What Content Do I Share?

Wow! Thanks for all your recent comments and questions about social selling! Many of you are ready to up your social engagement and start rocking your sales. Along with this enthusiasm, I am hearing one resounding question: “what content do I share?”

This is an excellent question, and one I cannot answer, but can help you answer. First, sharing content is not about selling; it’s about building a relationship by sharing your smarts. The content you share needs to speak to the needs, concerns, and worries of your connections. In other words, what do they care about?

Second, remember the digital noise is vast, so you need to take this opportunity to provide real tangible help. The more you help, the more trust you gain, and the more likely you will out-sell the competition.

So, now you’re thinking, great, Sheri, but this sounds like a lot of work! Not really, once you understand there are two types of content: stuff you create, and gems you curate and share. Both are important and you probably want to do a little of both.

Curating content is all about sifting through good resources to find worthwhile information for your connections. In addition to any news feeds you already receive, consider creating specific searches through Google Alerts, Newsle, Feedly, and Mention. As part of the sharing process, be sure to add a sentence or two about why the topic is important; you don’t want to just send along a link without some type of commentary.

Creating your own content can consist of sharing blogs, updates, tweets, special reports, white papers, etc. Admittedly, creating blogs can seem overwhelming! There is nothing quite like a blank Word document or update screen to stop all creativity. However, the creative process can actually help you focus on the needs of your connections (and sometimes we lose sight of that emphasis).

One trick that helps me is the old fashioned approach; I get out some paper and pens and do a little mind mapping to take a kernel of an idea and flush it out into one or more articles. For instance, if I want to share some LinkedIn ideas, I can start with “LinkedIn profiles” at the center of the page and then add all the key profile components around the core phrase. I might draw pictures, numbers, or use words—it doesn’t matter; whatever gets my brain engaged and thinking creatively.

Sharing content is a key component to social selling because it helps solidify your thought leadership with your connections. It doesn’t have to be a grind; in fact, the process can help keep you current with trends and news, and help you regularly address your tribe’s issues and cares.

It’s okay to start slowly until you get the hang of sharing content. Maybe try for a couple curating shares per week and one or two blogs per month. Just get going and then be consistent!

 

Want to Avoid the Social Media Time-Suck?

Social media offers a great way to connect with people and is an integral part of social selling. Yet, if you’re not careful, you can fall down the rabbit hole into the social media vortex. Luckily you can avoid this time-suck with some careful planning, nifty online tools and even some no-tech tricks.

Make a Plan – A few weeks ago I wrote about the importance of crafting a social selling plan just as you would any other sales or marketing program (if you missed it, check out Don’t Know Where You Are Going?). Be sure your social selling plan clarifies your social media platforms, who you are trying reach, and how you can best meet their needs.

Nifty Tools – While a personal touch is sometimes more desirable, you can provide ongoing content or value-add material in a scheduled manner. What’s more, some scheduling apps also offer tracking and monitoring so you can easily determine which posts are hits or misses with your followers.

    • Buffer – Whether you have one or several items to post, consider using Buffer to schedule and automate your content. The app works with LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook, and lets you schedule the days and times you want to release each post.
    • HootSuite – Manages your social selling posts in much the same way as Buffer. The app also lets you search feeds and keywords, plus monitor tweets, responses and messages.
    •  Freedom – Sometimes the Internet is too enticing! Freedom lets you block all or part of the Internet for a predetermined time. Regardless of your device, you can set the length of the block and work offline without interruption.
    • Anti-Social – If certain sites (ESPN, Google News, etc.) are cutting your productivity, Anti-Social lets you block any site for as long as you like.

Say No or Disconnect – Remember, you need to make your connections quality connections, so be deliberate! In Filling Your LinkedIn Restaurant with Quality Connections I wrote about this in more detail, and as I mentioned in a recent Friday Tip, you can easily disconnect with unwanted LinkedIn connections.

No-Tech Tools – Sometimes the best methods for managing your time are the easiest! For instance, consider using a kitchen timer to limit the time you spend on any activity that impedes your productivity. I am also a big proponent of scheduling my daily tasks each morning. Use whatever list-making device works for you—I favor giant sticky notes—to stay on task.

There are a slew of other apps and schedulers to help you out; the key is to not get overwhelmed. Make a plan, get help and you’ll be maximizing your social media interaction, and your social selling productivity, in no time.

Want even more help with social selling? Check out my new eCourse Social Selling for Financial Advisors; sign up now to get the inside track on the course offerings and early access to the program!

Knocking Down Barriers

Okay, I hear you! I have been writing and talking lots lately about social selling, and some of you are asking me, “hey, Sheri, is social selling really necessary?” In short—yes!

However, I understand the hesitation, so let’s address some of those perceived barriers to social selling:

  • No roadmap – Yes, you do need a plan, but it doesn’t have to be complicated and 20 pages long! You can develop a social selling strategy similar to a general selling plan; just vary the execution steps!
  • Takes too much time – Wrong! Just the opposite is true. Social selling actually saves you time by helping you work smarter.
  • Higher ups think social media is a fad – You may indeed have to do a little selling on the value of social media, but it will be well worth your time.
  • Worried about compliance – Social media interactions must follow some rules, so check out my Seven Things to Know about Compliance and Social Media tip sheet.

I am super excited to help explain all of these concepts and more with my new eCourse: Social Selling for Financial Advisors. I’ll be launching it soon; for now, you can learn more here and ensure your place at the head of the class!

The Internet is no Baby

My friend Alice Tang remembers her first days as a financial advisor when all she did was cold calling. Yep, for eight-plus hours a day she tried to grow her book of business by working her way down a call list, hoping to set up meetings. Luckily her perseverance worked, and today Alice is vice president of BPG Wealth Management, LLC. Equally lucky for Alice, her start came in 1994 when the Internet was in its infancy.

Today, the Internet is no baby; it’s a mature ruler that dictates both business-to-consumer and business-to-business selling. If Alice tried to start her financial services career today the same way she did in 1994, she would fail.

Purchasers have the power of the Internet at their fingertips and they expect, no demand, relevant information, nurturing and relationship-building. Selling must now include social selling so you can work smart and create those connections to rock your sales.

Consider the Franklin Templeton Insights to Closing a Sale survey showing that “81 percent of plan sponsors actively sought advisors through recommendations or referrals from colleagues, peer organizations or retirement plan service providers” but only a quarter of them responded to cold calling! If these numbers are not shocking enough, you must realize this study was done in 2012 and social selling has gained even more importance since!

So, what are you going to do? A few years back IBM initiated social selling and increased sales by 400 percent! Crazy, right? If you’re ready to learn the ins and outs of social selling in the financial services world, and escalate your sales, please sign up now for pre-launch details on my new eCourse: Social Selling for Financial Advisors.

P.S. If you want to hear more about Alice Tang, check out my Women Rocking Wall Street podcast, Toughing it Out.