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September 10, 2019
Sponsored by SAP
I just finished watching the documentary about the Fyre Festival, the catastrophically fraudulent music festival in the Bahamas a few years ago that had millennials paying thousands of dollars to attend–and they ended up sleeping in FEMA tents, eating cheese sandwiches, searching for toilets and hearing no music.
While the story itself is intensely interesting, the larger underlying message is about the power of social media, and how the founders of the festival were able to build an entire presence around what turned out to be a non-event with a few well-placed celebrity postings on multiple social media platforms.
My point, of course, is not to endorse something like what Billy McFarland and Ja Rule did. But it is to say that only a decade ago, something like the Fyre Festival never could have happened. Like it or not, social media is a powerful tool and has changed the landscape in every aspect of our lives–including professional branding.
In many ways, you are an “influencer,” both for yourself and your company. In 2017, 81% of buyers did online research before purchasing, growing to 87% in 2018. In today’s world, the customer lifecycle is an ongoing process, often with buyers determining whether they want to work with you before you even get a conversation or meeting. Don’t underestimate the value of a first impression.
If a prospective buyer went to your LinkedIn account, what would they see? John Smith, Account Executive, at XYZ? Sure, that quickly tells the audience that you are in sales, but does it make you stand out? Does it offer any glimpse of your personality or highlight how you can help your buyer? Remember, customers can buy from anyone; tell them why they should buy from you.
Your headline doesn’t have to be your job title and company. Instead, you can use that space to showcase your specialty, value, and what sets you apart from others. And make sure your image is appropriate and professional. This can either be a great headshot or even showcase you in action–on stage delivering a keynote, for instance.
When possible, use numbers upfront in your summary. Say something like, “I have helped more than 200 companies find the right solution to more effectively run their business and save money.” It only takes a few powerful stats to impress the audience.
Speaking of audience, try to connect with the right network of people, but don’t add people you don’t know. Your account could be shut down if too many people reject your request stating they don’t know you.
Give your connections a glimpse of who you are. Discuss what you do outside of work. Include the volunteer experiences that you are involved in, and write in the friendlier, less pretentious first person instead of third person.
To expand your network, consider joining groups on LinkedIn and add positive comments as appropriate, being sure to exercise extreme discretion before posting anything provocative or negative. Always remember, the internet is permanent. Even if you delete a post, somebody else could have screen grabbed it and reposted it.
When leveraging social selling, avoid cold call messages or overly direct sales messages. A best practice is to reach out to people you know and ask if there is anything you can help them with. Offer to share new information that they may be interested in, such as articles on industry trends.
Perhaps you want to write your own blog on industry trends–the platform makes it easy to publish. This can be a great way to share your perspective, showcase your thought leadership and build your professional brand. You can develop content that creates value, even if it doesn’t relate to your sales play. Regular posts will keep you top of mind for your connections, allowing more frequent and seamless interaction with your customers.
Twitter is another great platform to boost your social presence. Unlike LinkedIn, Twitter isn’t used solely for business purposes. Consider creating a separate account for friends and family and dedicate a Twitter account specifically for your professional audience. The same rules follow for this platform; you must have a professional headshot and a creative bio. You also need to create the right handle; one that makes it easy for people to find you.
Building your network is vitally important. Keep your profile public and be sure to follow back those who follow you. Consider when you are tweeting to your audience. Studies indicate that posting between 12 p.m. and 3 p.m. on Monday through Friday works best. One way to manage this effectively is to use a scheduling tool like Hootsuite.
Develop clear and concise content. If applicable, include a hashtag. According to Buffer, tweets containing hashtags receive 2 times more engagement than those that don’t, but be careful not to overdo it, because tweets with more than two hashtags receive a drop in engagement by 17%.
Another thing to consider is adding an image to your tweet. Tweets with images receive 89% more favorites, and you can utilize video for even greater engagement.
Maintaining an active Twitter presence will grow your network and strengthen your brand, and it can position you as a subject matter expert. This is especially important for maintaining contact and relationships with existing customers. Favoriting your prospects’ or customers’ posts, retweeting or commenting can help you get noticed and put you at the forefront of your buyer’s mind.
Consider this: If a few well-crafted social media postings can get 20,000 people to climb on an airplane and fly to a parking lot on a remote island, just think about what it could do for you.
Ira Simon is global vice president, Partner & SME Marketing, at SAP. Learn more about partnership opportunities at: http://go.sap.com/partner.html.
This guest blog is part of a Channel Futures sponsorship.
Read more about:VARs/SIs
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