07 December – How to expand your audience on Social Media

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Social media, there’s no denying, can be (when done correctly) a very effective method for reaching a wider audience. But how can you ensure you’re taking full advantage and are using the right platforms and methods to drive the best results?

 

I was recently joined with Ian Moyse,  a well-known Sales Leader who has a huge social media presence, being rated 2016 and 15’s #1 social influencer on cloud, and #1 on ITSM ,  featured in many social selling leaders reports and has even advised many businesses on how to play the social media game. Here, Ian shared his tips on how to expand your social media presence.

 

  1. What to consider

 

  • Influencing buyers – With 75% of b2b buyers using social media to research a vendor (IDC) and 57% of the buyers journey being done before a sales rep is contacted (CAB), the power of social really has evolved. Ian even points out that incremental decisions are being made, based on content shared through social media. ‘That wouldn’t have happened even 10 years ago,’.

 

  • Transparency – The buyer and influencer dynamic has evolved. Anyone now has the ability to find out everything about, you, your brand, your products, what others think of you, and from this make a decision. It’s therefore more important than ever to portray yourself in the best way possible, across any mediums where they may find you, to sway their buying decision.

 

  • What are your goals? – It’s not enough to just want to be a part of social media because you’ve heard at an event it’s ‘good’, you need to think about what it is you want to accomplish and where you want to go. As Ian says ‘If you don’t know where you want to go, I can’t tell you which route to take.’ Possible goals could be; to generate leads, to appear more established than you are, to gain a wider regional reach or to be seen as a thought leader.

 

  1. Who are your audience?

After you’ve identified your goal, you then need to consider who is your audience. Examples include:

 

  • Customers- End customers
  • Channel partners- Spread your message onwards to their customer base.
  • Analysts- To become recognized in your field
  • Journalists- To create an online buzz and get your brand out there
  • Influencers- To improve the reputation of your business

 

  1. How do you engage with your audience?

Social media is open 24 hours a day so posting once a day will not be enough to grab your audience’s attention.

 

What a lot of thought leaders do is they repeat their content. To do this though you need to have a wide content library. As Ian says ‘What are the chances your audience are going to see it 50 times’?  Social Media is a transient form, no one is sat watching you all the time. Like a TV advert the same ad runs on different channels at different time again and again!  You need to engage the same on social.  Have a mix of good content you can re-use and perhaps post a blog, twice a day, each day at different times across 2 week’s! You want to have as many people as possible to; see it, engage with it and share it on to their audiences! Using a social automation tools will allows you to schedule these in advance to go out at varying times.

 

Social media has the word ‘social’ in the title for a reason. It’s all about communicating with your audience and starting up conversations. By this Ian does not mean, sending them something one off. The relationship needs to be constantly nurtured to keep them interested, whilst encouraging engagement.

 

More than that though, it’s about sharing content that will be of interest to them.

 

  1. How do you grow your audience?

 

  • Focus- Do not be fooled into thinking you need to be on all social networks. If your business does not lend itself to visual display, why have an ‘Instagram’ account? Yes, it’s a huge player in the market, but perhaps not for your industry. Instead focus your efforts on a few social networks suited to your industry. Why not assess your competitors’ efforts and which ones they use?

 

  • Take advantage- Hashtags, keywords, Twitter lists, LinkedIn Groups, are all great ways of attracting your audience’s attention. Spend some time researching these and see how you can take advantage of them. I would highly recommend conducting social listening to see how others are using these effectively. If you can identify a relevant niche not yet served then consider creating a LinkedIn or Facebook group and adding connections/ thought leaders in that space to it. This is a method Ian has found particularly beneficial for starting conversations, engaging his audience and sharing content (Ian’s group now has over 33k members and is continuing to grow consistently!)

 

  • Social Selling- As Ian says ‘people talk to people. They don’t like to feel they’re talking to a bot. To do this you need to take advantage of your sales people and give them training on how to use their social media accounts effectively, for building and engaging with prospects. With 57% of the buyers’ journey occurring before a sales rep is contacted, building your employees online presence is a great way of influencing buying decisions.

 

  • Thought leaders- Do you have influencers, senior level employees or experts in your field that you could be leveraging on social media? This is also another great way of increasing your social media presence, building trust and adding a humanized element to your messaging as well.

 

  • Useful tools- Here are some great tools which Ian Moyse recommends using for improving your social media performance and efficiency:

-Fiverr- Creative marketplace for finding digital services such as creating great profile imagery and social animations cheaply

-Ezgif- Converts videos to GIF’s to make content and is a bit more social media friendly.

-Social media automation tools- To schedule relevant posts to your audience all at once.

