…and how you can solve the most critical one.
It’s easy enough to say that you need to engage people and companies online, get to know them and let them know you to see if you share common interests. Social selling requires making connections – lots of them. Every day. With compelling or funny or helpful or newsworthy content that you must create.
Turns out that’s the biggest problem companies face as they try to make their presence known in a positive, interactive way.
A Common Dilemma
As rapidly as things evolve in the social media world, a recent survey conducted by Curata and reported by eMarketer indicated that things haven’t changed much over the last year. Businesses say that their primary challenges in creating marketing content are:
- Creating original content (73%)
- Having the time to do it (75%)
- Finding high-quality content (56%)
- Allocating staff to do it (39%)
The companies surveyed also reported that they had difficulty measuring results and securing senior-level buy-in. Understanding how content marketing fit into their overall marketing strategy was also identified as a stumbling block.
Content Critical, So Plan
It’s important that you post unique content on your blog or website. Google doesn’t like duplicated data. There’ll be times, of course, when you’ll want to write about some industry news and events. Your readers can learn the facts in a number of places, so if you do this, give them your spin on it, but carefully. Stay positive and non-judgmental.
You can always start threads on your Facebook page or blog with news from your profession, or tweet it. One of the best ways to find fresh stories is also one of the oldest ones: Set up a Google News Alert. Enter your search term or phrase, select the type of content you want and when you want it (as it happens, once daily or weekly) and supply your email address.
The real key, though, is to build up a pool of content topics. Bring a group of employees into a conference room a couple of times a month. Buy them pizza for lunch and let them brainstorm ideas.
If your business is large enough to have a number of dedicated roles or departments, make sure that you hear from every corner of the company. Your sales and service reps can be most valuable, since they “touch” customers the most. What questions are they asking and what problems do they report?
Maintain an ongoing thread on your blog and website soliciting feedback from visitors, and respond when they offer it – with a personal message. We’ve all seen the form letter that starts with, Your feedback is very important to us. Let them know you read it.
Social Selling Requires Authenticity
When you or your staff are creating content, let the readers know that there’s a real human being behind the words. Inject your personality and your passions, your interests and your knowledge into your writing.
Whether you’re creating a blog post or conversation-starter on your website or you’re preparing a Facebook update status or tweet, you can meet all of the goals of your online interaction – empathizing and problem-solving, educating, building relationships and promoting your brand quietly – through numerous content “types.” You might, for example:
- Help visitors through a complex process that you know well. Write a simple step-by-step how-to (how to handle a customer refund in QuickBooks, how to change your furnace filter, how to choose the best blog software for your business, etc.).
- Humanize your company by showing them who works there. Every employee should at some point write a short piece about themselves and their work in first person, so they’re talking to the readers. It’s a good idea to always speak in first person in your online communications if you can, and address the audience directly (When the chain falls off of your bicycle, your first step should be…instead of When a chain falls off of someone’s bike, he or she should first…)
- Identify individuals who can provide information helpful to your readers. If you sell vehicle parts and accessories, ask someone whose products you represent to write a guest blog about efficient use of auto air conditioners, or provide safety tips for do-it-yourself parts installations. You could just have an email or phone conversation and ghostwrite it.
- Mix it up. Don’t make your visitors read paragraph after paragraph of unbroken text. Drop in graphics, videos, subheads, bulleted lists, audio files and “call-outs” (selected text from the piece displayed in a larger font). It’s a short-attention span world, and accommodating it will keep your readers engaged. Some people prefer video to text, so offer them both when you can.
Provide simply-written, lively (minimize the exclamation points, though), meaty content to your visitors and present it in a friendly, courteous, helpful manner, always following up on comments. The crucial relationship-building element of social selling will follow.
Stock photos courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net