I listen to the space 24/7. The majority of social media advice covers the basics and that's great, because many in the enterprise are behind the eight ball in adoption. But the biggest questions I get are about how to use social media in more advanced ways to accelerate pipeline, close deals and make an impact on revenue? 'How do we push all this to 3.0?'
The fundamentals work very well, like optimizing a profile for a prospective customer, ensuring things are kosher for SEO, leveraging referrals, InMails and Groups. But the risk is a broken record of basics without speaking to those who are already driving revenue in social and instead looking to increase the velocity of attraction and engagement through advanced strategic social selling 3.0.
It's a bit different when you're managing a dynamic sales team or looking to accelerate an enterprise deal on a longer sales cycle with up to a dozen decision makers. I've found a huge gap in the knowledge-base around advanced guerrilla strategies and tactics for social media, content strategy and social selling so that will continue to be an enduring theme of my posts. If you're aware of any stealth companies, cutting edge or bizarre social selling techniques or technologies please, please forward them my way immediately – tony at rsvpselling dot com.
Many emerging social networks are fatally flawed and white noise. For B2B, it's my contention that the main two networks that matter for driving revenue areLinkedIn amplified by Twitter, especially applied in concert. In fact, it's possible to exponentially increase your reach by only participating with a LinkedIn Premium (Yes, invest in a $100 a month account or more!) and Twitter Account. You'll also need a listening tool like TweetDeck. What about blogging? The read rates are dwarfed by what's possible in here based on low email click-through risk of traditional blogs even powered by InfusionSoft or Aweber and the lack of network effects off social.
I advocate for a fully open source strategy. I think driving market qualified leads via gated white paper content and web to lead forms, is 2.0. David Meerman Scott talks about giving the content away for free, referencing the Grateful Dead's meteoric success. I advocate pushing your publishing on LinkedIn Publisher to 10X and then teaching, providing thought leadership and sharing SME content everyday. Result? It's been huge for my consulting business. No web forms were necessary – I'm actively pulling clients to me every week.
For those of you who have seen it all and read it all on social networking, content strategy, social media and social networking, here are 10 advanced methods you can use to improve your results today. The global audience is crying out for advanced tactics and strategy. Let's dig in!
Twitter: Implement these advanced techniques and you will enter the ranks of the Twitterati in no time.
- Unlimited Listing: Twitter has not gated your ability to build out as many lists as you want. So although Twitter has a reciprocal nature where someone must add you back in order to send a Direct Message (DM), the very open loophole to be exploited as a guerrilla marketer in Twitter right now, is you can go build a list of 1,000 thought leaders and buzz their smartphone – every single one of them can get your digital acknowledgment that you see them as a thought leader. Personally, I'm always jazzed when a thought leader adds me back to one of their lists and what that list is named like: Social Sellers or Social Ninjas – whatever that may be. This isn't about glad-handing or self inflation of ego – it's about building powerful social networks that increase your reach. It's like a secret handshake on Twitter right now. Then it's up to you to build out an authentic lists of verticals. Create a list for Social Sales, Social Media, Content Marketing, Enterprise B2B, Marketing Automation, Big Data and Predictive Analytics. Add 50 to 100 people to every list; access them as stock tickers in TweetDeck and begin to Retweet with comments, Follow and curate. Leverage this as the bedrock foundation for the content you'll create. Much of what I create is reactionary to other ingenious posts... Is it proactive to react? – yes! In the case of content, TweetDeck becomes a sounding board for what's taking off and you can spot patterns, go create a post in response or express a difference of opinion, linking back to the original post or Tweeting back at people participating in the conversation; frequently heated debate. This is what makes Twitter so incredibly powerful as an amplification system for B2B right now. I've had several articles retweeted hundreds of times. I go back and search Twitter under my handle so that I can star and thank many. The SEO implication is as you push out enough rich relevant content, your work starts to appear all over the greater blogosphere causing link backs and giving Google juice!
- Tweeting @Media: By now, it's my hope that I'm preaching to the choir and you're all publishing content to LinkedIn at least on a weekly basis. So how are you going to get that read and distributed? Follow the press in your industry and Tweet your best work at them. Just pop their handle into abit.ly link to shorten the LinkedIn post and add several reporters or influential bloggers at a time. You'll start to get quoted in the press, even interviewed on various topics. The same strategy can be leveraged with hashtags and hashtag clouds that influencers may be following. #socialselling is always a busy one as is #CXOtalk. In time, I'm confident I'll build #strategicsocialselling into a hashtag for a community of complex B2B sellers looking to innovate with social media driven 3.0 methods. 3.0 is simple, it's the web of context and social proximity, it's always on and mobile, responsive and optimized for any screen. It's the interest graph meets the social graph and with LinkedIn: literally the economic graph or backbone of the global economy is being mapped in real-time. The most advanced social seller of all time you never read about framed like that? Reid Hoffman – he's the architect of networked intelligence and his books tell the tale. He is the Wizard of Nodes. Read them...
