Overview on Social Selling Tools (Interactive Infographic)

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If you want to get an overview on Social Selling tools, you need to follow the industry very closely as this market has become quite dynamic. Furthermore, the value of each tool (CRM suites, monitoring solutions or engagement technologies) or platform (Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.) may vary. The question for many marketers is which tool does really give some value add to the business. Most marketers often tell us that they need some kind of an overview on which social selling tool they should use.

Now, the guys at Sales For Life have come up with some interesting approach that showcases all tools for the various sales stages: prospecting, qualifying, researching, nurturing, presenting, closing, and retention. Just click here to get to their interactive infographic.

For those of you who do not understand the value of Social Selling, we advice on some infographic based on a study by PeopleLinx. It shows the best platforms to use and states that 76% of sales reps consider LinkedIn as the most valuable social media network strongly before Twitter, Facebook or Google+.

What we also can see is from our projects is that not many companies offer an appropriate support and training on social selling. 11% of respondents stated their employers offer training on social selling. However, the benefits are striking. When reps get training on social selling, the adoption climbs from 28% to 74%.

Now, if that is not the right argument to start social selling today?!

Social Selling 2015 Infographic

Study: Content marketing investment on the rise

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A recent study 2015 Content Marketing Survey by content marketing agency Castleford states that the amount of marketers committed to content marketing is increasing. According to their results 65% (compared to 48% one year ago) of marketers want to boost their content marketing next financial year. Their plans is to invest more in time and resources.

Even more, 97% of participants of the survey said they will increase or retain their current level of investment. And the respondents also face the support of their C-level executives. Of the responding marketers 76% replied their C-level executives viewed content marketing „quite positively“ or „very positively“.

Obviously, there are also some challenges involved in content marketing creation wit time (45%) and budget (29%) being the biggest problem. Just, 3% that mentioned their C-level buy-in is their biggest challenge to content marketing will be probably persuaded over time, we think.

In terms of content marketing tactics the study shows that social media (81%) is still the favorite online marketing tactics in this field. However, the biggest growth opportunity shows video marketing and paid promotion of content for the next year. 61% are already using video marketing, (increase of 13% compared to last year). This is probably also driven by the main players Facebook and Google.

The variety of content marketing is also growing though. Almost every second marketer said that they use five or more different online marketing channels (45%).

Although Castleford director Rob Cleeve is confident with the development of content marketing, he also makes clear that marketers need to deliver results with it as well: „In my experience, content marketing is claiming an increasingly large share of overall marketing budgets, which is going to mean more pressure to show how it’s benefiting the bottom line.“

Spot On!
Content marketing definitely has changed the advertising industry drastically. However, the main challenges involved are the appropriate use of data with content to drive the right story in the right context to the right user at the right time. Here we see massive problems for many marketers still in our work with customers. Post-it recently explained it nicely in a video that leverages their banner and ask many question in terms of how retargeting actually kills good content marketing in terms in the example of banner ads.

The infographic of the study carries all relevant results of the Castleford study.

Castleford-Content-Marketing-Infographic-2015

Why influencer marketing is the future of content

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In many posts have we written about the relevance of influencer marketing and how it differs from the value of brand advocates. Today, many marketing organizations and brands have understood the power of influencer marketing and dedicate a significant amount of their budget to them. And there are good reason for it which we can see from one of the latest infographics in the market provided by the guys from The Shelf.

Shoppers trust in influencers and use them as their third-most-consulted consumer decision information source. Although brand and retail sites are still in the lead as an information source. Blogs already come in right after them, even ranking higher than well-trusted social networks like Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, Twitter and Instagram.

Years ago, we have made clear that the 3 Rs of the social consumer will be leading the decision making process in the future: ratings, reviews and recommendations. The infographic is another proof for our thesis those days. These days, influencer are more trusted than brand content where recommendations have got the biggest power with 92% of consumers trusting in those. Reviews have become the second most trusted source (70%). People also try to stay on top of thought leaderwith blog content that is consulted by 47%.

Although the opportunities are there, only two out of three marketers (65%) invest in influencer marketing so far. and every second company separates their budgets for sponsored social content from other budgets (52%). Still, the amount of investment is not „nickles and dimes“ anymore for brands and companies. Every fourth company already spends over $500,000 already.