-Commun.it- A tool to analyze engagement on Twitter & Facebook and to help you re-engage

 

The main trick is to constantly look for small gains and try to keep up to date with the advancements. ‘I am constantly looking for ways to make social media that bit easier for myself or ways to make me look a bit more professional. Its’ all about those 1% gains, they all add up.’

 

Ian shared some extremely useful tips in here, too many in fact for me to mention within this blog post, so here’s the full version of our ‘Expanding your Social Audience’ webinar. Please do follow us @purechannelapps and @imoyse on Twitter and feel free to ask us some questions.

08 March – Sharing social media secrets – partner, customer and channel advocacy

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In a recent social media advocacy webinar, industry leaders from Microsoft, Avalara and Xerox, as well as social media experts Ian Moyse and Zoe Sands, delivered some rather fascinating insights. I would like to share just some of these with you.


It’s all about people… many people!

Although the brand itself is important, it’s the people within it that do the business. Zoe Sands, Principal Consultant, Zoe Sands & Co. Ltd states, ‘A good starting point is centering social media around people.’ The nature of your business will determine who this includes. These are the type of advocates you can take advantage of:


Partner advocacy

Microsoft realised the benefit of promoting their brand through their channel partners’ social media accounts. However from a survey they conducted with channel partners, they discovered that even though their partners recognised the importance of social media, they lacked the time or resource to perform this effectively. To overcome this Microsoft is now using socialondemand to facilitate the sharing of Microsoft’s content to their channel partners’ social media accounts.


Alex Beere, Consultant Social Media Manager, SMB and Partner, for Microsoft, stated, ‘Since using it, we have noticed a number of benefits from both a Microsoft and a partner perspective. Partners have become more socially digitally enabled, they’ve experienced growth in their social channels, and many partners have seen direct leads from the program.’


Employee advocacy

Your employees, especially your sales staff, are likely to be the individuals representing your brand.


As Will Frei, Social Media Manager at Avalara suggested, ‘An education piece for them to understand how social can benefit them is essential to get them on board with the program.’


Avalara, however, is performing the next generation of advocacy and enabling their employees to suggest content for Avalara to share, named ‘360 degree advocacy’. Will says, ‘This gives employees a sense of ownership, has also improved morale and employee culture as well as increasing the number of employees promoting us.’


Influencer Advocacy

Alex from Microsoft states, ‘Influencer advocacy should not be about just sending partners technology for them to write about it, it should be more about nurturing and integrating these relationships in a natural way for the long term.’


On social media it is clear to see who has paid to be influenced and who has a genuine preferred relationship with the brand. Ensure you get this right or it will not be a worthwhile expense for your brand.


Supporting advocates is necessary

You need to make your advocacy program feel human, supporting users with the right policy, and the right parameters. This is fundamental in order to get as many advocates on board as possible.


Alex suggests, ‘It’s not something you launch and walk away from. Make it as easy as possible for your advocates to be able to skill up and maintain a good level of usage.’


This could include conducting a robust training program that works for all capability levels. Certifications may be an option for more advanced advocates seeking gratification for their efforts, whereas less advanced advocates may favour a webinar, face to face, how to guides or video training to get them on board. Training advocates to create blogs for you could also be highly beneficial in enabling you to produce a range of content, however leave this to your advanced advocates.


Incentivising advocates to share your content

The big question is, should brands incentivise advocates to share their content?


Andy Hill, Social Media Marketing Manager, for Xerox, states that they do not normally need to provide incentives. ‘For partners they are already looking at each other’s social media accounts, so we do not need to incentivise them, they are already competing against one another every single day.’


Microsoft however does sometimes see the value in incentivising, for example to encourage some content to be pushed over others, prizes may be awarded. Microsoft has also implemented a digital leader board for employees to see who is receiving the most engagement on social media. So the incentive is to try and get to the top.


As Ian leading Cloud Influencer on Social Media says, ‘Engagement and validation can be the reward, for example, by mentioning them on Twitter and sharing their content.’ It’s about understanding your advocates and finding out what works best for them.


I think you’ll agree that there is a lot to learn from this webinar. So much in fact that I couldn’t possibly write it all down. To hear a more detailed version, please click here to watch the recording. But for now I only hope this has reiterated the importance of utilising your advocates effectively. These experts do, so maybe it’s about time you did too.


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By Olivier Choron
CEO and Founder of purechannelapps

Find me on LinkedIn

22 February – Social Selling and Personal Branding

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By Ian Moyse (Industry Cloud and Channel Sales Leader), rated #1 Cloud Influencer 2016 and Awarded a Linkedin Power Profile 2015


I am often amazed at how little most sales people invest in the value of their own personal brand and lack understanding of what social selling is and how to apply it amongst their kit bag of tools.


