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Hearsay Social and Distribion announce content partnership at LIMRA LOMA Social Media Conference

Today marks the first day of the LIMRA LOMA Social Media for Financial Services Conference, and we’re delighted to say that Hearsay Social will be actively participating in the event. Over the next few days, financial services executives, legal experts, and social media strategists will be meeting in Boston to discuss the many ways in which social media is transforming the financial services industry.
As part of our attendance at the LIMRA LOMA conference, we are also proud to announce today that Distribion, provider of a multichannel marketing solution, has joined Hearsay Social and our other partners in support of Content Exchange.
Launched at the beginning of the summer, Hearsay Social Content Exchange is a content curation platform that allows marketers and salespeople to easily discover, curate, and post engaging updates to their pages profiles across all the major social networks. Since its launch, Content Exchange has been positively received by many, from Hearsay Social customers to independent social media experts. Altimeter Group analyst Jeremiah Owyang, for one, called Hearsay Social “the first social media management company” to offer syndicated content to its customers.
The day we launched Content Exchange, we also announced support from several providers of premium social media content, including Thomson Reuters, Tribune Media Services, and Demand Media. But we couldn’t stop there. In order to better serve our customers, today we’re announcing that Distribion will now also support Hearsay Social Content Exchange.
Today’s news is especially significant for our customers in the financial services and insurance industries, where content sharing has the added complication of meeting compliance. Hearsay Social and Distribion understand this pain point, which is why we’re working together to make Content Exchange the best way for you to connect—compliantly—with your audience on social media.
For more information about our partnership with Distribion and Content Exchange, watch the video below and get in touch to schedule a demo.

Hearsay Social customer success story: Pacific Union International

“Our more immediate goal in using social media is to empower our real estate professionals to take their own social marketing to another level, and Hearsay Social offers the easiest and most elegant way to do just that.”  — CC Holland,  vice president of digital media and content for Pacific Union International

More and more, businesses are realizing the vast untapped potential of social networking for forming relationships with customers and prospects to increase reach and revenue. Today we’re proud to announce that Hearsay Social now powers social sales and marketing success for Pacific Union International, one of our first customers in the real estate industry.
Last Thursday, Hearsay Social took the stage at Inman Connect SF with CC Holland, VP of Digital Marketing at Pacific Union International. CC is the marketing maven behind Pacific Union’s organization-wide social strategy. She understands the importance of real estate agents communicating brand consistency on social media while also creating and sharing a personal brand of their own.
As CC and the other Inman panelists discussed the endless opportunities of this new channel, the relationship between social media and the real estate industry became as clear-cut to us as the relationship between broker and buyer. After all, what do real estate professionals do best? They share their brand through connections and show the beautiful content of their listings. Sound familiar?

“For Sale” Sign: Getting the Word Out

Jeff Turner, Director of RealSatisfied.com, argued at Inman Connect that “brand is morphing into company culture. Your values are your true brand—how you live, interact, talk.”
Along those lines, CC recognized early on the importance of content as brands increasingly give voices to their real estate professionals on social media. She also realized that it’s the brand’s responsibility to communicate the company’s core values and how that should be shared with consumers.
“Stopping power in the News Feed is critical,” said Matthew Shadbolt, and CC understands that better than any social media maven. It’s all about photos, and eye catching images that make a person stop and click on your content.

Hosting the Open House: A Chance to Make Connections

A tastefully staged house can be the difference between an unremarkable open house and one that generates significant buzz and offers. CC has filled the Hearsay Social content library with an abundance of content that covers topics from real estate market trends to the best places to taste wine in Sonoma. CC knows that her customers don’t want to hear about real estate all the time, so she and her agents generally follow the 80:20 rule (80% community, recent events, personal information and 20% real estate content).
But nothing on social media matters if it isn’t measured, which is precisely why Pacific Union International uses Hearsay Social for our robust social media management tool. The Pacific Union team recognizes that, in addition to content distribution, it’s also important to have a tool to moderate your agents and what they are saying on social media. Having a powerful analytics tool allows their team to stay laser focused on what is working best for certain agents so they can replicate that success across the organization. CC and her team appreciate the simplicity of the Hearsay Social analytics which highlight the most important trends they need to track at an aggregate level and at an agent level.
Pacific Union understands that social media is all about connections—specifically, the connections their agents make with clients. Higher engagement rates means more eyes will see their content, strengthening the agent’s personal brand on social media. CC and her team encourage agents to engage with their clients on all of their social channels and recognizes that Hearsay Social’s Stream is a great, consolidated dashboard to efficiently engage across Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, and foursquare.

