To Curate or Not to Curate
I know the rest of you won’t believe this, but the answer to the question is staring us all in the face. It is simply one word – but what an important one: marketing. No adjective required. What is all the hype about the need for categorization? It is confusing at best. So, as we continue to read about content marketing I am tempted to ask, “Isn’t this just marketing after all?” Really, what is marketing without content? Granted, the fact that the Internet has opened up a new world of data, information, and content adds some level of complexity to what marketers should do to create compelling stories for their audiences. Oh, but what a promise…a promise that there is more than enough – a true abundance – of really wonderful “stuff” out there, allowing a marketer to now become a marketing mixologist, creating great “cocktails” for their readers to consume.
I have been attending different events and listening to the arguments about what kind of content should be leveraged. The debate revolves around these questions: do I create? Or do I curate? I am truly curious as to why certain marketing leaders feel that the only way to preserve their brand, their values, and their voice is through what they control and content they create. My curiosity continues when the discussion leads then to “to curate or not to curate?” And those same leaders are quick to argue that if they curate, they are no longer original, creative, or controlled.
My argument goes something like this: For goodness sake, with social networks, who can control anything anyway? People are going to read what they want and take away what they believe to be good, bad, or indifferent. So my belief is that the real marketing leaders will take hold of a balanced approach to getting their messages to their audience. They will curate, and they will create. They will leverage different channels to get their story told. They will understand who is at the other end of those channels, and make sure that what they say is compelling and making an impact on the reader. The best will tell fun, exciting, enduring stories and they will be the first to engage with something that is different. Their new cocktail is one that is intoxicating, memorable, and engaging enough to keep the audience drinking more. The perfect balance of one shot of created mixed with 2 shots of curated.
I love marketing because it allows us to be creative. I love the Internet because it brings us new and interesting stories. I love to create content because I have a story to tell. And there’s no reason why those can’t all combine in perfect harmony.
To Be a Social Leader, You Need to Be a Change Leader – Part 2
In our last blog post, we discussed four key components of a change management plan for a social selling program. You need:
- Executive Sponsorship and Engagement
- Stakeholder Engagement and Alignment
Today, we’ll take a look at the remaining four components.
Enabling the Organization
When looking to drive and sustain any organizational change, you want to focus on the people who are adopting the change and adapting to a new way of working. For a social selling program, this is key. You need to enable your sales reps with vision, strategy, training, and the tools to be successful. Social selling cannot be mandated. As Peter O’Neill of Forrester highlights, “Enablement — Not A Mandate — Is The Key To Success.”
Here are some key steps:
Gain buy-in: Help your sales reps understand the importance of social selling and how it can help them do their jobs better. You want a vision that aligns to the sales team’s goals and motivations. This will be key to getting their engagement early in program.
Training: Recognize that all sales reps will not have the same level of understanding of social media, and even the socially savvy reps may not have a clear understanding of best practices for using social for selling. A good training program should integrate “How to” and “Best Practices” in the context of sales activities. For example, how does social listening help you with researching prospects?
You also want to ensure you don’t just focus on the tools. Focus also on driving the the right behavior change. As Mary Shea of Forrester argues, sales rep need to “reboot” and shift their focus in the “Age of the Customer.” They need to stop spewing product features and assume a consultative approach that demonstrates their understanding of the customers’ business problems. That means building relationships with the buyers (we know there is more than one these days), educating them, sharing insights with them, and telling the customers something new. In short, they need to add value.
Content: Content is key to supporting great social sellers. Content that helps sales reps build their social presences and engage with buyers and customers – as experts and trusted advisors. Content that helps sales reps educate, share insights, and add value. You can enable your sales reps by building a content strategy, as well as creating and curating content for them, which makes it easy for them to share with their buyers and customers.
The right technology platform: The right tools are key to enablement. To drive the right change for social sellers, you want to make social selling ridiculously simple. That means finding a tool that is easy to use, supports adoption, enables social selling best practices, integrates with your existing sales tools, and provides the data you need to optimize your program.
Engaging the Organization
Engaging your stakeholders and most importantly your sales reps is such an important element of change management. In many change initiatives and social selling programs, you may see an initial uptake, but often adoption wanes with time. Here are some tips to keep everyone engaged.
- Find your early adopters, and make them your change agents. Other sales reps will listen, learn, and be motivated by their peers.
- Find and celebrate early success stories. Share them with other sales reps as well as the program sponsors and stakeholders.
- Capture learnings, address any challenges, adapt, and optimize.
- Provide ongoing support. Share best practices. Continue to build training and support materials based on input from the sales reps.
- Measure what makes sense at the start. You want to set your program up for success. Early measurement should be based on adopting and adapting to social selling. For example, your early measurement can be: number of social profiles optimized for social selling, number of reps trained, amount of content shared, etc. As you evolve and gain momentum with the program, you can then start to tie your measurement to business metrics such as number of leads.
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
Communication is the foundation for a successful change management plan. In the context of a social selling program, here are some important considerations:
- Communicate the purpose and value of the program.
- Ensure you have the right person delivering the messages. For your sales teams, don’t leave the communications to the program team. Have them come from sales leadership.
- Provide stakeholders with ongoing communications that are focused on what is important to each group. For example, the legal department will want an update on governance.
- Communicate early wins and success stories. These will help drive engagement and adoption of the change.
- Create opportunities for two-way communications. As mentioned above, this is critical with sales teams to drive engagement and adoption.
Managing and Sustaining the Change: A Programmatic Approach
In order to sustain the change and achieve the desired outcomes from social selling, you want to make sure you are taking a programmatic approach. Don’t approach it like a project. A project will launch a new tool or develop and implement training. A program is more expansive. It brings all of the critical elements together, and it is grounded in the fundamentals of change management.
