Transforming Networking into Sales is Easier Than You May Think

When networking is done well it can be the most powerful form of marketing— for you and your business. Yes, it can feel overwhelming at times— no one likes walking into a room full of strangers and having to start a conversation— but it a surefire way to elevate your brand or business. 

Earlier this year I ran a session on how to turn networking into sales during InEvent’s 20 in 30 Webinar Series: Future of Content & Digital Trends. Within the session we explored how to learn and apply new skills and strategies when networking in events as a means of creating new business opportunities. 

This got me thinking, how can we continue to build on the idea of turning networking into sales for the remainder of 2022 and as we start to think about 2023? Here are a few key learnings:

Create a strong online presence

Remember that the first thing someone will do before hiring or working with you is to check you out online. Potential customers need to know you, like you and trust you ahead of buying from you or doing any business with you. Therefore, the need to network and gain access to a referral network is crucial and having an online presence is a must. Additionally, many businesses refer customers and have strong relationships within their industry so the ability to network, connect and grow your relationships becomes of the utmost importance when you’re working on building your sales pipeline.  

Carefully craft your content marketing strategy

Another way to enhance your online presence and bring added value to your network is through content marketing. In a crowded digital environment, providing consistent high-quality, and engaging content impacts audience decision-making more than any other technique. According to Hubspot’s 2022 State of Inbound report, content creation is a top priority for 80% of marketers and on average, accounts for 26% of B2B marketing budgets. First impressions matter and having a digital footprint does as well.   

Develop visual and snackable short content

When developing your content marketing strategy, keep in mind that Microsoft research found that the average human attention span is now only 8 seconds (compared to 12 seconds in 2000). People have little patience to read through long form written content and may even be turned off it it’s too long or comprehensive. How do you make a big impact in the first eight seconds? By developing short and snackable content, which is digestible and informative.

In addition, think about site speed. Research by Nielsen found people do not read content on web pages word for word; instead, they scan the page, picking out individual words and sentences. Some of these tips can go a long way in grabbing and keeping attention:

·     Highlight important keywords

·     Use bullets to make important points stand out

·     Use subheadings to break out key sections

·     Focus on one idea per paragraph

Again, the “snackable” content is what catches our eyes and can help to generate leads. The more an audience views your content, the more likely they are to purchase from you in the future! 

Develop User Generated Content (UGC) to stand out

When a brand generates User Generated Content (UGC), it helps consumers feel like they’ve been seen. Who doesn’t love being highlighted by a brand they love? Content creation involves gathering, reviewing, and sharing the most relevant and impactful content with your audience. More than 86% of companies today use user-generated content as part of their marketing strategy. And users who create and share content on social media channels get 28% higher engagement compared to standard company posts. Think about how to incorporate UGC into your content marketing strategy to stand out and cut through the noise to captivate your customers’ attention.

One of my favorite brands, Warby Parker, has become well known for shipping customers frames to try on at home before purchase, a service the company continues to promote via an ongoing UGC campaign. The brand has launched series of high successful social ads using different formats of UGC content including video testimonials, camera photos from customers trying on at home, and motion GIFs. This has allowed Warby Parker to highlight both its stylish frames and its convenient home try-on option in a genuine way. 

Lean into video

Content has a reputation for being “king,” but I believe that video is now taking over the crown. According to a Cisco study, by the end of 2022 82% of all online content will be video content. Video content is one of the most engaging forms of content and in my opinion will soon dominate social media and emerge the clear winner over all other types of content. Whether it is short-form videos like those popular on TikTok or Instagram Stories or long-form content viewed on YouTube, videos are the future of social media content.

Video can also help increase conversions and sales. In fact, according to Insivia, adding a product video on your landing page can increase conversions by 80%. Video can also lead directly to sales. A wyzowl study show that 74% of users who watched an explainer-video about a product or service subsequently bought it. So, if you’re looking for a new way to increase sales, think about a fun and dynamic way to showcase your brand and product through video!

Embrace the metaverse

Many experts look at the metaverse as a 3D model of the Internet. Basically, a place parallel to the physical world, where you spend your digital life. A place where you and other people have an avatar, and you interact with them through their avatars. I would argue that the metaverse in the truest sense of the term doesn’t exist yet, but marketing professionals are working through how to adapt this online space and build it into 2023 plans.

During the pandemic it looked as though livestreaming and hybrid streaming would become the norm, but the metaverse offers several upgrades to that model. I think the metaverse will be the next frontier for advertising and e-commerce and brands are quickly figuring out how to incorporate it. The question is not if, but when people will adopt it. In my opinion, companies should invest in creating virtual experiences for their customers and audiences within the metaverse today, so that they can be first to market when the technology is more widely adopted. The metaverse is “always on” and will continue to evolve but it allows us to develop virtual identities, presence, re-invent peer-to-peer interactions and more.

Today, the cost to develop advertising and e-commerce technology for the metaverse is a barrier to entry for most businesses. As time goes on there will be platforms that are much easier to utilize by average merchants. For now, it’s a good idea to map out how you might link physical objects in the real world to virtual objects and experiences in the metaverse and put this on the road map for building your sales and marketing funnel.

Remember, your digital footprint matters!

There are plenty of tools and tricks to leverage social media, marketing, video and more to help build your network to drive sales. The bottom line is that your digital footprint matters. The first impressions you make through your online presence- whether it be through your written or video content, UGC, or the metaverse— can make a significant difference in your ability to turn networking into sales. As you think about your 2023 planning, what else would you add? Leave a comment below.

The Future of Content Marketing Appears Bright Moving Into 2022

The pandemic put content center stage, reminding many marketers that they must develop content that includes purpose, context, creativity, and integrity. To do so, content must add value and enhance the conversation with brands’ target audiences to facilitate engagement. It’s clear that people are looking for ways to be inspired and entertained, making it even more important for content marketers to find creative ways to connect with their audiences. 

Content Marketing Institute (CMI) and MarketingProfs released their 12th annual B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends Report last month which portrays an encouraging and optimistic future ahead for content marketing. The research within the report confirmed what many of us already knew: content marketers are some of the fiercest business pros around. In the most difficult of times, they get the job done– and many come through more creative and stronger than before.

I wanted to break down some of the key themes highlighted in this report.

Video and Events Present Prime Opportunities for Engagement

Ninety percent of content marketers say that short articles and posts (such as blogs) have been within the mix this past year. That is followed by videos (66%), virtual events/webinars/online courses (64%) and case studies (61%). But which tactics produce the best results? Virtual events, webinars, and online courses were named by 58% of respondents as a top performer (including 66% of those categorized as “most successful”) and research reports and short articles/posts were tied for second at 48%.

