What is the Top Social Network to Drive Visits to Corporate Websites?

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The answer might surprise you…

LinkedIn, with 64%. Compare this to Facebook, coming in at 17% and Twitter at 14%.

More details here on surprising LinkedIn stats, but this is one that I think merits the question, “Should we be active on LinkedIn as part of our social strategy?”

What are your thoughts?

My Social Media Tool Kit

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Here are a few resources that I use and recommend:

Mobile

I’m a Blackberry user. Not that I prefer it to iPhone as there are advantages to both. I still drive a lot of email. Here’s some of the social apps that I use:

  • Twitter for Blackberry – I’m a reformed UberTwitter user
  • Facebook app – pretty basic
  • Foursqaure – self-explanatory
  • Google Maps – ditto
  • ScoreMobile – best sports scores/news app there is
  • Bolt – a decent (free) browser

Desk Top

  • New Twitter – great upgrade, still getting used to it
  • Twitter Counter – nice way to benchmark growth (or lack there of…)
  • Sports Fan Graph – essential sports/social media ranking tool
  • HootSuite – my favorite social media dashboard
  • Facebook – my dummy account to track teams/brands & test things
  • Linkedin – a must… my social CRM
  • Raportive – social profiles integrated into Gmail

If you use/like/don’t like any of these? Use something not mentioned here? Let me know…

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6 Questions for Jay Feaster

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I recently connected with Jay Feaster (NHL Insider on NHL Radio, Blogger for The Hockey News and EVP and GM of the Tampa Bay Lightning, 2002-2008) and asked him the following questions about social media, sales and sports:

1. What impact does social media have on your  bi-weeky blog on the The Hockey News (or your work with NHL Live)?

Social media really doesn’t impact my bi-weekly blog for THN.com. I am not a Facebook person and I don’t use Twitter or follow anyone on those social media outlets. I read the newspapers and beat writer blogs from around the NHL, I always check TSN.com, I try to keep up on what Scott Burnside and Pierre LeBrun  and E.J. Hradek write on ESPN.com and I often read HockeyBuzz.com; however, I don’t use the social media sites. I also watch as many games as possible every night and I make it a point to catch NHL on the Fly on NHL Network.

2. From your perspective at the Executive level – what do you most dislike about sales people?

I dislike sales people who don’t understand the product and those who don’t respect the product. I believe the Hockey Operations Dept and the Sales Staff must work together in order for an organization to be successful. However, it is important that the sales staff understands the demands on the players and respects the chain of command. It is also frustrating when the sales personnel treat everyone in the same manner. B/c the demands on the players are so great we need to make sure that it is our VERY BEST customers we are “rewarding” with the special perks of a player’s time, travel with the team, etc. Just as in Las Vegas you won’t see a casino comping the once-in-while customer who gambles a couple hundred dollars, but rather takes care of the true “high rollers,” it needs to be the same in our business. We need to truly reward the very big spenders!

3. What qualities/skills or attributes do you think are required to make a good sales person?

I want our sales people within the organization to be hard-working, honest, bright, knowledgeable, personable, and able to relate to our potential customers. You need to be driven and you need to have a passion for what you are doing.

4. In your day-to-day work as a GM and/or EVP, did social media factor into your work?

It didn’t factor in all that much in Hockey Operations; however, it would be a much bigger factor now than it was prior to my departing the team in July of 2008. The organization needs to use the various social media outlets to its advantage, and were I managing a team now I would certainly utilize the technology. (I would look to Ted Leonsis and the Washington Capitals for the blueprint or road map on how to do it best b/c I really believe Mr. Leonsis has the Caps at the cutting edge of the social media phenomenon.)

5. Are you a regular linkedin user? What does linkedin do for you?

I enjoy linkdedin and I use it on a regular basis. I like to see what my former colleagues are doing and the various groups they have joined. It is a great way to keep in touch with people and network at your own pace and pleasure.

6. What gets you interested or excited about the NHL or member clubs use themselves regarding social media?

Again, I think we can all learn a great deal from the Washington Capitals and how they have made use of the various social media forums. There are so many uses an organization can make and it’s clear that player agents are aware of the value such sites have for their clients. We live in an information age, and it is great to be able to get critical information to our fans quickly and, in many cases, in real time. Without a doubt, in the event I am fortunate enough to land another job managing an NHL Club, I would make extensive use of social media as a way to stay in touch with and inform fans. The more we can do to make fans feel like “insiders” the better our chances of retaining those fans for life, and social media helps make that possible.


