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Automation, Scheduling… why sales rep & relationship managers should never fake it in Social

April 23, 2015
by
ID-100221806

Image courtesy of Simon Howden at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


I am amazed by the number of companies coming up with solutions that enable Sales people or Relationship managers “automate social”.

– Some propose to schedule content, or even better to automate the retweet of corporate content.

– Some propose options to delegate the social identity of the sales rep to the marketing department … who will probably use an intern or an offshore team to manage it

– Some propose access to content libraries that the sales rep can use  when they have nothing to say.

The arguments behind these value propositions is that “Social Media” takes too much time,  that it need to scale and that Sales people should not divest their precious time in social platforms.

Other arguments (in the Financial sector as an example) are regulations (FINRA, SEC) and consultants and vendors frighten relationship managers of the consequences of tweeting the wrong post.

But frankly, these are just excuses not to do the job and yes selling is a tough job. The reality is that:

1- There is no better use of a Sales Rep time  than listening and engaging with prospects or clients.

2- There is no higher risk for a Sales Rep to let a machine, a marketing intern or a content library  represent him/herself in Social.

3- These is zero risk in building relations with prospective clients in social, as long as  sales rep are cautious to take the “next step (actual selling) one on one offline. It’s not different than in real life. At the moment of truth you need to say “we should meet” and take the next steps private. (btw whether the industry is regulated or not, that is how it should be done).

Let’s tackle the  risks of automation, scheduling and “pre-digested content”

Automation 

Let’s face it. 99% of automation is Spam. And people don’t like Spam. So why would you spam prospects and clients?

In addition, most automation violate the T&C of Social Platforms. Twitter (as an example)  is very clear: “generally most automation is detrimental to the user experience and frequently results in blocks and suspensions.” 

Also using automation, there is a major risk of posting something irrelevant or out of context.

If you’ve been in sales for some times you know how difficult it is to even transfer a prospect to another sales rep.

Context and history of the relation are very difficult to transfer. Yet many Sales Rep are OK transferring prospects to “automated scripts”, this is crazy.

People buy from REAL people

Scheduling

Scheduling sounds interesting. It usually provides the option to send the same content several times, at different intervals.

But customers are smart. If they have been using social media for some time, they will be quick as spotting the same tweet from a sales rep at different time of the day. They may also have sophisticated listening capabilities.

When they realize it, the indirect message that customer receives is that they are not worth your time and that you will not be there for them when they need you. Not the best way to start a relation.

Best case they will unfriend/unfollow you. Worse, they will share their findings with other  potential clients

This is a killer for reputation and trust.

People buy from people who are there when they need them.

Content Libraries

This one is more subtle. It plays on people fear of the blank page ;-). People should post regularly, so when they have nothing really exciting to say, they should go get company canned messages and post. Right?

That’s actually a very wrong advise.There are  evidence that people don’t engage with Corporate Accounts so why the hell would a real person build a presence in social that mimics a corporation?

It is even worse when someone looks at  Company level.  What do you think a client/prospect will believe when he/she sees 10’s of sales rep/relationship managers from the same company spreading the same PR-engineered article without a personal note? …

People don’t buy from boring people.

The net is that automating social is a very wrong way to do it. Even worse for companies who are competing with robots (like wealth management / financial advisors…) where the only way to differentiate is the depth of the relation, the strength of the relations and the deep understanding of the client.

So what should sales rep do? Actually, the same thing they have always been good at.

Be themselves, engage in conversations, build their network, bring value to the community they are targeting,  solve problems, be fun and entertaining,  listen to prospects and clients and above all BE RELEVANT.

Fake it ’til you make it ? Not this time.

@dominiq

One thing to think about before you embark on an Employee Advocacy Program

March 30, 2015
by

From time time, we have marketers contacting us about Employee Advocacy programs and asking whether/how we can help.

I am usually offering them this short story.  “The Secret Life of a Standard Employee Advocacy Program”

===========    beginning of story ===========

Start

1-  A Manager in a PR/marketing group (maybe back from SXSW) decides it is a critical program.

2- 10s,100s of employees are named ambassadors. A solution is purchased with content distribution, leader boards …

Everybody is highly energized and ready to go for it!

