Social selling from desk

10 tips to a successful social selling program that drives business results

Social selling is all the buzz in the B2B world. Social selling is revolutionizing sales like digital marketing changed marketing. With more B2B decision makers using social media and companies completing more of their buying cycle before they approach a supplier, social selling has become your company’s best bet. Research has shown that salespeople who use social media outperform those who don’t and exceed quota more often. But is it worth the effort?  How can you activate social media and content best practices into a powerful sales tool?

With highly-informed buyers needing salespeople who can provide relevant knowledge and help them tackle their business challenges, this blog post explores how to empower your sales team to meet these heightening customer demands. Learn what it takes to become the social selling expert at your company, including lessons learned and pitfalls to avoid when launching a social selling initiative. Learn about a framework for tackling social selling at your organization—including getting C-suite buy-in. And discover how social selling can help provide insights into your content marketing efforts.

Let’s first start with the definition of social selling.

What is Social Selling?

Social selling is when the salespeople use social media to interact directly with clients and prospects. Social selling defined in 100 words.

Why Social Selling is Important

Social selling is a revolution for sales. Cold calls, qualifying leads, and sales demos are no longer effective as they once were. The new sales model is now about education, social media networks, and engagement. According to the Corporate Executive Board and OgilyOne, 60 percent of B2B customer research is conducted before contacting sales and 71 percent of salespeople believe their role will be radically different in five years.

The sales team is looking for a partner to help with this transition. Marketing is in a great spot to help since marketing is looking for more insight from sales on what content is being used and shared. According to Sirius Decisions, 60 to 70 percent of all company content goes unused. What content should marketing create more or less of?

Social selling can help since it is half social media, half content marketing.

Half Social Media - Half Content Marketing

Social selling is half social media, half content marketing. Marketing is in a great position to provide social media and content marketing advice to sales.

Content marketing and social media have become too important for companies today to just stay within the marketing department. Social selling is the next evolution of content marketing and social media. Marketing has a great opportunity to provide their digital marketing expertise to sales.

And sales is looking for help with social media and their online presence. According to the Sales Management Association, two in three companies don’t have a social media strategy for sales, but 80 percent of sales teams would be more productive with a greater social media presence.

Most marketers, especially those at B2B companies, are tasked with better aligning with sales teams and enabling their sales teams with content and social media tips to better interact online with current customers and future ones.

The Rise of the Term “SMarketing”

With the growth of digital marketing and marketing taking on more of the sales or buying journey, the term SMarketing is rising in importance. SMarketing is the process of integrating the sales and marketing processes of a business.

SMarketing

Companies who have an integrated approach to sales and marketing are in a position to drive more growth and better target the ideal customers and retain current clients.

Now that you understand the importance of social selling, how does one create a social selling program? Here are 10 tips to launching a social selling program:

1. Explain Why Your Company Needs Social Selling

Buyers have more power in today’s world, thanks to the Internet and rise of social media networks. As a result, their habits have changed because they can do more research and ask more people about the products and services they are going to buy before interacting with sales. According to LinkedIn, 5.4 people are now involved in the average B2B buying decision; 75 percent of B2B buyers now use social media to be more informed on vendors; and 90 percent of decision makers say they never respond to cold outreach.

The Reality of the New Buyer

Buyers are self-educating. When was the last time you went to buy a car or TV without knowing what type of car or TV you wanted, including what types of “bells and whistles” you want? Buyers are consuming more content before they buy. Search engines like Google and Bing have created an “era of self-serve information.” Google’s Zero Moment of Truth study shows that consumers digest more than 10 pieces of online information before making a purchase decision. Therefore, companies today need to provide content that informs, educates, persuades, and retains customers or clients.

Buyers are changing the landscape for sales and marketing. Buyers have new knowledge expectations. They want advisors, not ready-made solutions. They are including more people in decision-making process. As a result, most buying / sales cycles are getting longer.

The Corporate Executive Board has published excellent research about how the sales or buying process has changed. They found that high-performing sales people are Challengers and the reason salespeople are successful is because it is all about how a sales person sells, not what he or she sells. They also published research on the key factors to create consensus in buying groups.

Frustration is occurring internally at many organizations. Conversations at companies today may be along the lines of something like this: “we’re losing deals to unlikely competitors” or  “our sales team is being engaged so far late in a buyers purchasing cycle, resulting in conversations about price and fulfillment” or “prospects are asking us ‘late funnel’ questions much earlier in the sales process.”

As a result, there is a shift at many companies where social selling is becoming more of the process since a majority of the self-educating is done before the first meeting with sales. Marketing and sales can no long take the “spray and pray” method to finding new clients. The new approach to selling and marketing is summed up well by Seth Godin in this quote.

Selling to People Who Want to Hear from You

Sales professionals, sales leadership, and C-suite executives will want to know what the outcome of social selling is at your organization.

Social Selling Outcomes

It is important to communicate the four main outcomes of social selling. They are:

  1. Thought leadership. Buyers choose sales rep that add value and insight.
  2. Brand. Build over time as trusted expert and knowledgeable.
  3. Competitive differentiation. Insights help differentiate you
  4. Business conversations, not sales pitches. People don’t trust companies who cold call and are perceived as “spammy.”

Companies that provide value and insights are winning their customers over. According to Corporate Visions, 74 percent of buyers choose the sales rep that was first to bring value and insight and according to Forrester, 82 percent of buyers viewed at least five pieces of content from the winning vendor. Check out 107 mind-blowing sales stats.

The Social Seller Wins

Research has shown the sales person who uses social selling performs better than the sales person who doesn’t. According to LinkedIn, social sellers create 45 percent more opportunities; social sellers are 51 percent more likely to achieve quota and 78 percent of social sellers outsell peers who don’t use social media.

2. Start Small With a Pilot to Get C-Suite Buy-In

To get C-suite buy-in, it is important to start small with a pilot. The pilot should be long enough to collect enough data to build your business case to continue but short enough it doesn’t take too many resources.