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My Interview on 1to1Media.com

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I was recently interviewed by Liz Glagowski of 1to1media.com regarding social media and sales.

Here is a link to the interview, but I have also included the text below as the site requests that you register to view it (which readers may not want to do here)…

Will Social Media Be the End of the Cold Call?

As social media’s adoption continues to grow in the consumer market, B2B companies are also now incorporating Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, wikis, and other collaboration tools into their business.

Social media tools for business started primarily in the marketing department for promotions and customer communications. Then companies like Comcast, Dell, and others began to use social media as a customer service tool, with positive results. The next logical step is to extend social media tools into the sales organization.

A recent study of more than 1,500 consumers by market research firm Chadwick Martin Bailey and iModerate Research Technologies found that 51 percent of Facebook fans and 67 percent of Twitter followers are more likely to buy the brands they follow or are a fan of.  “While social media is not the magic bullet that some pundits claim it to be, it is an extremely important and relatively low cost touchpoint that has a direct impact on sales and positive word of mouth,” says Josh Mendelsohn, vice president at Chadwick Martin Bailey.

As consumers adopt social media in their personal lives, their expectations extend to their professional lives as well. Many expect a salesperson to deliver a relevant message by doing some research to understand their wants and needs before calling. And much of that information lives on social media sites.

The current state of social media within the sales organization, however, is generally one of cautious optimism, with very limited implementation. For sales professionals, social media usually means one of four things:

1. A place to build a trust-based relationship with prospects and clients

2. A collaborative platform for internal sharing

3. Something marketing does

4. A distraction from getting real work done

“Many companies perceive social networks as ‘distractions’ or activities that take away from a sales force’s ability to sell,” says Carson McKee, owner of social media consulting company Direct Contact. “Many sales leaders think social media is about ‘friends’ and does not hold much value for business. But this is changing quickly…especially among companies whose industries are technology-based. These are places where the market is; sellers need to be there too.”

Social media is quickly becoming a business platform. A new Altimeter Group research report, Social CRM: The New Rules of Relationship Management, highlights 18 use cases for social CRM. Three of them pertain specifically to sales: social sales insights, rapid social sales response, and proactive social lead generation. According to authors Ray Wang and Jeremiah Owyang, these efforts involve ranking social media platforms based on their influence with sales prospects; targeting sales efforts based on potential sales triggers with helpful conversation; and using the peer-to-peer advantages of social media tools to reach customers and potential customers who would like to be educated by the organization or its ambassadors.

Sites like LinkedIn and Ning, designed specifically for the business community, are perfect places for sales professionals to make connections, join networks, share their insight, and learn from others about what business challenges need solving.

“The benefit of using social media for sales is that it’s practically free mind reading,” says Chris Brogan, social media strategist and coauthor of Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation, and Earn Trust. “Prospects talk about their day, about what’s on their mind, about what matters to them inside and outside of work. If you’re a salesperson who can’t use that information, what’s your value?

“The challenge to using social media for sales is that not everyone wants to mix their social tools with their business interests,” he adds. “Salespeople have to tread gently, work from the relationship paradigm, and remember to be human and two-way.”

Collaboration, not just fans
One sales expert thinks of social media in a different way. John Aiello, CEO of Savo, says sales professionals should use social media as internal collaboration tools to bring together sales with subject matter experts at relevant points in the sales cycle. “The term social media implies the concept of Facebook, Twitter, and others,” he says. “I think it’s about socially enabling the organization to make sure its best resources are being presented in every single selling conversation.” This means sharing information throughout the organization. Savo’s tools, along with others such as salesforce.com’s Chatter and Google Wave, are helping to put that concept into practice. “In the future, I think you will see CRM systems operating more like social networking sites do,” adds McKee of Direct Contact.

Brogan agrees. “I think learning how to wire the social tools much deeper into organizational execution is what will really change the game,” he says.