Early problems

3- “Ambassadors” have a job to do and they have difficulties keeping up with the amount of content and the time commitment. Some were not really using “social” in the first place. The ones that were already good at social don’t really feel like spreading marketing content to their contacts will help the company … and their personal reputation.
4- Corp Marketing pushes on training, content and rewards.
Automation

5- Since “productivity” is the issue, the centralized program automates more and more, sometimes even it takes over the social identity of the employees and tweet/engage in their names.

It can be automated so it can scale.

Failure

6- The audience of the employees who used to perform decently in social is turned off by the corporate spamming (same message every other day …) and they quit listening.

Justification

7- The problem is diagnosed as a lack of motivation from the ambassadors and the conclusion is either “social does not work”, “social does not work for us”, or “our employees can’t figure out social.”

=============    end of story ==========

If they don’t like the story, then I try to setup a meeting 6 months later.

If they do like it, then we start discussing an alternative approach to thought leadership / social selling: The grass roots one.

1) It starts by mapping the company and identifying employees who are already successful at social — usually executives and top performing sales reps.
2) The we build a “STAR” program, i.e giving “de facto” ambassadors more intelligence about the audience and better real time content. This way they can be strategic and more effective at social. They can also measure their progress and learn from their successes and failures.
3) Leveraging on the initial success, the program grows from few to more to many more.
As with many processes where change management is critical, grass roots is the way to go !

Why use eCairn for social media intelligence

March 18, 2015
by

Is possible many of you have stumbled into many social media marketing tools that offer to track influencers, audit your brand, do competitive research and share content among other things. Perhaps you have heard of Sysomos, Radian6, Klout and traakr.

Our key differentiation is we group people with common interests that talk and share content around an specific topic. We call them tribes. And we calculate influence within these specific ‘topic’ tribes. Because hey, one mommy blogger can influence million moms in America, but can you tell which blogger is influencing who, where and what content in more appealing to a group of listeners? Also, influence is dynamic. And when you put all mommy bloggers together you can compare apples to apples, and be confident you’re listening to the mommy rock stars at that point in time.

We have helped many American and international corporations with over 30 different use cases, enhancing monitoring their social media strategies. More typical uses involve:

* Downloading influencer lists by vertical
eCairn holds to date close to half a million influencers across 900 different tribes. Search a specific term within the tribes and download only what matters to you.

eCairn Audience insights

For instance, search for mommy bloggers and other tribes who mention “changing diapers”. Explore conversations and identity people who can contribute growing your brand’s awareness -link building .
Changing diapers convs* Content research
With eCairn you can search for specific keywords across tens of million conversations daily, and discover hot topics among a community. Is a process of discovering, adapting, learning new trends (keywords) and building your themes, and discover again.
We offer a combination of automated reports and manually annotate conversations for sentiment analysis.

eCairn reports* Spy your competition
Analyzing your competitor’s social accounts is also part of what you can do with eCairn. Add your competitors social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram) and learn about their SM strategy:
– Discover if they are offering deals, promoting hashtags, events, generating brand awareness

– Setup a theme to follow-up on competitor mentions and social mentions

– Listen to what matters on you mobile devices, subscribe to customized RSS feeds and integrate with Feedly or Zapier

– Study their SEO tactics, trace links and inbound marketing efforts

Share of Voice of social media tools sample.

Share of Voice of social media tools sample.

* Alerts
This feature can be configured to automatically post on your own social media account, email forward, or exporting data to a your Google docs. Simply configure a keywords of your interest. It can be brands, product names, twitter mentions (i.e. @ecairn, #ecairn), competitors. And the digest can be check on your laptop or mobile devices.

5 Reasons why Twitter is even better than Linkedin for Social Selling

December 5, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-12-04 at 11.39.30 PMI love Linkedin and use it everyday and today I stumbled on two posts (from Chris Reidd and Alice Meyeroff   ) telling how Linkedin and Social Selling is better than cold calls and I think it is time to give to Twitter what belongs to Twitter.

I get that Linkedin is way better than cold calls. However, ** when you sell to an audience who has adopted Twitter **, I would argue that Twitter ( and even better Twitter then Linkedin) is  better and here are 5 reasons why:

#1. Linkedin only gives you a person resume.

It’s good to be able to find people names in Linkedin along with their professional background (in Google searching in Linkedin where you can do crazy queries) .

It is specially good for hiring, but when it come to sales, it does not tell you much about who this person is.