Avoiding the puns from the late Stuart Baggs of the Apprentice about “I am the brand” , having an online brand is not about necessarily having your name in lights or being known or famous, it is the public view you give of yourself to others.


A prospective customer or employer in knowing your name will inevitably at some point look you up online, as they will the company or product they may consider buying in their business lives or at home. Who of us hasn’t when thinking of going somewhere or buying a product or service done a quick search, looked at their web site, looked at shopping sites like Amazon and Ebay, read reviews, perhaps asked friends on Facebook or twitter their experience etc.


When I am going to meet a customer or am about to interview someone for a sales role I always check them out on Linkedin, look on twitter/facebook and a quick Google Search, allowing me to know a little context about them as a person and even to a degree a little of what personality type they are.


Today it is so incredibly easy to find a wealth of information on anything to enable a pragmatic, informed and safer decision and in the mobile world you can do it easily anytime, anyplace. So why expect that you as an individual will not be looked up at some point and pre-judged, especially if you are doing the same of others as I described above.


Like it or not, disagree with its fairness, it doesn’t matter. The buyer has more control than ever and that includes on finding out about you as a person as well as your proposition and company. You may have read previously on how the buyer dynamic has changed, often a customer having done 60-70% of their research before a sales person gets engaged. Expect this to also include on you when you do engage.


So firstly make sure your online profiles represent you well. It’s not difficult and your own profile is yours, it travels with you wherever you go and can beget you new opportunities you did not expect. Use a professional and friendly looking photo of yourself (not one partying or on holiday) and use a similar or same one across your profiles. Have a good summary BIO of yourself and again keep it consistent across profiles. Add links to awards you have won, articles mentioned in, content written etc, anything pertinent that showcases you as a person professionally. Make it a small project to polish your online presence, look at others profiles and plagiarize ideas you spot that would work for yourself. My main profiles for example can be seen at http://www.ianmoyse.co.uk & https://twitter.com/imoyse. I continue to review these and improve them as I see what others are doing that I like and see value in.


Social Selling means I have to spend my life online as an expert at social media and publish lots of information right? Wrong. Social selling is all about profile, listening, engagement and publishing/push of information as a combined effort.


Once your profile is polished, look at who you connect with, follow, retweet, repost content from etc. A simple engagement might be simply liking and sharing a person’s content onwards or one step further reposting someone’s tweet and adding your own comment such as “a great point and I also think xyz” or replying to that person with a question or comment. In doing so you begin to get engagement, not only with your followers and audience, but also with the author you have paid compliment to by sharing their content. So you don’t have many followers or connections yet, no matter it still pays compliment to them and your content sharing may gain you more followers.


Remember also what you share is what viewers of your profiles will see of you, so think carefully about sharing lewd or anything that could be deemed offensive, sexist, etc What you share represents you. In my view people do not want to know you had a great sandwich just now, but sharing valuable content and facts relevant to your industry can have value to the wider audience.


Social Media in terms of a brand and engagement is a long play. Do not expect instant gratification. Perhaps you get the CIO of a target customer to retweet some content you shared with them, don’t immediately launch into sales pitch on them. It is important to use social to demonstrate your value and to build engagement to a point where such an interaction is natural. This means nurturing, the words usually used by marketing should also fall into the realms of salespeople, nurturing future pipeline and prospects early. Great to call into the CIO in November cold and get through, a meeting and into an engagement, but how often is that now easy? Start nurturing them in February alongside your immediate sales opportunities. Follow them on social, reach out with relevant content shares on the systems they are on, comment on announcements they post where you have good comment. People notice who shares their content, comments, likes etc – try it yourself – see if you note who views your profile, engages peripherally with you!


Personal brand management, Social selling and experience in how to leverage these is going to continue to become increasingly important and as a differentiator to you personally. If I interview someone in the future who perhaps has searched on myself, figured this out, read articles I have written and comes armed demonstrating proven use of these values over someone who just wings it as a salesperson, who will stand out, who will align best with my goals and with me personally!

09 December – Social Selling- Fish where the fish are

Social Selling- Fish where the fish are
Last week we were lucky enough to be joined by social selling expert, Zoe Sands who is the principal consultant at Zoe Sands & Co. Ltd. Zoe assists organisations in connecting sales with marketing to prove ROI. Here is a recap on exactly what was discussed.


The power of your employees
Don’t underestimate the power of your employees. They are your greatest advocates and should be leveraged to fully break into the social sphere. Not convinced? Think of it this way, if you have 10,000 employees, and you enable 20% of your employees to socially sell your business you effectively have 2,000 more opportunities to do so. This represents more windows, more shop fronts and a much increased social presence, far greater than if you only promoted your messages through your businesses social media account(s).