- Newsjacking: There's an artful way to newsjack with integrity and it includes a mash-up. If you're about to write a blog post on any subject, think about integrating an angle from the news of the day. Maybe elections are happening and so you could compare a candidate to a rep on your sales team.Sporting events and holidays are good for this. Experimentation will bear fruit just stick with it. The virality we all seek is much like love or happiness; the more you seek it out the harder it is to find. I've substituted the word 'happiness' with virality in this famous quote:
[Virality] is like a butterfly which, when pursued, is always beyond our grasp, but, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you". - Nathaniel HawthorneBe artful in how you push out articles at Twitter Trending Hashtags or Google Trending news. You just might hit page one. This is an advanced strategy in contrast to how often I see it done blatantly and it backfires. Several of my LinkedIn Publisher posts have made it all the way to Pulse News and started to trend in Google News. Go study David Meerman Scott's YouTubes on this intriguing subject and get a firm grip on the subtleties and nuances of this tactic as it applies to B2B. Hashtags are another common thing that I often see misused. It's not just a cool word with a pound symbol, and no you're not a model because you used #models or an expert because you hashtagged #thoughtleadership! The whole goal is to leverage newsjacking and hashtags as a flare gun to attract the listeners you want. Move from push to pull!
- Snippets: Once you post something (preferably in LinkedIn Publisher), pull out 3 to 5 of the best quotes. Take the URL string and bitly it. Then go into Twitter or TweetDeck and repost the article next to the five quotes with the shortlink, a couple of trending hashtags and a few influencers to encourage they read and share it. You're causing a mobile notification right there and making the social snowball roll. You need to think of a starburst, hub and spokes or firework. Make a joyful noise and get your content out there in front of the people who will appreciate it most. I frequently tweet snippets at Koka Sexton, Jill Rowley, Timothy Hughes, David Brock, Mike Weinberg, Jill Konrath, Anthony Iannarino and various other unwitting targets in the greater Australian press.
- Create your own Top 100 List of Influencers: Recently, I posted a LinkedIn Publish of my Top 100 Strategic Social Selling Unicorns. I then went to Twitter and tweeted thirty times in a row including the article, why they were mentioned, and why they should read it. I presented an empirical view that was unbiased by PageRank, Klout Facebook popularity (first mover advantage of building such networks) or Twitter gaming that occurred early back in the glory days where we could all get 30,000 followers in 2 weeks. I posited that a list needed to be constructed for B2B Social Sellers tipping their hat to old school frameworks, processes and methodologies like SPIN, TAS, etc. bringing this to social media. So I filtered out 500 people from top lists, went and discovered their content and pulled in a hundred names to an Excel spreadsheet. Then I polled the audience for anyone I was missing in the new guard and old guard and made it a living breathing list. I'm still getting tweets about it and adding names... If you're reading this, please click the list and tell me who I'm missing. The result was hundreds of views and continuous retweets for weeks. You can get very sophisticated with how you tweet at people and have conversations. Tim Hughes @Oracle UK tends to introduce folks with a Twitterduction (Twitter + Introduction), which is a very cool strategy I haven't seen often. There are also live Twitter Chats and Tweetups mixing offline and online events happening constantly around B2B themes like CXOtalk and social selling hangouts so keep an eye out for those.
LinkedIn: Basic methods will yield basic results. You're going to get what you put in so hit full throttle on LinkedIn with these:
- Reverse look-ups with Rapportive: In B2B sometimes you just need to look-up an email address and get in touch. Rapportive was purchased by LinkedIn and is an uber-effective tool to reverse look-up most any email address via RapLeaf integration from within Gmail. I would imagine most of you are using it already at this point. Coupled with LinkedIn, it's a fantastic way to send an invite leveraging a public B2B email and writing a personalized trigger or pre-trigger driven message. #relevant
- Translate Top 100 Twitter Lists to LinkedIn Network Growth: For example, I encourage adding this entire Onalytica Top 100 Influencers list of thought leaders with a personalized invite. (Full disclosure, I made it to the list leveraging all the social strategies I open source in these posts.) Influencers are generally open to expanding their network with relevant contacts. Is it worth being connected to these 100 brilliant minds elevating the global sales training industry beyond the limitation of a niche 'Best in Show' cottage industry on Twitter and LinkedIn, then building a Twitter List with all of them? Completely! Here's a brilliant KiteDesk Twitter list already created for you. Collect them all – follow them and link in with them. Interface with them and be hyper-curious. Ask why they teach what they teach? Many will coach and mentor you virtually. You'll be amazed at how accessible they are because they get the principles in this article. Imagine the top 100 thought leaders advising you daily to help improve the way you sell! Synthesize these lists and listen closely.