There are five key ways to get C-suite to buy-in on social selling. They are:

  1. Vision and strategy. It is important to demonstrate where you are now, and where you want to go or need to go with this initiative. Creating a maturity model, outlining your strategy for social selling and communicating the business value of the initiative on one page can help paint the vision and strategy.
  1. Success story. It is important to have social selling champions internally who can help you so the value of social selling to the business.
  1. Case studies. It is important to see how other companies are taking advantage of social selling. LinkedIn and Sales for Life have good case studies for social selling.
  1. Competitors. One of the best ways to get the C-suite attention about your initiative is to look at your competitor’s plans and show them that your company is behind because our competitors have already launched this initiative.
  1. Business case. It’s important to make the business case of social selling, not in promising immediate return on investment but documenting the process with a charter, what is in scope or out of scope for this initiative, who are the executive sponsors and what the timeline is for certain short-term activates. Executives at your company will want to know how well social selling can scale with a comprehensive budget.

Following these five tips and launching a small pilot can help you show some early results.

3. Show How Social Selling Integrates Internally

To ensure that your social selling program gets buy-in from key stakeholders, it is important to partner with others internally, especially leadership from departments such as sales, sales enablement, solution/product/services, human resources, and training.

Once you have identified the departments, take the time to learn about how each department’s priorities and goals intersect with social selling. For example, at Forsythe Technology, we partner with our thought leaders in our pre-sales organization. We first started with our FOCUS Magazine authors. We also partnered with our pre-sales organization and select members of our human resource department to show them how social selling can help hiring managers and recruiters find candidates through social selling platforms like LinkedIn.

By getting input and partnering with other departments internally, you can share the budget. Here are five tips for justifying your social selling budgets. Sometimes other departments will contribute funds while some departments will just support the initiative. Social selling requires time and is an investment that will deliver benefits over time.

4. One Size Doesn’t Fit All

It is critical that your training for social selling is personalized and customized because each individual sales representative is different in terms of how much they know, understand and partake in social media in their personal lives.

Personalized

Since one size doesn’t fit all, that is why I scheduled one on one classes via Cisco WebEx with all of our entire sales team. It was important to personalize the class to the skill level of the sales professional and show them the value of LinkedIn in a one-on-one setting rather than have them listen to an online course. While it doesn’t scale quickly, it provided more value to the sales team and helped spread the word about the value of using LinkedIn in meeting their goals. I summarized my 1 on 1 social selling class in this LinkedIn blog post.

One of the mistakes I made early on when I launched the social selling initiative at my company, Forsythe Technology, was to teach the sales professionals about all of the different social platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, etc. However, I quickly realized that our account managers needed focus so I concentrated on one platform: LinkedIn. It provided them with the most value to show them how they could use the tool to be more productive and help them accomplish their goals. I walked them through how they could optimize their LinkedIn profile and take advantage of the tool. I also explain how LinkedIn inMails need to be customized and tailored to be successful. They need to be helpful, not “salesy.” I also show them how their connection requests should be customized to get noticed and so the other person accepts them.

Customized

It is important that your class is customized so you can show them how to play what I call “six degrees of Kevin Bacon” where you take the person through the exercise of showing them how their network can be connected to any company by a 1st, 2nd or 3rd-degree connection.

I also walk through how you should check “Who’s Viewed Your Profile” on LinkedIn and how they should join certain LinkedIn Groups where their clients and prospects hang out. I emphasize that they should develop a social selling routine that works for them and enables them with tools like Google Alerts, If This then That, Newsle (now LinkedIn Connections in the News), Crystal Knows, and Charlie App.

5. Show the Power of Personal Branding

The next tip for a successful social selling program is to show your sales team the power of personal branding. If you look up the word branding on Google Trends, you can see the tremendous growth of the term. It has become more important in today’s social media world. Tom Peters in Fast Company quote sums it up the power of the power of personal branding:

Marketer for Brand Called You

Social networks like LinkedIn can help frontline employees such as sales professionals build their personal brand. By optimizing your LinkedIn profile, sharing relevant content about your industry, commenting with thoughtful insights to conversations in LinkedIn Groups and liking other people’s content can help you grow your reputation and establishing trust.

During my one on one class, I show them why a successful personal brand is important to our company brand. I reference my 10 steps to a successful personal brand. I explain how the profile is the first thing that a prospective client will see and that it important to make a good first impression with a professional image on a white background (we provided free professional headshots during our annual sales kickoff meetings).

I explain that they should add a summary section and that their summary should be written in first person, not third person. During my follow-up email, I provide them with helpful articles such as how to write a LinkedIn summary, 3 brilliant LinkedIn summaries and 4 highly effective LinkedIn summary templates for sales reps.

If we have time during the first call or follow-up calls, we discuss LinkedIn’s new social selling index (SSI) and what that means for them. I provide them with the link to get their SSI score and how there are four ways, according to LinkedIn, to improve your social selling index:

  1. Establish your professional brand 
  2. Find the right people
  3. Engage with Insights
  4. Build relationships

For sales professionals that have LinkedIn Sales Navigator, I show them that LinkedIn has included the SSI on their home dashboard. I encourage our sales professionals to explore LinkedIn Sales Navigator to see if they think it is worthy to upgrade.

6. Have a Plan for Follow Up and Reinforcement

A class is a great start but reinforcement is the key to making your program successful and making the program stick. According to Aberdeen Group research, companies that reinforce post-training achieve better business results. Ongoing education and reinforcement is important to long-term success and keeping your sales team up-to-date with the ever-changing landscape of social media and LinkedIn. For example, what will Microsoft do with LinkedIn after acquiring them?

During the one-on-one class, I explain how the participant should set up calendar reminders in their Microsoft Outlook to share articles or block out time for LinkedIn. I say you may want to add some of these tasks when you are working on administrative tasks like filling out their weekly timecards.

I also make sure that I have a follow-up email ready to send out immediately following the class that provides them with helpful links so they complete their “homework” that I assigned them during the class such as adding a summary section or adding their certifications or adding their professional headshot. In the follow-up email, I include an eBook from LinkedIn about the power of social selling in the buyer process, my personal blog post of the social selling class in article format, and 101 proven power words article may be helpful to reference for keywords in your summary and experience sections.

Once the class is done, it is important to establish a feedback loop with the team to learn how they are doing with their social selling. I have participated in our new sales rep training classes and I schedule follow-up classes with sales reps who are interested in learning more about social selling. Two sales representatives want to meet with me monthly to give them the latest and greatest info on social selling.

