With hardly a moment passing where we aren’t told to follow something on Twitter or like a page on Facebook, the proliferation of social has reached epic proportion. With this hyper-awareness comes a certain sense of urgency for most entrepreneurs – primarily the desire not to miss the ball on social media.
With this in mind, the desire alone doesn’t serve much purpose: Companies need to focus on an agenda or goal. One way to do this is using social media to ramp up revenue, specifically through a tactic called ‘social selling.’
In the age of Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and what seems like a million other social platforms, the idea of social selling is for companies to use content, social media and traditional communication channels to more successfully sell. (Otherwise, businesses may not be able to keep up with their competition.). Think about it.
As social media has evolved, consumer behaviour has changed. No longer are they relying on one channel (a sales person) for information, but they are actively seeking out data on the Internet – everything from your products, evaluating your vendors and looking at clients – before making a decision.
And consumers are coming out in droves on social media to find this information. Indeed, there are currently more than one billion regular monthly users across social media platforms. And buyers tend to do their research before making a purchase, with the average consumer viewing more than ten pieces of content prior to making a purchase.
Plus, people are much more likely to make a purchase when someone they know (via social) recommends it. Seems like a win-win for businesses – that is if a company implements it correctly.
Here are a few tips to get your business (and customers) invested in social selling:
1. Get your sales team on board.
Make sure you introduce them to the premise of social selling. This means spending time mining data and information that helps them understand how social media may help them connect to customers and can lead to sales.
2. Take baby steps.
Sales executives often need some simple tactics such as how to use social media or content. I usually recommend a very simple program where the sales execs share three to five pieces of content a week via LinkedIn or email with at least five different customers and prospects.
Make sure the customer gets a personalised message that says why the content is being shared and why it matters to the client. I also recommend setting up a follow up in the email that spells out an explicit action, like a follow-up meeting.
3. Show results.
Wins don’t have to be just sales. I advise clients to track conversations and appointments generated from the tactics I suggested above.
For instance, have the sales person mark down responses to their social-selling tactics, coffee or other meetings that they may have led to and then of course any revenue opportunities that can be directly correlated to the efforts.
Once you got you sales team on board, here is how to get customers excited about social selling.
4. Have your ear to the ground.
Keep an eye out for content that is useful for your clients. Generally the content should be on topic and with some good tips or actionable items. Note that these may also be good for future clients and prospects.
5. Keep track.
When you find useful content, it is a good practice to keep an Excel or Word document where you keep the article titles, links and main topic. Also, look to software that can help keep track of metric, like views, clicks and time spent examining the content.
6. Find connections.
Look for opportunities to pair the content with specific clients. Keep tabs of this in your document to know what you sent to an individual. Over time you should build an aggregate of useful content that helps provide more clarity to your message and your customer needs.
7. Make it meaningful.
Deliver the content with an email and a simple message that helps the customer or prospect understand the topic and why you think it is important. Often referring to a previous conversation where the topic was discussed.
8. Include a call to action.
Make sure the client needs to take some sort of step. Some examples include a follow-up call or a meeting, where you can discuss the information.
9. Be consistent.
The response rate will likely not be 100 percent but that doesn’t mean clients aren’t reading it. With so much information out there if you can be the person that consistently delivers solid content then you will be front of mind when buying decisions are being considered and made.
Crisis Management: Fail To Prepare, Prepare To Fail
The secret to a successful reputational risk management programme depends on leaders’ ability to move with agility as they respond to the immediacy and uncertainty of social media-fuelled crises.
The always-evolving communications environment has intricately linked reputation management with the digital world, and executives must now realise that brand perception functions more like a real-time trading desk with 24/7 news, social media and online conversations shaping brand perception without the participation of organisations.
Put simply, managing your reputation must be an active, ongoing strategic investment that starts well before any risk or crisis begins. Plans and procedures will prove useless if introduced as a crisis erupts. Preparedness planning needs to start at executive level with reputation management practices being built into the fibre of every business at every level.
The secret to a successful reputational risk management programme depends on leaders’ ability to move with agility as they respond to the immediacy and uncertainty of social media-fuelled crises, which cannot be overstated as social media gaffes are occurring faster than we can write case studies to learn from them.