B2B marketers remain at a critical inflection point as we prepare for the future of events. The pandemic rapidly accelerated the digitization of events, profoundly changing the live events industry as we knew it. I maintain that most events and conferences will remain virtual until the end of 2022, but agree that the opportunity for virtual events, webinars and online courses showcases the importance of virtual and hybrid events as a MUST next year.

Given the results of the survey it’s no surprise that the top two planned areas of investment for next year are video and events. It’s clear that content marketers are looking for ways to more immersive engagement with their audience within a fundamentally altered environment. The good news for content marketers is that there are several opportunities to keep virtual events as an integral part of fostering connection and engagement. 

Earlier this year I wrote an article for InEvent about the 6 Mistakes to Avoid When Planning Your Virtual Event which discussed the importance of developing great content. When you begin planning your virtual event, it’s important to remember that content is often viewed hand in hand within the overall program. That is why it’s so important to take the time to put together a cohesive look and feel and ensure you’ve outlined branding for your online event. Make sure that the content you develop promotes your speakers, sponsors, and every aspect of your program. Eye-catching and captivating promotional materials are key.

LinkedIn Remains King for Organic and Paid Social Media  

It’s no surprise that LinkedIn is the top social media platform to distribute both organic and paid B2B content. It’s a viable content marketing platforms and when content is relevant for the proper audience and complimentary to the features of LinkedIn it can really pay off in the end. 

B2B content marketers in this survey rated it as the most effective for both organic and paid social media. When it comes to producing results with paid social media, LinkedIn was ahead of the next-highest rated platform by 25 percentage points. For organic results, the chasm is even wider.

Overall, more than three-quarters of practitioners said their paid distribution spending has either increased or remained steady. Social media advertising and promoted posts were the most common paid distribution tactic (77%), beating out search engine marketing and pay-per-click (65%).

Content Marketing Budgets Are Rising

Although the pandemic brought a lot of businesses uncertainty, many haven’t pulled back their content marketing investments, which was at one point considered “discretionary” spending. Forty-three percent of respondents familiar with their organization’s spending said their content marketing budget increased in 2021 compared to 2020. Meanwhile, 66% say they expect their content marketing budget to grow in 2022. Very few saw decreases in budget this year or expect them next year.

The Top Marketing Challenge Ahead

Creating content which appeals to multi-level roles within the target audience and accessing subject matter experts to create content are still a major challenge. It may be because more marketers are leveraging content collaboration tools, or because so many people have been changing jobs over the last 18 months. 

This challenge can be compounded if content marketers only focus on creating content that appeals to those in the C-suite, as research from Netline Corporation shows that the vast majority of content consumption happens within roles outside the C-suite. Marketers must find relevant subject matter experts in 2022 to develop relatable content appealing to numerous roles within their target audience. 

I discussed the future of content generation on my blog and just like any other content marketing strategy, repackaging content is all about consistency. I recommend brands create 2-3 additional content assets whenever they publish a new article, such as developing a piece of audio content, adding a voice over, or turning a presentation into a video. Through videos, user generated content, and a variety of content types they can begin to home in on what content resonates most.

Despite the challenges of the recent past, it’s an exciting time to be a content marketer. With new approaches and channels to develop content and engage with audiences, refreshed budgets and agreement that content is king, it’s clear that there is a world of opportunity for B2B content marketers in 2022. 

The Future of Content Generation

If someone offered you a crystal ball that could tell you the future of content generation, would you want it?  As a member of The Upside, an award-winning community and accelerator for thriving consultants, I participated in a recent Clubhouse event discussing the future of content generation.  This got me thinking about trends for the remainder of this year and beyond.

Following an amazing discussion with Erin Halper, CEO of The Upside, and my colleagues Rebecca Orlov, Rachel Dorton, and Lisa Weiss, I asked my LinkedIn network to provide some tips and content marketing trends they were most excited about as we enter the second half of 2021.

As you begin planning your content marketing strategy for the remainder of this year, I encourage you to keep the below trends and tips in mind.  Overall, developing high-quality content that doesn’t necessarily require more resources was a major focus among the panelists. This can go a long way toward crushing key marketing objectives in 2021.

The Emergence of Audio Platforms

Back in April I wrote an article for Search Engine Watch on whether Clubhouse was really worth the hype.  Within the post I explored how brands can use Clubhouse to build an online community to further add value and drive engagement.  My key takeaway was that although it came onto the market at the right time, I’m cautious about its role over the long term.  As Twitter, LinkedIn, and other audio apps emerge Clubhouse will have to quickly adapt and make some changes if it wants to become a mainstream platform for brand marketers.

Although I remain interested and active on the platform, I’m cautious that it’s the “popular kids” hangout and the allure and interest is largely based around buzz.  Certainly, brands can and should listen into ongoing conversations and get ideas about the topics target audiences and tuning into and discussing.  The brands that listen openly to new ideas and have a pulse on the culture and content their market is exposed to will have a long-standing advantage and edge.

Margaret Molloy, the Global Chief Marketing Officer at Siegel+Gale added, “I expect to see more audio content from an evolution of live audio platforms including Twitter Spaces or Clubhouse as well as the expansion of podcasts.  The mobility and portability are so attractive as people recommence commuting or continue to do more exercise or even simply walking their dogs!”

Danielle Guzman, the Global Head of Social Media at Mercer added, “The rise of social audio will drive growth in a conversation-first approach to content.  Start with a conversation (aka social audio platforms) and use that conversation as fuel for your content plan, putting the experts (influencers, SMEs, employee advocates) at the center of your content strategy), and then when you activate on channels, those voices are amplified in content different formats.”

I agree with Danielle and Margaret that audio platforms offer a much-needed relief for the Zoom fatigue many of us experienced this year.  Although they are mobile friendly, they’re merely a part of a set of tools we must have within our pocket.  When used properly and effectively audio can be used to help achieve success for your brand.  The future of audio platforms seems bright, and it will be interesting to see how it all unfolds over time.

Explosion of Video Content

With major events out of play the for bulk of 2021, video and webinar content became even more important—and guess what, it’s not going away.  Consumers want to get information and learn quickly and there’s no better way to do that without video marketing.  Video is a quick and effective medium to communicate your message and educate your audience. Video content is on a seemingly never-ending rise around the world.

Cisco’s Annual Internet Report reported that video content is predicted to amount to a whopping 82% of all internet traffic.  Additionally, according to a HubSpot survey, over 54% of consumers would like to see more content from their brands.  It’s pretty clear that video is what we need to focus on in 2021!  

This isn’t to say you should ignore all other forms of content, but it does mean that video must be at the forefront of your strategy.  Sarah-Jane Manco, a marketing and communications senior professional within the financial services industry, added, “I see short form video sticking around for a lot longer.  Our attention spans are shortening thanks to social media, so condensing your message into a 15-30 second video is the way forward!”  

