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social mediaRecently, I had the privilege of attending the Social Tools Summit in Boston. I run our social media efforts here at Intronis, so I was really excited to see what I could learn at this conference that focuses exclusively on social media tools and best practices. There were so many interesting sessions, but three of them really stood out to me.

1. “How to Use Your Fans and Employees to Build a Social Advocacy Program”

There are many ways to promote your brand other than paying for ads. You have employees, don’t you? Why not use them to promote your brand? This was an idea that blew me away during the first session, where the panelists spoke about their successes with employee advocacy. Employee advocacy is simple, easy, and less expensive than traditional advertising. It’s the type of idea that you think to yourself, “Why didn’t I think of that?”

Employee advocacy is when employees increase their brands’ exposure online using social media, and it can be very beneficial. Building a social advocacy program for employees increases the reach of your content marketing efforts. (You know you want to increase those impressions!) It’s also far more valuable when employees share content and make it their own by incorporating a personal statement about it.

Get started by setting guidelines for your employees. Offer incentives and hold contests to get your employees involved by tracking who can gain the most impressions, shares, and likes. By encouraging your employees to advocate for your brand, it uses their networks to reach more potential customers! There are a number of employee advocacy programs out there, such as GaggleAMP, PostBeyond, and Sociabble, but you can always start off with something simpler like an “Announce All” email to kick things off.

2. “The Future of Visual Social”

During this session, the panel discussed the next generation of social media marketing, and they spoke about the increasing presence of visual social media applications like Instagram, Pinterest, and Snapchat. Neal Schaffer, Co-Founder of Social Tools Summit, even underestimated the use of Snapchat when he asked the audience if they are currently using it. More than 75 percent of the audience raised their hands. Visual marketing is on the rise, and companies need to leverage its potential.

Have you noticed the comeback of GIFs? This is proof that social media is becoming more visual. This is very important for businesses to understand because text-only messages sent via social media are less likely to be read.  Having a picture attached to the post will increase the chance of engagement.

Research has also shown that tweets with photos get three times the engagement.  One tip I picked up from Natalie Barnard, a social media and marketing manager and a speaker at the summit, is that you should choose three words and apply it to every piece of content you create to define your brand. For example: authentic, timeless, and genuine.

One way to combine this visual approach with employee advocacy is to have your employees take pictures at events and tweet them at your company’s account! Check out how I did it using my personal social media accounts and Intronis’ tools 1social tools 2social tools 3social tools 4

3. “Social Selling and the Changing Dynamics of B2B Sales in a Social Media World”

Wayne Kurtzman, Social Media Marketing Manager at Pitney Bowes and a speaker at the event, said, “Social media is only 10 years old, and it’s acting like one.” This statement shows how social media is continually evolving and changing, and it’s up to you to evolve with it. And right now that means social selling. Social media is the next evolution of the sales profession. Think of how telephone and email changed the way sales people reach out. Social media is the next game-changer.

Social sellers use social media to sell their products and services and to build relationships. It creates a long-term goal for your MSP’s social media efforts, and it’s another way to reach decision makers and influence them, especially when cold calling isn’t working.

One strategy social sellers use is connecting with a client on LinkedIn before a meeting. That gives you a chance to check out their contacts and make a list of a few prospects that meet your qualifications. Then when you reach out to that client, ask them if they can introduce you to those contacts via email. If salespeople were to do this with each of their clients, their pipeline could increase dramatically. It also streamlines the customer experience, making it more personal and distinguishing you from other sales people and competitors.

Overall, the Social Tools Summit showed me that social media is the future for small businesses, and MSPs need to take advantage of it. Social media is continuously evolving, and you need to stay innovative and creative to be competitive and get the most out of it.

Photo Credit: Yoel Ben-Avraham via Flickr. Used under Creative Commons 2.0. 

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Francis Thach

Posted by Francis Thach

Francis Thach is a partner marketing associate at Intronis MSP Solutions by Barracuda.

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