Establishing a preparedness programme
Handling a reputational challenge or crisis effectively starts with recognising the warning signs early. With an established programme, guidelines and procedures in place, your organisation can keep its finger on the pulse of conversations. This allows you to begin what’s known as the OODA loop (observe, orient, decide and act), quickly and nimbly during a crisis.
Recent data shows that 28% of crises spread globally within one hour. The very action of participating in a crisis exercise helps build “muscle memory” and organisations that effectively navigate a crisis are ones with detailed crisis management plans that they are familiar with.
Establishing protocols and systems ahead of a crisis, and then testing and training on them provides discipline and structure.
If the first time you’re reading through a crisis plan is during an operational or reputational crisis, you’re going to be behind the curve and with the pace of today’s digital age, it will be hard to recover.
Related: 10 Laws Of Social Media Marketing
Building a digital foundation
In times of crisis, reaching out to those who count the most to your organisation is critically important. This goes beyond determining who has the most followers on social media as people often confuse influence with reach. The former can be defined as the degree to which someone can inspire others to do something.
To prepare, first identify core groups ahead of time: loyal fans, industry influencers, key opinion makers such as journalists and bloggers, and those who aren’t fans. Knowing potentially negative influencers such as those who might be sceptics or critics is equally important as knowing positive influencers.
Consider online monitoring to be your first line of defence to gauge messages about your organisation. When set up in advance, this monitoring provides an understanding of your overall perception and it allows you to adjust quickly to conversational trends.
There is no “one size fits all” content strategy for a crisis. The sooner you can identify and engage with those who matter, the sooner you can begin tackling the situation directly.
When you’re at the centre of an unfolding risk, you must demonstrate a strong voice to counteract the forces of social and traditional media that will quickly shape the narrative. Press releases and news conferences are insufficient to meet expectations for content that exists online.
Leveraging strategic content within the context of a crisis forces you to question how you are engaging your key stakeholders and audience beyond a simple text response.
Your owned media properties, particularly your website and social channels, serve as critical tools to provide information that frames the issue from your perspective, addresses misinformation and, if necessary, apologises for a situation with a clear action plan.
Our goal, as a leading communications marketing agency, isn’t to teach an organisation how to simply tweet through a crisis. Rather, we expect our clients to walk away with first-hand experience of working under rapid-fire crisis conditions that mimic an accurate scenario.
There’s a great deal of nuance around effective crisis and reputation management, including what corporate responses are suitable for different crises. Don’t go it alone. Invest in a partner, which has a deep understanding of the complex variables that have a long-term impact on the public perception of your organisation.
Five variables to address ahead of a crisis
- Who have we maintained consistent relationships with? You must make friends before you need them. Develop a list of important online and traditional stakeholders and maintain steady communications with this group during the quiet times.
- What is your threshold for who is influential? Be aware of the fact that there are people who reside outside your list of key stakeholders who are nevertheless influential and could have an impact on your business.
- How quickly does a conversation need to build up steam to warrant a response? The internet and social media now reflect thousands of smaller voices who can find each other and amplify a message. Recognising how conversations gain critical velocity is imperative to gauge when to respond and a crisis partner can help in this scenario.
- What is the timing of your response? You don’t always have all the answers and that’s okay. Often, a community just wants to know that you’re listening to them.
- Where will you publish a response and notify stakeholders? Sometimes, a response on Twitter, or Facebook proves sufficient, although other platforms such as a website or a blog helps to frame issues more comprehensively. A crisis partner will help determine the best way forward.
Why You Should Sort Your Social Media Policy (Like NOW!)
Strong social media policies are needed to prevent such behaviours and should always be considered when setting up and expanding your business.
With 2 billion active users on Facebook alone, sharing our toils, tribulations and triumphs online is becoming second nature. There are, however, downsides to the rise of social media. Habits online have the potential to affect your work and your business if not monitored appropriately.
Recent research combining a survey of 2,000 UK respondents and analysis of work-related Twitter posts has highlighted the behaviours of employees online that could lead to damage for the businesses who employ them. Strong social media policies are needed to prevent such behaviours and should always be considered when setting up and expanding your business.