- Leverage the LinkedIn Connected App and LinkedIn Sales Navigator Standalone App: Connected let's you monitor birthdays, updates, job changes and anniversaries. It's ideal for pre-meeting intelligence. Start your day with it. Reach out when meaningful meets relevant ... Sales Navigator is going to literally deliver you leads as you're waiting in the lobby! Need I say more? It will show you trigger events in real-time. LinkedIn's suite of standalone apps continues to become more powerful. Their roadmap will redefine the industry, make no mistake.
- Group Participation @10X: Chances are, you're not active enough in LinkedIn Groups. Take a moment to go to Fresh Sales Strategies (Jill Konrath's Sales Group 14,000+ sales people strong) or Strategic Selling (byJohn Smibert) and spend a half-hour to an hour in there going through the threads and writing thoughtfully with open ended questions to stimulate further conversations. What's unique about Smibert's group is the thread levels are insane. There are literally hundreds of detailed B2B complex strategic sales answers, techniques and insider cricket happening in there. Don't miss it! It's Inca Gold. CAUTION: DO NOT promote your company or insert links or name drop. Simply add value and help with your own thought leadership and bold ideas. When in doubt, ask questions and 'go with gratitude'. John and Jill are very helpful in moderating these rich gardens of content. But there's no way you're active enough! Trust me on this... Follow 50 groups that are as specialized and have the highest traction and get going in there today...Once you cap out on groups, if certain groups get slow, drop out of them and join others. I always have a revolving series of groups that I'm monitoring for brilliant ideas, who's in them and I'm transitioning in and out of them based on their stickiness and volatility. Step two, is to post provocative questions in there frequently. THIS DOES NOT MEAN posting your same article to 50 groups – This FEEDCLOGS and is the bane of how the sorting algorithm in LinkedIn works. I've had more LinkedIn invites come in from high participation in Groups than almost any other channel, other than Publisher.
- Blocking Visibility and Friend Lists: Many of you reading this are in super competitive industries such as B2B CRM and Marketing Automation, ERP or HCM, ITC or any cloud-based start-up. Markets with a PaaS, IaaS, SaaS and hardware virtualization are constantly being disrupted and your sales team aka cast of thousands is against theirs like Braveheart. It's an arms race for market share. It's dangerous to expose your connections as competitors can fish clients. Also, if you're constantly in LinkedIn looking at competitors, prospects and clients you want to change your visibility in settings to anonymous. All is fair... remember it's just business and business is war. But you can be responsible about it and maintain gravitas and inner peace out on the battlefield by keeping your cards close to the vest. Be aware that as you search, you're being searched and you need to fireproof yourself against competitive threats. Private groups are a good solution to loop in key clients for active enablement conversations. Think edutainment!
Happy closing! All I can say is that the fishing is the best where the fewest go but where the fish are happily swimming. It's not what we sell, it's how we sell it. So it can't ever be the social media or widgets we use, it's always how we use them that will separate us. A couple overarching concepts I always think about almost like an inner mantra on social as I look to advance it into an art form are:
- The power of my brand is inversely proportional to it's scope. [Al Ries] – How can I focus on less tactics even less social networks and tools? How can I specialize even more to move the content from a firehose to a laser?
- Youtility [Jay Baer] – Is my content snackable and actionable, effective in the field today? Can someone literally print this post and go make a sale, accelerate a deal or breakthrough into an impenetrable dream account? I'm highly conscious of the usefulness, inspiration and motivational factors of every post.
- Platform (Michael Hyatt): Am I building a platform of 1,000 true fansthat I can take to the Publishers? Am I building an engaged tribe that will sneaze my content to the ends of the Earth? [Godin] Content is not enough anymore. Neither is context. Neither is audience. You can't build a career or business on these alone. You can only become a bestselling author, successful entrepreneur or leading brand to capture marketshare, hearts and minds, if you focus on building a massive platform as the foundation of your strategy: first! You need a massively engaged, focused audience around your brand and so this post is that blueprint. Imagine if your entire company read it, and applied it next week? [I train companies on this... email@example.com]
- Ultimately, REVENUE is the One Key Metric (OKM): In any free market economy where capitalism is thriving, eventually you're going to be gauged on success based on the hard revenue results you generate. It can take 45 to 90 days of persistent advanced strategic social selling efforts on LinkedIn to begin unlocking larger deals, speaking engagements, consulting clients and all sorts of new opportunities. I'm doing my part by spilling all of its secrets... but most don't dedicate the time and focus to produce dramatic results because it's a slow burn – a marathon sprint. Patience is the hidden virtue in social that will make you lethal. "Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat." Sun Tzu is the master of strategic social selling but the wildest paradox of all. He created the blueprint for social selling success in 500 BC!!!