Buying behaviour has changed
With a rise in online influencers, and 67% of the buying cycle occurring online even before a sales rep is contacted, it’s more important than ever that you influence buyers at an earlier stage. If you interject earlier then you’re ahead of many of your competitors. That is of course if they themselves have not got on the employee advocacy band waggon already, in which case it’s a must just to keep in line with competitors. And let’s face it, there is so much more competition with online technology now allowing brands to easily compete on a global scale. It’s time you stepped up your game.


Social media is where it’s at
You need to make sure your information is readily available, engage with influencers and get on board with an employee advocacy program, where your employees push out your content to their connections on social media. As Zoe Sands explained, ‘Fish where the fish are’. This is so true. With social media ever increasing in popularity, it’s important you take advantage of this channel.


Establish where your target audience is. Whether that be on; LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram etc. Use these networks and leverage your employees to reach out to them. If you operate in the B2B arena it is likely you will favour Twitter and LinkedIn, but that’s up to you to decide. Your business may be different.


Enable social selling
You can’t possibly expect all of your employees to be equipped to socially sell your brand straight away. Various steps need to be taken first. These include:


Social media collaboration platform – You need a program that will enable your brand to regularly share informative content for your target audience to see and be made readily aware of. There are also other essential aspects, such as ensuring you maintain control of your content, can filter it appropriately, report on its effectiveness, notify employees of new content, and lastly ensure it is quick and easy to use. This will allow employees in a few clicks to share your content to their desired social networks. A complicated platform would disengage employees. Reporting is also key, so you can track strategies and identify what is working and what’s not, making changes where necessary.
CRM system to track leads – If your employees will be accountable for partaking in the buying cycle, this will be a huge motivator to share your content on social media. To track this you would need a CRM system where employees can record all communication occurring on social media with potential consumers. This way you can also really establish the effectiveness of social selling.
Training – To expect employees to conduct social selling effectively, it is important you provide in-depth training, ensuring every employee is at the same stage and confident to start effectively socially selling your business.
Success indicator – It’s important you consider which exact triggers can be considered accountable to the final sale being achieved. This can include ‘likes’, ‘retweets’, replies to comments, or sharing your content just to name a few. By using a social media amplification platform such as socialondemand, you will be able to easily measure your posts effectiveness.
Pilot test – Before fully adopting a social selling program, you want to first of all test it. See what works, what doesn’t and make any changes required to improve its effectiveness. Also before fully deploying it, evaluate the ROI you expect to receive. Then you will be able to establish whether the investment required to roll this out to all employees will be worth it.


You’ve got to be realistic
Don’t be fooled into thinking social selling will speed up your buying cycle, it won’t. It will just mean that your brand will be seen by your target audience earlier in the buying cycle, at the research stage, making them aware of your offerings. And don’t think you will receive a return on investment overnight because you won’t. It will take time for this program to become established, for it to work and for you to create the perfect social selling recipe. You’ve got to be realistic about what you will achieve, so set your expectations fairly.

Want to watch the full webinar? Click here. Please feel free to comment and add your opinion or if you have any additional tips you would like to add, please do so.
OC
By Olivier Choron
CEO and Founder of purechannelapps

Find me on LinkedIn

24 November – An industry insight: The truth about social selling

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Here Zoe Sands, Principal Consultant of Zoe Sands and Co Ltd and Olivier Choron, CEO and Founder of purechannelapps have been interviewed to contribute their honest opinion on the topic, social selling. Forget the fluff, here is the truth.


1. What does social selling mean to you?

[ZS] Social selling for me is about connecting all those involved in the selling process – whether they are quota carriers or not – into a sales enablement programme, whereby the team works through the buying funnel together. Basically teamwork starting online.


[OC] For me social selling goes beyond the ‘selling’. It’s about making sure the organisation is completely engaged in social media, at all levels. I am not talking about using social media just for marketing or customer service or HR/ recruitment. I am talking about all people being involved in social media. All your employees have a social media cloud… whether they are in sales, marketing or technical roles…whether they are in junior, mid-level or senior management positions. Only once they all have embraced social media and participated in your company’s social media efforts, will you be able, as an organisation, to enjoy the benefits of ‘social’. And remember that, according to LinkedIn, 75% of buyers use social media to be more informed about vendors.


2.Why is it important?

[ZS] Social selling is important because buyers are much more informed than they have ever been. Research has shown that buyers do not tend to engage with vendor sales until further along the buying decision process. This creates issues because often the sales touch point with the buyer is too late as short lists may have already been created and the buyer is probably close to making a buying decision. SiriusDecisions says two thirds of the buying process has already been completed online without even contacting the vendors. This is a missed opportunity for sales to influence the buying process.