We have covered a lot of this including executive buy-in, clear policies and governance and committing to ongoing training. You also want to ensure you have the right resources in place working together to communicate progress, capture learnings and continue to optimize and grow the program. Thinking like a change leader and taking a programmatic approach will ensure you are able to continue to drive the change and achieve your goals.
To Emoji or Not to Emoji?
Do you love emoji?
iPhone users were elated when they could download a brand new set of emoji through Apple’s iOS update in April, 2015.
One month later, Instagram published research on emoji usage, sparking a string of thought pieces. One New York Times writer even declared that emoji had become “a language of their own.”
But should you use emoji on social media if you’re a B2B salesperson? Let’s take a look at what the research has to say.
The Research: Are Emoji Good for Business?
To be clear, emoticons are not the same as emoji. An emoticon uses letters and punctuation to form faces. For example, 🙂 Emoji, on the other hand, are graphic representations – like this one:
Much of the smiley face research focuses on emoticons, as emoji are a newer phenomenon. But in many ways, emoji serve the same linguistic purpose as emoticons. So, take that into consideration as you read the following research.
Finding No. 1: Say No to Unclear Writing!
When we communicate in face-to-face contexts, we are able to draw on physical cues like body language and facial expressions. But when we communicate in a virtual world, those visual cues disappear.
As a result, many of us overestimate our abilities to communicate in the online world. When we write an e-mail or publish a tweet, we tend to see our words from our own perspective. We fail to think about how someone else’s unique perspective might color our ideas.
Because we are focused on our own perceptions, miscommunication can arise. But believe it or not, emoticons can help us reduce the level of ambiguity in our online communications. That is, they help us state our ideas clearer.
Finding No. 2: Triggering Others’ Emotions.
To feel close to someone, you need more than facts. You must share your feelings and emotions with that person.
Emoticons can help with that. Research has shown that emoticons create emotional bonds between people. In fact, as we use more emoticons, we feel closer to the other person.
In a strange twist of fate, our mood changes when see certain emoticons. We can’t help it. Our faces contort to match the emotion of the emoticon.
Research suggests that emoji serve to intensify the feeling of emotional intimacy. With emoji, our brains don’t have to process the typographic characters, as the graphic representation looks even more like a human face.
Finding No. 3: Keeping Things Professional.
Most people are wary of using emoticons and emoji in professional settings. But perhaps you’ve noticed that more and more smiley faces are creeping into professional writing, and the research seems to suggest that smiley faces are okay.
Researchers at the University of Missouri – St. Louis studied the question of professionalism and emoticons. They found that, in e-mail, emoticon use made the recipient like the sender more. Furthermore, the recipient thought that the sender liked him or her more.
All in all, the emoticons came across as friendly, emotional, and personable.
The Bottom Line: Ask Yourself These Questions
As we have seen, the research supports the idea that you should use emoji and emoticons in B2B social selling:
- Graphic representations can help you clarify your virtual messages.
- They can help you build an emotional bond with your buyer.
- And they do not hurt your professional representation.
That said, maybe you’re still reluctant to use smiley faces. I understand that. I’m a late adopter of emoji and emoticons, and I try to minimize my use of them.
Here are a few questions you can use to determine whether emoji are righ for you:
1. How do my buyers communicate?
Watch how your buyers communicate. If you notice that a lot of them use emoji and emoticons, follow their lead when you strike up a conversation.
Or perhaps you notice that their style of writing is more informal. Maybe they use contractions or acronyms. Then, you might consider using smiley faces.
But if you’re in conversation with someone who speaks formally, in a serious tone, skip the emoji. Your more formal buyers might not take you seriously if you use emoji.
2. Does this symbol help me communicate my idea better?
Word economy is important on social media. On Twitter, you have only 140 characters, and on LinkedIn, you don’t want to drone on.
So, if using an emoticon or emoji will help you communicate your idea, then, consider using one. If not, don’t use an emoji. Plain and simple.
3. Will my audience understand this particular emoji?
Much of the emoticon research focuses on smiley faces. However, if you’ve ventured down the emoji rabbit hole, you’ll notice that you have options that aren’t smiley faces.
Note that some of the non-smiley-face emoji are not universally understood. For example, this emoji:
Is that a girl flipping her hair? Is she “raising the roof”?
This emoji was originally an “I’m here to help” graphic. But many Twitter users think that the young woman is flipping her hair. As a result, the image has been repurposed to signify sassiness or cheekiness.
4. Which social network am I using?
Users’ expectations are not the same across social networks. Facebook and Twitter are more emoji-friendly. LinkedIn is more buttoned-up, but it’s changing. Just this morning I saw someone tag a colleague in a LinkedIn post with the okay sign.
5. Does my company have its own emoji?
If your company offers branded emoji, why not use them?
You might think that emoji are just for B2C marketers, but B2B companies like GE have embraced these little images, as well.
What are your thoughts on emoji?
Have you used them in your B2B social selling? Leave a comment below. You get bonus points if you write your entire comment using emoji and emoticons. 🙂
Want more social selling tips?
Check out these resources:
Image Credit: Fred Benenson
To Be a Social Leader, You Need to Be a Change Leader – Part 1
In the early days of social business (almost 10 years ago ), I would open a meeting with the question: “How many people here use social media?” A few hands would go up.
Over time, that question became redundant, and I had to ask a new question: “How do you use Social Media?” The biggest challenge was no longer getting people to use social media; it was helping businesses connect the dots between social networks and their business objectives. Once leaders had that “aha” moment, they started to think of all the ways social media could be applicable to their businesses.
Today, being a social leader is not about being an expert in social media and digital communications (we are all continuing to learn in this space). Rather, it is about change management – driving both organization and people change. Being a social leader means going beyond best practices; it means going beyond investing in the right tool that supports the change and new behaviors. Being a social leader means instilling new mindsets and putting new processes in place – ones that will create lasting change across the organization.
