Recent research shows that 84% of B2B sales start with a referral. Building personal relationships with your prospects is more important than ever.
But many business developers are behind the curve when it comes to using social media to drive these relationships – so-called social selling.
In regulated firms, this reluctance can be more pronounced – and with good reason.
The regulatory compliance hoops you need to jump through before you can use Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook and other social media platforms can be off-putting. But the obstacles are far from insurmountable.
So here we’ve compiled a user-friendly guide to social media for sales professionals. Welcome to social media 101 for Sales teams.
1. Decide which platforms you want to use
Social media covers a wide range of platforms – from Linkedin, Twitter and Facebook to the more visual Pinterest and Instagram. Some will be more relevant to your business than others. If you are B2B, Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook will probably be of less interest than Twitter and Linkedin.
2. Familiarise yourself with the FCA’s requirements
The Financial Conduct Authority sets the rules regarding what you can and can’t do on social media. These were last updated in March last year, and it’s worth finding out what they say.
There are rules around use of hashtags, retweeting and sharing, risk warnings and disclaimers. Make sure you’re compliant.
3. Think about your content
Work out what you want to say to your contacts before you start. Social media is character-limited (Twitter more than Facebook or Linkedin) – so you need to be disciplined. Don’t try and do too much with one post.
And make it relevant. The idea of content marketing is that you share content that is pertinent and interesting to your contacts. It’s not about overtly selling or promoting your services. Think about the ‘so what?’ – why would your prospects want to read what you’re saying? There needs to be a benefit for them.
4. Timing is everything
There’s an expectation that social media content is timely – a quick way to share up-to-the-minute news and views. It’s responsive; a great way to react to industry developments in real time.
For a regulated industry, though, this can pose problems. Your financial promotions need Compliance approval before they’re shared (and yes, this applies to social media too) – and this can slow you down.
The good news is that your Compliance team can be your biggest ally when it comes to getting sign off quickly. Because they’re familiar with what’s allowed, they can help you craft the perfect compliant messages. Find out more about how you can work together to get ‘Compliance-ready’ content first time.
5. Make it regular
You’re the best person to decide the optimum frequency for your posts. But whatever you decide – stick to it. Once you start sharing content on social media, there will be an expectation that you continue. Better to post once a week and stick with it than start with a flurry of posts and give up because you can’t maintain the pace.
6. Measure and refine
One of the real benefits of social media – and in fact any digital marketing – is its measurability. The reporting you get from your Twitter, Linkedin or other posts in terms of interactions and click-throughs is invaluable.
It’s your window into your contacts’ priorities – see what they read to learn what their ‘top of mind’ issues are.
Refine your strategy by sharing more of what works and less of what doesn’t. You’ll be rewarded by seeing your engagement levels soar.
Follow these five rules and your social media journey will be off to the best start. If you want more tips, you can download our 10 best practices for compliant social media. It’s free and you can read a copy here.