Move to Twitter and you can get insights about the important things in life like: favorite food, the places he/she goes, preferred sport, political ideas, kids,  …  and also whether they could be interested in the kind of things you are selling,

Maybe they ask questions that you can answer? Maybe they express needs? Maybe they are already discussing/exchanging/following your competitors?

Linkedin was build for hiring and -so far- it works great for prospective employees or employers where you don’t really build “relations”. Do you still have ties with the people you have interviewed years ago?

But when it comes to sales, people sell to people, not to resumes.

#2 Linkedin is poor in content

In B2B Tech, where we have solid data points, thousands of CIO’s & tech executives tweet every day. And as people strive to gain leadership, this will go up.

In our target market, Social Marketing ( i.e ~5000 to 10000 people in US and Europe), more than half of the people we listen to tweet more than once per day, and many blog.

Again these are early adopter verticals and not the majority.

But one tweet per day;  you don’t get near that kind of speed on Linkedin.  Excluding the rare “linkedin influencers” – great move from Linkedin- there is no fresh content until your prospect moves to another job.

Each tweet – 10’s of them per month-  is an opportunity not-to-make a cold call. Actually to “not make a call at all” but to respond with added value to a discussion your target customer is starting. (note: I don’t recommend to catch every opportunity to engage but if you listen carefully, you’ll find good ones more often than not).

The Linkedin substitute to the “cold call” is an informed call or a referred call. It’s better than a cold call but it still a call.

If you can help a prospect or provide value answering a tweet, then you move to a different league.

#3 Linkedin is hiding the network

This one is kind of counter intuitive but yes, Linkedin is “hiding” the network and making money letting people see it piece by piece….  up to a certain limit.

I don’t know about you but for me is it so frustrating. This is like playing chess but not been allowed to think more than one move ahead or watching a football game with the camera on one player.

When you see an entire network, you can discover paths that you are not part of but could be, influencers that you need to reach in order to get to the people you want to talk to etc.

You can also measure progress. Not things like “xxxx connections YY Millions professionals in your Network” but real progress like how close and  engaged you are with prospective clients and the people influencing them.

Here is a (very partial) view of the Social Marketing Market:

 

Screen Shot 2014-12-04 at 9.54.53 PM

It’s clear that people like Jeremy Owyang (although he’s now working in collaborative economy), Jay Baer, Scott Monty  are influencing many Social Media decision makers in Large Enterprises that we want to talk to.

#4 Linkedin does not provide “group” listening.

You can’t  really learn learn much about a company listening in Linkedin beside “static information” such as # of employees, per function, location, “moves”. A quick look every quarter and you’re OK.

Some real smart people get significant value from this : http://www.slideshare.net/campsean/northern-california-bus, but real time listening? forget it.

Using twitter, you can structure real time listening of 1000’s of key employees of a potential client, or all (most) people managing Social, IT, Sustainability, HR,  …. in F1000 companies.

You can decipher the “hidden” org chart of a Corporation –  the CIO is engaging more with the VP Sales in Spain than with the CMO, and they talk about Real Madrid  – , and understand who within the account is your best entry and why you better not buy this iPhone case with a picture of Lio Messi. (There is a 49ers-Seahawk version of this but … let’s see in two weeks).

#5 Linkedin is not helpful until your target is already your contact

This is basic but that is indeed a serious issue.

What can you do on Linkedin before the person has accepted your connection is very very limited. It is a challenge to get to this point and “cold inmail” won’t do the trick.

Twitter offers many ways to initiate the relation – RT, mention, follow- lists- favorite, then direct private messages and to make progress up to a point when you can take an embryonic relation to Linkedin ;-)

Don’t take me wrong. Linkedin is great. Linkedin is the ultimate solution for recruitment and Linkedin is very useful later in the sales cycle. Linkedin is also way more widespread in B2B than Twitter .. but if you are fortunate to have a significant share of your target clients in Twitter, use Twitter as the primary platform for sales and start there !

Then get from Linkedin what you can’t get from Twitter:  1) the inmail and 2) the opportunity to have long conversations when things get tangible.

@dominiq

 

Top 3000 Social Media Influencers: Graph and Observations

November 18, 2014

We used  to publish (back in 2008)  the Top 500 Social Media Influencers ( http://blog.ecairn.com/2008/11/06/top-150-social-marketing-blogs/)  and  as many people were publishing  similar rankings  ….. we stopped. Beside getting a burst of traffic, there was no real value in publishing this over and over.