So, if you are looking to build a social selling program – and entrench a change in behavior with your sales reps and employees – you need to build a change management plan. So, what does that look like? Here are the key components:
- Having a clear purpose that makes sense for your business.
- Executive sponsorship & engagement.
- Stakeholder engagement & alignment
- Enabling the organization
- Engaging the organization
- Managing & sustaining the change: a programmatic approach
In today’s post, we’ll take a closer look at the first four components.
There needs to be a clear business driver or purpose for the change. Sales organizations should not create social selling programs because social selling is the latest buzzword or the latest shiny object on the top marketing trends list for the year. There needs to be a business case that demonstrates the reason for the change and why it is important to the organization and the sales team.
For many sales teams, the need for social selling stems from a dramatic shift in the B2B buying journey. Buyers are making decisions before we have a chance to engage with them, which means that we need to change the way we sell.
Keep in mind that the purpose or business objective needs to resonate and be meaningful to the organization, as well as the sales reps. Salespeople need to know what is in it for them (e.g. stop losing deals to the competition, exceed sales quotas, build expertise, demonstrate thought leadership, etc.)
Executive Sponsorship and Engagement
Executive sponsorship is key, but this needs to go beyond being a figurehead. The executive team needs to help bring the right stakeholders to the table, support alignment and collaboration, and lead by example.
Early on, executives need to buy into the change and be fully engaged. That means they must use social media.
Hopefully, they are already on social. If not, train them. Get them comfortable using social media platforms and help them experience the value for themselves. One-on-one training is a great approach. You may want to consider a reverse mentoring program where social savvy employees train the execs on social and reinforce the importance of using social for business purposes.
It is amazing how much you can accomplish when executives are helping to remove barriers, champion the program, and help drive adoption by demonstrating best practices.
Stakeholder Engagement and Alignment
Engaging stakeholders across the organization and gaining their alignment and support is critical for driving the change required for success. The first step is identifying all the key stakeholders: those who may be concerned about risk, those who have the potential for business value and those who will be critical to enabling success.
Identify them and take some time to think about their perspective on the change, especially what questions they may have.This is your stakeholder analysis. Do your research ahead of time, anticipate their questions, and come prepared. Remember there is real value to be gained for these stakeholders and they have the expertise to help you to be successful.
Here are some I have found critical based on experience:
- Legal is a critical stakeholder in understanding the unique risk to your organization and industry. Engaging them at the right time is important. Engage them too early, and they may kill the project by identifying too much risk. Engage them too late, and you may not have all of the information you need to understand, mitigate, and manage risk.
- Compliance plays a key role in understanding the regulatory environment for your organization and what needs to be considered for content and engagement.
- HR is vital to your success. HR’s role might look different for every organization. They may be key to adapting policies and providing guidance on change management. They also have huge value to be realized through social recruiting and employer brand.
- Learning & Development or Training – Training and learning are critical components to building your social selling program. Engage this group to ensure you are taking the best approach in training. Over time, you will want to look for opportunities to integrate.
- Marketing – In many organizations, marketing is driving social selling. You’ll need the support of your marketing team, especially as you build your content strategy.
- Sales Leadership, Sales Enablement – For a social selling program, engaging these teams is critical to championing the change with the sales team and enabling them to be successful.
Choosing the right time to engage stakeholders is critical. If it is too early in the process – before you have the business case, for example – it might kill the momentum. Do the research to understand the risk and also the opportunity. By doing this work up front, you will set yourself up for success. For many stakeholders, it is about helping them understand the value, listening to their expertise and harnessing that to build a better program.
Through your stakeholder engagement, you will have identified risks and had discussions on how to manage and mitigate the risks. Ultimately, your goal is to build a governance plan for your social selling program that protects your brand and enables sales teams to be great social sellers.
This will come to life through your social media policy and the supporting training and processes. The policy should be clear, with examples of simple dos and don’ts. Your sales teams should already understand your brand, as well as your regulatory environment. So, in many ways, they are already operating with governance. Training and communications can help to bring that to life in the context of social selling. Remember you don’t want to scare your sales team; you want to boost their confidence to be great social sellers.
6 Building Blocks for Creating Your Company’s Social Media Policy
You now have a clear purpose that makes sense for your business, your executive team is on-board and “social,” stakeholders are engaged and aligned, and you have a strong governance in place. This is your foundation that will set you up for success. Check out part two – with some thoughts on enabling and engaging the organization, change communications, and managing the change.
The World’s Best Content Curation Application Just Got Better
We haven’t stopped for a breather since releasing the first iteration of our content curation application last Fall. Since then, we’ve spoken to hundreds, if not thousands, of organizations and amassed a growing and diverse customer base of all sizes. These organizations leverage content and content curation across an unfathomable number of applications and use cases. As you can imagine, these engagements have given us a wealth of insight into the content and curation needs of businesses. We’ve put this knowledge into action in the form of sweeping upgrade to the Trapit application. On behalf of the entire extended Trapit product team, it is with great excitement that I get to fill you in on the details of our new release – available today.
All new user interface and simple workflow
The most noticeable improvement in this release is a completely new user interface and workflow. We believe that even “enterprise” applications should be easy and fun to use. So, we’ve loosened the tie and undone a button or two, infusing the interface with a sense of exploration and serendipity inspired by our days as a consumer app. The result is a greatly-simplified user experience that combines elegance and ease-of-use with the most powerful content discovery and curation capabilities in the industry.
- Flattened, content-first design offers intuitive navigation and improved workflow.
- Review all the newest content across all of your traps in one view.
- Drag and drop traps and sources to create smart bundles.
- Quickly access your most important traps from the Favorites section at the top of your traps list.
- Filter the trap list to show all of your team’s traps or just your own.
