Beginner’s Guide to Social Selling: Posting Content
Learn how to share and post content on social media channels like LinkedIn and Twitter in this social selling beginner’s guide to posting content.
January 11, 2017
One of the cooler aspects of social selling is that you can make it your own. You can use the web and social profiles to tell your unique story, setting the stage for successful interactions with prospects, clients, partners, even advocates.
The Empowered Seller
We’ve been bombarded with news of the empowered buyer, but not as many people talk about the gains salespeople have made. Thanks to social media, we can proactively shape other people’s perceptions like never before. We can craft our professional brands and project them to the people who matter, when and where it matters most to them.
The sellers who have adapted to social media are winning new business. In fact, salespeople who describe themselves as “highly skilled” at social media are 6x more likely to exceed quota.
Still, it can be scary when you’re just starting out with social selling. Fear of judgment can prevent even the brightest of sales pros from diving in. Even if you’re a millennial who grew up with social media, using social media for business can be intimidating.
With this post, our goal is to help you erase uncertainty so that you can post to social networks with confidence. While we cover LinkedIn and Twitter specifically, most of the advice can be applied to all social networks.
Finding Your Groove
So many people, so much content, so many things to say… Where do you start?
One way to eliminate uncertainty is to establish the “why” behind your social selling activities. This is where creating a social media mission statement can be helpful. For example, you might say something like, “I am active on social media because I want to discover, share, and discuss ideas related to my trade and my industry. In doing so, I aim to help my clients, prospects, and partners succeed in their roles.”
Another helpful exercise is to establish professional brand attributes you want to be known for. In other words, supposing someone spent five minutes reading through your social profiles and social activity, what impression do you want to leave with them?
Here’s a sample brand attributes statement. When I engage on social media channels, I am:
Pick attributes that intersect with your personality and what your professional audience desires. Then, in the future, when you’re debating whether to post something, use your mission statement or your brand attributes as your litmus test. If it doesn’t align with your purpose and values, don’t post it. Or tweak the message until it does, and then post it. For example, you might evaluate a post and, after further review, determine that you can make it more helpful and less salesy before publishing. It’s important to note that salesy content tends to perform poorly on all social channels.
Now let’s dive into some posting basics, starting with LinkedIn.
Posting Content on LinkedIn
There are two ways to think about posting content on LinkedIn:
- Self-written vs. Third-party
- Long-form vs. Short-form
Self-Written vs. Third-Party
In other words, are you creating the content yourself or sharing someone else’s content?
Posting Third-Party Content
When posting third-party content, you have several options. As you can see below, you can choose to make your share “Public,” or you can choose to only share an update with your “Connections.” You can also choose to share an update with LinkedIn Groups or with specific connections.
How do you know which sharing option to use? It’s about relevance. Ask yourself, who is the right audience for this update?
Most updates can be shared with the public, which will also help you reach the most people with your message. But sometimes it makes more sense, and can be more effective, to share updates with individuals. For example, you might share a post directly with a sales prospect and say something like, “I couldn’t help but think about our conversation last week when I read this. Would love to hear your thoughts on the alternative solution the author discusses in the third paragraph.”
At some point you will want to initiate a conversation on LinkedIn, and that’s when it makes sense to create your own status update. There are three ways to post a status update.
- Share an update
- Upload a photo
- Write an article
The first two options (share an update and upload a photo) are what we’d classify as short-form content, while the third option (write an article) is considered long-form content. There’s no right or wrong answer here. You can concentrate on short-form content or long-form content, but many sales pros find success by using a mix of both.
Share an Update
What’s on your mind? Click “Share an update,” type it into the dialogue box, and share it. Again, you have options when it comes to sharing. You can share an update with the public or just your connections. You can also link your Twitter account, enabling you to post your updates to Twitter simultaneously. It’s important to note, though, that because LinkedIn updates allows for up to 600 characters, it’s a good idea to double-check the character count of your post before choosing the “Share with: Public + Twitter” option.
Upload a Photo
“Share an update” and “Upload a photo” are essentially the same activity. The only difference is that clicking “Upload a photo” will prompt your device to select the image you’d like to post. You can choose to post only the image if you’d like, but only choose this option when your image clearly communicates your point without needing further explanation. Charts, graphs, quotations, and cartoons are examples of images that can communicate effectively on their own. If you’re not sure whether people will understand the point you are trying to make, it’s typically safer to add a sentence or two for clarification before posting the image.
Write an Article
Millions of professionals have published long-form content on LinkedIn to communicate their ideas, establish credibility, and build trust. To get started, simply click “Write an article” below your profile picture and you will be taken to the LinkedIn publishing platform. If you’re interested in publishing a long-form post on LinkedIn, here are the step-by-step instructions.
Here are a few additional benefits of publishing long-form content on LinkedIn:
- Your LinkedIn connections are notified when you publish new posts
- Publishing long-form content allows other professionals to “follow” you on LinkedIn
- Your posts are indexed by search engines, allowing potential prospects and partners to discover you via your content
- Your published posts appear in your LinkedIn profile for all profile viewers to see
Posting Content on Twitter
While Twitter is not strictly a professional network, you will want to bring your professional brand values with you to the platform. Even if you do not plan to use Twitter for business purposes, your activity is public facing, so it’s best to either adhere to the same standards you’ve set for LinkedIn (more casual, yes, but still respectful), or make your account private. The same goes for all public-facing networks.
Twitter is short-form content by nature – it’s a microblogging platform where users share their thoughts in 140 characters or less.
Click the tweet button in the upper right corner and the following dialog box will appear (in desktop):
As you can see, you have the ability to include a photo, a video, a GIF, or create a poll. If you’d like a specific person or company to see your tweet, include their Twitter handle in your message. Similar to LinkedIn, when sharing content on Twitter, it’s a good practice to add your insight, or “why” you’re sharing the content.
Posting Multi-Media Content
Including rich media when posting content can help your messages stand out in social feeds. For example, you can use GIFs and video to capture attention on Twitter, and SlideShare presentations to stand out in the LinkedIn feed.
Know the Tradeoffs of Each Platform
Before posting content it’s a good idea to invest some time getting familiar with the platform. Follow and learn from people who use the platform successfully. Take note of what works for them.
You’ll find that each platform has its own context and expectations. For example, where Twitter is more conversational, LinkedIn is more formal but typically results in higher click-through rates for B2B sales pros who tap into the professional context of the network.
When to Post on Social Media
There is no right or wrong time to post on social media. Some sales pros find success by posting to LinkedIn on nights and weekends when other people aren’t as likely to post. But if you’re looking for a “safe bet” on when to post, research indicates these are the optimal times:
- 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays
- 3:00 – 4:00 p.m. on Wednesdays
- 1:00 – 4:00 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays
- 12:00 – 3:00 p.m. on Mondays through Fridays
- 5:00 – 6:00 p.m. on Wednesdays
- 7:30 – 8:30 a.m., 12:00 p.m. and 5:00 – 6:00 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays
- 10:00 – 11:00 on Tuesdays
- 2:00 – 4:00 a.m. and evening hours every day
- 5:00 p.m. on Fridays
- 8:00 – 11:00 p.m. on Saturdays
- Anytime Monday through Thursday, except between 3:00 – 4:00 p.m.
This post covers LinkedIn and Twitter because they are the most popular social networks for sales pros, but they certainly aren’t your only options. You can engage with prospects, clients, and partners wherever they are online, whether it’s Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, Quora, Google+, or online forums.
Start by recognizing the power you have to shape your professional brand, establish the values that will guide your social media activity, and then attract and engage the right people by adding value to their professional journey.
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