I couldn’t agree more and encourage brands and marketers to continue to develop short content to cut through the digital noise and amplify your story.  It’s important to use a variety of video formats to fit your brand, industry, and niche, and optimize them for every step of the customer’s journey.

The More Personal, the BETTER!

Personalization in 2021 goes beyond merely addressing your customer by their name in emails or when you’re talking to them via chat. In the years to come, technologies like artificial intelligence will make data analysis more efficient and effective, allowing you to achieve hyper-personalized communication.

Providing a stellar customer experience is no longer a “nice to have;” it’s now a true necessity. Customers expect and demand seamless and personalized experiences throughout their journey with your brand.  User-generated content (UGC) is a highly effective way of creating more connected relationships with customers, especially when leveraged across social media channels.    UGC provides an additional stream of content that is typically engaging, authentic and reflective of the overall brand promise.

Building Content Communities

Creators are now in the driver’s seat and users are in for the ride alongside them.  With the rise of Clubhouse offering authenticity through voice or Slack communities across tech, building communities has been a push for marketing teams for the remainder of the year.

However, building communities specifically around content sharing and creation will allow marketing teams to continue to expand their reach, even with fewer resources.

Expanding your reach is great for brand awareness—and, of course, your metrics—but that kind of inclusion is also good for fostering a sense of community with your audience, too.

Repackaging Content

One of the major threads within my LinkedIn post was the use of repurposing content. Repackaging content is nothing new, but the idea is to turn existing content into new formats.  Tom Pick, a B2B Tech Digital Marketing Consultant, added that he thinks “we’ll see more’ video first’ content creation.  Meaning, creators will start by recording an online video with an expert, maybe live, maybe not.  The audio will be repurposed as a podcast, and the transcript as a blog post (or more than one).  Then excerpts will be pulled from a string of these to create an expert roundup post.  It’s the next stage of repurposing.”

This idea of the future state of repurposed and repackaged content will allow for us to turn existing how-to articles into visual flowcharts or revise an article into a podcast or even a mini audiobook.  The main aspect of content repackaging is that a new content piece creates value of its own.  It’s not just about re-marketing your old content simply for additional clicks or conversions.  Content repackaging is the marketing tactic that aims to give your audience a new way to consume information.  It also involves expanding your own content with new research and up-to-date information.

April Rudin the Founder and CEO of the Rudin Group added, “Personalization and the opportunity to repurpose existing content is HUGE particularly for regulated industries like financial services and pharmaceutical, I’m a fan of infographics and data visuals to help tell stories in a snapshot. To me, video should be used sparingly and in short spurts, no one wants to watch lengthy videos or listen to long podcasts without visuals.

Meredith Bodgas, the Editorial Strategy Lead at Toptal, added, “Consider repackaging of existing content to match the different platforms on which you might not be using that content.”  What I love about Meredith’s advice is that it allows us to create new and unique content for a variety of social media channels. It lets us experiment with many content formats and identify our best-working engagement tactics. 

Like any other content marketing strategy, repackaging content is all about consistency.  I recommend brands create 2-3 additional content assets whenever they publish a new article.  Consider using some of the advice within this article, such as developing a piece of audio content, adding a voice over or turning a presentation into a video. 

A good rule of thumb according to Singlegrain is that we should be spending 20% of our time on content creation and 80% on content promotion.  They offer some great tips within the article about the basics of promotion and the foundation of developing GOOD content.  Remember, content is king, and will continue to be for many years to come.

What else would you add to what’s in store for the future of content generation?  Leave a comment below or send me a tweet @marissapick


Social media: It’s not easy, but it is simple- Volume 2.

In 2013 I wrote an article for OMI (Online Marketing Institute) entitled Social Media: It’s not easy, but it’s simple.  The concept for the article was based around the idea that brands must be ready to send the right message to the right people, in the right place, at the right time. If you weren’t embracing social media back in 2003 then you were certainly missing out. 

Photo: Shutterstock

Within the post I stressed the importance of brands bring prepared to be spontaneous, respond quickly and leverage trends and current affairs to send the right message at the right time.  The article resonated with many people and to this day is one of the top pieces of content on my blog.

Almost ten years later the idea behind that article remains the same. As marketers, we must embrace the change of emerging social media channels as a way to engage in a deeper and more meaningful way with our customers

“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything”- George Bernard Shaw

It’s no surprise that social media users’ numbers have surged over the past year with over 490 million new users joining social media this year which equates to an annualized growth of 13% and an average or 15 and a half new users every second. (Click to Tweet)

Did you know that the average person has an account on more than 9 different social media networks and spends a daily average of 2 hours and 15 minutes on social media? (Source: DataReportal)- Click to Tweet

The Benefits of Having a Social Media Presence

The latest data shows that there are now 420 billion social media users around the world at the start of 2021, equating to more than 53% of the total global population. The means that 9 in 10 internet users are now using social media each month.  (Click to Tweet).

Social media remains an ever-evolving platform. What happens one year can be entirely different the next.  Many marketers still struggle with finding the right platform and insight as to how to better evaluate the clarity of each channel against resources such as time, efforts, and money.

So why should we invest in social media? Because it’s one of the best ways to increase exposure and pinpoint the exact people who need to hear your message. By having a social media presence you’ll increase the reach of your content and increase your message accuracy. Simply put with social media you can market more accurately, exerting less effort.

Why Does Social Media Matters to Your Business’ Success?

Social media has changed the way we do business. People want information quickly and social media channels such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and more allows people to instantly access and redefine the way consumers research and buy products. 

91% of social media users are accessing social channels via mobile devices (Source: LyfeMarketing).   Social media helps brands widen their customer funnel and market to millions of people within their target audience. Brands who leverage social platforms correctly gain instant visibility social influence, therefore elevating their business miles above the competition.

It’s easy to come up with excuses for neglecting your personal social media presence. Maybe you’re not confident that you have something interesting to say. Maybe you don’t think you have enough time to invest. Maybe you are not as tech-savvy as you’d like to be. Or maybe you just feel completely overwhelmed by the size and scope of the social media universe. 

– Michael Collins, CMO & Managing Director, CFA Institute.

Michael Collins said it best within his recent LinkedIn Post. He outlined that it’s important to remember that social platforms are simply a set of tools. Yes, you need to know how to use them properly and effectively, but there are plenty of resources that can help your business be successful. 

Make Your Business Unique Through Social Media

No alt text provided for this image
Photo: Shutterstock

As social media becomes even more integrated into our lives it provides countless opportunities for businesses looking to reach their audience through various digital initiatives.

Earlier this year I shared Social Media Tips for Small Businesses to Ensure Success In 2021. Within the article I asserted that of the most appealing features of social media marketing is the opportunity to set your brand apart in ways that matter to your customers.

Businesses who are able to develop unique content (through updates, giveaways, podcasts, polls and more) can strengthen customer engagement techniques which effectively give you another marketing channel.