Add video to your content mix
Whether as a marketing tool, learning aid or just plain old-fashioned eye candy, video has become an integral part of any digital content strategy. Though our initial focus was helping our customers discover and curate traditional web content from blogs, magazines, newspapers and other primarily text sources, our customers alerted us to the sad state of video discovery and asked us to do something about it. We looked into it and found that not only is the ratio of quality to junk an order of magnitude lower for video than traditional web content, but the descriptive meta data used by search engines to find relevant results is sparse and unreliable. We soon realized that finding great video content is a really big problem. And if you know anything about the Trapit team, you know we love to take on big problems.
So we went to work adapting our patented content discovery capabilities for video. As a result, Trapit customers can now trap and create personalized streams of highly-relevant video content, in real-time or from our library, using the same great content discovery capabilities they’ve come to know and love for web content.
- Discover and curate highly relevant video content, both archived and real-time.
- Growing video library of over 5,000 expert-vetted sources of original high-production value content.
Search & Discover
Another revelation made In working closely with our customers is that there is no “one size fits all” approach to surfacing relevant content from the massive firehose of information that’s out there. Different subject matters and objectives sometimes require different approaches. Our response to this realization is to offer expanded toolbox for surfacing relevant content. In addition to providing the discovery capability we’ve come to be known for, Trapit customers can also easily create complex Boolean search-based traps. Any time new content is published that meets your search criteria, we’ll trap it right away.
Discovery is great for the exploration of bigger and conceptual topic areas – say big data, healthy living, or Latin American cuisine. Search is ideal for those instances when you know precisely what you are looking for – say every single mention of a specific person, organization, product or place. Our customers desired the ability to do both, and now they have it. Give both a try – it’s easy and fun.
What good is a content strategy if it cannot be measured? We’ve expanded our reporting capabilities to provide a vital feedback loop that helps our customers measure the impact of the content they curate. They can then use those insights to continually inform their strategy as time goes on.
- Optimize your curation strategy with insights into what’s resonating with your audience and on which platforms.
- Measure impact by understanding how your audience engages with the content you curate. Are they reading your articles? Watching your videos? Sharing with friends? Trapit can tell you.
- Understand your audience with data on where and how they consume your content, and even how long they spend on your site or application.
- Ensure maximum productivity and adherence to best practices with a bird’s eye view of curation productivity, distribution across channels, and diversity of sources.
Make it your own with annotation
There’s no better way to enhance your value as a curator and establish your own voice than by adding commentary and context to the content you publish and share. When curating to the web, this practice also happens to be the best way to maximize the SEO value of curated content.
Now you can add your own original thoughts to any piece of content before sharing or publishing right from Trapit. Think of this as a curation-specific application of blogging.
Give it a name
Content Curation Center, and even its acronym, is a bit of a mouthful. So, in-line with the simplified user experience and clean design of the new application, we thought it was time to simplify its name too. It’s now just Trapit.
A new website to go with our new application
We figured as long as we were upgrading things, it was time to give our website a fresh new look. If you haven’t seen it yet, check it out here.
Finally, I’d like to conclude by extending my heartfelt thanks to the entire Trapit team for their continued dedication and commitment to providing our customers with the best content curation service available anywhere. I also want to offer anyone out there who is curious about what Trapit does and how it works a guided tour of the service. Just drop me a line or contact me on Twitter.
Until next time,
Co-founder & Chief Product Officer
Three Ways to Prove that Employee Advocacy Works
Many executives and employees won’t fully understand your employee advocacy program. That’s why making the case for employee advocacy is more important than you think.
It is tempting to fall into a common pitfall: Making the assumption that everyone in the organization – from the top of the organization to the bottom – understands the benefits of employee advocacy at their company. But truth be told, those benefits are not immediately evident to many people. That’s why it’s every social business manager’s job to continuously show how employee advocacy is impacting the business.
Below, you’ll find three different ways to show employee advocacy’s impact.
1. Before You Launch: The Business Case Stage
Before you launch an employee advocacy program, you’ll want to build a business case. The form and substance of the case will vary from company to company. But generally speaking, you need to tie your program to things CMOs and other executives care about: brand awareness, operating efficiencies, cost savings, and revenue.
Since you haven’t launched your program, you’ll have to rely on industry stats to build your case. Here are a few resources that you can use:
Once you have approval for your program, start small, show early results, and then expand. But how do you show your results? That brings us to the next sections…
2. Data-Driven KPIs
Once you have a good baseline regarding what you are doing and why you want to engage in employee advocacy, you need to set KPIs. While there’s a wide range of possible KPIs, you might consider the following:
Two quick notes: First, when you’re deciding on metrics, remember that different metrics will matter to different people, at different stages of your program.
Let’s say that you’re the employee advocacy program manager, and you just launched your program. At this stage, you’re trying to figure out what’s working and what’s not working. There’s going to be some trial and error. So, you should be focused on tactical metrics – rather than revenue metrics.
Second, don’t assume that your stakeholders will immediately understand your KPIs. Once you have an agreed-upon set of metrics, circulate them widely, and as you do so, make sure that you explain why they matter.
3. Anecdotal Evidence
While we live in a data-driven world, there’s plenty of room for good storytelling. By putting names and faces to your program, you bring it to life for your stakeholders. Sometimes, you need a good story to win over a skeptical stakeholder.
As you craft these stories, answer the following questions:
- What did your advocates do?
- What effects did those actions have on the target audience (e.g. customers, potential hires, etc.)?
- What positive impact did it have on your business?
If you’re looking for an example, check out Kim Babcock’s post. It explains how social interactions led to hiring a Director of Customer Engagement.
Whatever you do, don’t forget your audience. Not everyone cares about the same things. For example, if you’re talking to the sales team, they might feign interest in employer branding, but they will be keen to know how social helped break the ice with a prospect at a Fortune 100 company.