To help with reinforcement, some social selling tools like LinkedIn Sales Navigator, PeopleLinx and TrapIt can help with these efforts. To find other social selling tools, you can check out some of the top social selling tools.

It is important to have milestones and timelines in place as well. This could be included in your charter or strategy on a page we discussed earlier. They help with ongoing goal tracking and reinforcement so your program doesn’t lose its momentum.

7. Establish the Requirements for Success

Forrester Research recommends organizations shouldn’t rush into metrics since these metrics could create unintended consequences and pressure on your sales team. Once the social selling program is up and running, you can understand what types of metrics are working and then create more sophisticated measurement when your organization social selling program has matured. However, I would recommend establishing some type of criteria for success. There are four important metrics worth examining from the beginning. They are sales, training, network (in terms of the growth of the sales team’s network on LinkedIn) and sharing (in terms of content).

Metrics

There are four key metrics of a successful social selling program: sales growth, training goals, network growth and content sharing.

Since social selling program is an investment, it will take time for your program to pay off and your metrics may change. However, it should have a baseline for initial metrics to track so you can see how the social selling program is performing. The metrics should be aligned with what we discussed earlier about how the program integrates internally. There should be at least one of the metrics that the departments mentioned earlier care about.

8. Help Sales Become Students of the Game

One way marketers can help sales is to help them become “students of the game.” When I mean student of the game, I mean being a perpetual student that reads, thinks and writes about their industry and profession. To help sales, marketing can show sales how they can follow their ecosystem of companies important to them on LinkedIn. I recommend the ecosystem consist of the following:

  1. Partners
  2. Competitors
  3. Analysts
  4. Clients and Prospects

There are also helpful resources for sales to stay up-to-date with the latest developments in social selling, sales and their industry. I recommend resources such as Sales for Life, HubSpot Blogs, SmartBrief, and LinkedIn Sales Solutions.

9. Serve Up Great Content To Share

Your content marketing efforts are critical to the success of your social selling program. Jill Rowley, a social selling evangelist, sums up the importance of great content for sales professionals today:

Content New Currency for Sales

To ensure that you serve up great content to share with sales, it important that your sales team and subject matter experts tell your marketing organizations what questions that clients are asking so marketing can create content to address those questions. To understand the power of answering questions, you should learn from Marcus Sheridan. The New York Times wrote a great article about how he increased sales by answering customer questions.

Marcus Sheridan sums up the importance of content marketing well and how important it is to sales.

Marcus Sheridan Content Sales Tool v2

This quote from Marcus Sheridan explains how content marketing helps your company establish trust with your clients and future clients:

Content Marketing Date Around

To create great content, you should think about your content marketing efforts in how much effort it takes to produce content. There is heavyweight content, middleweight content, and lightweight content. To learn the difference, you should read is your content marketing worth its weight in gold? We created our data center eBook in the mode of this content model to a lot of success. We created teasers for the eBook in the forms of teaser articles, SlideShare eBook promotion, SlideShare data center tips, infographic, and excerpt articles.

At Forsythe Technology, we follow the rule of thumb that the ideal length of an article should be 7 minutes or 1600 words. All of our articles on Forsythe FOCUS Magazine website are around 1600 words. These guidelines and other best practices have helped Forsythe Technology strive toward being a media company and operate like a newsroom. To help your organization figure out how to best organize itself for content marketing, you should explore ideas presented by Altimeter.

Altimer Content Marketing Organization

The Altimeter group shows companies how they can organize for content marketing.

You may also want to think about content marketing like Progressive CMO Jeff Charney thinks about content marketing. He says that Progressive’s content marketing should have, “the breadth of ESPN, the innovation of Netflix, and the original content programming of HBO.” As the world of owned media (websites and blogs) becomes more important with the rise of content marketing, earned (press coverage and word of mouth) and paid media (pay per click or banner ads) are still critical to a successful marketing strategy.

10.  Provide the Best Curated Content

The last tip for creating a successful social selling program is to curate the best content in your industry like a museum curator finds the best art for his or her museum. To help you create a culture of content curation, you should explore resources like this to help save you time.

Museum Curator

Companies should think about their content curation like museum curators think about their art curation.

According to research that explored the curation vs. creation sweet spot, the optimal balance for companies is a 60/40 ratio of content curation vs. content creation. 60 percent should be content curation and 40 percent should be content creation. This research was based on analyzing 150,000 social media posts.

Sweet Spot of Content

Research has shown that the content curation-creation “sweet spot” is a 60-40 ratio. 60 percent of content should be curated while 40 percent of content should be created.

At Forsythe Technology, we launched content curation, we developed the inFOCUS e-newsletter, similar to SmartBrief e-newsletters, that provides an executive summary of noteworthy articles for business and technology professionals. To create this monthly e-newsletter, we work with a company that used to curate content for the President of the United States. The company’s editorial staff monitors 12,000 newspapers, business publications, websites, national and international wire services, and other periodicals, to compile one easy-to-read monthly summary.

We have found that finding and sharing content establishes Forsythe Technology and our sales professionals as value creators. We realized that we didn’t have to create our own content every day to help our clients and future ones. Our content curation has helped our content marketing efforts.

Bringing it all Together

Launching social selling program is like creating other initiatives. It is important to start small, go slow and start building the business case internally. It is a great time to be a marketer since social selling is an evolution of your social media and content marketing strategy so it is critical to incorporate into your existing strategy. Determine a leader and core team to lead the initiative, create training, determine the internal requirements for success and explore social selling tools to help you with reinforcement. By knowing your end goal and what you are trying to achieve with your social selling program, you can launch a successful program. Remember, content marketing and social media have become too important to organizations today to stay within the marketing department. Marketing is in a great position to enable sales with their digital marketing expertise and help launch a successful social selling program.

What tips would you add to this list? How did you launch a successful social selling program?

Bridge into woods

Why social selling is the next evolution of content marketing and social media

Below is my interview with Patricia Stamas-Jacoby, Publications Editor, at Frost & Sullivan in their Digital Marketing eBulletin. Part 1 of 2. Read part 2.

Matthew Royse will be presenting The Social Selling Revolution: 10 Tips to a Successful Social Selling Program That Drives Business Results at the 17th Annual Digital Marketing: A Frost & Sullivan Executive MindXchange in July. In anticipation of the event, we posed the following questions about the state of B2B Digital Marketing today.

