latest news in his industry and about his company. He even includes some news related to personal interests like running.

Overall Grade: A-

Report Card: Jack understands the visual nature of the Twitter platform. He serves up a decent mix of curated third-party content, as well as original content (e.g. the photos). He also understands that Twitter is about mixing personal interests with professional interests.

I’ll try to overlook his bio faux pas.

So… who’s my favorite?

That’s a tough one. Can I combine Jeff Weiner with Jack Dorsey? I want Jeff Weiner’s curatorial skills, and Jack Dorsey’s eye for images. Is that too much to ask?

Key takeaways

It’s not easy offering a critique of some of the most powerful CEOs. But my hope with these critiques is to give you some direction when it comes to building your brand on Twitter.

To help you out, I’ve created a list of four key takeaways.

  1. Many top CEOs on Twitter create visual content: Our brains like images, and some of the most creative CEOs on Twitter post their own visual content. Some create short Vine videos. Others take photos. It all depends on the CEO.
  2. They aren’t afraid to talk about themselves and their companies: A CEO’s social media presence is free PR and marketing. So, it goes without saying that a CEO should talk about his or her company.
  3. They aren’t afraid to talk about others’ work: Some CEOs choose to speak only about their company, but there’s a much larger world out there. Don’t you want to show the world that you know about more than just your company?
  4. They understand how to share links: When sharing links, give your followers some context. Why are you sharing this link? And be clear; try to avoid ambiguous words like “Amazing.”

If you’re looking for a better way to engage your Twitter audience,

Request a 15-minute demo of Trapit! We’d be happy to help!

4 Ways Sales Reps Should Use Twitter’s Advanced Search

Every minute, Twitter users send 347,222 tweets. That’s roughly 500,000,000 tweets every day! And the best part: You can search every single one of those tweets.

Twitter is a gold mine for sellers. Yet, many sales reps overlook Twitter as they go about their daily routine. Big mistake. In this post, I’ll show you how to use Twitter’s advanced search features to extract the information you need to win more deals. Let’s get started!

Getting to Know Twitter’s Advanced Search

Twitter has two search tools on its web-based application. There’s the search option in the navigation bar at the top of the page, which looks like this:

And then there’s the advanced search feature, which gives you more options for searching tweets and its users. You can find it here: http://www.twitter.com/search-advanced

On the advanced search page, you’ll find a variety of search fields, which are fairly straightforward. But if you’d like more explanation, you can find Twitter’s short guide here.

One last thing: Twitter has special operators that you can use. Some of them might be familiar to you, especially if you’ve used a search engine or library catalog before. But there are some operators that are unique to Twitter – like the sentiment operators: 🙂 and 🙁

Use Case #1: Finding Prospects

Combining search terms is one of the best ways to locate prospects on social media.

Searching for Unknown Prospects

Let’s say that you’re looking for marketers in the San Francisco Bay Area. You could use a combination of the “All of these words” and “Location” fields. (And if you only want the happy marketers, you can select the smiley face from the “Other” category.)

When you put it all together, your search might look something like this:

Searching for Known Prospects by Name

The previous example can help you find prospects you don’t know exist. In this example, let’s find prospects who are known to you. Perhaps they were an inbound lead, and you have their name in your CRM. You can find them using the “This exact phrase” feature.

For example, let’s say that you’re trying to find Trapit’s CEO, Henry Nothhaft. Your search might look like this:

Use Case #2: Gathering Competitive Intel

Since Twitter is more relaxed, your competitors and prospects sometimes show their cards. Sometimes, you can determine whom your competitors are targeting. Other times, you can find disgruntled current customers. Here’s a quick explanation of how you can gather competitive intelligence.

Who Is Your Competition Targeting?

Let’s say that you are a territory sales rep. You’ve taken the time to research your competitor’s sales team, and you know which sales rep has your territory. It’s time to check out your competition’s conversations.

First, you’ll want to find your competitor’s sales rep on Twitter. Once you know the sales rep’s Twitter handle, use the “From these accounts” option to see the tweets that your competition has been sending.

As you read through your competition’s tweets, look at the Twitter handles mentioned in those tweets. Those Twitter handles might give you an idea of which accounts your competition is targeting (and which accounts you might want to steal away from your competitor).

Are Your Competition’s Customers Upset?

Many people take to Twitter to air their grievances. It might be helpful to keep tabs on negative tweets about your competition. That way, you can swoop in and steal your competition’s business. Use the “Mentioning these accounts” and the frowny face in the “Other” section to find those tweets.

Use Case #3: Understand Your Industry and Vertical

For sales reps to be effective, they need to understand their customers’ businesses – where they are today and where they will be in the future. That requires sales professionals to be students of their industries and verticals.

With Twitter, that’s pretty easy. All day, every day, people are chatting about different topics on Twitter, including your industry and your customers’ verticals. To stay abreast of the latest trends and discussions, sales reps can use Twitter.

Hashtags are the most obvious place to start. For example, if you or your customers are into artificial intelligence, you may want to look at the #AI hashtag so that you understand the relevant conversations.

Alternatively, you could use the exact phrase field by searching for the phrase “artificial intelligence.”

Use Case #4: Save Your Searches

If you think you’ll execute a Twitter search on a regular basis, you should save your search criteria. Twitter lets you save up to 25 searches per account.

To save a search, click on “More Options” on your search results page. Then, pull down to “Save this search.”

Give It a Try

You’re now more familiar with Twitter’s search options. It’s time to give it a whirl on your own.

If you’d like more social selling tips, you should check out our ebook The Definitive Cheat Sheet for Social Sellers.

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