Want to Learn More about Employee Advocacy?
It’s your job to help your executives and other employee advocates understand your program – and why it matters. Use the three ideas above to rally support for advocacy. Good luck!
To learn more about employee advocacy, check out our ebook The Rise of the Employee Marketer.
There is life outside the echo chamber
Humans are social animals. We’re wired for interactions with others. Our nature is to converse – to live in close proximity with other people. We thirst for the explicit approval of those around us – we are driven to conform, to be accepted. Anyone who’s completed Sociology 101 will tell you about the the fear of being ridiculed by the crowd – to be singled out as being “weird” or abnormal. Ask any military intelligence expert, or a prison warden, and they will attest to the effectiveness of separating an adversary from the community. Solitary confinement is indeed an efficient means of crushing the human spirit.
So given our native proclivity for immersion with others of our kind, there is little surprise in the popularity and explosive growth of social networks. In fact, some would argue that by tapping into the anonymity of being “social” on the Internet, these societies are even more popular than “real” life – those who are awkward in personal interaction can shine behind the shield of technology. And credit the technological geniuses for recognizing this basic human need and connecting the bits to the bytes to provide such a powerful medium for sharing thoughts and ideas and, hopefully, receiving some gratification. So yeah, social networks are hot – and important. We crave followers, re-tweets, likes, big Klout scores – the marks of acceptance by our virtual society. We want to be respected, admired, viewed as an integral part of the social fabric.
It is no surprise that businesses are exploiting the massive streams of commentary and sentiment on social networks and continually creating new ways to harness and exploit this rich medium. But as popular – and powerful – as the need for social acceptance is in both physical and virtual contexts, there is a downside. Consider, for example, trends. Let’s take Twitter. At this very moment, the top trending items on Twitter are: JJ Cale (sorry, wasn’t a fan), Korean War (hmm, that is intriguing), “asktommyrobinson” (well, I probably won’t), “5HFridayFollowSpree” (it’s Saturday already), and the always popular “O2Lfollowparty” (no idea, and hey, I’m no Luddite. I have three Twitter accounts). If you are a business leader – maybe a marketing professional looking to capture sentiment that may be able to help your business, there is not a lot to glean from this.
My point is that what is trending, or that which society – the net society in this case – considers important, may not be all that meaningful to your business. The “wisdom of the crowds” may be a bit of an oxymoron – unless your company is desperately anxious for the latest news on that “O2L Follow Party.” What is “hot” is often determined by personalities – by influential people who have large followings. Lady Gaga, for example, has nearly 40M followers on Twitter. Almost anything she tweets will have a massive ripple effect. Her most recent tweet (“We could be caught, were both convicted criminals of thought.” – Sex Dreams) was retweeted over 28,000 times and favorited by more than 13,000 people. So because of her massive following, Lady Gaga will set trends. Whether she tweets about music or fields where she has little expertise, say business, sports, or technology, her words will still be viewed by many as gems of knowledge and, yes, as trend-setters.
Our society is increasingly obsessed with brevity – the 140-character mentality – in which headlines matter and where long-form stories are most frequently left untouched. This can lead to a business blindly following trends embraced by the masses, threatening mass ignorance at a minimum or, worse, the real danger of using this medium to manipulate and control. The manipulation may, for example, come in the guise of one brand manipulating public sentiment about a competitor. In short, there is a very dark side of this echo chamber.
At Trapit, we love social networks. We love Facebook, and Twitter, and partner with both. In fact, Trapit runs over 200 topical accounts on Twitter – from @TheAppleTrap to @TheBigDataTrap or @TheSCOTUSTrap for fans of the Supreme Court, or @FutureTVTrap – and many, many more. For all of these Twitter topics, Trapit’s AI technology is tapping into the life-stream of the web, analyzing the millions of stories flowing through it, and sending the most relevant stories to the right Twitter accounts – whether it’s rumors about a new iPhone release or the latest on the high court’s position on gay marriage. Automatically. No human intervention required.
So why is this important? We believe that as much as your team may live, work, and even adore social networks, that your company is unique. Your business has a passion for information about topics that matter to your company, and especially to your customers. Even if the “crowd “ does not. No matter how broad or how obscure the topics that influence your business are, Trapit will discover them and deliver them to you. And as you dive deeper into those topics, it will learn more about your business objectives – what is relevant to your success – and deliver more of it. Because at the end of the day, while your company needs to understand the pulse of social networks, your business is not the crowd.
The Trapit Content Curation Center
Information guides our lives. We make decisions based on consuming content received from many sources – from media in all forms, from conversation, from observation of our surroundings. Having the wrong content can be disastrous – consider the Iraq “WMD” fiasco. Timing is obviously critical – learning that the Bay Bridge was scheduled to close an hour after sitting in a horrific traffic jam is not of much value. And relevance is crucial – a shoe sale in New York City is of little import to consumers in San Francisco. In a recent LinkedIn survey of over 800 B2B marketers, 72% listed relevance as the most important aspect of successful content, as relevance correlates directly to audience engagement.
Content is the currency in which every marketer trades. We buy based on awareness – on understanding a product’s value – which is communicated by content in multiple forms. Getting the right content to a product’s audience – to inform, to influence behavior, generate new leads, to demonstrate thought leadership – all depends on delivering relevant content to the right audience at the appropriate place- when they are most likely to need it.
But we live in a tsunami of content – a tsunami that has grown too massive for humans to filter and recognize meaningful patterns. And current search technology, hampered by Search Engine Optimization (SEO), is at crossed purposed with finding unique, high-quality content. With so much content entering your customers’ inboxes, mobile devices, and social media feeds constantly, how can a marketer insure their brand rises above the clutter and stands out?
Today we are announcing the Trapit Content Curation Center, a powerful but intuitive, easily deployed, and affordable application that helps marketers do just that: provide a steady stream of unique, relevant, and timely content to their target audience on the devices they are most likely to consume it.