For social media to work, it’s important to bring social media back to the foundation of what it aims to do, which is drive engagement. Having a clear and engaging social media /digital marketing strategy can help your businesses succeed in 2021 and beyond. 

So What is the Key to Social Media Success?

The Marketing Rule of 7 states that a prospect needs to see or hear an advertiser’s message at least 7 times before they’ll take action to buy that product or service. Therefore by leveraging social media and exposing people to your brand message through memorable, unique and authentic content, the quicker you’ll enjoy top-of-mind awareness in your market.

Once you’re able to establish your brand in the eyes of customers and other industry professionals you’ll be able to leverage customer influencer and effortlessly monetize from the power of your name alone.

Social platforms help you connect with your customers, increase awareness about your brand, and boost your leads, sales or whatever it is you’re trying to achieve.  With more than three billion people around the world using social media every month, the users and engagement on major platforms just keep increasing. (Click to Tweet)

Project your digital professional persona for long-term success.For superheroes, getting into professional mode is as easy as slapping on some spandex, a mask and a cape. For the everyday person, the proper work mindset is less about attire and more about adopting a professional persona including developing engaging content.

No alt text provided for this image
Photo: Shutterstock

Decide who you want to be within your digital persona and take actions to develop and share content to become that version of yourself. Action follows intention, and over time, you’ll find that adopting this new aspect of your professional persona feels as natural as putting on your coat before leaving the house.

If you’re still not convinced, I urge you to block out time to create content, engage on social media platforms and publish on a regular schedule. Think of each content piece as the springboard to initiate a conversation or to deepen relationships with your customers.

Social media itself is not easy, it’s lot to learn all of the platforms and go with the flow of constant change.   But that’s not to say any of this comes easy. It takes time, effort, patience and sometimes a thick skin.  However, the bottom line is that it’s hard to imagine a future where social media, in whatever form, is less prevalent than it is today.

Social Media is essential for business, so I’ll end this article the same way I did in 2013. Make sure your brand is ready to send the right message, to the right people, in the right place, at the right time.

I’m embracing social media. Are you?

6 Tips for Responding to Negative Reviews on Social Media

The Below is a Guest Post from Mark Lindsay who is a writer and marketing executive with over 20 years of experience working in the industry. He contributes to several digital and print publications on topics related to work and life. He lives in New York. The original article below was originally published at Enplug.com

Have you ever been the target of a negative comment on social media or the recipient of a review that’s less than stellar? If so, you’re not alone. Many small businesses are encountering this problem, especially considering how many customers currently use social platforms to voice their opinions.

Since you can’t simply delete negative comments on social media, though, you’ve got to focus on what you can do: Respond to them effectively. Read on for six helpful tips.

6 Social Media Tips for Responding to Negative Reviews

1. Understand the Comment

Customers posting negative comments on social media tend to ramble. It might take you a few minutes to scan through a given comment to mine the essential grievance. Take some time to find out exactly what your customers are dissatisfied with — because you can’t come up with a resolution until you do.

2. Respond Quickly

If you aren’t personally responsible for monitoring your social media accounts, make sure someone in your organization is charged with the task. Negative comments hanging out there with no response can quickly damage your brand. The ultimate goal should be to respond in one business day or less, as long as you can do so professionally.

Customers can share negative and positive reviews in an instant – and they expect a response just as quickly.

3. Never Respond With a Negative Comment

If a comment or review is especially derogatory, it’s only natural for you to want to defend your brand by instinctively adopting the same tone. However, dropping down to a negative level is not going to produce positive results. In fact, it’s only going to make you look insensitive, regardless of whether or not it’s justified.

No matter how you decide to address each issue, keep tact and respect on your radar at all times.

4. Explicitly Ask Customers What They Want

This is a step that many businesses fail to take when responding to negative comments. There’s nothing wrong with coming out and expressly asking dissatisfied clients what they’re after. In a lot of cases, there’s no refund or monetary investment involved — customers just want to know their comments were received and had a positive effect.

5. Don’t Delete Them

The last thing you want to do is delete comments or reviews that shine a negative light on your business. Think about it from a consumer’s perspective. If you check out a retailer’s Facebook page and find 100 comments that are nothing but positive, you might get a little suspicious.

Instead, leave the bad comments there, but be sure to craft stellar responses to all of them. This way your current customers — and any potential new ones — know you’re serious about providing high-quality customer service.

For customer service to be the best it needs to continue online even after your customer has left the store.

6. Go Over the Top

If you run a solid operation, you probably don’t get an overwhelming number of negative reviews over social media. Because of that, feel free to overcompensate when you do. For example, if you ship an order incorrectly, refund the full amount plus return shipping charges and an additional 10% of the purchase price — and mention that you did so in your thread.

If your customers just want to be heard, throw them a modest gift card as a gesture of goodwill. This is a great marketing opportunity for your business as it shows you’re willing to do whatever it takes to correct any errors.

Final Thoughts

In general, to avoid negative comments on social media, you should review, and if necessary, revamp your customer service policies. Monitor your team in action, conduct meetings devoted solely to customer service, and make sure your entire staff is well-trained.

Properly responding to negative comments on social media is important, but doing what you can to reduce them is equally essential.

What other strategies do you know of for effectively responding to negative comments on social media? Leave a comment below.

Social Media Tips for Small Businesses to Ensure Success In 2021.

Social media has become an integral part of everyday life. In fact, many people spend a large part of their day exploring various social media channels. A study from Globalwebinex showed, on average, people spend three hours a day on social networks and messaging.  Given the prevalence of social media, it’s no surprise that marketers and businesses flock to these channels hoping to connect with their target customers.

As social media is becoming more integrated into our lives it provides countless opportunities for businesses looking to reach their audience through various initiatives. That being said, it can be challenging for small businesses to stand out given the massive content overload on social media channels.  Small businesses don’t have the budgets to compete with big brands, who are pumping millions of dollars into paid advertising to promote their products and campaigns. For small businesses to succeed, it’s important to bring social media back to the foundation of what it aims to do, engage.   Having a clear and engaging social media marketing strategy can help small businesses succeed into 2021 and beyond.

I spoke with Clay McDaniel, CEO of  Ripl Inc. regarding social media for small businesses to succeed.   Since many small businesses often can’t afford a social media manager, or don’t have team members with knowledge of how to develop social media content they often look to implement a third-party tool to support their content management needs.  I’ve worked with my fair share of social media tools throughout my career and have been impressed with Ripl Inc.

Clay explained that “With Ripl, anybody can easily manage the social media presence of their business. For about the same price as a lunchtime sandwich per month, you can have thousands of customizable templates available to your company with over 500,000 high-quality images and 90,000 videos at your disposal. You can quickly create trackable professional-grade content and schedule to share it across channels in minutes instead of hours.”