A key takeaway: Marketing is no longer just a cost center, but can drive business transformation.

Frost & Sullivan: What is your working definition of digital marketing? 

Matthew Royse: Digital marketing is an umbrella term that is used in many different ways, depending on the context. Simply put, it is the shift in the “value prop” of marketing to digital. By taking advantage of digital technologies such as websites, email, social media, online ads, e-commerce and other forms of digital media, marketing can better reach its target audiences.

As the world becomes digitized, the value for businesses lies in using digital to its competitive advantage to grow and better serve customers or clients. The marketing team should be leading the charge to digital because marketing has become such a critical part of today’s business model. The most successful companies today are the ones that are so useful to their target audiences with their products and services that they will become a part of daily life of their customers.

What is your organization’s working definition of digital marketing?

The definition of digital marketing is different for every company. At Forsythe Technology, we documented our digital marketing strategy on one page in order to clearly communicate our perspective internally and with our partners.  As I will briefly discuss during my upcoming presentation, The Social Selling Revolution: 10 Tips to a Successful Social Selling Program That Drives Business Results, we outlined the following in one page: our digital marketing strategy summary statement, the current and future state of our digital marketing, our strategy timeline, our top five digital marketing initiatives and our underlying beliefs and assumptions about digital marketing. We treat the one-pager as a living document to be updated as our digital marketing strategy evolves and as our people, processes and technologies change.

What are your thoughts on where digital marketing is heading?

Digital marketing will become part of everyone’s job, just like social media. Social media was initially a separate area with social media specialists and strategists. Now, social media has become part of everyone’s job description. The same will happen for digital marketing. Digital marketing will just become marketing because successful marketing today requires marketers to be hybrid or T-shape professionals. Marketers should specialize in one area such as social media or content marketing but should know enough about search engine optimization, online advertising, influencer marketing, marketing programs and other marketing functions so they can understand the holistic view of marketing.

Marketing is becoming more data-driven and automated but marketing still needs the human element and the creative part of telling great stories. Companies that position themselves in the minds of customers as being helpful and useful are the ones that stay top of mind with them. One of the ways to stay top of mind with customers is through social selling.

Can you share your insights on how B2B (as opposed to B2C) organizations should leverage “social selling?” 

Contrary to popular opinion, B2B organizations have a bigger opportunity to utilize social selling than B2C for the following reasons: there are more decision makers in a purchase decision, the purchasing process takes longer, more money is involved in a purchase and the buyers are typically more informed with tons of research.

In my upcoming presentation, I will talk about how social selling is the next evolution of content marketing and social media. Social media and content marketing have become critical to sales. Social selling is a hybrid of these two important functions.

Social selling is a revolution for sales. The old sales model used to be about cold calls, qualifying leads and sales demos. The new sales model is about education, social networks, and engagement. According to the Corporate Executive Board and OgilyOne, 60 percent of B2B customer research is conducted before contacting sales and 71 percent of salespeople believe their role will be radically different in five years.

Sales is looking for a partner in marketing to help with this transition, and marketing is looking for more insight from sales on what works and what doesn’t. According to the Sales Management Association, two in three companies don’t have a social media strategy for sales, but 80 percent of sales teams would be more productive with a greater social media presence. And, according to Sirius Decisions, 60 to 70 percent of all company content goes unused. Social selling can help your company better understand what content your sales team is sharing with clients and prospects online and via social media. As marketing learns more and more about what content sales is using successfully, they can create better and more targeted content.

Can you outline the next phase of mobile marketing? 

The next phase of mobile marketing is where a company puts its mobile experience first, which is a challenge for many companies due to legacy thinking, systems and organizing the data so it is real-time and easier for consumers. Brands understand the importance of transforming to a mobile-first, digital strategy but they are not prepared for how quickly they need to adapt to make this happen. There are a lot of changes that need to be made to people, processes and technologies at large companies in a short amount of time. That is why smaller companies have a competitive advantage—they don’t have the legacy technology and processes in place. As a result, larger companies are moving toward creating their own enterprise “app store” so they can more quickly adapt to changes in the marketplace.

Your insights on moving from multi-channel marketing to omni-channel marketing? 

People can now engage with a company in a physical store, via the website or mobile app or through social media, fueling the shift toward omni-channel marketing to provide a seamless customer experience across all interactions. Where companies often go wrong with the customer experience is a lack of integration between teams. Bad marketing experiences occur at the consumer/end-user level when it becomes apparent that the company’s technology, people and processes are not well integrated.

Your thoughts and good or bad experiences on integrating marketing across the organization? 

Yes, marketing should be definitely be integrated. That is one of the most important aspects of marketing today but often the most difficult. Marketing needs to ensure their department is integrated first and then work on improving integration across the organization. For example, contact centers have a wealth of information for marketers on the types of questions that they are being asked by customers. Do the contact centers record that information so that marketing can create helpful content to answer those questions? It sounds so simple. Yet, it is rarely done. Another example: Are marketing/PR teams prepared if the company gets hacked? Do they have a crisis communications and disaster recovery plan if it occurs? If so, can the company communicate it quickly?

The key for digital marketing and good customer experiences will be integration, strategy and a shift in mindset that marketing is more than a support function. Marketing is no longer a cost center but drives business transformation. As a result, marketing organizations should consistently have a seat the business table (and at the C-suite and board level) to drive digital transformation conversations, its value proposition to the company, and why its budget should grow.

To sum up, digital marketing and heightened customer expectations are changing how the modern marketing organization is structured. Marketing has become more holistic, aligns more closely with the business strategy, and is responsible for the overall customer experience. One company to learn from is Target. They built successful digital marketing department. They did not put their marketing teams into groups or silos. Instead, they brought everyone together as one big marketing team. This helped Target tell a cohesive brand story and attract top talent. An example we can all learn from.

Read the original “Discussing Digital Marketing” article.

Light blub

10 inspirational quotes to make you a better marketer

Who doesn’t love a great quote?

I culled together 10 inspirational quotes for marketing and public relations professionals to get us excited. Today is a great time to be a marketer. Hopefully, these quotes will help guide you through today’s social media and content marketing world.

Marketing doesn't feel like marketing

Follow Tom Fishburne on LinkedIn and Twitter.