But today, we’re coming back with something different: The Map of the Social Media Marketing Influencers (see this as the combined social graph).

In this map: Each node is a person (present in multiple platforms: blogs, twitter…) and each link shows “use of content” i.e its content has been re tweeted, replied to, linked back or she/he/it  has been mentioned in a blogroll by another influencer.

This is not a follower map but a “use of content” map, which to us is the best metric for influence.

Marketing (Social)6

Overall a pretty connected set of people. The graph is optimized to show only most significant connections, otherwise we won’t see anything. What I find really amazing is that one of the few picture you spot right off the bat is Seth Godin’s forehead. Talking about “purple cows“….

Diving deeper:

Here is a zoom on the top ones (i.e the one whose influence is at least a 1/5th of the #1).

topsocial2

The major changes we see from the past is the rise of  vendors (Hubspot, Buffer… ok not eCairn ;-) ) , some (rare) agencies, and a few magazines.

Beside that, the individual influencers  are pretty much the same. It’s a full time job to be a top worldwide influencer in Social and few people have retired at this stage.

Before closing on this, I’d like to share with you Jeremy Owyang “relevant Social Graph” in social media.

owynag

What I find interesting in this graph is that:

  • Among the top 3000 Social Media Influencers, 94 of them engaged (i.e not follow), with Jeremy in the last 6 months. It’s quite impressive.
  • The graph is very dense so there is a lot going on amongst the people engaging with him.

The full engagement & followers graph of the top 50 would look like this.

black

If you find someone who can read it, send us a note ;-)

New Feature for social segmentation

October 22, 2014

We’re pleased to announce the release of Audience Insights;
In one single click, you can understand the segments in social that are relevant to your brands or topics.
See for yourself

Why marketing is missing the point in social

September 18, 2014
by

Unlearning marketing is a term that has surfaced recently, mainly pushed by the Adobe folks.

I can’t  agree more.  Marketing – as it was done before social media – is archaic and less and less relevant.

If you look at the words of marketing,  you clearly see it was built to address a flat market. The core notions of marketing, that current marketers are familiar with are:  “lists” and “segments”.

Marketers segment people into square boxes or folders, groupclist people with the same geo-socio-demo-attributes in rigid segments.

Marketers  buy lists, email to lists, manage lists.

All this was good before social media. But “social media” enables people to connect online and  make these connections  visible to brands, and to others.

The result is that people in marketers lists are  connected to each other too and that these lists are no longer  lists but  graphs.

And talking about segments, you can’t really segment a network. The proper technique to extract part of a graph/network is “clustering”. Segments have therefore become Clusters and the challenge for marketers has shifted from defining segments to identifying clusters.

Screen Shot 2014-09-12 at 9.47.22 AM

It may not sounds radical but the transformation is similar to traveling on a “flat world” versus on a globe.

Still most marketing executives we meet these days are not ready to question the practices and learning they built for a “flat world”. They frequently come to us with requests such as:  can you find us millenium’s,  wealthy single men 18-25  ?, people that match a specific persona? and can’t take the answer: “this is not how the market is organized in social”.

That’s for the geometry of the market … and  there is more to it:

  • These clusters are “conscious” i.e they know each other, they know they have power as a group and they know that marketers should know so the tolerance for “plain advertising messages” or lack of understanding of the nature of the social web is on the rise. ( for a definition on concious markets, see JF Noubel)
  • These clusters are also made of people with different positions & roles in the network. In this “networked market”   potential clients are connected one to each other in various social platforms and  belong to organic eco-systems with prescriptors, influencers , connectors …

How should people market to tribes? None really knows yet and It will take some time and a lot of failures before we unlearn “flat marketing” and invent how to market to a networked market. My take on this is that a better approach is to learn from  how “sales work” (“consultative selling”) and grow from there.

I’d like to end quoting Adobe’s CMO:

“Imagine getting rid of every marketing process, structure, and hierarchy. Imagine marketing was just invented. What could it look like if we started from scratch right now? No matter where you start, you end up in the same place: making a connection with a customer. Marketers may do it in all different ways, but the intent is the same. Only the means are different. Today, marketing is structured around the means, not the end result.”

Quote From B Rencher (Adobe)

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