Spot On!
Why influencers play an important role inside your content strategy is obvious. They can explain products from various subjective and objective angles. They can play an important role in your community management when negative input needs tob e turned into positive arguments. They can have a big impact in your content production strategy in having an external view on your business and relevance in the market, and thus become your „search-engine-optimizers“. And, they will play a significant role in your sales approach if you take your time to think about it (or maybe talk to us if you don’t have an answer).

Have a look at the infographic and decide yourself if and how you would like to use influencer marketing in the future.

TheShelf-Influencer-Marketing-Infographic-2015

Hashtags: The what, how and why of success

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Even some years ago, I did not really detect the value of hashtags – however it was the days when only Twitter used hashtags. Nowadays, there are still not many people able to detect the secrets and the power of hashtags in the social web world. And probably the majority of marketers still wonders if they cannot leave out the hashtags in order to make the posts more readable.

Hashtags offer a lot of benefits if you use it properly – to be searchable, to be findable, to be categorizable, to follow, to monitor as a brand, a service or a person. Hashtags are not a Twitter thing any longer: Facebook, Instagram, Google+, Google search, and various other platforms also make use of the „computer-cross“ as one of our clients called it the other day in a workshop we did with them.

As (social) marketing campaigns are measured on engagements, it is fair to say that hashtags in campaigns are boosting engagement by up to 50%. Working with two hashtags seems to be the golden secret as more hashtags will kill the „boost-engine“. Still… Maybe not always though. Instagram posts with 11+ hashtags even showed the highest number of engagements. And on facebook you might also not use hashtags at all as those were most successful.

PS: If you do not know how to use hashtags, maybe check out this latest advice from Terri Seymour.

Please find the latest insights put together in an infographic by Surepayroll.

effect-hashtag-infographic-2015

Status Social Selling in 2015 (Infographic)

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Not many companies are leveraging the power of social selling so far. Just recently have the guys at PeopleLinx released some findings on how companies and brands are using social media for their sales efforts. And it becomes clear that they still have a long way to go to incorporate social media into their sales process.

The main findings of the study among 277 B2B sales and account management professionals in U.S. B2B companies (500+ employees) show mainly three things…

PeopleLinx-Most-Valuable-Network-2015
1. Salespeople & social selling. Nearly three out of four marketers (73%) state that at least one social network is valuable for their sales efforts. LinkedIn (76%) is seen as the most valuable of the „big four“ social networks, followed by Facebook (44%), Google+ and Twitter (16%).

2. Salespeople & sales process.
Social media is not part of the sales process. Just 31% of respondents include social in their process as just one out of four is clear about how to use social in the sales process.

3. Salespeople & Social media sales training.
Only 11% of sales reps answered that their company offers training on social selling. Surprising as the adoption rate accelerates from 28% to 74% when training gets offered and executed.

Salespeople who want to be relevant to their customers in the future will need to adopt to social media and use it for their sales efforts if they want to stay on top of the curve. The team at Sales For Life now came up with some nice infographic which also makes clear why companies should better jump on the social selling train. Any questions?

Social-Selling-2015-SalesForLife

Influencer Trust and Recommendation – A real challenge for marketers (Infographic)

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Some years ago and in many seminars, we make clear that the 3Rs of social consumers will revolutionize the sales world: ratings, reviews and recommendations. However, the question arises what make people recommend brands and services? What is their intrinsic motivation or human driver that makes them push out more positive comments around a brand.

A recent infographic by Social Media Link pulled together the most important findings of a study that surveyed 24.000 social media consumers. Still, the best customer experience that leverages recommendations is „a positive experience with the brand“ (93%) and „receiving a free product or sample“ (79%). On the other hand, a poor customer experiences motivates sharing, too. 71% stated „a negative experience with a brand“ makes them write a review as well.

The survey respondents also mentioned that they are more likely to trust a product recommendation on Facebook than any other social network (71%), followed by Instagram with only 38%.

Not surprisingly, Facebook and retailer websites ist he place to discover new brands and services (53%). However, for purchasing the retailer becomes more important and after purchasing a product people use predominantly Facebook to share their buy (54%) – again Instagram comes in second place.