 

Marketing stories

Follow Seth Godin on Twitter.

 

Tell don't sell

Follow Beth Comstock on LinkedIn and Twitter.

 

Google answers

Follow Cyrus Shepard on LinkedIn and Twitter.

 Conflict or challenge equals story

Follow Tom Kellner on LinkedIn and Twitter.

 

Marketing helpful

Follow Jay Baer on LinkedIn and Twitter.

 

Don't sell anything

Follow Rand Fishkin on LinkedIn and Twitter.

 

Why you do it

Follow Simon Sinek on Twitter.

 

Don't beg the media, be the media

Follow Mark Ragan on LinkedIn and Twitter.

 

Good content marketing

Follow Joe Pulizzi on LinkedIn and Twitter.

 

Content marketing and dating

Follow Marcus Sheridan on LinkedIn and Twitter.

 

What quotes would you add to this list?

Desktop view

12 Twitter tools to help you maximize your tweets

How do you get your tweets noticed? How do you get them read? And how do you get re-tweets? These are some of the most-pressing questions that many Twitter users ask. The key is to optimize the timing of your tweets to make sure you reach the greatest number of your followers.

These Twitter tools can help you figure out and maximize the timing of your tweets.

1. WhenToTweet

This tool will help you figure out when most of your followers are online.

2. TweetWhen 

This free tool shows you the best times to tweet based on your past 1,000 tweets.

3. Tweriod 

This free tool looks at you and your Twitter followers’ tweets to provide times on when you should tweet.

4. TweetStats 

This free tool will show you detailed analysis of your best tweeting time.

5. Timely 

This free tool analyzes your past 199 tweets and figures out the best time slots for you to tweet.

6. Tweue 

This free tool is basically a Twitter queue that will evenly space up to 10 tweet from 15 minutes to eight hours apart.

7. TweetReports 

This free tool gathers the stats from your top 25 influential followers and analyzes the times where keywords are talked about the most, and when you may want to participate in these conversations.

8. Lookacross 

This paid tool (30-day free trial) to find the best time to reach people.

9. 14Blocks 

A paid tool ($5-$49/month) that analyzes your followers’ activities to find out the best times to tweet each day of the week.

10. Socialflow 

A paid tool ($1 for first month) publishes your content when it will resonate the most with your Twitter followers.

11. Hootsuite 

A free web-based social media dashboard that allows you to queue up and post updates in a timely fashion.

12. Buffer 

This free app allows you to add articles, photos and videos to it anytime of the day and then it automatically shares them throughout the day.

What Twitter tools would you add to this list?

paint brushes

15 helpful tools to increase productivity in the workplace

We are all looking for tools to help us save time to complete that important project with a pressing deadline, make sure we can leave work on time, or create an outstanding presentation.

Whether you want to convert PDFs to PowerPoint slides, find out how much time you spend time during the day working on different things, or create cool social media graphics, these tools can help you be more productive.

Here are 15 tools that can help you improve your productivity.

1. PDF To PowerPoint Converter

Creating PowerPoints from scratch are tough, especially when you want to insert PDFs into the slides. With this converter, you can easily change PDFs into PowerPoint slides. Just upload the PDF and the file will be converted online. If you are worried about privacy, all files you upload are deleted from the tool one hour after the conversion. This tool works on all computers.

2. RFP Monkey

This is an automation solution to help you respond faster and better to a request for proposal (RFP) or a request for information (RFI). It helps you reuse, collaborate, categorize, and even search your knowledge base of information. You are able to rack project assignments of team members and see the progress of RFPs or RFIs.

3. Awesome Screenshot

This tools helps you capture screenshots for all or a part of a web page. You can add annotations; put in comments; blur sensitive information; store and organize images by project; get feedback from your colleagues on screenshots and designs; and collaborate with friends and colleagues. You can even add it as an extension to your Chrome web browser.

4. SnagIt

This tool is similar to Awesome Screenshot, SnagIt helps you capture images on your computer with a couple of clicks. You can customize your screen captures with its markup tools. You can also create quick videos by recording your screen and then narrate and trim them. You can get SnagIt on your Android and iOS phone with the Fuse app so you can send photos and videos from your mobile device to your SnagIt editor.

5. Pixlr Express

This online image editor help you re-size and crop images via your web browser. You can apply a quick fix to the image, add creative effects, and add borders.

6. Tomato Timer

This mobile-friendly tool helps you take breaks using the flexible Pomodoro Technique – a time management method to break down work into intervals (typically 25 minutes in length separated by short 5 minute breaks). These intervals are called pomodoros: the Italian word for tomatoes. After four pomodoros, it is suggested you take a longer 10 minute break. With this timer, you have the ability to pause or reset the timer, be notified on your desktop with audio notifications, and change the alert sound and volume. If you are looking to add more breaks to your workday, this is the tool for you.

7. Toggl

This tool is a time tracker application. When you click the Toggl button, the timer begins and you track the time it takes to complete various tasks. It provides you with reports to show you much time you spent on different projects. You can do all of this through your web browser or you can install it on your desktop.

8. Rescue Time

This tools is similar to Toggl but with more bells and whistles. It shows you the hours of the day that are your least/most productive and your best and worst days of the week/month/year. You can install it on your computer to track what programs and websites you spend the most time on.

9. Strengths Test

This tool helps you find out your strengths. Do you know what you do best every day? Most likely, you probably don’t. This test helps you find out your preferred way of thinking, feeling, and behaving.

10. Email Future

This tool helps you send yourself emails in the future. Whether it’s a reminder email in half hour or a message to your future self in 5 or 10 years, it is a great way to remind yourself of important dates (birthdays, anniversaries, sporting events, when concert tickets go on sale, project due dates) or remind yourself to buy things at the grocery store. You can send yourself helpful links you find on the internet or send yourself an email about a list of goals you want to accomplish this year or where you want to be in life in 5, 10 or 15 years from now.

11. Kapost’s Content Audit Tool

A content audit can be time-consuming process but important to knowing what content you have on your website(s). It is a critical part of an effective content marketing strategy. Kapost has simplified and automated the process with this free content audit tool. It crawls your website to categorize content by type, publish date, persona, author, and theme.

12. List.ly

We all love lists. Some people love to create lists of their favorite things. If you are blogger and you want to curate a list, this is the tool for you. It provides you with a list format that is interactive and engaging for your readers.