Closing the Sale: Converting Social Media Connections into Clients

As CC so eloquently put it on stage last Thursday, “Content has to be at the core of every brand promise. It’s really important for our real estate professionals to get out there and make their own marks. As a brand we can be the stewards of great content. We give our agents ideas and inspiration.”
Watch the video below to learn more about how Pacific Union International is using Hearsay Social for its social media success.

The social media ROI journey

Ed. note: This post is the fifth in a series drawing from Mainstay Salire’s study on Social Media ROI: Quantifying the Benefits of Social Media Marketing Platforms for the Enterprise. Download the entire report for free here.

Although social media has been around a few years, most businesses are just beginning to learn how to harness its power to build sales and customer loyalty. Most of the companies we studied had already made forays into social media, typically by launching a corporate Facebook Page. Early marketing tests also convinced executives of the value of extending these social media initiatives to branches and affiliates in local markets.
But often these efforts stalled after executives confronted the complexities and costs of building a broader presence at the local level. For regulated companies — including banks, insurers, and educational institutions — the prospect of turning agents, advisors, and school administrators loose on Facebook and Twitter raised compliance concerns.
Companies in non-regulated industries, while less focused on legal and compliance issues, wanted to protect their brands with message and brand consistency but still allow for authentic content. The logistics and expense of distributing corporate content to local networks, enabling staff, and monitoring local communications presented a daunting challenge.

The Social Media “Chasm’”

We refer to this set of obstacles as the social media “chasm”—and each company in our study overcame it through a combination of innovative strategies and investments. The below figure illustrates the chasm as faced by regulated companies. Non-regulated companies face a similar journey, minus the compliance issues.

Accelerating Value

Marketing executives agreed that implementing an integrated social media marketing platform helped their organizations overcome the social media “chasm” and achieve value sooner than if they had continued to rely on fragmented social media environments. Lacking an enterprise platform, most organizations would have delayed rollouts to branches, agencies, stores, and local affiliates, or they would have spent too heavily on technical and marketing staff to maintain corporate- local networks. Specifically, the Hearsay Social platform:

  • Eliminated compliance as a barrier to social media
  • Simplified and optimized creation-to-post process
  • Accelerated local adoption of social media
  • Supported scale-out of social media programs

As shown below, companies investing in Hearsay Social’s enterprise social media platform passed over the chasm earlier than otherwise and realized business value sooner. Moreover, by promoting greater adoption and innovation (more than just compliance) at the local level, companies saw value beyond what was expected.

Thanks for reading! If you want to learn more, download Mainstay Salire’s study on Social Media ROI: Quantifying the Benefits of Social Media Marketing Platforms for the Enterprise.

The new LinkedIn homepage redesign: Hearsay Social Compliance has you covered

In the biggest social media news of the past month, LinkedIn just announced that it is rolling out a completely redesigned homepage, making the experience simpler and more visual than ever.
As LinkedIn explained earlier this week, the new homepage has been designed to be cleaner, more efficient, and more valuable for users seeking the latest professional news and trends, updates from their connections, and recent job changes in their network. In addition, the stream is more social than before, as you can now like and comment on everything you see, whether it’s a timely news item or update from a friend.

“We’ve revamped the entire Homepage experience with a new look and feel to make it easier to scan and find the information that matters most to you,” said LinkedIn Product Manager Caroline Gaffney. “This simpler and cleaner design makes it easier to navigate the page and quickly find the updates you’re looking for.”
We at Hearsay Social are excited to see the largest professional social network in the world refreshing its products to be more visual and engaging, and we can’t wait to see the changes roll out to more users.

Hearsay Social support for the LinkedIn homepage redesign

As always, you and other Hearsay Social customers can rest assured that the Hearsay Social platform supports LinkedIn’s changes from day one. Instead of using proxies that can break anytime LinkedIn makes minor or major changes to the site, we integrate directly into LinkedIn APIs, ensuring that our technology doesn’t suffer a single hiccup.
Effective immediately, corporate marketers can still use our Social Marketing Module and Content Exchange to manage content across hundreds and thousands of LinkedIn profiles. Salespeople can still use our Social Sales Module for one-click publishing of content and campaigns. And while all that’s happening, compliance officers and IT staff don’t have to take any additional action, trusting that our Social Compliance Module and Social Enterprise IT Module will continue running like clockwork.
Far from just a place for recruiters and jobseekers, LinkedIn has quickly evolved into the go-to hub for all the news, information, and updates for professionals and businesspeople. Because of that, Hearsay Social is proud to power your updates to LinkedIn, in addition to all the other major social networks.
LinkedIn says the newly redesigned homepage will roll out to members over the next few weeks, so head to LinkedIn now to see if the redesign has launched for you. Also, read the full official announcement on the LinkedIn blog.

