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The Twitter Effect: 5 key takeaways from Clara Shih’s session with Mike Saldi of Salesforce at #DF13

Over 1.6 billion people on social media… 2X more sharing each year… 14 billion minutes spent on social networks per day.
These figures, shared by Hearsay Social CEO Clara Shih (@clarashih) this week at Dreamforce (#DF13) in San Francisco, underscore the sheer magnitude of social media, and set the stage for an engaging session led by Clara and Mike Saldi (@msaldi), Senior Director, Customer Success at
The packed room listened as Clara told the story of Hearsay Social’s founding, which itself had a series of events on social media to thank. She then spent some time characterizing the business climate today: trust in big business is at an all-time low, partly because social media has given customers a louder voice to air their grievances.

Clara Shih (Hearsay Social) and Mike Saldi (Salesforce) at Dreamforce (#DF13).

At the same time, social media gives businesses an opportunity to amplify their sales and marketing efforts. Here’s how:

1. Empower everyone to be a marketer

People today are more skeptical than ever when it comes to corporate messages. We’re much more likely to engage with content coming from a real person instead of a faceless brand. That’s why, in the age of social media, your employees are some of your best brand ambassadors. Empower them to represent the company and its values by setting guidelines and giving them great messages to share with their networks.

2. Be the expert in your space

If customers don’t want to hear the same corporate messages and see product advertisements, what do they want? Information. Today’s customer wants to be educated, not sold to, so the business that shares the best, most valuable content will naturally rise to the top. And “content” doesn’t just mean your own white papers and blog posts. Tap into great third-party content shared on other sites and blogs; customers will appreciate it.

3. Let your customers do the talking

All over Dreamforce, Mike pointed out, you see customers’ faces and quotes. That’s because Salesforce (and Hearsay Social) understand the power of the customer’s voice. Much more valuable than corporate marketing, advocacy marketing proves that you are a real business having a real impact on how your customers do business.

4. Make your events social

Just as you would through phone, email, and Web, it’s essential to use social media to engage your audience before, during, and after events. Salesforce does this with Dreamforce, Hearsay Social does this with our own events. By making your events social, you not only enrich them while they’re happening, but you ensure that customers keep receiving value long after the event has ended. Keep the conversation going.

5. Record, re-use, re-mix, re-tell, re-share

If you write one blog post, that’s good. If you write one blog post and share it across your social networks, that’s great. What’s even better? Write one blog post, share it across networks, ask your friends and colleagues to read and share it, recreate it in different formats, host an event to discuss the topic… You get the idea. Squeeze the most out of every campaign by repurposing it in as many ways as possible.

Thank you to everyone who came out to the session and participated in the tweets below!

Timeless business lessons revived in the social media era: Facebook and Hearsay Social at #LLSMC

For more #LLSMC updates, see our recap of day one, recap of day two, or learn why LIMRA selected Hearsay Social as its Elite Strategic Partner for social media.

Mandy Wilson (Senior Manager, Channel Strategy for Emerging Channels, RBC Insurance), Clara Shih (CEO, Hearsay Social), and Michelle Smyth (Director, Social Media, at Sun Life Financial). Photo courtesy of Michelle (@michelle_smyth).

That’s how many people around the world today are using Facebook to network with each other, according to Neil Hiltz, Head of Global Vertical Marketing for Financial Services, Facebook. And yet, as he explained at day three of LIMRA’s Social Media Conference in Boston, a billion people won’t drive your business forward. What really matters is connecting to the people that matter to you.
“I’m not advocating for a Facebook-only solution,” said Neil. “You have traditional media, so Facebook is a great complementary channel and a great challenger.”
He spoke to many insightful case studies, highlighting how insurance companies can look for social signals that lead to sales. For example, people regularly announce to their networks that they’re getting married or having kids–that’s an excellent signal that you should reach out and offer your expertise.
These points provided a perfect segue into Hearsay Social CEO Clara Shih’s presentation on timeless business lessons revived in the social era. After all, every time technology transformed business through the past decades–through call centers, through the proliferation of email, and today through email–one thing has remained constant: the importance of person-to-person relationships.
So, how exactly has social media changed traditional business practices?

1. Get found

On average, according to a CEB study, buyers progress nearly 60% of the way through the purchase decision-making process before engaging with a sales representative. Today, social media is one of the most powerful ways to tip those scales in the sales rep’s favor. Social media pages and profiles are typically at the top of search results, and without these online presences, a salesperson or organization is at risk for not turning up in the search results when an interested prospect goes looking.

2. Build your network

For decades, sales managers built countless training programs around effectively utilizing personal networks because reps that could effectively engage and expand their networks rose to the top. The same is true today, and the rise of social networks has made this entire process more efficient and powerful. Just like shared connections in the offline world, online social networks provide the context, familiarity, and trust that allow good salespeople to effectively do business.

3. Do your research

Salespeople are always taught to research a prospect and their history before walking into a meeting. Today, social networks like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter make it easier than ever for reps to better understand their customers’ needs. Researching social signals allows reps to reach the right people at the right time, and go in warm.

4. Establish credibility

Gone are the days when Yellow Pages, a storefront, or a Web 1.0 website were the first point of interaction between you and your customer. We have entered a world where social presence provides necessary credibility. Not only does a social page or profile indicate what you or your company does, it indicates who knows you, follows you, or has worked with you before. People are unlikely to walk blindly into their local bank in order to find a financial advisor: they’re doing their research on social networks to find people or businesses credible in the social era.
With billions of people broadcasting buying signals on social networks every day, it’s no wonder that 7 in 10 financial advisors are already using social networks for business purposes (according to an FTI Consulting and LinkedIn study). Even more striking, 61% of financial advisors surveyed said they had landed a new client directly from LinkedIn (according to a HubSpot survey).
By the close of #LLSMC, the message was clear: many insurance and financial firms today are already growing business considerably by engaging with customers and prospects on social media. Are you?