At Sociabble, combining social media and business in the form of social selling is one of our specialties, and we love to educate companies about its benefits. But something we enjoy even more is putting our heads together with other industry leaders and sharing our collective knowledge on the topic, to help companies get the most out of their social selling platform, and turn their employees into thought leaders and effective online sellers. It’s a time to explore new ideas, talk about our experiences, and learn as much as we can as well. Which is why this last week in the UK, we were thrilled to host our London Social Selling Summit. Speakers included Angelica Reyes, Head of Marketing Europe at Freshworks, Allison Meekins, Executive Digital Branding Coach at Tricycle, Jochem Verberg, Co-Founder of Tricycle, and our own Sociabble CEO and Co-Founder Jean-Louis Bénard. Below are a few of the tips and ideas that were discussed, including the latest trends in social selling that companies need to be aware of.
Tip #1: Start a conversation. Don’t just share content.
According to Angelica Reyes from Freshworks, “Everyone is doing social selling, but not everyone is doing it right.” And it’s true—many companies have come around to understanding the importance of social selling, yet have difficulty implementing it properly and achieving success.
One fundamental aspect of social media and business that is often overlooked is this: it’s not just about sharing content, but about becoming part of a conversation. Too often, it is seen as a one-way street rather than a multi-faceted dialogue. Yes, supplying content to share is helpful, but that in and of itself is not enough, and essentially will only lead to cold sales. Content needs to be created, commented upon, and new ideas need to be explored. Industry trends, competitive analysis, breaking news, personal stories, etc. This helps employees become thought leaders in their own online ecosystem, it encourages the formation of online relationships, it builds links with prospective clients, and it ultimately leads to new prospects and sales. The KPI’s need to evolve with the behavior as well—employees aren’t going to become social wizards overnight.
The guest speakers at Sociabble’s London Social Selling Summit discussing the realities of social media and business in today’s digital environment.
Tip #2: Launch the right size pilot.
According to Jean-Louis Bénard, if the pilot is too small, it will be difficult to get the right level of commitment from the execs, and the budget won’t be there for the right kind of content (see below). And ultimately, the content takes about the same amount of effort to make, regardless if it’s 20 people or 500 people. With Sociabble’s client Mazars, the decision was made to start with 500 licenses, and that number was eventually increased to 1,000 because it worked out so well. The sizable base helped ensure its success.
Jochem Verberg also remarked on the importance of working with “local heroes” in order to get on-the-ground support from the start. Local offices need to feel comfortable in their own language and culture in order to engage. The last thing you want is for branches of the company to feel ostracized or unincluded because of language or cultural differences. A real-time translation engine can even be helpful for your social selling platform, as it will allow different offices from around the world to communicate on social media, and share content from their country.
Tip #3: Create the right kind of content.
Content needs to be relevant and rich. It should be compelling, with fresh information prospects will find helpful. And it needs to go beyond traditional text. Videos work extremely well, and are easier to share than ever on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and even Instagram. Another consideration is content mix. According to Allison Meekins, a good rule of thumb is 50%-70% third party, 20% company, and 10%-30% UGC. User Generated Content (UGC) is especially important, because it is generally more authentic and builds online trust. But she emphasized that it’s important to let employees at the company find their comfort zone, otherwise they won’t become as engaged online. Employees shouldn’t feel forced to be active on social media, they should enjoy it and see the value in it.
And social media publishing needs to be accessible. The old way of having the power to publish on social media relegated to just a few trained specialists on the comms team doesn’t work in the digital environment of today. Your social media publishing platform needs to be easy to use, and accessible to all employees.
Sociabble’s Jean-Louis Bénard sharing his experiences on how to launch an effective social selling program.
Tip #4: Be sure to coach top management.
One subject all the participants agreed was crucial to a successful social selling program was to include top management and train them properly. They are, after all, the ones who set the example the rest of the company will follow. To that end, the first step before launch is to onboard the top executives with one-on-one training, and to explain to them the importance of social media participation. There is often considerable reluctance on their part, as they are usually pressed for time, or haven’t used social media much previously. The idea of engaging on a regular schedule with their Twitter and LinkedIn accounts can seem like one extra chore they simply don’t have time for.
But changes in behavior are top-down, and top management needs to lead by example when it comes to social media and business. Additionally, if they understand the importance of the program, they will support it and provide the resources necessary to ensure it is a success. And it can improve morale and enthusiasm among employees to see that the top leadership is as excited about and involved with the company as they are.
Tip #5: Find a social selling platform that can work with LinkedIn Sales Navigator.
LinkedIn Sales Navigator is a common tool used by many companies to assist with social selling. But it’s even more effective when paired with a broader social selling platform, and when proper support, training, and best practices are there to make sure that the synergy between the platforms is working, to maximize results. This is why features like LinkedIn Elevate, which provide content sharing capabilities, can be problematic on their own; they don’t come with the methodology and roadmap to ensure that their potential is being maximized. Freshworks, for example, pairs their LinkedIn program with Sociabble, which allows them to compare the SSI score as well as the Sociabble social selling metrics, providing a more complete understanding of how social selling is going across the board.
Jean-Louis also suggested giving licenses to other people if the license holders are not actually active on Sales Navigator, to ensure companies are actually getting the most out of the licenses they pay for. There’s no reason for a company to give employees licenses if the employees aren’t using them to engage and generate sales in their online ecosystem. Combining social media and business depends on engagement.
To learn more about how the Sociabble platform can help bring your social selling program to the next level, just click here for a free demo.