A critical part of social selling is defining your sales team's content strategy. In part, that includes determining which types of content best serve your buyers. Unfortunately, there isn't a magic content wand that will ensorcell every last one of your prospects. Different buyers consume content in different ways. So, as a social seller, you should offer a smorgasbord of options.
Below, we'll look at seven types of content that tend to resonate on social, and along the way, we'll look at the research that explains why those pieces of content work. Let's get started!
The 7 Content Types
First things first, social sellers must be cognizant of how their buyers use social networks. Most aren't in a buying mood. So, resist the temptation to spout off product pitch after product pitch. Your pitches won't go over well.
On a professional network like LinkedIn, many people are thinking about their own career success. They want information that will help advance their career. On a personal network like Facebook, people want nostalgia and distraction. They want to stay in touch, socialize, and be entertained, as this infographic from LinkedIn shows.
That is to say, some of the content types discussed will be better suited for certain networks than others. So, be mindful of where you're sharing content. With that caveat out of the way, here are a few of the content types that work well on social:
In the digital world, videos are one of the most effective pieces of content:
Videos can achieve multiple objectives. They can explain difficult concepts, demonstrate instructions, answer questions, provide customer reviews, and entertain your audience.
As you select videos to share, remember two things. First, these videos don't have to be created by your company. They can be other people's videos – like this one, from Forrester, on the need to reboot your sales team. Second, most social users will not sit through a 45-minute video. Try to share shorter videos, and if you can't, try to highlight a specific section of the video using timestamps.
Industry Trends & Research Reports
Prospects are always paying attention to industry trends and research reports. Staying "in the know" helps buyers advance their careers within their companies and maintain an edge on their competitors outside their companies. That's why it's important to share general content about industry trends.
Often times, your company will not produce your industry trend pieces (unless you work for an analyst or consulting firm). Rather, you will have to rely on third-party content, which can actually help you build stronger relationships with your buyers.
Think about it. If you share only your company’s content, you lose credibility with your buyers. You come across as biased. By sharing other people’s content, you project a more impartial image, which buyers like, especially when they are actively trying to avoid sales reps.
Content is often text-heavy, but people are highly visual. The human brain processes images 60,000 times faster than text. The more inundated we are with text, the more visual content breaks through the information clutter.
That's where infographcis come in. These graphics present complex information in simple ways by using a combination of words and images. They can be extremely helpful for busy people who are quickly scrolling through their social feeds. So, don't be afraid to add a few of these to your marketing mix.
Like infographics, slide decks are highly visual, and they tend to present complex ideas in simple ways. Often times, the decks are housed on SlideShare, a platform that integrates easily with networks like Twitter and LinkedIn. SlideShare's compatibility makes it easy for your prospects, in that they can click through the slides on Twitter or LinkedIn; they do not have to visit another webpage.
Here's an example of an embedded slide deck that might help you become a better social seller:
In the B2B space, the opinions of analysts matter. Many buyers use them as they are trying to determine how to solve their business problems and which vendors to engage.
As you know, analyst reports are often pricey. So, I'd discourage you from linking to those reports on social. An expensive paywall is the last thing a Twitter user wants to see. There's good news, though. Many analysts are writing blogs, which offer brief overviews of their reports. Blogs are perfect for sharing on LinkedIn or Twitter because they are short and skimmable.
Many times, the most compelling stories come from your customers. Just because a case study is a traditional content type doesn't mean that you should ignore it, especially in today's buying environment.
The average buying committee now has between 5 and 7 members, which means there are many divergent opinions. As a result, many buying committees struggle to determine what their business problem is, how they should solve it, and which vendor they should choose.
In fact, the "how they should solve it" problem proves to be the most difficult part for many buying committees. That's why case studies are so effective. The best case studies don't just explain why a vendor chose your solution. They walk readers through the entire decision-making process from start to finish. Understanding how other companies arrived at their decision helps future buyers build consensus at their companies and ultimately get over the hump in the chart below:
What's more, a good case study tells a story. Not all buyers can read a set of statistics and devise a story. Many need a picture painted for them, and that's what a good case study does.
To bring the conversation full circle, we return to the idea of mindsets. Reading business information, all the time, every day, is tiring. Sometimes, to build relationships with customers, you need a dose of levity and personality. So, don't be afraid to share your interests and hobbies, especially on personal networks like Twitter or Facebook.
Let's say that you're a quota-carrying member of a sales team, whose territory is Northern California. To show your buyers that you understand them, you might want to occasionally share a news article about restaurants in San Francisco or photos related to the Oakland art scene – something that you and your potential buyers can bond over on a more personal level, something that will make you seem more human.
But be careful: Make sure that your personal interest content is not off-putting for buyers. You don't want to lose a potential customer because you offended them on social. So, stay clear of sensitive issues like religion or politics.
Choosing the Right Content
In today's digital world, buyers are more empowered than ever before. Armed with an abundance of information, buyers self-direct their journeys. In order to capture the buyer's attention in a noisy market, content isn't just a "nice to have." It's a "must have."
An effective content strategy for social selling will help your brand engage with potential customers early in the buying cycle and build a relationship with them over time, but only if your content adds value.
Want more help building your sales team's content strategy? Check out this workbook.
Posted by Mark Bajus