Our Content Curation Center is based on powerful Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning technology designed to cut through the clutter and extract only that content that is relevant and timely.
This same LinkedIn in study noted that the three most daunting challenges faced by marketers are 1) having the time, bandwidth and budget to create compelling content 2) difficulty in finding truly engaging content, and 3) finding or producing enough relevant content. Our Content Curation Center breaks through these roadblocks, tapping into Trapit’s massive library of original, high-quality content, discovering only that which is relevant to a specific product or brand. And, since it is important that your original content is infused in this stream, the Content Curation Center allows the addition of your own sources to the library.
But even if this relevant content, in sufficient quantity, was available, how can it be delivered – in an efficient and timely manner – to your customers? According to the LinkedIn survey, 31% of the marketers surveyed cited the delivery of content as their biggest challenge. The Content Curation Center navigates these hurdles as well, making it easy to deliver content – automatically – to social media feeds, or newsletters, email, your web site, mobile devices, or even integrated as a relevant content stream in other applications.
The Content Curation Center is all about choice, providing a wide range of options to allow the marketer control over the discovery and delivery of content relevant to their brand. For example, as noted above, new sources – either from the Internet or private sources sitting behind a company’s firewalls – can easily be added to Trapit’s digital library. And sources can be removed as well. The Content Curation Center provides a wide and powerful set of filters – filters that can prevent certain topics or companies – perhaps a competitor – from ending up in your stream. Filters that can limit content to specific areas. Or filters to determine the frequency of content delivery. And the level of redundancy in the content. Most importantly, Trapit allows the marketer to determine the level of automation in the distribution of content. For example, at Trapit we use the Content Creation Center to power over 200 Twitter feeds on topics ranging from food (@TheFoodieTrap) to fitness (@TheYogaTrap) to medicine (@ConcussionTrap). Once these topics were created and trained by our curators, we allow them to run fully automatically, posting content relevant to these topics at a frequency specified by the curator. It could be once a day or four-times-an hour – just another setting in our application. On the other hand, if the marketer would like to be more active in that process, the Content Curation Center offers “assisted curation,” giving control over which content is distributed – or not.
We’re excited to be releasing the Trapit Content Curation Center today. We are certain it is the most comprehensive application for content marketing available, and that our customers will save time and money while delivering content that is unique, relevant, and timely.
You can learn more about our Content Curation Center here:
The Ultimate Glossary for B2B Sales Reps
For many people, posting to social media has become second nature. But with new terms and new features popping up all the time, even seasoned social sellers are bound to run into terms that leave them scratching their heads.
For those moments of uncertainty, we’ve created the ultimate glossary of social selling terms. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned pro, check out this must-have list of social media terms.
Meet the octothorpe, sometimes called a “pound sign.” You’ll see a lot of these on Twitter. Check out the definition of a “hashtag” to learn more.
A bio on social media is a brief biography that explains who the user is. On LinkedIn, this is your “Summary” section. On Twitter, users have 160 characters to describe themselves. To learn how to craft your bio on Twitter and LinkedIn, check out the Definitive Cheat Sheet for Social Sellers.
This is web content that provides a misleading or sensationalist headline with the goal of attracting clicks. Often times, the headlines pique your curiosity, but the content itself fails to live up to your expectations. Try to avoid sharing clickbait articles.
Content curation is the process of finding content online and sharing it with your audience. Most internet users curate content in some way, shape, or form. For social sellers, content curation is key. By sharing content, sellers establish expertise and trigger engagement with their buyers.
Social selling experts recommend an 80/20 split. 80% of the content that sellers share should be curated content (i.e. other people’s blog posts, research reports, etc.). 20% of the content should come from the seller’s company. This balance helps sellers look less biased towards their company’s point of view.
A direct message – also called a “DM” – is a private Twitter message. Typically, both parties must be following one another to send a message. However, Twitter recently added a setting that allows you to receive Direct Messages from anyone on the Twitter platform. To learn more, visit this resource from Twitter.
Emotions are hard to express online. That’s why we have emoji. They are small images that express an emotion in electronic communication. Learn more about them in this post: B2B Social Selling: To Emoji or Not to Emoji?
On social networks, engagement refers to any interaction you have with another user. This broad term encompasses a variety of actions, from commenting on a LinkedIn post to retweeting someone’s article on Twitter.
This is a sign that someone likes your tweet. It is currently represented by a small heart on Twitter. (Previously, it was represented by a star.)
On Twitter, a follower is someone who subscribes to your account in order to see your tweets. The number of followers you have can be an early indicator of the effectiveness of your social presence.
GIF stands for Graphics Interchange Format. In social media, GIFs serve as small-scale animations and film clips. They often are used to convey emotion. Here’s an example:
At this time, Twitter supports GIFs, but LinkedIn does not.
A header image refers to the large photo displayed at the top of your profile on Twitter. (On LinkedIn, it is also commonly referred to as the banner image.)
Some people choose to use their company’s logo as their header image. Other people opt for something more personal – like an image of the city where they live. Either is fine.
A hashtag is a word or phrase preceded by a “#” (e.g. #SocialSelling). Hashtags are used on Twitter, but not on LinkedIn.
On Twitter, they are built-in conversation finders. By using hashtags, you can make yourself known. People can find your tweets and jump into conversations with you. Likewise, you can see who’s using hashtags about your industry and strike up conversations with them.
HT or H/T
You’ll see this acronym on Twitter. It stands for “hat tip.” It is used to tell your followers that you’re tweeting something that was brought to your attention by someone else. A HT tweet typically looks something like this:
This article is a must-read for #B2B #sales reps: [insert link to a great article]. h/t @twitterusername.