Clay shared several key pieces of advice for small business owners to consider for social media success this January.

  1. Consider focusing on a “hero” social platform. If you feel like you’re spread too thin tying to manage all of your social channels, see if one is performing much better than the others and focus your energies there. Some channels don’t make as much sense for certain types of businesses. Visual platforms like Instagram often benefit retailers, while Twitter can be beneficial for sharing news and managing customer service.
  2. Understand Your Customer – Small businesses often can’t afford to do mass marketing, so you need to make sure your social media activity is pinpointed to your customers’ needs. Spend the time to really personify your customer and what will speak to them and that will help as you develop new content throughout the month and year.
  3. Set goals for your social pages – Having a page just to have a page isn’t the best strategy, so set some measurable goals so you know what’s working and not. Perhaps that means brainstorming new types of content, posting more often or at more regular intervals, or doing more community management on your social media channels.
  4. Add a call-to-action button– This button sits just under your cover photo on your Facebook business page and can be added to Instagram, as well. Make sure it fits your business so potential customers can engage immediately to “Shop now,” “Book now,” “Sign up” and more.
  5. Delete or archive old content – Comb through your past Instagram posts and Twitter tweets and decide if any are outdated or no longer applicable to your business. Go through each of your story highlights at the top of your Instagram feed and remove outdated content…and if you’re not yet using Instagram stories for your business, you should start. This is a great way to keep important content indefinitely since highlights last forever while stories only last 24 hours on the platform. Be sure to also go through your past tweets to determine if there are any that might spark controversy or seem tone deaf and delete those, as well. 

COVID-19 has been a game changer for small businesses both within the United States and across the world.  Facing financial constraints and major limitations imposed by the pandemic has resulted in the need for many small businesses to pivot and come up with innovative solutions to reach their customers in order to survive (and hopefully thrive!).

The advice Clay shares above is crucial for small businesses to succeed on social media channels.   Small businesses have one major advantage over big corporations in my opinion, they can be nimble and seize opportunity.  The ability for a small business to lean in and adapt social media channels in order to evolve in a rapidly changing world is key.

What additional social media tips would you give for small businesses to ensure their success into 2021?

Please take a moment and leave a comment below!

Master The Art Of Facebook And Instagram Marketing With These 12 Tips

Guest Post from Shweta SinghConfluencr

Businesses today are dealing with customers falling within either the millennial or Gen Z generation. These audiences received formal education and are updated when it comes to technology. Also, they’re acquainted when it comes to social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. They’re connected with their social circle through these virtual platforms. 

Apart from that, they’re smart to differentiate between content and promotional message. This makes it difficult for businesses to target these consumers who’re the leading youth of the 21st century. 

Hence, businesses need to be well equipped when it comes to targeting the new age audience with their promotions through social media. India is on the top when it comes to the number of Facebook users it is almost double that of the United States. 

Some Practices that will help a business in effective marketing for Facebook and Instagram:

1. Know Your Audience: 

Whenever it comes to any kind of marketing knowing one’s audience can be the first and vital step. Dig deeper to know your target audience. Be as specific as possible. Go beyond the demographics. Get to know their social media preference and spending patterns. Know what kind of message attracts them not only to a particular product but also helps in conversion. As a business, your goal should not be limited to reaching an audience but it should encourage them to action. This will result in a purchase from them and business for your company. 

2. Know their preference:

Before targeting your audience, know which media do they interact with more. Be available and visible on their favorite platform. Make your presence felt. Do not aim cluelessly. If your target audience prefers Facebook over Instagram the business should have a strong presence on Facebook and vice versa. Be where your audience is. Social media is where customers have crowded a market and you need to put a stall where your customers have gathered. It is a place where businesses go to the customers, unlike traditional ways.

3. Setup a business profile:

Both Instagram and Facebook allow the business to interact with the online platforms differently than the general audiences. It also makes the profile different making it easy to identify. This helps businesses in creating a professional image on social networking sites. 

4. Use free tools:

Facebook and Instagram provide certain tools for free to professional users which can help in tracking down the traffic and conversion on the profile. It also provides a CTA (Call To Action) option assisting to buy through the social site itself. It can also connect the interactors with your official website as well to provide more insight into the business. The social media platforms can provide you different analyses of posts to showcase which post resulted in a better conversion rate. 

5. Interact with the platform as well as the audience:

Facebook gives you options for posts, stories, and even status updates. Instagram has Posts, Repost, stories, and reels. When using social networks make sure to use their interactive tools effectively. To stay relevant with times and audience as well. Use different combinations of the tools to interact with your audience. Don’t exhaust them with just one type of communication.

6. Use teasers:

Provide your customers with new product teasers to get them excited for the big reveal. Post small captions about the important announcements you will be doing in the coming days. Share a countdown with your audience or just a splice of images on Instagram. This can encourage your followers to check the business profile from time to time to quench their curiosity. Keep audiences on their toes.

7. Don’t just be a seller:

Every post that you make should aim at gaining more business for the company. However, in every post, you can’t be just selling different stuff to your customers. This is another type of exhaustion that your target audience can get. Share information. Sometimes talk about behind the scenes which you have to go through as a business to provide your product/service. Arrange different contests to give away. This can make your brand memorable for customers and can get them to interact with your page regularly.

8. Sponsored content:

Share sponsored content that will help your business. Get into influencer marketing and sponsor their content as well. This can make your company a part of the virtual community. Tie-ups can benefit your business. This is creating word of mouth in the virtual world. Click Here to learn more about our recent post , The Power Of Social Media Influencers In 2020.

9. Hashtags matter:

The new generation talks with hashtags. There’s no need to mention that hashtags matter. Create unique hashtags that will suit your campaign. They have to cohesive with your brand and the current campaign. This will make it memorable for your clients and customers as well. Your influencers can also use these hashtags while sharing sponsored content for you. Don’t restrict yourself to Brand’s hashtags only. Use the popular hashtags which are recommended. They can be used by the social media community and can direct potential customers towards your service who are following that hashtag.

10. Make a proper campaign:

Although social media is something convenient, make a strategy best suited for your business and its customers. Decide how you will tackle the target audience. Make a schedule for your Facebook and Instagram interactions. Decide which hashtags and captions will go with which post beforehand. Know the time slot where most of your target audience interacts with their Instagram and Facebook.

11. Consistency of concise content:

When dealing with two popular social sites like Facebook and Instagram it is important to have a consistent message throughout. Both platforms allow you to post the content simultaneously while being on either of the platforms. Make sure your message remains the same across the media. This increases credibility and also avoids confusion on the part of the target audience.