Sales employees need to develop and optimise their social channels to hunt out suspects, identify prospects and build a trusted advisor status with the aim to create trusted online relationships before moving these into sales relationships. Times have changed and rather than waiting for opportunities to be created by marketing, successful sales people are creating these opportunities themselves through social selling.


[OC] Being able to influence buyers wherever they are in the buying cycle is key. Social selling, if done well and across the whole organisation, will enable this. It allows interactions to occur when they are needed and are relevant. It guarantees success. According to SiriusDecisions, successful organisations have seen a 5% increase in sales through social selling. The company, A Sales Guy Consulting, also indicated in their Social Media and Sales Quota Survey that 72.6% of sales people who use social outperform their peers.



3.How much effort should be put into social selling versus other aspects of selling?

[ZS] The effort required depends entirely on the level of trust that has already been established online. If you have a low personal brand exposure and value, then a higher level of effort is required, over someone who has already established his/her personal brand and credibility. I generally say to people I train to set aside between 30 to 60 minutes a day to work on your social selling presence.


4.What content is important?

[ZS] Content is the key driving factor for social selling. Without this it is difficult to start to build your trusted advisor status. The important types of content will vary from industry to industry, but visual content such as images and videos often generate lots of interest, as do customer references, blogs and case studies. People want easily digestible content that can help them with their current issue. Think about what types of content you engage with when you’re buying, these will probably be the same for your buyer.


[OC] All content is important. Different people consume different content, based on their expertise, interests, and knowledge. So, don’t assume technical documents are now irrelevant just because we are in the days of videos and infographics. There is a place for everything. Datasheets will resonate with more IT-aware users; whitepapers with others; business benefits-related infographics with yet another audience. Finding the right mix of content is the trick. That said, we have found that ‘industry’ content gets 80% of the clicks/engagement compared to ‘product’ content!


5.Is localised and translated content important?

[ZS] I’m a big fan of localising content, but understand that businesses don’t have an unlimited budget to translate each piece of collateral. Ideally anyone involved in social selling would be taking the sales and marketing content and giving it a local feel. This may just be providing a short 100 word localised summary to the piece of content being shared. I know that’s not full localisation, but a way of making the content distribution a little more personable and localised. My advice would be try to localise if you can.


[OC] Being French I have to say ‘yes’, ‘yes’ and ‘yes’… Not localising and assuming all English content would work globally is a BIG mistake. That said there is a significant cost in creating and localising content, but I see this as part of doing business globally.


6.When implementing social selling should organisations focus on all or just a few social networks?

[ZS] I think before jumping into deciding which social networks to target, you need to first look at where your customers frequent online. You may find they are on a particular community, but you won’t know this unless you do your research. There is a high likelihood they will be on LinkedIn with over 400 million members, but a little due diligence before kicking off a programme does no harm. Generally most organisations that are running social selling programmes are enabling their sales teams with LinkedIn and Twitter.


[OC] The question is correct – it’s a matter of ‘focus’ rather than ‘presence’. You will need to have presence on all social networks – again they work for different audiences. But, you will need to ‘focus’ your efforts on the social networks that work for you, your industry and your audience. In B2B, LinkedIn seems to have the edge, but who knows what the future will bring.


7.Is it worth paying for the use of LinkedIn to support social selling?

[ZS] It is not absolutely necessary to have paid support and tools from LinkedIn, but in my opinion investing in sales navigator licences and aligning your LinkedIn advertising spend certainly helps with expediting awareness, engagement and converting opportunities.


[OC] There are some clear benefits in paying for the extra services and this could help drive engagement, but it’s all about budget and where you spend it the most effectively, to help you get the right results for you, your industry and your audience


8.Which people in an organisation should be involved in social selling?

[ZS] The teams that should be involved in a social selling are sales, sales operations, marketing, marketing operations in terms of running the programme. All those involved in the sales process whether quota carrying or not should play a part in social selling.


[OC] See my answer to Question 1!


9.How does a brand really quantify the value of social selling?

[ZS] You quantify social selling through revenue. You need to decide on what you’re measuring and get an agreement on this. Ultimately you are measuring revenue achieved, but you may have softer metrics such as contact acquisition.


[OC] Engagement and revenue. In most B2B environments, the sales cycle is very long and decisions are made by many different individuals, all needing to be influenced and ‘brought on board’ by your employees. Attributing the success at any individual level is very difficult; measuring at a campaign or company level is the way to go. BUT, driving engagement at a person-to-person level can be measured and quantified (and rewarded upon).


10.When is social selling not beneficial?

[ZS] Hmm, that’s a difficult question. I would say social selling can benefit any B2B organisation as long as you have developed a robust social selling programme. However, I do know of social selling programmes being mis-sold to client-side. What they really have in place are comment marketing and social prospecting rather than a social selling programme, which leads to revenue for a business. If you’re unsure of what you’ve been sold get in touch with me for a quick chat.