Why content matters for the social business

Ed. note: This post is the first in a series drawing from the Hearsay Social e-book The Language of Social: A Guide to Content for the Social Business. Download the entire report for free here.

Content is the language of social.
From viral videos to professional photos, news articles to blog posts, status updates to tweets: content is the bread and butter of being a social business. These days, corporate marketing departments and creative agencies the world over have to work overtime creating fresh, original, and relevant content for their audiences.
Unsurprisingly, 95% of marketers and agencies have curated content over the past six months by sharing a link, blog post, or other kind of content, according to a recent survey by Curata published in eMarketer. In the same survey, 85% of respondents said the main objective of content curation was establishing thought leadership. Nearly as many–80% of respondents–said they were curating content to elevate brand visibility and buzz.

Connecting with customers on social media demands content. It’s what creates engagement, builds relationships, sparks new connections, and keeps conversations going. Ultimately, content drives business on social media.
And, today, demand for content across all the social networks is insatiable.
With all this demand, how can marketers keep up? It’s a question easier asked than answered. In fact, the same Curata survey cited above found a large number of marketers struggling with finding the time to curate content, create original content, and scour the Web and other resources for high-quality content.
Breathe easy. There are many, many ways to create and curate good content that don’t require you to stretch your marketing team too thin. Let this e-book be an initial guide for you in developing your content marketing strategy for your social business.

Social media for financial services: Lessons from LinkedIn and Ziegler

Social media is continually proving to be an effective marketing tool for business professionals.  In the age of instant access, social media allows relationship-based salespeople to cast a wide yet targeted net that quickly draws in the ideal clients.
During LinkedIn’s “Financial Institutions and Social Media-Best Practices” webinar last week, more light was shed on the traction social media is gaining, specifically within financial institutions. Hot on the heels of data showing that 7 in 10 advisors use at least one social network for business, the webinar served only to highlight the increasing use of social media in the financial services industry.
In the first portion of the webinar, LinkedIn research consultant Emily Friedman shared results from a study tracking the social media use of 463 financial advisors in various fields:

Fast Facts

  • 29% of financial advisors already consider social media to be a major part of their marketing efforts.
  • Next year, it is expected that 52% of financial advisors will be actively using social media as a part of their business.
  • 71% of financial advisors that are already on social media found the high-value clients they seek through LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, and Twitter.

This impressive and broad adoption of social media by financial advisors is proving to be advantageous to their business and client relationships.
Financial advisors using social networks are finding the high-value clients they aim to acquire more easily and readily.  As a result, advisors now have the motivation to actively incorporate social media into their daily business practices. Education and empowerment of these business professionals and their firms are crucial in allowing them to take full advantage of the myriad opportunities social media has to offer.
“Financial advisors are not only using social networks to make professional connections but to also cultivate client prospects,” said Friedman. “For institutions that support these advisors there is a lot of potential for fewer missed opportunities and a stronger network of advisors who are able to have that competitive advantage in the age of social media. […] It is clear that advisors are well on their way to fully adopting social media, it is already a critical component of their marketing effort.”

The Listening Factor

Another featured panelist on the webinar was Anita Heisl, Senior VP of Practice Development at Ziegler Wealth Management, who shared insights from the business perspective.

A Hearsay Social customer, Ziegler allows and encourages its wealth managers and investment bankers to market their business on social networks, primarily LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.
“One of the most important things that an advisor can do on any social media channel is listen,” said Heisl. “People have a tendency to think about social media as communicating out but the listening power is underserved.”
Social networking sites not only allow advisors to promote their business on a large stage, they provide access and a constant flow of information that can be advantageous to their enterprise.

Social Media Compliance

Though it has been proven that advisors can grow their business on social media, large firms worry about the language and nature of their employees’ posts, tweets, and messages. The legal ramifications of a non-compliant post can have detrimental effects on an enterprises’ reputation.
“We’re using Hearsay Social,” Heisl said in the webinar, explaining that the platform serves both their sales and marketing needs, all while staying compliant with industry regulations.  “Advisors want to communicate with their clients and being able to just pop into Hearsay, click post on something that they know is preapproved–and that someone has already put thought into–is very useful.”
Heisl explained the necessity of a vast social media content library for advisors to choose from, allowing them to tailor and identify key information for their specific clients.
LinkedIn’s webinar reiterated the growing importance and advantages for businesses to implement social media into their marketing strategy.  Social networks are already playing a major part in advisors’ marketing efforts and will continue to do so.

