Social Selling Content Strategy

Social selling content strategy: 6 steps to a successful social selling program for B2B (part 2)

Introduction

Following on from part 1 (Social Selling: 7 simple evaluation steps for B2B), I will discuss the best approach to social selling content strategy that has worked for me in the last few years. The terms “social selling” and “content marketing” have been thrown around and used interchangeably a lot these days, they are the buzzwords you may hear in your typical sales and marketing department. I will of course not patronize you by explaining what content marketing is, as I am sure since you are reading this post, you are an avid consumer of online content already.

Visual Visitor

Do remember that social selling isn’t about hardcore selling, but educating your prospects to take action i.e. make inquiries, setup meetings, engage with your content, etc. which eventually will lead to sales. This is to complement your sales strategy within your organization, in effect, use it as an inbound marketing tool along with your sales team who engage in outbound sales.

Now, isn’t social selling content the perfect tool to draw in your potential prospects and make them aware of your expertise in your field, services, and products?

Here are the steps you should take when considering a social selling content strategy:

1. Define, refine the social selling content strategy and your KPI’s

The ultimate goal for any social selling content strategy, of course, is to generate more leads and sales for the organization. For a winning social selling program, the organization’s goal needs to be very specific to their own needs. One size doesn’t fit all. What may work for your competitor, may not work for you.

According to a Forrester study, marketers ought to take into account the purchase circle and social media functions of potential customers before setting any social selling strategies1O'Neill , N. (2015). "Break Through The Hype Of Social Selling” [Online]. Available: https://www.forrester.com/report/Break+Through+The+Hype+Of+Social+Selling/-/E-RES120747# [Accessed 19 April 2020]. .

Social-selling-content-strategy
Social selling content strategy
  • What are you trying to achieve with social selling, is it for monitoring or purely a listening vehicle which will help your organization generate leads?
  • Are you looking to increase your potential reach to new audiences?
  • Perhaps it is brand loyalty you are seeking and to increase the level of engagement through inbound marketing?

By creating and using similar questions specifically for your organization, it will help you figure out where in the sales funnel a creative social content selling strategy could maximize the leads or general inbound sales. From personal experience and what has worked best for the organizations, I worked for, was to engage with the target audience throughout the purchase journey. Basically, what are your information content requirements in the different stages of the purchase journey? You will need to devise a plan on, what content will be presented in each stage of the journey and where to the potential lead.

This could be in the form of:

Red Hat Open Shift
  • A “how-to” guides and tutorials
  • Resources lists i.e. groupings of popular industry resources provide a great starting point for beginners in your niche
  • Industry definitions
  • Stances on industry issues
  • “Frequently Asked Questions” i.e. FAQ questions can be helpful in providing guidance to beginners in your field
  • Introduction/information article on the latest happenings in your industry etc.

It will be down to you what is suitable for your industry. Each industry is different.

In order to measure success, you will need a clear framework to separate your organization’s KPIs from the channels you will be deploying your articles/posts.

Some KPIs for example:

  • Business KPIs: Leads, brochure/research paper downloads and conversions to enquiries or sales
  • Social KPIs: Shares, likes, re-tweets and general engagement with your content
  • Owned KPIs: Engagement metrics such as time on page, bounce rate, who is linking to your article, what they may have viewed/clicked on the page and so forth

Content should be a sales and marketing team’s secret weapon, and using it in an effective and timely way is key to winning in social selling. But before unleashing your secret weapon, every organization needs to have true alignment between Sales and Marketing. The clearest way to achieve alignment is to hold fortnightly or weekly meetings between stakeholders in Sales and Marketing. During those meetings, a topic of discussion must be Social Selling, particularly how content can be added to the different stages of the sales process. This means that Marketing should come up with a social content strategy that is easily deployable on social channels.

2. The purpose of your social selling content strategy, while understanding your audience

You will need to define the purpose of your social selling content strategy, whether it is to engage with an already established audience or try to attract new influencers. You will need to take into account that, each individual person you target, will have different personas. You will need to understand what universal emotional intelligence you can trigger in each individual within your industry when targeting a group of people, especially when reaching out not individually, but through content.