Spot On!
Now, when you think you just need to give a free product to someone, it makes them write a review or recommendation, you might be wrong. Although, 88% trust friends’ and family members’ reviews when these write about their give free product in exchange, the bloggers only come in at 78%. BUT: Is payment included in exchange for the review, trust-level goes down – especially at bloggers to 48%. Still, the best way ist o have apersonal story which is authentic, not animated and personal.

social-media-recommendations-infographic-2015

Why fans and friends unfollow brands on Facebook, Twitter & Linkedin (Infographic)

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Some years ago, the guys at ExactTarget told us why people follow and unfollow brands on social networks and other communication platforms. Time for an update you think? Well, here we go…

The guys at BuzzStream and Fractl conducted some research, asking more than 900 people on why they unfollow brands on social networks. With their And the infographic The Unfollow Algorithm they share their findings with us.

First of all, the big winner seems to be Linkedin. Almost only half of all companies or brands (49%) need to fear that they get unfollowed by their users. More problematic seems to be Facebook: 25% of the respondents said that they unfollowed a brand’s official social media page in the last month. And, also Twitter is losing out: 12% of Twitter users stated they unfollowed a brand in the last few days.

So what are the main reasons for the „unfollow algorithm“? Well, the main reasons is that content of brands becomes repetitive and boring – 21% made clear they will unfollow a brand then. The frequency of posting is also ritical for users. If a brand posts too frequently (over 6 times per day) people will unfollow the brand page.

And what do people want? Almost every one in four (22%) claimed that „images“ is the most preferred content type posted by brands.

What is your opinion, and why would you unfollow a brand on a social network?

Unfollow brands Facebook, Twitter & Linkedin

Report: B2B content, networks and tactics on Social Media

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Very often the question in our seminars come up which platforms, content types and tactics to use on social media. Now, a recent report by Eccolo Media enlightens us – although it has to be mentioned that the basis for the survey was a fair small number of 100 people responsible for influencing or making B2B technology buying decisions (33% influencers, 67% decision makers) but conducted in a series of three different reports.

The survey makes clear that just about every one in three B2B technology buyer (38%) states to not have seen any content from vendors on social networks over the past six months that influenced a business purchase. And now just think how much time you invest in all your information process towards B2B buyers.

Eccolo media 2015 Channel Selection

It also found that 34% of responding people claimed they have seen vendor content on Facebook in the past six months that helped with a purchase decision. Now, this might be as the base was predominantly US marketers but still it shows the power and influence of the biggest social network also on B2B tech buyers. LinkedIn came in as the second most influential network. 32% said they found meaningful content there, Google+ was mentioned by 28%, YouTube 27%, and Twitter 20%.

The early stage decisions in the sales cycle is for tech buyers most useful when it comes to finding content on social media. However, the challenge is awareness (31%) and understanding (36%).

Eccolo media 2015 Sales Cycle

In terms of the content most welcomed and consumed 25% of the surveyed people think case studies from vendors on social media are best to work with. Further content types they liked to consume were technology guides (16%) and whitepapers (16%).

Eccolo media 2015 Which content

The use of Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr and Instagram in 2015 (Infographic)

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The social networking landscape is changing massively over the last years. Curation and aggregation of content becomes a big game changer through new ways of sharing, new platforms and modern technologies. Some new data from eMarketer explains the main gains and chains of social networking.

„Let’s face it: As much as we complain about those over-sharers who inundate us with baby photos and vacation snapshots, we’re still in love with social networking.“ Debra Aho Williamson, Pricipal Analyst, eMarketer

The next big thing will be mobile social networking, where Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Tumblr will become the prominent players. So, let’s see how eMarketer predicts the social networking future for the next two years.

eMarketer Social Networking 2015

Social Selling 2015: The year of redefined engagement

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Selling through social media has always been a challenging business. However, all brands and companies we have spoken to in 2014 wanted to turn around Social Media from a brand reputation channel into a sales opportunity touchpoint.

Obviously, many of the companies had already failed. Most of them as they were either too greedy, or just not prepared to go in a bar without expecting someone to sell them a drink – or respectively, to buy their products and services after the brands or companies have posted their first status updates. In my eyes, it is time to shift expectations and start anew. 2015 should not be your year of sales disappointment, it should become your year of redefined engagement.

All companies aim for the same goal. Customer engagement is what companies are waiting, hoping and praying for. Thus, they pump out tons of content pieces from their latest brand sponsoring activities to the best white papers and case studies they can offer until they cannot find any content piece in their PR or marketing repository that has not been shared across the globe. And by accelerating the content via Facebook, Twitter and the likes, they expect their KPIs to become real.