12. Know the difference between Facebook and Instagram:

Though both platforms allow similar functions, there are certain differences. As a marketer, it is essential to understand both. This can prevent your content from suffering. Also knowing the differences will give you competence over the content sharing on both platforms. Their unique features can help to make it stand out. Both platforms are versatile for those who know how to use them effectively.

******************************************************************************

Author The Author: Shweta Singh

Shweta is an aspiring Lawyer and a Content Writer.  I believe that every business has a story and I thrive to tell that story to the world through my writing.  I have been writing for influencer marketing for a long time for www.confluencr.com and have grown exponentially with the industry.  With Confluencr, I have learned that quality content + targeted marketing can do wonders not only for businesses but for any individual.

How to Plan Your Digital Marketing Strategy

Today, every business needs to maintain its online presence to be able to reach their potential customers. No longer can a business survive with just a brick-and-mortar presence. Even if you don’t actually sell any goods or services online, you have to develop some sort of digital presence. That may mean building out a website, posting regular updates to a Facebook page or sharing news of things you offer for your followers on Instagram. 

The data speaks for itself: The number of internet users in North America is rapidly growing. Nearly 90% of people have access to the internet. (click to tweet)  A digital marketing strategy is one of those terms that most marketers have heard of, but seldom have seen it planned and implemented well. If you’re still trying to search Google for “what is digital marketing strategy,” the following steps within this article will help. Salesforce developed some graphics which I found immensely useful to provide us the tools to take a step back and develop a strategy for our digital marketing.

You can’t just throw things up and expect magic to happen. You have to think things through strategically and allocate resources if necessary. What’s more, you can’t expect that all of your customers are accessing digital resources in the same way. Some may be old-fashioned and, on a desktop, or laptop computer, but some may be conducting most of their research and finding information on mobile devices. This graphic outlining the four steps to creating a digital marketing strategy helps offer some insight on the best way to get started.

So, where do you start with your digital marketing strategy?


Before you begin, keep in mind that a perfect strategy is not one that is written in stone. It needs to be comprehensive but adaptable, and you should make tweaks and adjustments as you go. To create a digital marketing strategy, gear up with data about your audience, competitive landscape, current efficiency of your marketing efforts, and the right metrics to track.
 

Step 1: Know your audience.


In particular, you should know where they prefer to spend their time online and find information.

To engage your audience, you need to do it on their terms. That is, you need to deliver your message through the channels and in the tone of voice they prefer. Moreover, it should align with their customer journey stage. For that, you need to know exactly where they spend their time online and how they search for information. If you don’t know where to start, here are a few effective tips to get you up and running.

Ask your current users.

The power of information gathered directly from your audience can’t be overestimated. This can be done with the help of a quick survey. Depending on your budget, you can select something simple and free like Google Surveys, or go with something more sophisticated. For example, Typeform can turn a simple questionnaire into an interactive opinion survey.

Since your users are busy people, if you really want to receive a substantial number of responses, provide them with value. That could be a product or service discount or an evergreen $10 gift card for Amazon or Starbucks.

Step 2. Analyze your competitive landscape.


No business operates in a vacuum, and to make informative decisions, you need to be aware of your competitive surroundings. Your competitors have likely already built up some online presence, which is the main reason to review which channels they’re using to communicate with your mutual audience. Furthermore, a competitor analysis will help you better understand your current market position and see where your business sits in your industry.

Step 3. Review the channels you’re currently using.


There’s no way to improve something without first analyzing how it performs at the moment. So before turning your findings into an actionable digital marketing plan and setting any KPIs, you need to know how efficiently your channels are currently performing.

To kick things off, go to your Google Analytics Acquisition report and see which channels are currently working best for you.

Pay close attention not only to the quantity of traffic, but also its quality — that is, consider the number of conversions that each channel earns. For instance, even if referral traffic isn’t generating as many visits as social, the percentage of new visits coming from this channel may be higher. Additionally, this audience may demonstrate more interest if the average session duration and the number of pages per session are a lot higher for referral visits.

Evaluate how much effort it takes to keep the traffic flow from each channel. For example, to get enough visits from social media, your team needs to spend a few hours each day curating content, creating custom images, and engaging with the community. It requires substantial resources. However, the amount of interest from this audience is superficial, and they hardly convert. On the other hand, attracting visitors from other channels might not be as time-consuming.

The bottom line is that with this data, you can make informed decisions and concentrate your efforts on the channels that perform best in terms of the resources spent versus the number of acquired visits and conversions.

Step 4. Define your main goal and general principles for measuring success.


This step is critical for your future work. You need to apply all the findings from the previous steps and define how, exactly, you are going to achieve your marketing goals.

Let’s start from the top: Define your high-level marketing goal. If your company has a mission, your main goal should resonate with it and broadcast your mission to the outside world. For instance, remember the example from the beginning of this post: “Become the go-to website for ordering flower delivery.”

Next, move forward to setting high-level KPIs. For example, here’s a nice KPI template to use:

  • Template: [Goal] by [value] in [time period]
  • Example: [Increase traffic] by [20 per cent] in [six months]

After the high-level goals and KPIs are set, you need to deconstruct them with your team into personal goals and KPIs that each team member can achieve individually.

If the high-level goals can be somewhat vague (“20 per cent monthly growth of traffic and conversions”), the individual goals should be clear to the contributor and easily broken down into particular tasks.

Here are a few additional points to consider.

  • Very often, when the actual goals are not clear to the team, reaching target KPIs becomes the goal. Make sure not to let this happen. Communicate the actual goals to your team, inspire them, and make sure they understand that KPIs are just a way to measure progress. Reaching them is not the sole purpose of their work.
  • Preach collaboration within your team. For example, if you’re in charge of community management, team up with your colleagues responsible for content and SEO to maximize the efficiency of what you do.
  • Set up the rules of ethical and low-risk marketing. Everyone, at some point, considers cutting the line in a race for target KPIs. When talking about personal goals with your team members, make sure to communicate which marketing techniques are beneficial for the business’s reputation, and which are not and should not be used.

Over to you


A defined, documented digital marketing strategy is not a necessity. In fact, many marketers do their jobs without having one. However, if you want to maximize the outcomes of your marketing activities, a clear, data-fueled strategy is an absolute must.

Use the tips and information in this article provided by Salesforce to get started, then revise your strategy as you learn what works and what doesn’t. Use your digital marketing strategy to work together toward clearly defined goals and help your team reach those goals faster.

5 Tips to Build Your Personal Brand During the Era of COVID-19

As many of us work from home and are forced to socially distance ourselves, one now has the time to review, define and improve our personal brand.  To stand out, to find your next job, to build your network.

Personal branding is the practice of marketing people and their careers as brands. It is an ongoing process of developing and maintaining a reputation and impression of an individual, group, or organization. Even Oprah Winfrey began by going through several iterations of her show before finding her voice and transforming into one of the most influential brands in the world.