According to research done by the Havas Group, on the content’s role in meaningfulness2Meaningful Brands (2017). "Who are the world's most meaningful global brands of 2017?" [Online]. Available: https://web.archive.org/web/20180907001117/https://www.meaningful-brands.com/en/insights [Accessed 19 April 2020]. .:

  • A meaningful brand is defined by its impact on our personal and collective wellbeing, plus its functional benefits
  • Content’s role is to educate, inform, entertain, inspire, reward and help
  • Great content is a great driver of personal wellbeing and therefore meaningfulness

Furthermore, their research shows that 84% of people expect brands to provide content that:

  • entertains
  • tells stories
  • provides solutions
  • creates experiences and events

With your social selling content strategy and business KPIs defined, the type of content you create must resonate with the personas of your target audience. You should first build a deep understanding of the psyche of your buyers within your industry. Once you have this nailed down, the ideas for your content strategy can then begin. These ideas will help you to understand whether some of your existing content can be re-used. You need to remember, that, majority of the content out there is seen as clutter.

Whatever you decide, the content should really offset the buying psyche of your target audience, while content should be remarkable and add value. If you are able to achieve these objectives within your social selling content strategy than you will hit your social selling and business KPIs.

3. Your content across channels

In order to leverage the effectiveness of your content, you will need to explore each and every social channel where your potential audience hangs out. You should also identify when you should talk to them, and with what messaging. This also enables you to re-work your content to drive the maximum possible engagement.

Teams must collaborate around a single content plan, it is no longer feasible to operate in silos. By connecting every member of the team across one single content plan, it ensures that campaigns are connected across channels, with the common primary objective of adding value for the target audience.

A shared content calendar is an essential component of being able to collaborate across the team:

  • Helps keep track of all content, via digital channels such as social media, SEO, e-mail marketing, etc.
  • PR, events and cultural events
  • Allows to deploy your content to the right channel at the right time, while it allows you to map consumer’s topical interests
Social content distribution channels
Social content distribution channels

3.1 Online video content distribution

I thought I make a special mention of video content. If you are not already thinking of creating informative and entertaining videos for your organization, then you may already be behind the trend. According to Hub spot, people consume up to 90% content, which includes not just written blogs, articles, research papers, but also videos. By 2022, online videos will make up more than 82% of all consumer internet traffic — 15 times higher than it was in 20173Cisco (2020). "Cisco Annual Internet Report (2018–2023) White Paper" [Online]. Available: https://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/solutions/collateral/executive-perspectives/annual-internet-report/white-paper-c11-741490.html [Accessed 19 April 2020]. . In 2020, there will be close to 1 million minutes of video crossing the internet per second3Cisco (2020). "Cisco Annual Internet Report (2018–2023) White Paper" [Online]. Available: https://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/solutions/collateral/executive-perspectives/annual-internet-report/white-paper-c11-741490.html [Accessed 19 April 2020]. .

It is not too late to get started in creating and distributing videos for your organization. Make sure you select the relevant team member(s) who have enough knowledge about your organization’s products and services and are articulate enough to make entertaining and informative videos.

A great example of a company making great social video content is Moz, they feature each and every week a session called ‘Whiteboard Friday’ to educate the masses on the latest tips and tricks in SEO and Inbound marketing.

It is not too late to get started in creating and distributing videos for your organization. Make sure you select the relevant team member(s) who have enough knowledge about your organization’s products and services and are articulate enough to make entertaining and informative videos.

A great example of a company making great social video content is Moz, they feature each and every week a session called ‘Whiteboard Friday’ to educate the masses on the latest tips and tricks in SEO and Inbound marketing.

I have included an example video from the Moz folks, which happens to explain the best 10 types of content that work best for SEO.

4. A variety of ways to source your social content

Not all content has to be sourced from scratch. This, of course, will entirely depend on you and what the goals and business objectives are for your organization.