Invitation to Connect
On LinkedIn, you need to send requests to connect with someone. If you’re not careful, LinkedIn will send a generic request that reads, “I’d like to add you to my professional network.”
The default message fails to explain who you are and why you want to connect. Some people refuse to accept connection requests that use the generic message. So, take the time to send personalized messages to the members of your network.
In the upper right-hand corner, you can see invitations that other people have sent you. As you can see, I have 67 requests waiting for me:
This is a sign that someone liked your update or published post on LinkedIn. Typically, it is represented by a thumbs-up on the network.
LinkedIn is the professional social network of record. Users interact with other users to build their professional networks and exchange ideas. When using LinkedIn, remember that it is more buttoned-up than Facebook or Twitter. If you wouldn’t discuss a topic at a work meeting or professional happy hour, don’t discuss it on LinkedIn.
Connections describe your relationship to other LinkedIn users. The first-degree connection is the most basic type. This is a person whom you know personally or professionally and who has accepted your invitation to connect.
Other degrees of connection depend on your extended network. For instance, a second-degree connection is someone who is connected to one of your first-degree connections. Don’t be afraid to ask your first-degree connections for introductions to their connections.
On LinkedIn, you can list the skills that you have. An endorsement on LinkedIn refers to when another LinkedIn user recognizes you for one of the skills in your profile.
The numbers on the left indicate how many people have endorsed you for each skill:
LinkedIn Groups are centered on specific topics, and they are a great way to meet professionals who share similar interests. In groups, you can share content, ask questions, answer questions, view jobs, grow your network, and establish yourself as a thought leader.
Groups are private. To join, you have to request admittance.
InMail messages are private messages that you send to LinkedIn members who are not first-degree connections (i.e. people to whom you are connected on LinkedIn). To use this feature, you must have a premium (paid) subscription.
Whatever you do, don’t use InMail to send cold pitches. No one likes that.
On LinkedIn, you can mention companies and other users in your comments and status updates. Mentions are a great way of including people in a conversation and getting their attention. When you mention someone, LinkedIn notifies the person whom you are mentioning.
Here’s an example:
To learn how to mention someone, check out this resource from LinkedIn.
On LinkedIn, you can send private messages to your professional network. Your message is sent to someone’s messaging list and possibly to their email inbox, depending on their notifications settings. Messages are a great way to move a conversation offline.
Oh, and don’t forget to check your messages! As you can see, I have 5 messages to read.
On LinkedIn’s homepage, you can “Share an update” or “Publish a post.” “Share an update” is for when you want to write messages. For example, you want to share a link and provide commentary on that link.
“Publish a post” is for longer updates – a couple paragraphs. Think of this option like a blog post on the LinkedIn network. If you’re a good writer, this is a great option for establish yourself as a thought leader.
LinkedIn Recent Activity
This LinkedIn feature shows a user’s recent activity – status updates, likes, etc. It is a gold mine for social sellers who are getting to know their buyers. You can learn how to dig into this gold mine from this post: How to Use LinkedIn Recent Activity for Social Selling.
A recommendation is a note written by one LinkedIn member for another LinkedIn member. Typically, these recommendations reinforce the user’s professional credibility or expertise. Think of it as a mini letter of recommendation. Learn more about recommendations on the LinkedIn website.
A meme is a concept, idea, joke, or thought that is widely spread online. Typically, a meme appears in the image format, but it can also come in video or link form. Here’s an example:
This is a tweet that has been pinned to the top of someone’s Twitter profile page. Pinning a tweet is a great way to feature an important announcement or highlight one of your favorite pieces of content. Everyone who visits your profile page will see the tweet – like this one:
A term popularized by Ann Handley. It describes when someone pitches a product or service out of the blue. You’re using social networks to build relationships – not as a digital version of cold calling. So, avoid pitch-slapping at all costs.
A retweet is when someone on Twitter sees a message and chooses to re-share it to his or her followers. There’s a retweet button on Twitter, which allows users to quickly resend messages and attribute the message to the original sharer’s name.
On Twitter, the retweet feature is depicted by two arrows in the form of a rectangle:
Social selling is when salespeople build relationships using social networks with the end goal of selling more. Typically, social sellers supply and discuss content, which generates leads and opportunities, drives revenue, and increases customer lifetime value.
This is a public message on Twitter. A tweet can contain up to 140 characters of text, as well as photos, videos, and other types of media.
Twitter is a social network that allows users to write 140-character updates. Users can favorite and retweet other people’s messages, as well as use mentions, replies, and hashtags to engage in conversations. Unlike LinkedIn, it is a little more laid back. It is acceptable to show more of your personality and discuss your hobbies.
Because Twitter is fast-paced, it is important to tweet regularly. Without regular posts, your tweets get pushed down your followers’ stream by more recent tweets. To learn more about Twitter, check out: If You’re Social Selling Only on LinkedIn, Something’s Wrong.
A Twitter chat is a group discussion. Twitter users meet at a scheduled time to discuss a certain topic, using a designated hasthag for each tweet contributed. There’s typically a host or moderator that will pose questions.
During Twitter chats, you can network and grow your knowledge. To find a list of Twitter chats, check out this resource from TweetReports or this Google Spreadsheet.
A mention is when a Twitter user includes someone else’s @username in their tweet. Mentions are good ways of attributing content to someone or to start discussions.
A Twitter reply is when a user responds to a tweet from another user. It is initiated by using the bent arrow on Twitter.
The response begins with the @username of the other person. This is different from a Twitter mention because tweets that start with @username (i.e. replies) will be seen only by the users who follow both parties.
In the example below, only users who follow both Henry and me will see this tweet.
Note: Twitter may be changing this feature in the near future.
Your Twitter timeline is a feed full of news. It’s where you can see the latest tweets from the people you follow on Twitter. Your timeline is constantly refreshing itself with updated information.
This is the action of unsubscribing to a Twitter user’s updates.
Move Beyond the Lingo!
Now that you have the lingo down, you’re ready to start social selling. If you need some help, check out our Definitive Cheat Sheet for Social Sellers.
The Ultimate Checklist for Launching Your Employee Advocacy Program
When you’re starting an employee advocacy program, there are many moving parts, and it can be overwhelming. While the scope of an advocacy program may differ from company to company, there are a few fundamental activities that just about everyone needs to tackle.
Check them out below.
Define Your Objectives
Without clearly defined objectives, your employee advocacy program will never take off. You have to ask yourself: Why do you want your employees on social media? What do you hope to accomplish?
As you answer those questions, you may have qualitative objectives, which may involve creating better conversations with customers. Also, you may have quantitative objectives. For example, empower 500 employees to have a presence on Twitter by the end of Q4.
Regardless of what your objectives are, here’s the process that you’ll have to walk through.
Identify the key groups/departments that will participate in your program.
Sit down with the key stakeholders from each department. Discuss what your audiences have in common. Why would your audiences want to hear from your employees?
Now that you understand your audience, brainstorm qualitative objectives for your program
Also, create a list of quantitative objectives for your program
For your quantifiable objectives, identify the metrics by which you will measure your success (e.g. leads, clicks, etc.).
Assign numeric values to each of those metrics. For example, we will generate 100 leads from our employees in the first two months.
Make sure that your key stakeholders agree on the objectives.
Choose Your Technology
Depending on your business objectives, there are different solutions available to meet your needs. Use the process below to find and buy an employee advocacy platform that is right for your company.
Write down your goals for the project – What are you hoping to accomplish by implementing employee advocacy software?
Create a list of potential vendors.
Create an evaluation timeline – How long will you take to evaluate the solutions?
Establish feature requirements – What are your must-have features?
Establish evaluation criteria – What type of scale will you use to score each vendor?
Assemble a team that will manage the solution, and run your evaluation criteria past them.
With your team, demo and score the vendors.
Talk to references about your vendors.
Choose a platform.
Work with vendor to create a deployment strategy.
Work with vendor on platform training timeline.
Need more help? Here are 20 questions you can ask when evaluating employee advocacy platforms.
Create a Social Media Policy
Before you jump into an employee advocacy program, you’ll want to create a social media policy for your company. This resource will ensure that your employees comply with your program, and it will outline the rules of what employees should and should not do on social media.
Read over state and national laws about social media policy. (Here’s the latest from the FTC.)
Brainstorm rules and guidelines about what employees should do and what employees shouldn’t do.
Review and refine your ideas.
Finalize your list of guidelines.
Format your list in a visually appealing way.
Share the social media policy with key stakeholders for their review.
Receive your legal team’s approval.
Get Executive Buy-in
You need to articulate your vision to your executive team. Why? Because every project needs a visible and vocal champion in a leadership position.
This person advocates for your project in disputes, planning meetings, and review sessions. She will take whatever actions are necessary to ensure that your project is completed successfully.
Here’s how to find your executive champion.
Identify the person who initiated this project and find out why the project was started.
If the project initiator is not in a leadership position, brainstorm executives who can reap benefits from the project and who will lead by example (i.e. already use social media).
Pitch the program to your top candidates.
Assess how interested your candidates are and how much help they’re willing to provide.
Choose your top candidate.
Speak with your sponsor and reaffirm your project’s objectives.
Develop specific plans for involving your project champion throughout the project and keeping her informed of your program’s progress.
Make your sponsor visible. Draft a letter or create a video script for your project champion to read. Share with your advocates.
If you need help convincing your executive team of the merits of employee advocacy, here are two resources you can use:
Create a Content Plan
Content is a key ingredient for any employee advocacy program. Without educational blogs, white papers, infographics, survey reports, and videos, your advocates will not be able to spark conversations and build trust with buyers.
Familiarize yourself with the 4-1-1 rule so that your advocates share content that won’t annoy their followers.
Identify broad themes that will interest your employees and their followers.
Indicate which types of content you want to promote (e.g. blog posts, videos, infographics, mainstream news, etc.).
Determine how you will organize your content distribution internally.
Consult with the marketing department to align your content initiatives with their calendar.
Identify the individuals who will curate content and sample messages for your advocates.
Create a hashtag that your employees can use when sharing content about your company and its products and services. (See the FTC’s latest rules.)
Recruit Your First Advocates
Without advocates, you don’t have a program. So, how do you go about recruiting them? Here are the steps that you need to take:
Start your program with customer-facing departments like Sales, Marketing, and Customer Success.
Identify your advocates who are already active on social media.
Determine the size of your group. Usually, you want to keep it small at the beginning – perhaps 25-50 people.
Create incentives for participants, like an ongoing rewards program or company-wide recognition.
Personally invite your advocates to participate.
Avoid the term “employee advocacy” as you recruit. Your employees won’t know what the term means. Instead, stress the idea of using social media to achieve personal business objectives.
Stress that this program is voluntary.
Looking for more help with the recruitment phase? Here are two great resources:
Train Your Advocates
If you want to see results, you’ll have to train your employees and standardize best practices across the enterprise. As you think about training, consider two types of training. First, training on social media. Second, training on your employee advocacy platform.
Identify who will be in charge of enablement.
Assess your employees’ social media skills.
Identify common areas of improvement.
Offer skills-based training sessions on social media (e.g. How to use LinkedIn to prepare for a sales discovery call).
Offer training classes on the employee advocacy platform.
You made it! Pat yourself on the back! There was a lot to get done. You’ve settled on your business objectives, chosen a platform, written your social media policy, created a content strategy, found an executive sponsor, recruited your first group of advocates, and trained them.
Now, you’re ready to launch!
Need help launching your program? Feel free to contact us. We’d love to discuss your specific needs!