What the experts also agree on is that there is no one right or wrong way to approach social media strategy. “I believe that companies should evaluate and determine what kind of social media presence they want to have — what are the goals and what are the platforms they will use? This is important from an organizational strategy… Ideally, sales efforts would fit into this over-arching strategy,” McKee says.

The bottom line: What’s the ROI?
Social media’s benefits as a sales tool are numerous, but so are the challenges. The biggest challenge to the sales function is that it hasn’t been proven a revenue generator, and salespeople don’t want to waste time on fruitless efforts. “I don’t see tons of companies doing it, but I see that they’re picking it up,” says Brogan. “Small businesses are getting there faster. Enterprises are still wondering how to tip toe into the water.”

Most sales success stories currently come as a by-product of successful social media marketing initiatives. For example, Forrester Research recently published a case study about financial services company USAA, which posted customer ratings and reviews on its site. Requests for auto loan quotes jumped from 28 percent to 30 percent after the company launched the social tool, and led to 15,978 additional products and policies sold across its five main product lines in the first year. Other companies have seen higher website conversion rates and purchases from inbound marketing and brand-building activities done through social media, as well.

“Every large company is exploring social strategy to go where customers already are,” says Al Falcione, senior director of product marketing at salesforce.com. “We’re in the early adoption part of the cycle. Companies are listening to what customers are saying in real-time and joining the conversation.”

Brogan echoes the importance of just listening. “I think listening tools are the first and most important part of it all.”

McKee goes one step further, recommending all sales professionals join LinkedIn to start, and then operationalize a social media strategy. “No matter who you are or what you sell, you need to be on LinkedIn at the very least,” he says. “Adding a social media business development strategy to your sales process is not important — I believe it is essential.”

Linkedin and Selling the Social Space

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As sales teams look to incorporate social media space into their inventory, I think its time to focus for  a minute on Linkedin.

Many people call Linkedin the “Facebook for business”. I’m not 100% in agreement with that statement, but Linkedin certainly is a powerful and important social network. Personally, Linkedin has been vital in my own experience having been the stating point for projects, clients and even full time jobs. I consider being on Linkedin a must.

As sports sales teams are out there looking to increase their sponsor business – and for many accounts, this means the incorporation of social spaces, I think it makes sense for sales departments and marketing teams to spend some time ensuring their presence on Linkedin is strong.

Here’s how:

  • Update your “Company” profile – Marketing should have a look at this; be consistent with other messages
  • Ensure that all sales people have profiles – using Linkedin as a business development tool is essential in this space…
    • Reach out/connect with sponsors/contacts = Re-enforce existing relationships
    • Continue to build out networks and contacts
  • Is the Executive/Management team represented? This lends to credibility…
  • Consider starting a business networking group for your teams’ fans
  • Link to other social media platforms

If you are selling the social space, you need to be on Linkedin. It just makes sense.

More about using Linkedin as a business development tool by clicking here.

Information is Free

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FreeBeware of sales resources that charge for information on social media.

Tools like Linkedin, Twitter and Facebook are free and hardly new. There is a great deal of information about their use and value for sellers available on the Internet. Charging hundreds of dollars for seminars and using terms like…

By this time next year, the gold rush to social media marketing will be near complete.”

… are misleading and false.

In addition, announcements like this one (eNewsletter focused on sales and social media) use sales techniques that are just plain cheesy and a turn off for many buyers. It just rubs me the wrong way and reinforces the sales stigma that I try to combat in my own training.

My Method

I freely share information to sellers, marketers or interested persons on what social media tools can do for them through this blog. My way is to share information that people may value and continue to follow. I appreciate this and their ideas/comments. Sometimes, those conversations turn into opportunities or projects – things that I do charge for, but only when it is for my direct services – not for information that is free to all.

Charging for such info flies in the face of what social media marketing is all about.

Google Profiles vs. Linkedin

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There have been some interesting developments in the professional/business social networking landscape as Google is now positioning Google Profiles in a major way by featuring them in Google searches…

Unfortunately, this is not currently available in Canada as of yet (shame) so I cannot provide a detailed post. By the time it is available here, it will be too far past the fact. I feel this is an important development and I wanted to make my readers aware…

Here is a post from TechCrunch that tells the story – bottom line, you had better get your Google Profile together now.

Here is my Google Profile.