Today, the reality is that your personal brand is linked to social media whether we like it or not.  Your personal brand is not solely based on your perspective, but largely on the perceptions from others; your personal brand is the aggregate of positive and negative as seen largely through the lens of others.  Remember social media has little to do with what we say about ourselves, and has everything to do with what people say about us.

A picture containing table

Description automatically generated

You’re a brand.  I’m a Brand.  We’re all brands whether we want to or not.  Now to those five tips to help improve all our brands.

  1. Start by defining your personal brand

Too many people are unfocused and trying to be “everything to everyone.”  In today’s hyper-competitive world it’s crucial that you build your case of what it is that you do differently.  As important as it is to define your purpose, it is of utmost importance to differentiate yourself.

Knowing your personal brand “why” is an important step. Only when you truly know your “why” can you find the courage to take risks needed to get ahead, stay motivated, and define your brand clearly with a rewarding trajectory.

You can begin to define your personal brand by answering these questions:

  • Who do you want to serve and why?
  • What are you passionate about?
  • What are you great at (your areas of expertise)?
  • How are you different from others within your field?
  • What unique value do you offer (related to your business)?
  1. Identify your target audience

Once you’ve identified your niche the key is to begin to narrow it down to address a specific demography.  It’s crucial to have a clear idea about who your target audience is. Since  branding is based on authenticity, you need to understand who you are and what makes you compelling to your target audience aka the people who are making decisions about you.

As you think about what makes you, start to ponder some of the below questions:

  • What do they want from you?  
  • What are their biggest aspirations?
  • What are their biggest fears?
  • What experiences have you had that can help them?
  • Where do they hang out the most?
  • What do they associate themselves with?

Conduct thorough research on all these questions and then build your message to best balance authenticity and what your audience might be looking for.

  1. Post Regularly on Social Media

The key to using social media to build your personal brand is to have a focused strategy, set time limits, and continuous reinforcement.

Sharing online allows you to craft an online persona that reflects your personal values and professional skills. Even if you only use social media occasionally, the content you create, share or react to feeds into your public narrative. How you conduct yourself online is now just as important as your behavior offline.

Building your personal brand on social media takes some work, but it can help you land you your next job opportunity or help you to foster valuable connections.

  • Focus on platforms where your audience hangs out. You don’t have to be everywhere, but you may need to tailor your content based on the platform you’re using – such as images on Instagram, articles on LinkedIn, and a combination of media on Facebook.
  • Engage with your audience by asking questions, posting discussions, setting up polls, making comments, and replying to comments to keep the dialogue going
  • Start a private community with your target audience where you can offer help and advice
  • Join groups relevant to your area of expertise and interact with the members there.
  • Consistently share your personal brand content by maintaining a social media content calendar.
  • Spend time on platforms that your fellow influencers run. By engaging within those networks, you’ll increase your visibility with people who can have a valuable effect on your success. And with a clear personal brand, you’ll be able to show them exactly how you can help them and they can help you.
  1. Develop valuable content

Decide which social media account(s) you are going to focus on, and delete any old accounts that you are no longer using. For the networks you will be using, make sure all of your information is complete and accurate. This will help build traffic on the networks you want to showcase your work. It can also remove any potential “questionable” content from years past that doesn’t have a positive effect on your professional image. Before you begin to develop content, think about what you want to be known for.  Your digital reputation stays for life, so I encourage you to treat your reputation that way.

Everyone’s an expert at something – whether it’s content marketing or having an in depth knowledge of your favorite TV show. Is it time for you to experiment a bit more? What type of content have you created that your followers have responded to most? Can you replicate this with other similar content? The more unique and engaging content you create on your chosen topic of expertise, the more your followers will start to think of you as a leader in your chosen field.

As you get going with developing content ensure you’re producing content regularly and staying on topic to gain trust. Once you’ve become a thought leader, begin to seek out guest appearances.  Working with other relevant people within your field to expand your reach can help tremendously to enhance your personal brand.

  1. Think of being an influencer like being an intern, everyone must prove themselves.

Nobody wants to work with a self-interested, self-absorbed, self-serving self-promoter. Nobody. The days of endless self-promotion are over.   The quickest way to lose followers is to constantly promote yourself.

A picture containing device

Description automatically generated

It’s important to seek to promote others and become a curator of content that speaks to your purpose or product with the goal of adding value. Assume everyone can help you.

  • Always Respond: Conversation > Promotion
  • Have an opinion online, add value, and become engaged within online feeds.
  • Follow people, really… it’s okay! And when you get unusual followers (good ones) always reach out!

The very best brands come from repeated trial and error, mistakes and failures and not from instant perfection. My final piece of advice for those of you reading this is to remind you to be ready to fail.  Failure is tough, and all of us generally want to avoid it – it’s human nature.

Walt Disney spoke of this when he reminisced about his failed first attempts at creating an animation brand. 

Walt Disney

“I think it’s important to have a good hard failure when you’re young. I learned a lot out of that. Because it makes you kind of aware of what can happen to you. And what can happen is never as frightening as not trying at all.”-Walt Disney

Defining your personal brand takes time and it doesn’t come easily.  Like anything else worth investing in, it takes time, effort, patience and thick skin to make it a success.   Learn from failures, but try to fail fast and move on.

It’s hard to imagine a future where social media in whatever form is less prevalent than it is today.  Now is the time to spend time defining your personal brand and get started with simple steps.

Regardless of age, position, line of business, all of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You. It’s that simple — and yet, that hard.

Social Selling – How Businesses Can Boost Their Sales

Guest Post from Sudhir Kumar, Origin.

Not that long ago, consumers didn’t have information at their fingertips and businesses were often successful in using outbound sales and marketing methods such as cold calling and email blasts to close sales.

And, it’s been revealed that just 16% of organizations that use outbound methods feel it delivers ROI, 44% of direct mail is never opened, and 86% of consumers skip TV ads on recorded shows (Source: HubSpot)- Click to Tweet.

Today, the buyer and the buyer’s journey have changed thanks to the internet of things (IOT) and advancements in technology. Now, 57% of the purchase journey is completed before a customer has even contacted a business (CEB), and 67% of the buyer’s journey is now done digitally (Source: SiriusDecisions). Click to Tweet

Added to this, in 2019, there were 3.48 billion active social media users worldwide, which presents a huge opportunity for businesses to take advantage of.

The rise of social media usage has encouraged organizations to look into ways that can utilize the technology to improve their sales, which has led to the development of social selling.

So, what is social selling and why should you care?

I define social selling as the process of researching, connecting and interacting with prospects and customers on social media networks. It focuses on nurturing leads, building brand authenticity and building trust with your prospects.