13. Readability Score

Want to know how well your content reads? This free online readability calculator grades your content on a numerical scale (0 to 100). It tells your character count, syllable count, word count, sentence count, characters per word, syllables per word, and words per sentence. You can paste in the text or add the URL.

14. Canva’s Social Media Graphics

This tool helps you design cool graphics for social media platforms such as Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Google+ and Instagram. You get access with more than 100 layouts. Open Canva, choose a layout for a specific social media channel, upload your own photos or stock images, fix the images, edit text, and then save it.

15. Buffer Pablo

Similar to Canva, Pablo is a cool tool to help you create engaging images for social media networks. This tool does not require a sign-in and no design experience is needed. You just type in text (they have 130 inspirational quotes to choose from), an image as a background from your photos or from professionally-looking photos at UnSplash. Then, you can share the image via Twitter or Facebook or add it to your Buffer queue.

What tools would you add to this list?

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The 7 Cs of a successful social media strategy

A lot of people and companies decide, after using social media for a while, that they need a strategy. Of course, that approach is like putting the cart before the horse.

To ensure success, you should think about your social media strategy in the context of the seven Cs.

1. Community

Like all good communication, it is best to start by determining your target audience.

  • Where do they spend time online?
  • What social media channels do they use?
  • How do they communicate on these social media channels?

Before your social media efforts can take shape, you should listen and learn about your community. For example, a B2C consumer goods brand such as Oreo, one of their top social media communities is Facebook. Their salute to the Mars landingwas a huge hit with their Facebook fans. For a job seeker, he or she will most likely find a community on LinkedIn because 93 percent of job recruiters use LinkedIn to find qualified candidates.

Finding out where your community interacts on social media is the first step of a successful social media strategy. It is important to first determine what type of conversations are taking place about your brand and in your industry before engaging in a community or building a community from scratch. If you decide that your brand should build a community from the ground up, you should learn from Mark Ragan, the publisher of the Ragan Communications’ PR Daily andRagan.com.

2. Content

After you figure out how your community engages with social media, you should next figure out what content you are going to share with your followers. For example, if you are looking to grow your personal brand, what articles are you going to share to highlight your expertise about your job or personal interests? If you are a company, how can you show your clients and prospects that you are a thought leader or that you are trying to make their lives easier? To learn more about the importance of content, you may want to read the Content Marketing Institute blog.

3. Curation

You can’t think about content, without mentioning curation. Curation is a way of sharing other people’s content and acting like a museum curatorBeth Kanter in her post Content Curation Primer says content curation is the process of sorting through the vast amounts of content on the web and presenting it in a meaningful and organized way. Rohit Bhargava in Manifesto for the Content Curator post defines a content curator as someone who continually finds, groups, organizes and shares the best and most relevant content a specific issue. Content curation is one of the easiest ways to share content because you don’t have to create anything. This leads well into the next “C”: creation.

4. Creation

Creation is the act of creating content online, whether it be in the form of text, images or video. If you have posted a blog post, uploaded a video to YouTube or took a picture and posted it to Instagram, you are in the creation business. One of the ways to help you create content is to create an editorial calendar. It may be helpful to use this editorial calendar template. If you don’t like spreadsheets, then you may want to consider using an application such as Divvy. For the more advance content creators, using a content marketing software platform such as Kapost should be something you consider.

What is the sweet spot between creation and curation? According to research, the sweet spot of curation to creation is a 60-40 (60 curation and 40 percent creation). You can always think about as the 4-1-1 ratio.

5. Connection

After you have either curated and/or created content, the next C is the physical act of sharing content. This C is about connecting with your community and getting a deep understanding of what your target audience likes about your social media activities and strategy. Based on measurements and data, what content are your communities attracted to and willing to share with their friends and colleagues?

Many brands today have created buyer personas so they can better understand and connect better with their target audience. In other words, personas are fictional representations of your ideal clients, based on real data about demographics, online behavior, along with educated assumptions about their history, motivations and concerns. On the personal branding side, you may want to use one of these 5 tools to manage your relationships online.

6. Conversation

This C is all about having a conversation with your community. This C is very similar to the community, but the important difference is the actual engagement part of communicating with your communities. To help you with this concept, learn the 3 key social media conversation starters.

7. Conversion

The seventh C is conversion. You can’t talk about social media without having a return on investment (ROI) conversation. The important thing to remember here is that your social media strategy should be tied to your business strategy. To help you get started, you may want to look at the 14 social media ROI metrics.

When thinking about this from the company perspective, it is important to remember to look at it two ways:

  • external view by your clients, prospects and partners
  • internal view by your employees

To develop a successful social media strategy, it is important to communication, convince and most importantly, convert social media into action, both externally and internally.

Whether your social media metrics are at your company, they will boil down to three main categories:

  1. awareness
  2. sales
  3. loyalty

On the personal branding side, social media is a way to help you advance your career—whether it be successfully climbing the corporate ladder or launching a successful business. You can judge the success of your personal social media strategy by whether or not you are top of mind with your network and whether it helps you get that interview or land that perfect job.

One of the ways to maximize conversion with your social media strategy, you may want to learn about the social media maturity model. According to Forrester Research, there are 5 main stages of social media maturity and adoption.

More than 7 C’s

In conclusion, a successful social media strategy should include:

  • finding and engaging your communities and/or building a new community
  • making sure you have the right mix of content curation and creation
  • connecting well with your community
  • having relevant and meaningful conversations
  • converting on your goals

Just like the 4 P’s of marketing has grown to the 9’s P’s of marketing, I am sure there are more C’s than seven.

What C’s would you add to this list?

Some additional resources

You don’t have to take my word for it. There is a lot of great information online about developing a social media strategy.

Some my favorite blog posts on this topic include:

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Optimize your LinkedIn profile: 10 steps you should take

LinkedIn is one of the most professional social media networks. Professionals sign up to join LinkedIn at a rate of more than two members per second.

As part of my job, I have had the opportunity to LinkedIn to hundreds of Forsythe Technology employees and students at Duke University as a social media instructor.

Here are 10 things every career professional should do to optimize their LinkedIn profile.

1. Update your profile information

Make sure you add all of your basic info such as your full name, title at you company, location, correct industry, and company (linked to your company’s page).