- Duplication is the enemy of SEO. Google's updates, be they Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird or Whaleshark (hehe! are you paying attention, that's not one but should be!) are looking for frequent, relevant, authentic and well written content. Good is the enemy of great. Never post the same thing twice anywhere on social media – ever! If you're putting a link on LinkedIn, add it in a different way on Twitter, Google+ and anywhere else. The spiders are parsing text and the machine learning algorithms are looking for duplicate content to give you demerits. Always be aware that when you're sharing the same thing the same exact way over and over again, you are authentically not only spamming but reducing rank, traffic and conversions to your I.P.
And finally some cautions and cautionary tales:
- Generic content will fail on LinkedIn and Twitter. You can't be a walking brochure in a meeting and you can't simply release white papers and thickets of inane B2B statistics unless you are seeking an incredibly niche audience. That's my opinion. Boring will get you unfollowed immediately. There is power of wow, there is power in a bizarre purple cow. Dare to be different and always ask yourself this: "What would you click on?" It's just like Gordon Ramsey yelling at a line cook to 'taste your [expletive] food!'
- There are very few practitioners of #socialselling fusing old school strategic selling methods with the new school tools. The fundamentals still matter and those with decades of experience have an advantage on here. Milennials can learn from Baby Boomers and vice a versa. Miles Austin wrote this ingenious recent post called Tools Don't Make the Carpenter where he states, 'Using sales & social tools without core sales training kills more sales than anything else.' It was a brilliant mash-up in my opinion because if you gave me a bevel and a saw and asked me to make a Baroque bannister, I'd instantly deliver you a dog's breakfast. That's worth a read and following the hard hitting strategic sellers listed in there including Mike Weinberg, Anthony Iannarino, Mark Hunter, Andy Paul and Jeb Blount. That leads me to another couple posts by Iannarino on these topics you should immediately take in: • 15 Things I Would Train Salespeople On Instead of Social Selling • How Social Selling Jumped the Shark
- You can spend 90 hours a week on social media and completely destroy your business or break the sound barrier with outrageous success. Social procrastination is vastly different than social empowerment. You can spend a focused hour per day in here and accelerate your results. It requires a disciplined approach and going beyond basics like profile optimization, referrals, InMails, buying Sales Navigator, creating a Twitter and building out all your social media profiles. All the basics are critical to 'get live' so you can crawl but the walk-run stages actually require a great deal of focus and discipline. It's just like the difference between when you learned to ride a bicycle and that BMXer who back-flipped over the Great Wall.
It's more mission critical what you are NOT doing in social media, content strategy and social selling than what you are doing."
Einstein's warning applies to Social Media Driven Selling & Content Marketing writ large, ' Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler.'
My coaching clients globally are generating real new business. Consistently closing six and seven figure deals is possible with Premium LinkedIn and LinkedIn Publisher as a focal point [hub] and Twitter as the spokes for amplification. I preach this because it's worked for me. Many top consultants in Australia have put these strategies and tactic into use, tailored them and executed on them with stellar results. Here's a brilliant new friend reflecting on the advanced techniques I've espoused which has lead to a chorus of agreement in complex B2B, consulting and enterprise sales. Nathanael is killing it without even a need for a CRM –
In closing, I encourage you to go read the compelling case studies that LinkedIn is putting out that apply to your vertical or business makeup, especially if you are reading this incredulously and need empirical proof:
- Social selling case studies from our customers. 'See how companies of all sizes and verticals leverage social selling & our sales prospecting tool to help increase pipeline and revenue. Their success story can also be yours.'
- Social media & Content Marketing case studies from our customers. 'Read our customers’ case studies on social media best practices to learn how you can achieve success with LinkedIn’s marketing solutions.'
If you valued this article, please hit the ‘like' and ‘share’ buttons below. This article was originally published in LinkedIn here where you can comment. Also follow the award winning LinkedIn blog here or visit Tony’s leadership blog at his keynote speaker website: www.TonyHughes.com.au.