The following three ways should help you to decide in which direction you wish to take your social content strategy:

  • Create your own content: Of course, this will be the most trustworthy of all the content you create and distribute. This is perhaps the easiest to tailor to the social and business objectives for your organization.
  • Curating from 3rd party sources: Another great way to support your online social content strategy is, to support the sales conversation through third party industry news and happenings.
  • Company-provided content for connection: There is much organization that uses a variety of solutions, like Hootsuite and Spredfast to create and provide ready-made and ready-to-use content. It will be up to your sales team to modify the content before distribution. The real danger can lie in the fact that multiple people from your organization could be posting almost identical things at the same time. Although, the majority tend to have their own social networks and connections, which means, there will be little duplication across the board.

5. Base your content on the buyer’s journey

Once you pinpoint from where you will source your content, or perhaps use a combination of sources, the best way to add value is to share content that will educate the potential prospect throughout the buyer’s journey.

It is the marketing department that is responsible for having the content created and distributed. It has to map any content created back to the social selling content strategy framework. Although saying that the marketing department is responsible for creating the content, what I mean by that, it is their responsibility to source the content if it is in-house. This could be from other departments such as the research and development, technology, or other knowledgeable departments that could add value to your social selling content strategy.

Creating research content:

  • Create ‘How-to’ blog posts to educate buyers during their curiosity phase about your product or service
  • Ebooks, white papers, free useful tools so forth
  • Insider reports about your industry
  • Thought leadership

Connecting with the right content:

  • Create infographics for your industry and to their related roles
  • Create downloadable Power point presentations via slideshare
  • Pre-record webinars
  • Long form blog posts
  • Thought leadership content

Engaging with prospects:

  • Invite prospects to live webinars
  • Have live chat on your site or social media, where appropriate
  • Newsletters
  • More in-depth infographics
  • Case studies of clients

Sales or account managers, not sure how you call them at your organization, tend to become mini-marketers outright. They are not just now tied to the email, phone, or face to face sales. Depending on the social channels which are relevant to your organization, get your sales reps to share the above-produced content with other credible sourced content.

Salespeople will be able to now nurture prospects and maintain contact with relevant contacts to increase the engagement, no matter where they are in the sales funnel. Your sales reps will have the right content at the right time as you deploy the social selling content strategy. This allows your sales team to touchpoints and makes contact on social like comments on group posts, add value to tweet discussions, and so forth.

6. Use content to build your social selling advantage

The three best ways to build your social selling advantage:

Feed the content-hungry customer: Remember to feed your content-hungry customer at each stage of the sales process. They may be looking for different content at each stage of the sales process, as they are self-educating themselves on their needs. A piece of content should be devised pre-hand, to meet the expectation of the potential target at each stage.

Sales objection: Educating prospects through content, is probably the best first cure for any prospects who may be skeptical about what you have to offer. It may also help change the mind of the same old sales objections you hear from prospects.

Differentiate yourself from the competition: I am sure you may be one of those people who have been on the receiving end of someone connecting with you on LinkedIn, and within minutes, you are inundated with an email to set an appointment. Imagine being a little different by sharing content first, as well as curate third party relevant news and happenings within your industry. Wouldn’t that be a breath of fresh air for your prospect for once? Also, become familiar with the way your potential target uses the channel. You may want to follow them to see how they engage on the social media platform with others. It will give you a better idea of how to reach out to them.

Final thought

Consistency by all organizations regarding their marketing and social selling content strategy is what all organizations should strive to achieve. The more customers view your business as a critical source of insight and information, the more they’ll lean on you throughout their buying process.

It will not only help you engage with customers at an earlier stage in their buying cycle, but it will also help your organization significantly better the chance of capturing the prospect and pushing through the much-needed sale.

SEM Rush - Large
References
1 O'Neill , N. (2015). "Break Through The Hype Of Social Selling” [Online]. Available: https://www.forrester.com/report/Break+Through+The+Hype+Of+Social+Selling/-/E-RES120747# [Accessed 19 April 2020].
2 Meaningful Brands (2017). "Who are the world's most meaningful global brands of 2017?" [Online]. Available: https://web.archive.org/web/20180907001117/https://www.meaningful-brands.com/en/insights [Accessed 19 April 2020].
3 Cisco (2020). "Cisco Annual Internet Report (2018–2023) White Paper" [Online]. Available: https://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/solutions/collateral/executive-perspectives/annual-internet-report/white-paper-c11-741490.html [Accessed 19 April 2020].

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *