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The Facebook Business Pages redesign and what it means for financial professionals

Facebook recently announced that it is rolling out a new look for Facebook Pages. The new streamlined design will change the way business pages look for both Facebook users and page administrators.

What’s changing?

Facebook will get rid of the two-column design that splits activity to the right and left hand side of the page on the desktop version of the site. Now, all posts and activity will be displayed in a single column on the right-hand side of the page, similar to the single-column view that mobile users currently see. Information about your business (including a map, hours, phone number, and website) will now be displayed on the left hand side.

This change mirrors updates that Facebook made to personal pages a year ago.


What’s new for admins?

The new layout will provide page administrators even easier access to key admin tools. A new navigation at the top of the page will make it easier to access your activity, insights and page settings. The “Build Audience” menu will also give admins the ability to access their Ads Manager account directly.

In addition to the design changes, a new feature called “Pages to Watch” is being rolled out. This feature lets administrators create a list of other pages to monitor and compare metrics versus your own. This will allow you to easily benchmark your Facebook social presence against competitor pages or any other pages you wish. Specifically, you will be able to compare new page likes, total page likes, posts this week, and engagement this week.


What about custom Facebook Tabs?

These changes will also make custom Facebook tabs even less prominent, putting them under the “More” dropdown in the top navigation of the page. If you currently have tabs in place, it does not seem like there is anything that you can do to make them more visible.

What about compliance?

These changes should not affect any supervision provided by Hearsay Social. Although the site layout is changing, the information displayed remains the same and the Hearsay Social compliance solution will maintain the same coverage as provided with the previous business page design.

What do you need to do?

There is no action needed for financial professionals using a Facebook business page. These changes will be rolled out in waves to business pages. Facebook did not specify when every page will have the new design, but we are already seeing some new pages with these changes (for example: the Facebook for Business page).

However, since the new design features information about your business on the left hand side (map, hours, phone number, website URL, photos and videos), if you have not filled out some of these fields the left hand side of your page may look incomplete.

Disclaimer: The material available in this article is for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. We make no guarantees on the accuracy of information provided herein.

Sales: Then and Now

We’ve come a long way from when rolodexes and telephones were the best tools for selling. Today, leading salespeople use social networks to research, connect, and engage with customers and prospects, supercharging their selling efforts.
In this chart, taken from our ebook The Social Era Demands Social Selling, we show exactly how sales has changed.

Continue reading about the power of social sales in “The Social Era Demands Social Selling,” available for download here.

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?


Why social sales?

The following is an excerpt from The Social Era Demands Social Selling, a new ebook outlining how sales organizations can leverage social networks to grow business.

When people think about businesses engaging on social media, most still tend to think of social marketing campaigns. A viral video from a global beverage company. Holiday coupons shared across the social networks. Scheduled tweets advertising upcoming promotions.
Today, however, we are witnessing a sea change in how businesses approach social media. Social media is rapidly becoming more essential for sales forces than it is for corporate marketing departments.
This is already the case for many top companies. A recent Forrester study cited the largest deployment of the Hearsay Social Sales Solution as three times larger than the largest social marketing software deployment, demonstrating the extensive impact of empowering salespeople on social media. Day in and day out, these non-technical employees leverage Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social networks to share business-related content and bolster the relationships they have with their customers and prospects.
In the following chapters, we break down why social media makes sense for salespeople, how to develop an intelligent social media strategy for large organizations, how marketing can support sales with content, and more. Let this guide be a resource for you when developing your company’s social sales strategy.

Continue reading about the power of social sales in “The Social Era Demands Social Selling,” available for download here.

What the Facebook News Feed redesign means for marketers

Facebook this morning announced a major update to News Feed, aimed at making the popular service richer, simpler, and more beautiful.

The ultimate goal of Facebook News Feed, according to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, is to deliver “the best personalized newspaper” to every user.
That means providing a “broad diversity of content,” including high-quality public content from businesses and public figures as well as posts from friends and family. While being broad, News Feed should also allow users to drill down on specific topics that interest them.
Here are a few tips to consider when incorporating the new Facebook News Feed into your existing social sales and marketing strategy:

1. Share rich and visual content

In November 2011, according to Zuckerberg, photos accounted for 25% of News Feed stories. In January 2013, photos accounted for almost half of all stories. Additionally, posts from business pages, not friends, has increased from 15% of the News Feed to nearly 30%.

This data demonstrates that, more than ever, businesses like yours have an extraordinary opportunity to engage with customers and prospects on social media. In order to capitalize on this opportunity, brands and businesses must share rich and visual content on Facebook.
The previous version of News Feed only allotted 40% of screen real estate to the main content, including your Page posts. This allotment, says Facebook Director of Design Julie Zhou, has been greatly expanded, meaning the impact of photos and other visual content will likewise be widened. For businesses that run ads on Facebook, like Sponsored Stories, it’s essential that these also be made “richer and more immersive” to compete with other visual content in the stream.

2. Provide value to fans

While Facebook constantly tweaks its algorithms to make News Feed as relevant and personal to each user as possible, this is sometimes difficult with content coming from such a disparate group of sources. As a result, explained Facebook engineer Chris Struhar, users now have the option of choosing between the overall News Feed, an “All Friends” feed, and a “Following” feed, which only shows posts from businesses and brands.
This update will be welcomed by users, but it shouldn’t change much for businesses on Facebook. As long as you remain dedicated to providing value to fans, not in the form of self-promotional content but instead with relevant posts and photos, you will still surface in feeds and stay top of mind with your customers.

3. Share content that will work on any device

Rather than try to make Facebook for iPhone and other mobile devices look like Facebook on the Web, the Facebook design team has instead opted to port their mobile designs over to desktop. Ultimately, this will result in a more consistent Facebook experience across mobile devices, tablets, and the Web.

The value of this to businesses is that “they can think about how assets will look across different screens,” according to Facebook VP of Product Chris Cox.
Previously, marketers would have to jump through hoops trying to figure out how certain posts will appear to users on the Web versus users on mobile. Since this will no longer be the case, you can start planning your social media posts more holistically for sharing across Web and mobile.
As expected, the updated News Feed will roll out to users slowly, as Facebook collects feedback and works out kinks. Once they have a more polished version, the redesign will roll out more broadly.
Anyone curious to test out the redesign can join the waitlist here.

Hearsay Social CEO speaking at Wells Fargo Tech Summit on April 3

After the exciting Hearsay Social Innovation Summit hosted at our headquarters last week, we’re happy to say the conversation on technology and business continues on.
Hearsay Social CEO and Founder Clara Shih has been invited to speak at the Wells Fargo Securities Research and Economics 3rd Annual Tech Transformation Summit, which provides a forum for leading technology companies and investors to discuss how new technologies like cloud computing and social media affect business.
In a session moderated by Jason Maynard, tech research analyst at Wells Fargo Securities, Clara will be discussing the future of social media and the role platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook play in the next wave of sales and marketing.
For those attending the Wells Fargo Summit, Clara’s session will be held at 2:50 p.m. on Thursday, April 4.

What Facebook Graph Search means for marketers

Facebook earlier today announced a new tool called Graph Search, which greatly expands the power of search on the social network.

Graph Search is essentially a search engine dedicated entirely to Facebook’s Social Graph. In the works for several years, according to CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Graph Search will be a powerful new way for users to search for people, places, and things within their personal network.
Want to know which of your friends live in San Francisco? Simply search “friends who live in San Francisco.” Looking for music recommendations? Search “music my friends like.” See more examples of how one might use the new feature on the page Introducing Graph Search.

Facebook Graph Search for sales and marketing

For brands and marketers hoping to make an impact on social media, today’s announcement is especially significant. As Graph Search rolls out in the coming weeks and months, more and more of your customers will increasingly rely on Facebook for their purchasing decisions.
As an example, somebody looking for a dining recommendation could search “restaurants in London my friends have been to.” In this case, it would be crucial for your business to  have a presence on Facebook with complete location information filled out. Similarly, you can imagine users searching for “insurance agents my friends trust.” Your business page should be the first result!
Here are a few tips to optimize your Facebook Page for Graph Search:
1. Update your business page
It has always been important to keep your business page up-to-date, but with Graph Search it will be even more crucial. Under your Page settings, select the right category and sub-categories for your business, pick a vanity URL, make your address is correct, and update other information for your business. Indexing piles and piles of business pages across the site, Facebook will be using this key information to accurately surface your page in Graph Search results.
2. Connect with your customers
Boosting the number of likes on your business page is good for more than bragging rights–with Graph Search, likes are your entry point into search results. Specifically, the more connections you have, the more likely your page is to show up in a search. Nothing is more valuable than a recommendation from a friend, and now what may have been passive connections on Facebook have become searchable recommendations. Make sure to connect with your most loyal customers so that their friends and family have a good chance of finding you.
3. Keep sharing great content
As always, consistently posting photos, links, and other valuable content to your business page will remain a cornerstone to your Facebook sales and marketing strategy. Before, it was mostly important for keeping up your EdgeRank, the algorithm that determines how and when your posts show up in customers’ News Feeds. Going forward, we expect EdgeRank will also play a role in ranking you in search results via Graph Search.
Facebook says Graph Search “is available now in a very limited beta program for English (US) audiences,” but we expect it will slowly roll out to more users over the coming months. In the meantime, stay tuned to the Hearsay Social blog for more information on Graph Search and other Facebook tools.

Shaklee distributors go social with Hearsay Social

It’s incredible to think that it was less than a month ago when we announced Hearsay Social as the solution of choice for the insurance industry on social media. But it’s not just insurance companies using Hearsay Social – we have customers across the globe in many industries.

Today, we’re proud to reveal our newest customer: Shaklee Corporation, a leading provider of natural nutrition, personal care, and environmentally friendly home care products. For 56 years, Shaklee has been a global household name for the highest-quality beauty and wellness products.
We are especially excited for the launch of Hearsay Social at Shaklee for a few key reasons:
1. Scale
From the U.S. to China and beyond, Shaklee has more than 750,000 members and distributors worldwide. With such a massive sales force, Shaklee knows it needs social sales and marketing software that can easily scale to match their size. Already, Hearsay Social is in the process of rolling out to Shaklee distributors, and many more thousands will be brought on board in the next several weeks. With large enterprise customers like Farmers Insurance and Northwestern Mutual who have thousands of agents and advisors, Hearsay Social has the proven track record of quickly rolling out software to thousands of non-technical users.

2. Relationships
Direct sellers like Shaklee distributors intuitively understand the power of relationships. Indeed, each distributor’s success depends on both their ability to sell products (like nutritional supplements and beauty products) as well as their ability to recruit new Shaklee distributors. As you may have already guessed, having a large social network influences both of these factors. Through Hearsay Social, the only platform focused on helping salespeople build relationships over social media, Shaklee distributors will be able to engage with their customers and prospects in a simple, professional manner. Best of all, they’ll be able to bring all their offline social activities onto the social Web to schedule parties, share the latest product news, and provide health and wellness tips.
3. Brand protection
When you’ve been building your brand for over half a century, as Shaklee has, maintaining brand integrity becomes a priority. This can be extremely difficult for companies like Shaklee that have hundreds of thousands of people representing the brand and talking about their products. Perfectly suited to solve these pain points, the Hearsay Social Content Library allows Shaklee to distribute corporate-approved content to thousands of Shaklee distributors. Additionally, our platform’s brand monitoring capabilities helps companies comply with regulations from government bodies like the FDA and FTC.
It’s an exciting time at Hearsay Social and Shaklee, as we work together to bring thousands of salespeople into the social era.