A Dozen Social Business Pros Offer Suggestions for the Year Ahead

What is on the minds of social business experts as we head toward 2014? We asked a dozen of our favorite guest contributors to tell us what advice they had for our readers. Here are their very interesting answers!

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Jill Konrath — “Don’t Focus on Statistics”

“Stop playing the numbers game and start focusing on maximum impact. Your goal is to make sure that every single buyer interaction yields the best possible outcome. To do that you need to question everything you’re doing.  For example, take a look at your prospecting emails: Would a different subject line work better?  Do your messages pique curiosity? How can better establish credibility? How can you tighten the message? Then start experimenting to see if you can get better results.  Do this in every aspect of the sales process. Remember, more isn’t better. Better is better.” – Jill Konrath, Author of Agile Selling and SNAP Selling

Jim Keenan — “Know Your S^*t With Content Marketing!”

“When it comes to content marketing the low hanging fruit has been plucked. Getting people’s attention will require real, substantive, game-changing content. Superfluous, feel-good content isn’t going to inspire any longer, folks have “form fatigue.” If your content won’t or can’t substantially affect their business or impact their ability to execute, they ain’t gonna fill out your form, they ain’t gonna give you their name. You’re gonna have to know your shit to win the content game in ‘14.” — Jim Keenan, A Sales Guy Blog

Matt Heinz on The Most Important Thing You’ll Do All Year

“I think in 2014 content will be more important than media. Don’t waste money; put together a content strategy and budget or you’ll be playing catch-up all year. Drive qualified leads to your door with careful planning and efficient execution.” – Matt Heinz, President, Heinz Marketing

Alice Heiman on Converting Followers to Subscribers

“Selling through social media takes time and effort. Work to steadily increase your following and send out messaging that has value. That messaging should drive people to your website, blog or a landing page for a free ebook and to opt into your email list. The majority of purchases are still made from email that is sent out, not social media posts, so it is important to convert your social media followers to subscribers.” – Alice Heiman, Sales Trainer

Anita Campbell Says “Don’t Stuff Your Infographics”

“If you are thinking about using an infographic for marketing, keep in mind that infographics are no longer the easy link /sharing magnets they were 3 years ago. They’ve been overused.  A good infographic is still valuable, however, but keep in mind two rules.  First, keep it simple.  Nothing is worse than a complex infographic stuffed with boring statistics nobody cares about.  Second, make your infographic square, not long.  Square-ish images are easier to share.  Long complex infographics end up looking like colored pencils when you share them, or they get cut off, and are not as compelling visually on sites like Pinterest, Facebook or Twitter Cards.” – Anita Campbell, CEO, Small Business Trends

Julio Viskovich Recommends: “Get in the 80/20 Habit!”

“One of the biggest habits to break in 2014 is to stop talking about yourself and your company. Follow the new 80/20 Rule – 80 percent of what you share should be about someone else and 20 percent can be about you or your company initiatives. Relevance and value is determined by whether what you say lines up with what they want to hear.” – Julio Viskovich, Head of Global Social Media Development at HootSuite

Robert Caruso Believes That Content Is the Path to ROI

“Content leads to conversations, conversations build relationships and relationships result in ROI.”  Robert Caruso, Founder and CEO, BundlePost

Mark Fidelman Wants You to Unleash Your Unpaid Workforce

“Do you have an influencer or advocacy program? If not, why not? Imagine having a community of motivated customers, influencers, and brand advocates helping you succeed. Imagine encountering seemingly insurmountable challenges that are swatted away by an unpaid workforce that has aligned its interests with your organization’s. Your loss is their loss, so they will endeavor to help you. Influencer campaigns are 16 times more effective and are 10 times more likely to impact your brand in a positive way. Make it your mission to build a relationship with your industry’s most influential people. They have your customers’ ear and wallet. “ – Mark Fidelman, Forbes Columnist, Socialized & Mobilized

For Walter Chen, Content Is Community

“We’ve always known that successful content marketing requires thinking about distribution first, but when you dig beneath that, that means you’re thinking about people first. Content is about building a community around the interests you share with your customers and creating an opportunity to learn about and have a dialogue around what your community members really value or are hungry to know more about. As more companies and brands venture into content as a marketing strategy, I think they’ll go further when you consider it not just as a static promotional channel but one that’s about building relationships. For 2014, that means saying thanks and thinking about how you can help serve that community best.” – Walter Chen, Co-Founder at iDoneThis

Ann Hawkins Advises to “Build a Business That Makes People Happy”

“In the past 12 months I’ve been privileged to interview lots of people who are building businesses that make people happy. They are changing the way business is done by taking the concept of “social business” and creating something that makes a healthy profit by giving people the chance to do work they love and are proud of. Most business owners crave employees who will work with commitment and passion, who are productive and deliver great results and yet, despite the fact that research over the last 100 years shows that pay doesn’t feature in making this happen, most still get it spectacularly wrong.”

“The new business models are creating a different style of working and its more about really understanding people than about technology. This year, read or re-read Culture Shock by Will McInnes and the book that inspired him, Firms of Endearment. (You can also listen to The Social Media Show and The Business Hub and hear some of the case studies that will be included in my book New Business: Next Steps coming in October.) – Ann Hawkins, business advisor and mentor

Shep Hyken’s Equation: Smart customers = High expectations

“The secret behind the companies known for their amazing customer service is simple.  They execute.  Customers are smarter than ever.  They know what good customer service is.  They expect the company that touts their great customer service to deliver.  So, don’t just talk about your great customer service in 2014.  Execute it!” – Shep Hyken, Customer service expert and New York Times bestselling author.

Bernie Mitchell Says It Straight — “Quit Fooling Around and Be Useful”

“I have been ‘playing’ in the social media space for over six years now. Why I first fell in love was because it meant I did not have to send rubbish emails to get people to events. But over the last two years my opinion and practice has changed again, email is more essential than ever and you can be more in tune with your email subscribers than ever. Notice I said subscribers and not “database” or “list I bought.” I firmly believe that the relationship with one subscribed email person is worth 20 Facebook likes or whatever it is this week. Email subscribers are your relationship, just the same as content on your own website is your digital real estate. As Avinash Kaushik from Google has frequently evangelized over the years, the quest for +1’s, likes and followers is futile; we need to be looking for ways to be useful on the Internet — to keep top of mind with people, not puking on them.” – Bernie Mitchell, Engaging People — Inbound Marketing by Events and Social CRM

A few more thoughts:

Jamie Shanks — “Social Selling Is Peer to Peer”

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“The future of sales learning is in peer-to-peer, sales rep-to-sales rep collaboration.  Sales training brought down from the ivory tower no longer applies.  With sales reps working primarily in a virtual environment, new sales innovation can be stifled.  New ideas are not making their ways into sales reps hands like they did in the days of the office water-cooler conversations. The best companies are learning to create that collaborative “CROWDSOURCING” environment internally.  Your sales team wants to learn from other sales reps; best practices, tips, tricks and tactics.” – Jamie Shanks, Managing Partner, Sales For Life

Kurt Shaver — “Add Nurturing to the Workflow”

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“Growing your social network is important, nurturing it is even more so. Listen to your contacts’ social streams to share content they would value, recognize birthdays, and congratulate them on milestones. It will strengthen your relationships.” – Kurt Shaver, The Sales Foundry

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