Leading firms have taken advantage of social selling and have begun reaping the benefits it offers. Research has shown that 70% of sales professionals are active on LinkedIn for business purposes, 89% believe social networking platforms such as LinkedIn are important in closing deals and 64% of sales reps that invest time in social media are hitting their sales quota (Source: SuperOffice). Click to Tweet

As buyers are becoming more digitally savvy, social selling becomes a no-brainer. But to stand out from the noise on social media, it’s essential to provide value to your audience through high-quality content, insight and real conversations, to enhance each touchpoint that your audience has with you and your business, from awareness stage through to purchase.

What are the benefits that social selling offers?

  1. It appeals to the modern buyer

B2B buyers have 12 to 18 non-human and human interactions along their buyer’s journey (Source: Sirius Decisions) Click to Tweet. 68% of buyers prefer to research products and services online (Source: Forrester) Click to Tweet.

With this in mind, it’s essential that you develop and push information and content on social channels that resonate with your target audience and provide the solution to their problems.

This will enable you to influence their choices and position your business as front of mind.

2. It allows you to build “real” relationships

How many cold calls do you actually answer, listen to and respond to?

If you’re one of those people that frantically hangs up, cursing as you put your phone down you are not alone. Research from Citizens Advice has revealed that 67% of British adults say that have received an unwanted telephone call and 92% of people don’t trust companies whose sales representatives contact them by cold calling. Click to Tweet

With this said, it’s time for businesses to break down the barriers around selling and get on the same page as their customers. Social selling supports this, as through social media listening tools, you’re able to listen to topics and conversations that are relevant to your industry. This technique will not only give you insight into what’s important to your prospects but it’ll also present new opportunities and leads, giving you an easy way to engage and reach out to potential customers in an appropriate, non-intrusive way.

3. Your competitors are already using social selling

71% of all sales professionals are already using social selling tools, so if you aren’t you may be putting yourself at a disadvantage (Source: LinkedIn). Click to Tweet.

For example, Microsoft is one organization that has taken hold of the power of social selling. Their social selling pilot program started with 15 people selling Microsoft Azure through their LinkedIn accounts to find their own customers. This boosted the productivity of their team by 38% and led to the program scaling to 3,000+ sellers.

4. It builds your social capital

Social capital is built when someone in your LinkedIn network has a problem or an issue and they automatically think and turn to you for help. This will happen when you have positioned yourself correctly on social networks with your activity.

To gain social capital you’ll need to consider social proximity, and your connection philosophy. Instead of connecting with just anyone, connect with people in a targeted manner, and with those who you can genuinely help. Next, you’ll need to ensure your social presence is up to scratch.

Present and share your insight and knowledge and contribute towards discussions and groups to build it. This will enhance your online visibility and will strengthen your social capital.

5. The Mere Exposure Effect

The Mere Exposure Effect was first spoken about in 1968 by social psychologist Robert Zajonc. This social phenomenon states that the more a person is exposed to something, the more they’ll develop a preference towards that thing over time.

Social media gives businesses the ability to tap into this theory through regular and consistent posting and updates. When you’ve created and put into action a dedicated strategy, you can begin to utilize social media channels to your advantage and ensure that you have messages trickling through all the channels that your audiences use, creating multiple touchpoints with them.

However, it’s essential to remember to not just share sales messages and calls-to-action. Instead, share content that adds value to your followers, and offers insight and information.

If you fail to prepare you are preparing to fail…

The infamous quote from Benjamin Franklin couldn’t be truer when it comes to achieving social selling success.

To successfully leverage social selling, you need to optimize your social channels to showcase your expertise. And, it’s the little things that make the biggest difference. For example, research from LinkedIn revealed that members with a photo receive 21x more profile views and nine times more connection requests compared to those that don’t. Click to Tweet

So, what do you need to do to give a positive first impression on your social channels?

Here are my top tips:

  • Post a professional head and shoulders image of yourself
  • Write your bio/summary to highlight your expertise and what you do on a professional level
  • Include links to your website and other social channels to encourage visits
  • Utilize hashtags that your prospects follow
  • Create lists on Twitter to monitor content from specific accounts
  • On LinkedIn include your job title and keywords in your headline, ask for recommendations to boost your credibility and join LinkedIn groups that are relevant to your industry and begin networking in them

Social selling best practices

Once your profiles are ready to be rolled out it’s time to kick off your social selling strategy. Effective social selling takes time and must be consistent to build meaningful relationships with your audiences.

  • Dedicate yourself

Start by creating a plan and setting aside time to dedicate yourself to building your social presence. Being present on multiple social channels can be time consuming, but if you spend 30 minutes every day monitoring your channels, engaging with others and posting content it’ll help ease the pressures and ensure your feeds are always up to date.

  • Create and stick to a content plan

By creating and sticking to a content plan you’ll ensure that there is structure to your posting on LinkedIn.

The purpose of a content plan is to create meaningful, cohesive, engaging, and sustainable content that engages, resonates and attracts your target audience. In today’s social web environment, getting the right message to the right customer at the right time is crucial. And, to stay front of mind, build rapport and trust and position yourself as an expert, you’ll need to have a solid content plan in place.

  • Take advantage of social listening

Earlier I mentioned social listening, and it’s essential to factor it into your social selling strategy. So, create and use social lists and monitoring streams to collate what people are saying about you, your company, your industry and competitors, and identify what questions they’re asking and topics they are talking about.

  • Provide value

Focus your content on providing relevant, informative posts and content, when your audience wants it. This will position you as a thought-leader and build your personal brand. It’ll also help you create relationships with your prospects and gain their trust.

  • Maintain relationships once you’ve created them

Once you’ve made new connections it’s important to stay engaged with them over time. So, comment on and like the content that is posted by your prospects.

And, be sure to offer advice and guidance to them and contribute to their conversations in a meaningful way if they ask questions.

  • Share testimonials

Success stories from other customers have a lot of weight, and research from Pretty Links suggests 92% of buyers trust recommendations from peers and 70% trust recommendations from strangers. Click to Tweet

By gaining and sharing third party testimonials you’ll start to build your credibility with prospects and it’s more likely that they’ll begin to trust your business.

  • Track engagement

Tracking metrics such as likes, comments and shares will allow you to identify the types of content that resonates the most with your audience. And, it’ll enable you to determine if your social selling activities are paying off.

In addition, by establishing what content is getting the most engagement you can adjust your content so that you’re producing more of what is preferred by your audience. For example, if you notice content about a particular topic is getting high levels of engagement, this will suggest that your audience is interested it in, so why not produce more and give your audience what they want?

  • Understand when to take your connections offline

To land a sale you’ll need to escalate the connection with a prospect by offering them a call to continue the conversation offline and on a deeper level. And, it’s important not to try and push a call before prospects are ready as this will damage all of your nurturing efforts.

******************************************************************************

Sudhir Kumar is marketing director at Origin Blurbs. For more information like this article please connect with him on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/sudhirkumarorigin.