And then, the guys from SocialFlow conducted a study in summer last year. analyzed organic posts with almost 1.5 billion social actions, showing them 99 percent of those updates on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ create little to no engagement at all. Did brands use engagement the wrong way? Where their tactics bad? And if so, what were the obstacles they did not obey?

Engagement Facebook 2014

Let’s look at the following three tactical approaches. Ask yourself if you really follow the three rules of engagement.

1. Engagement: Think cross-department, cross-partners and cross-employee

Companies still tend to be structured in silos. Internal politics, department thinking and career ambitions rule out what could be replaced by community engagement, employee engagement initiatives or engagement incentive plans. Still, most responsible managers don’t know or forget how networking inside the company and with all external forces like resellers, retailers and partners might might leverage selling opportunities.

Now, whether it is limited digital capabilities of employees or the HR department that is often only involved in social media in terms of setting up social media guidelines, companies should start realitzing that their social media manager is not the company’s silver bullet. HR and marketing need to align forces and work closer together: Culture, relationship building and trust creation is not only a sales business which got nicely highlighted by a study from Altimeter at the end of 2014.

Setting up processes, programs and platforms that work towards a common goal, that get updated by various minds, by different perspectives and manyfold views attracts the engagement of more customers. The formula is easy and proven: More brains can be in more conversations and generate more engagement.

2. Engagement: Learn cross-platform, from „free-meal“ to „pay-for-play“

Companies and brands seem to accept that social media is not a „free-meal“ any longer by investing in consulting companies to help transforming their social media efforts into social selling enagement. Facebook is leading in driving engagement to brands according to Simply Measured’s 2014 Facebook Study which analyzed the Interbrand Top 100 Global. Photos accounting for 77% of total engagement, and link usage to around 16%.

However, brands still haven’t respected the fact that getting people to listen and read their marketing messages by posting in social media is changing dramatically. When Facebook turns the algorithm into „less promotional“ this year, companies need to start redefining how they approach their customers more subtile. Even if they will be addressing them with building clusters (or circles), contacting them via the „@name“ phenomenon or hashtags. The wording needs tob e chosen carefully, and we can be sure other networks will follow that example.

Thus, the next big thing will be the shift from investing in traditional media to spending more money in platforms that leverage social networking engagement. Products like the LinkedIn Sales Navigator or individual targeting through the combination of data analytics and marketing services, will become the new sales kid in town. Where marketing and media decision makers have invested in nebulous target-group definitions, social networks can cluster target-groups by their individual interest in content, in pictures or in videos.

The only shame is that smart data (and especially media and sales data exchange) across platforms does not work yet. So, banners and sponsored posts will continue to haunt customers although they have already bought a product or service a banner promotes to them. Clever managers invest in blogger programs, in brand advocates and loyalty programs to drive up and cross-selling opportunities. Don’t just think about content!

3. Engagement: Understand cross-quality values

Just to make this clear from the beginning: A LIKE is not only a LIKE, like a Retweet, Repin or Reblog is not just a meaninglesss interaction of some lazy engagement. In many seminars, we see marketers that still center their KPIs around quantitative engagement figures while under-estimating the chances that are covered behind such „automated“ customer interactions: joy, interest, passion, emotions, etc..

Clever sales people use such quantitative engagements for profiling their customers’ habits, experiences and interests in their social CRM database or sales management systems. They value every single customer engagement as they know when to turn quantitative into qualitative engagement, and how to turn it to their favor in meetings, calls and conversations. Knowing that a client has liked a shared golf or football video can be the start of a long-term relationship and open up doors for introductions to others.

Customers will be happy if they get good content to share with their own peers and community. They appreciate the dedication (seasonal content), commitment (consistency of service) and the quality of engagement (high interactivity) that brand accounts offer to them according to a study by the Engagment Labs. Appreciation, well-understood from customers and companies, is the key to social media engagement.

Spot On!
The link between customer engagement and employee engagement was not only proven in a study by Answers Corporation lately. In many examples with customers and experts have we experienced that social media engagement is not rocket-science, however the process of setting it up plus using and finding the right technology is a challenge. Still, the rules of engagement are changing in social media, especially in social networks. Facebook is the former RSS feed, just with the difference that you can sponsor it now. Youtube is the new search engine. It’s 2015! Redefine your engagement mindset!

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