[OC] If not done well or across the whole organisation. That said, one sale is all it takes to make social selling ‘beneficial’ (if you haven’t spent hours or tons of budget to achieve this one sale)!


11.How do I start when I don’t have time?

[ZS] If you want to be successful in your sales career you’re going to have to make the time to invest in social selling. It is like anything really, what you put in is what you get out. Those that fail to capitalise on this social selling trend will be playing catch up to their peers and competitors. They will find it increasingly difficult to meet sales targets. So what are you waiting for, start your social selling journey today. :-)


[OC] Speak to Zoe and remember that 90% of decision makers don’t answer the phone, according to the LinkedIn global survey of 1500 B2B Decision Makers, May 2014.


Want to hear more from Olivier and Zoe? Register here for their upcoming webinar where they will be discussing the ROI of Social selling. This is taking place on the 1st December at 4pm GMT. Click here to find out more information.
OC
By Olivier Choron
CEO and Founder of purechannelapps

Find me on LinkedIn

05 October – Why your marketing team should not be the only one promoting your brand

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Traditional marketing, as we all know, often involves organisations enlisting their marketing department to solely promote their brands offerings. This is all well and good for; email marketing, channel marketing, PR news, SEO, etc. But are you missing out on an opportunity by not involving other employees and advocates when sharing your brand messages and content on social media?

With the increased prominence of social media in today’s world, I am sure some of your marketing efforts involve using this channel to promote your brand. Let’s face it, your target audience are on social media, so why would you not want to use it to attract potential consumers’ attention? The tricky bit however, is cutting through the noise of your competitors, and being highly visible for all to see. But when your brand content only appears on your company page it can be extremely difficult to achieve. This means your potential reach could be rather limited.

Employees have a voice too…and feet on the street!

This is where your employees come in, and I don’t mean solely your marketing department. What about your technical employees, or your sales staff? They have Twitter and LinkedIn accounts too!

To put this into perspective, by enabling your sales staff to share your content on their social networks, they can enhance their social relationships with potential customers and buyers. Many brands such as F5 Networks, count this as the first stage of the buying cycle. Your sales employees are influencing potential customers’ buying decisions. This will be beneficial for your brand from an increased revenue standpoint and for your employees from an increased visibility and recognition point of view. Win, win for all!

And what’s more you can increase your brand’s potential reach dramatically. Your techy employees will also benefit from becoming trusted advisors in their field, benefiting the status of your company. With so many brands now enabling their employees to share their content, unfortunately, if you are not one of them you soon will be left far behind the others.

Don’t forget your other brand advocates too!

For those who sell through channel partners, i.e. resellers, dealers, retailers, the same applies to these advocates. They too have huge social networks of followers, all avid for news about your brand.

Make sure you involve them in your marketing. Make sure you share your rich content with them and enable them to leverage this to drive customer demand. As for many of our customers such as Microsoft and Adobe, syndicating content via social media to these partners can dramatically influence buyers and generate clicks to your website; it can also can bring huge rewards in terms of partner satisfaction and engagement.

How to share your content with employees and other advocates?

The trick here is to make it really easy for your partners and employees to find and share your content. By investing in a social media collaboration platform, your advocates will receive a notification email informing them of your news/ social media posts.

All they need to decide is whether to edit or use the pre-selected posts you have created as they are. You will have already selected the time and date you wish the post to be sent out to. You can also discontinue posts to ensure you don’t run out-of-date promotions. Why make it more difficult than it needs to be for your advocates?

Another benefit of using a social media collaboration platform is, you have full control of the content shared to your advocates. This ensures consistency and compliance is maintained.

So if you are not yet doing this, it’s about time you started, or you’ll never reach a wide audience, or receive the recognition you deserve.

27 May – A sneak peek into how F5 launched their employee advocacy program and are now making social selling rock stars

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‘Employee advocacy’ is one of those topics currently receiving a lot of attention in the social media world. But are you a bit unsure as to how this could benefit you? Let us discover together how F5 have so successfully achieved this.

 

Since 1996, F5 networks has assisted organisations in deploying cloud, data centre and software- defined networking, to improve the security of their applications. They have a global presence, with employees operating from around the world. And have alliances with brands such as Microsoft and HP.

 

Here is a sneak preview as to what you will learn in this webinar with F5 Networks:

 

First, what is employee advocacy? Simply put, it’s the promotion of a brand through its employees. When done correctly, these key influencers, who have huge social networks, have the opportunity to sway potential customers’ decision to buy or not to buy from a brand.