The Risks of Social Media
Lost Working Hours
The average person now spends 25 hours a week online, with almost two hours a day (116 minutes) being used to browse social media platforms.
With so much time being spent online it’s almost inevitable that people will habitually reach for their phone to check Facebook during the working day. The survey research suggests the average person spends 52 minutes procrastinating every day, with most of this time being spent on social media.
Across the working year this amounts to 225 hours lost per employee, a total of 7 billion lost hours from the UK working population of 32,344,000. Failing to set clear boundaries of when employees can use social media in the workplace may cost you a lot in the long term.
15% of employees say that they have previously shared something negative about their work online, and a further 5% said they would do so in the future. This means that one in five workers think it is acceptable to take to social media to air their grievances with their company.
The volume of tweets found in Twitter analysis that contain negative work-related phrases illustrates how widespread the problem of employees complaining online is. In 2017, 8,186 tweets containing phrases such as #ihatemyjob, #worksucks and #hatework were sent, a 43% rise on the volume of similar posts in 2015.
It is not only negative posts from employees that pose a risk to your business – they might also be inadvertently sharing confidential information. Off-hand comments on social media about what they have done with their day may lead your employees to unintentionally reveal information about a client, future plans or other information that you would not want in the public forum.
This could result in lost business if a client feels their security has been compromised or may give your competitors important insight into your working practices, which they can use to their advantage. A clear policy on what is acceptable to post in relation to work will help prevent these risks.
How Can a Social Media Policy Help?
Social media policies should be issued and explained to all employees. Their purpose is to ensure proper usage of social media, in a way which will not negatively impact on your business.
A social media policy can set out when usage of the platforms is appropriate and what employees can share with regards to your company. The policy may not guarantee adherence, but it does allow you to set out proper practice to all your workers in a clear, accessible format, which can be regularly consulted.
Is Your Content Golden Enough?
Take a breather for a while and read our ‘gold-to’ guide for best digital practice in business.
Leading digital researcher, GroupM, suggested in their annual ‘State of the Digital’ report that marketers should convey a brand message “within the first second” of every social video. Not to take the shine off your expectations, but if today’s CMO’s don’t level up and grab consumers’ attention on-play, your video is going straight to the dump heap. No stickiness, no interest, no shares no thumb stopping. Nothing. Nichts. Nada.
Golden content is what we strive for: Videos, podcasts and solid written content with that Midas touch; content that will seize that first second and shake the shares out of it. Take a breather for a while and read our ‘gold-to’ guide for best digital practice in business:
1. Hold it Before You Load It
You know what you want to sell, and you have a strong message to go. Stop right there. Before you dive for the upload button, do the 5-point sense check first:
- Is this post too long, too short, too strong, too soft?
- Will the post deliver better results on Facebook / Instagram / Twitter or YouTube?
- Do I want audience engagement or audience awareness
- What do I want to get out of this post?
- What do I want my audience to feel and/or do with this post?
When you’ve answered these questions, and you’re clear about the what’s and how’s then, by all means, take that upload button and give it horns.
2. Get off The Island: Let Video, Audio & Lit Work Together
One of the great benefits of digital is the opportunity to collaborate your communication in the same post, using audio, visual and literature, to get your message across. When you create a podcast, use your literature platform to support the podcast, with a strong rationale, call to action or written article.
Same applies to video: You should have a transcript or article supporting that video, to better land your message. And if you’re featuring written content as the star attraction (blogs aren’t dead, yet!) it will benefit greatly from keywords, images and diagrams that grab attention – or better yet, a throw forward to a film piece that adds juice. Golden content is not an island, it doesn’t need to live alone in order to make an impact.
3. Get The Experts On Board
From your social media to your online video it is vital that your brand is authentic and in a way that fully represents the values of your business, brand, and offering. Choose the right agency to help you create content that is truly Golden and help streamline that content to ensure it works holistically in delivering your brand message to your target audience.
Working with the right team can make all the difference when it comes to creating above average content that connects with your audience. Choose an agency with experience in creating content that is Golden. Speak to So Interactive for expert advice on creating golden content for your brand.
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