Some key points to remember:

  • Add a custom background. The image should not be distracting and should be at least 1400 x 425 pixels in size.
  • Include a professional photo. Make sure you take the time to get a real professional picture taken by a photographer. Taking it on a white background is the recommended but it is up to you.
  • Your name should ONLY contain your name. Please avoid adding any additional titles, acronyms or credentials. Please keep your name clean and concise.

2. Customize your public profile URL

When customizing your LinkedIn profile, aim to just have your full name without anything else. If you have a more common name (sorry, John Smith) then you might have to resort to a slight modification. If you can’t add your full name consider adding your middle initial or “your company name” at the end of it. If you leave your company, you can always edit it.

3. Add important websites

Add important websites (LinkedIn limits you to three). Make sure you check off “other,” then add the Website title and URL so people quickly understand the website title. It is better to use “Other” than “Company Website” or any other pick list items LinkedIn provides.

4. Add or tweak your Summary section

Ensure your LinkedIn profile Summary section captures your overall career and specifically your current role at your company and how you help others and your company’s clients. This summary section is basically your elevator pitch in written form. Remember, LinkedIn is not your resume so make sure you are always writing in first person.

5. Make sure you have company logos for each of your positions in your Experience section

Go through your Experience section and make sure you have logos for each of your old positions. Please go to “change company” and find the correct company to ensure the company logo is set up. If your company was acquired by another company, find the acquired company, link it to that and then in Edit Display Name, change to XXX (acquired by XXX).

6. Add articles, blog posts, videos or work samples to your LinkedIn profile

Under your Summary section and past positions in Experience, there is the capability to “add a link” to your profile. Go to your Summary and add articles or blog posts you have written. Or you may want to add videos or samples of your career work.

7. Update your Skills and Endorsements page

Take a proactive approach to editing your endorsements by adding skills you want to be known for with your network. For example, you may want to add “Team Leadership” to your skills. You can’t change the order of these endorsements because LinkedIn has them ranked by number of endorsements for particular skills and orders them accordingly.

8. Follow companies to keep up-to-date with your ecosystem

At the top of LinkedIn in the black header, go to the white search bar and find some companies you want to follow. There are four main categories of companies that you should follow: 1) analysts; 2) partners; 3) competitors; and 4) clients.

9. Connect with “People You May Know” to grow your network

Make sure you have at least 501 people but only connect with people you know. LinkedIn will show how many connections you have until you hit 500. Once you reach over 500 connections, LinkedIn will continue to count. It says “500+” connections on your profile. Remember: People like to connect with “connected” people.

10. Update your LinkedIn status at least once a week and/or write via LinkedIn publisher

One of the pillars to social media success is how many people view your profile and sharing content consistency. Be sure to update your LinkedIn status daily or at least once a week with something that provides value to your network. You may want to put a reminder on your calendar to share an article. You should also think about publishing through LinkedIn.

What steps would you add to this list?

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10 tips for getting more done with less effort

These days it seems like we don’t have enough time in the day to do everything we need to do. How often have you heard: There are not enough hours in the day! I have no time to work out. I don’t have enough time for social media. Whatever the excuse is, we all have a lot on our plate.

So the question is: how does one find more time in the day?

Here are 10 time management tips that you may be overlooking:

1. Ask smart questions about your email inbox

Let’s face the facts. We live in our email inbox—whether it is your work or personal email. Are we asking ourselves the right questions when it comes to our email? Can this email wait until later? Does this email need my attention right away? Can I direct that person to someone else? Am I really ever going to ever respond to this email? Is this email just an FYI, is there action required or is it for my files? The key is to be aggressive when it comes to your email inbox. Will you really need this email 6 months or a year from now? No? Delete. You may want to read 4 steps to inbox zero.

2. Keep your emails short and sweet

Don’t send one-word emails but get to the point fast. As they say in the journalism world: don’t bury the lead. For example, change the email subject line when an email changes topics. You may want to read 6 CEO productivity tips to steal for yourself where it talks about that you should think about your emails like you do with your tweets (limit them to 140 characters or less.

3. Take advantage of web tools

Like it or not, organizations and users are going to the cloud. Think Adobe’s acceleration its shift to the cloud. Learn how to take advantage of web tools like Adobe’s Creative Cloud and free tools like Pixlr Editor. File sharing tools are also making it easier for collaboration. You may want to read 22 file-sharing tools for easy collaboration.

4. Pick web browsers that don’t slow your system down

Internet Explorer has features that slow your browser experience down so users are switching to Mozilla’s Firefox or Google Chrome that are faster and include useful features like bookmark syncing. Chrome has recently passed Internet Explorer to become the world’s most popular web browser. The key is to get the most of your web browser space with extensions like Hootsuite’s Hootlet and minimizing bookmark icons. You may want to read 6 ways to maximize your browser real estate.

5. Lose the clutter in your work or home office

Do you have a lot of clutter in your work or home office? Clutter can drain you. It can frustrate you. It can make it difficult for you to accomplish things. You should think about how you cause clutter and how your office or home design creates clutter. Working in the right workspace can help you get more done with less effort.

6. Discover how you are spending your time

How do you spend your time every day? You may want to fill out your own Wheel of Productivity. Then, give it a hard look. Are you spending enough time to the colors that matter most to you? Another good way to find out how you are spending time is to fill out your calendar with tasks you accomplished that hour or half hour. Then, look over the past month. What did you accomplish? When did you accomplish the most—the morning or the evening? If you don’t know already, it may tell if you are morning person or evening person. You may want to read how your body clock affects your life.  

7. Get your calendar under control

Don’t fill up your calendar with standing meetings. These meetings may be good if you are not doing anything else but evaluate whether certain meetings have taken their course and need to be restructured or canceled altogether. Another way to reduce time is by bundling meetings by location. If you are traveling back and forth from a certain location, reduce the travel time by booking all your meetings in that location in one day. As Stephen Covey said, “the key is in not spending time, but in investing it.” Are you investing in your time the right way?