 

Sounds like a good plan, yes?

Sadly, involving advocates can be a challenge for brands, especially for global brands that are present around the world, with different business units, sales territories, supported languages and hundreds if not thousands of ‘individual’ sales staff.  Making it happen is not easy, or so it seems.

 

Employees need guidance and content

The tough part is that employees require a bit of assistance to truly make your advocacy program work. They need training, best practices and, more importantly, content they can share that works for them and their contacts. YOU NEED TO provide them with all of this plus lots of personalised/ relevant–to-each-audience content to share on social media.

 

Compliant, consistent, relevant and regular brand messages

If your aim is to get people talking about your brand, then you need to make sure others (your employees, but it could also include your channel partners) share YOUR content and do this regularly. Social media is perfect for this! The good news is that by providing your employees with a constant flow of pertinent (to their audience) news, you will be able to maintain a high level of compliancy and consistency of your messages, wherever the words get out.

 

How to do it, in a systematic manner?

socialondemand® makes this possible for F5, helping them amplify and provide a consistent brand message, through their global teams of hundreds of sales employees and to the hundreds of thousands of contacts they have on social media.

 

What F5 have achieved

The socialondemand-enabled employee advocacy program has allowed F5 to reach a much wider market of 25 different countries, with content being created in 5 different languages. F5 can now engage with millions of Twitter followers, Facebook friends and LinkedIn contacts. So far, their 430 social media posts have been shared over 4,000 times and have generated over 18,860 clicks. What is even more impressive, is this is only from 167 employees. Want to know more? watch this free webinar.

Social media programs I would highly recommend

recommend

Social media can be made easier, as long as you are equipped with the clever technologies that allow you to be a social hero. If you are using social media professionally such as for your brand, or maybe even for channel marketing, I have prepared 4 programs I personally use for my company, purechannelapps. It’s about time someone revealed their secrets.

And by all means, if you have anything you would like to add, please comment and share your little secrets too.

 

TweetDeck well this is for Twitter users. If you are managing more than one account, it allows you to see and manage all of these at once. Very handy to ensure that you do not miss out any important updates. Of course you can still interact and do all the usual function on Twitter plus it is completely free, so is a great program for all budgets! It just makes life that bit easier. Well it does for me.

 

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Socialbro This is a program I have just started using, but I love it. It used to really get on my nerves when followers would just keep dropping off for no reason and I just couldn’t understand it. This program however allows you to see who you are following, who are your active followers, as well as who you should be following, unfollowing and who to target. If you want to focus on a particular target market, this is the program for you.

 

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Personally, I aim to attract channel marketers, and those who may be interested in the products that I offer. This program allows me to simply search for keywords that match my target audience.

 

From this a list is produced of users who match this criteria. I can then produce an even more targeted list, by selecting their influence level, followers’ and tweets per day. A magical list will then be produced of connections within this group. It’s amazing! I can then view their profiles to find out a little more about them as well as select to follow these individuals on Twitter directly from this program. This saves significant time having to later find and follow them.

This program offers  a 15 day free trial. However after this time you can then choose the free plan, which includes the basic features or opt for a paid plan. It is up to you.

 

socialondemand

This is a program I actually offer, so obviously I am a teeny bit biased but it really is the best product for marketers who operate within a channel and work for those who sell directly. It allows brands to create content that they can then push out to their advocates, whether that be employees, resellers or other influencers. All you have to do is either click share or edit the post title, and this will then get shared to all of your connections (your customers).

 

By clicking share, content will go out to all your social media accounts. Think about your potential reach. This is a fantastic way to get your brand out to a wider audience. You will not only make it easy for advocates to share your content but also your brand message will not get diluted as they will be sharing content that  you have created. Free trials and demonstrations are offered for this product.

It’s definitely worth a try.

 

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Trend spotter

This is fantastic program for those of you who are looking for trending content to post to your social media accounts. As I am sure you will agree it is crucial to share a variety of content that your target audience is interested in. The question really is what else can I share other than the posts that promote my own brand? Well this program would be great for you.

All you have to do is type in keywords e.g. channel marketing, and a list of posts appear that match this search term. You can then share these appropriate posts to your target audience.

 

It also gives you a score with how trending particular topics are. Nifty I know. You can also search for appropriate Twitter lists as well as popular generalised topics. This allows you to always be in the know with the latest trends, and interesting topics of conversation. Yes, you do have to pay for this program, but why not try the free trial first and see how effective it is for you.

 

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Sometimes it is nice to hear recommendations from others; to see what they use, and whether these would actually work for you. So here you go. Enjoy! Please do let me know if you have also benefited from using these programs, or in fact if you have any of your own secrets you would like to add to the list.