8. Run meetings more effectively

You have probably been in those meetings are a waste of time. Do they start on time? It is common across corporate America for meetings to be a waste of time, not fun, and to start late. So how does a meeting run more effectively? Have the person who organized the meeting discuss the goals of the meeting. Make sure that he or she gives “homework” assignments either before or after the meeting so people know what to expect for the meeting or what to do for before the next meeting. Another time is to book the meeting for the length you need. Most meetings will go the full 30 minutes or hour if that time is booked for that. As Parkinson’s Law states: “work will fill the time available for its completion.”

9. Manage your energy not your time

The key to managing your energy is to take breaks every 90 minutes. It helps you better work with your body’s natural rhythms. It is simple concept: spend energy more wisely and you will have more of it. The key is to be conscious of the ways you are building rest and renewal into your day. You may want to read 6 ways to use less energy to get more done.  

10. Get a good night’s sleep

Are you getting enough sleep? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, insufficient sleep is a public health epidemic. How much sleep you need depends on you and as we get older. Adults generally need seven to eight hours but according to a national health interview survey, nearly 30 percent of adults report getting less than six hours of sleep. To make sure you get sleep you need, try to go to bed the same time every night, avoid large meals before bed, and avoid caffeine and alcohol right before bed. You also need to get good, deep sleep. You want to ready about an iPhone app that promises no more sleepless nights.

In the end, managing your time well is taking the time to ensure you prioritize tasks based on importance and urgency.

What productivity tips would you add to this list?

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5 common social media mistakes and how to avoid them

Social media can help grow your personal and company brand, if done right. If social media is not done properly, it could send the wrong message to your community and it could hurt your brand. It is important that you don’t put your social media on autopilot and you don’t neglect it. Social media takes a lot of care and feeding.

We have created a list of five common social media mistakes and how you can avoid them.

1. Not customizing your message to the social network

How many times have you seen @ signs on LinkedIn? Probably a lot. Do you listen to those messages when you know they are for another social network? Probably not. What about learning about LinkedIn on Twitter? Are you really going to read an article about LinkedIn tips on Twitter? It is a common mistake that people make is not customizing posts for each platform.

The fix: Remember what the purpose is of each network is and its ins and outs. LinkedIn is a social network for professionals; therefore, your posts should be more professional. Facebook is a network for friends; so these posts should be less formal, more casual. Remember to cater your message to the platform. For some that is communications 101 but for others that is a common mistake.

2. No strategy

Have you ever asked yourself why you are on Facebook? What about Twitter? Are the people your company trying to reach on that social network? Are your friends still on Facebook or have they left for another platform like Instagram? Who are you trying to communicate with? Before you or your company joins a social media platform, ask yourself: why?

The fix: Create a social media strategy. Having an intern manage your company’s social media presence is a big mistake (here are 11 reasons why). A seasoned experience professional should be handling your company’s social media presence because he or she knows your business well and can avoid crises.

3. One-way communication

Social media is not a platform to blast messages one way. It is a way for people and brands to listen, learn and engage. How often do you see a brand or person never respond to a post or a message they sent? How often do you see questions or concerns go unanswered by brands and people? It shows a lack of understanding the true essence of social media: being “social.”

The fix: Social media is way to humanize brands (read: 20 tips on that topic) and open up possibilities for people to connect with people around the world. Social media is a platform for two-way not one-way communications. For everyone @ mention on Twitter, reply back. It doesn’t take a lot of time to say thank you to your followers who care about you or your brand.

4. Selling. Selling. Selling.

Social platforms are not for selling. People don’t join social media networks to be sold to. They join them to converse, see what others are doing and learn about the world. How often do you see posts about companies talking about themselves too much?

The fix: Share news and expert content that is helpful and shareable. Find a balance of posts that promote others and you or your company once in a while. Share content created by your colleagues and industry experts. Be helpful not salesy.

5. Inconsistent or no posts

How many times do you see a company create a social network but they haven’t posted in months or years? The page looks like a ghost town. For example, how many Twitter accounts have you seen where the person still has an egghead and has never tweeted? Inconsistent posting on social sites can say more to your followers than what you are actually posting. Would you work with a company that didn’t care about its social media presence? How you would be treated as a customer? Would you get neglected as well?

The fix: Make sure you post at least once a week. On some social networks, you may want to post once a day but you don’t want to clutter your followers’ feed. For example, Twitter is a much faster moving feed so posts can be much more frequent than Facebook. On LinkedIn, you may want to make an update at least twice a week because your home feed on that platform is getting more activity recently with the launch of sponsored updates.

What would you add to this list? What are you seeing that others are doing wrong on social media?

This post is courtesy of guest blogger Cassandra D’Aiello, social media manager at Perspectiv3

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3 free image editing apps for social media

If you are active on social media, you know that social networking sites frequently change the look, feel and functionality. Look at what happens almost on a monthly basis with Facebook. Not to mention LinkedIn and YouTube. They both recently underwent a series of updates and changes.

One day you have a perfect background photo and the next day you don’t.

It is important for you and your company to keep up with these changes because it is a key component of making a good first impression and keeping your community coming back for more. They are more likely to engage with you and your brand with eye-pleasing images that make their experience on your pages enjoyable and fun. Not to mention, it also provides an opportunity to show off you and your company’s personality.

But social networking sites don’t make it easy.

Have you tried to edit your graphic or photos using Adobe Photoshop or your pre-loaded image editor?

Have you tried over and over to successfully maneuver your way through editing a picture to the correct pixel size that each social network requires?

As you may know, Facebook requires your timeline cover photo to be 851 x 315 pixels, Twitter requires your background to be 1920 x 1080 pixels and YouTube requires your header to be 970 x 150 pixels.

We feel your pain.

Below is a list of three photo-editing apps (with their pros and cons) that can help you edit you and your company’s social media images for free (now you won’t have to use image editing websites that charge a hefty monthly or program subscription fee).

1. GetPaint.net

Pros: Range of effects; straight-forward interface; and diverse menu items.

Cons: Software download required; limited brush types; and lack of layer effects.

2. Pixlr

Pros: Facebook compatibility; basic layer canvas feature; and no download necessary.

Cons: Limited import/export options; no frame options; and no option to save favorite effects.

3. PicMonkey

Pros: Easy to use; variety of editing and features; and blemish fixing tools.

Cons: Lack of undo option; many options not free; and limited fonts available.

What free image editing apps would you add to this list?

This post is courtesy of guest blogger Cassandra D’Aiello, social media manager at Perspectiv3