06 May – How to deliver excellent customer service on social media

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With 67% of customers buying decisions occurring digitally, before they have even engaged with you, it is ever important that your digital presence be nothing but a positive one.

 

The social media craze presents a real opportunity not only for social selling, but also to deliver exceptional customer service. Here I present 5 tips to deliver exceptional customer service.

 

  1. Respond

My number one rule is always respond to every message you receive on social media. It is important you show what exceptional customer service you deliver, ensuring potential clients think of you in a favourable light, and a cut above your competitors. Being transparent and showing you resolve any complaints customers may have, can change a negative comment into a positive one.

 

  1. Always be at hand

My second rule is always ensure that you respond promptly to all messages. The client will not be impressed if they have to wait a long time for an answer. They expect fast action, and for something to be done about their issue promptly. They want to see that you are taking their comments seriously and are doing something about them. Also, for those visiting your profile for the first time, it is reassuring for them to see that you are doing something about complaints. Proactive actions are key.

 

  1. Who responds to comments?

It is equally important that you have a designated person to respond to comments on social media. Wouldn’t it be embarrassing if two separate people from the customer service team respond to the same complaint simultaneously? Ensure your customer service team each take it in turn to manage one social media account. This minimises these silly mistakes occurring.

 

  1. Engage

When clients come across you on social media, I always feel that it is better that they see a variety of content, not just a list of your responses. Try and engage with connections on social media, show them that you are a valuable, socially active brand. A brand that they enjoy receiving updates from. Why not ask questions to those on social media. Start up a conversation. This will be a lot more visually appealing to those visiting your page.

 

  1. Be polite

When you receive a dreaded complaint, physically put a smile on your face and ensure you answer the response in a friendly, professional manner. The last thing you want is to spark up a social media war. Instead take a deep breath and solve their issue in the best way possible. Remember, the customer is always right.

 

Customer service is one of those elements you do not want to forget about, especially not on visible platforms such as social media. This will influence potential customers’ perception of you. Take my advice on board, and you will be equipped to deal with any complaint.

22 April – Enable Social Selling – Launch Employee Advocacy

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Have you given employee advocacy much thought? I’ll start by explaining what it is… Employee advocacy is the promotion of a brand through its employees. But the question is, how can this work for your brand? Here let me show you.

 

Why involve employees?

 

With two thirds of consumers buying decisions occurring digitally before they even interact with your brand; it becomes crucially important that you have a strong online presence. And what better way to promote your brand than through your employees’ social media accounts?

 

Whether you are a small or large organisation, your employees will certainly have a social media presence, with a mix of personal and professional connections. Think about how much further your message could reach, just by utilising them. And let’s not also forget that the message will be shared by the connections their followers trust, strengthening the promotional effectiveness.

 

Many of our customers use employee advocacy to increase their potential reach, and I cannot begin to tell you how happy they are with the outcome. One of our customers went from reaching a few hundreds of connections (Twitter followers, Facebook friends and LinkedIn contacts), to 170,000 connections, just by allowing 160 employees to share their content.

 

Compete

 

Through increasing your potential reach, this undoubtedly will increase your competitiveness. Ensure you are at the forefront of potential customer’s minds when they decide to make the all-important decision to buy your product over competitors.

 

Create passion

 

Employee advocacy is also a great way to create a motivated workforce, who are equipped with an in-depth knowledge of their brands offerings. Also to their connections they appear as a professional, sharing their knowledge to others.

 

Thought-leadership

 

These posts also allow your employees to become thought leaders and trusted advisors in the social media world. They are providing value to their online community. To become a thought leader, all employees have to do is add their opinion to your post. It will provide a personal touch, whilst allowing them to appear up-to-date with the industry they work in.

 

Dedicated workforce

 

Your posts will create additional value to employees through improving their online professional status. This creates a real benefit to employees, which potentially increases their dedication to your brand. In return they will get more out of their place of work.

 

How to achieve this?

 

But the big question is how to achieve employee advocacy effectively. The good news is, there are social media platforms, such as socialondemand®, that allow brands to create, schedule and send posts to your employees. All employees then have to do is either click one button to share the content onto their desired social network, or create a personal thought leader comment and then click share. It’s that simple.

 

How can I get my employees to share my posts?

 

I will only briefly explain this part, as I am going to do another blog post on gamification next week, but to encourage all employees to share your posts, you may need to incentivise them. Some examples include:

 

  1. Rewards for sharing your posts
  2. Competitions amongst employees
  3. Publicising the level of activity the highest performers have generated
  4. Making the task feel like a game

 

So there are real benefits to employee advocacy, something all brands should get involved in. Many of our customers use socialondemand for employee advocacy, and this has really helped increase their potential reach. Don’t take my word for it, try it yourself.