Anatomy of a Facebook Business Page

Many marketers still measure the value of their social media pages by a count: either a count of fans or a count of engagements (likes, comments, etc.). Unfortunately, the insights provided by these measurements are nominal. If you want to know the true value of your fans or how your social media communities are contributing to real ROI and sales results, then these basic counts should be a start, not an end.
We have already learned that not all fans should be valued equally and that local fans can be worth as much as 40x that of corporate fans. There are additional ways to analyze a page – one of which is by viewing the composition of its fan graph as a network.
Below is an image representing Hearsay Social’s Facebook business page. The data used to create this visualization is all of the public posts, likes, and comments over a one-year period. Each point on the graph represents a fan and the edges (curved lines) between them represent shared interests as determined by common stories they interacted with.

It’s not just a pretty graph. After analyzing the image, here are a few important takeaways our data team has come up with:

  1. Your entire fan base is actually made up of many smaller groupings.
    At the time of this writing, our Facebook page has nearly 5,000 fans. You can see from the image above that those fans make up a number of smaller clusters – about 20 by my count. Each of these sub-groupings has a distinct personality, set of interests, and motivation for interacting with your page. Understanding more about your own Facebook page’s sub-groups will let you better segment and target your messaging to increase its effectiveness. This is a very common practice in email marketing but it has not yet seen widespread application in social media outside of some very basic geographical targeting.When thinking about your business, you can probably think of a few sub-groups of customers. Are each of those present on social media? Are some more prevalent than others?
  2. You have power fans and influencers — each with their own personality.
    Below is the same graph above, filtered by the most active fans of Hearsay Social. You can see that while there are a dozen or so power fans, they do not all share exactly the same interest. Much like the sub-groupings, each power fan has their own reason for interacting with your content. Many of these power fans are in fact strong representatives of a sub-group. Identifying these people can help you better understand how to effectively communicate with the sub-groups they share the most in common with.
    Have you identified your power fans? Do you know which sub-groups they represent? 
  3. Clusters of fans that have interacted with the same content can help us infer social graph connections and use Facebook’s EdgeRank to our advantage.
    Below is a magnified image of a single sub-group. Digging deeper, I traced down the common interest that these fans share: a blog post about Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz visiting the Hearsay Social office.  Most of them aren’t common ‘likers’ of content which makes us suspect that their having seen the content – and thus liking – was in part caused by Facebook’s EdgeRank. (Facebook doesn’t show every post a page makes to all of its fans but tends to show it more to people who’s friends have interacted with that content.)


    I’m not certain that anyone in this sub-group are Facebook friends with each other, but I suspect a few might be. In this case, we only have a few data points for this particular sub-group; the more data we have, the more accurate our predictions will be. (By the way, if anyone listed below happens to be reading this, leave a comment below to let us know if my hypothesis is correct!)

In conclusion, thinking about your social media connections as merely a number greatly limits your ability to understand them. The more complex your analysis model, the better your understanding will be. Social media is all about connections and networks, so one of the best ways to analyze and learn about your fans is by viewing them as an interconnected network graph.
Do you notice anything else interesting in the images? I’d love to hear your observations.

The sales and marketing impact of social media

Ed. note: This post is the second in a series drawing from Mainstay Salire’s study on Social Media ROI: Quantifying the Benefits of Social Media Marketing Platforms for the Enterprise. Download the entire report for free here.

Expanded Marketing Reach

Companies embracing social media marketing solutions reported a significant increase in the number of people reached through various channels, notably Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google+. One insurance company, for example, saw a 150% to 420% increase in its local Facebook fan base, largely because the platform’s simplicity enabled agents to post more frequently and effectively.
A major educational institution reported a 189% increase in its fan base because teachers and administrators could post more customized, relevant content and build a “feeling of community” among current and prospective students. Feedback through the platform’s analytics also helped fine-tune the content to focus on messaging that generated strong local-consumer engagement.
Findings

  • Local agents and branch managers that adopted Hearsay Social’s platform saw a two-to-five times increase in their local fan base over locations without Hearsay Social
  • 95% of local financial advisors said they now reach more customers through social media
  • 40% of the study participants reported a “positive sales impact” from adopting the social media marketing solution

Surge in Consumer Engagement

As companies established integrated corporate-local social media networks, they not only saw more fans signing up, but these fans and followers also responded more frequently to communications from the company. Marketing managers said that the platform’s automation and scheduling features allowed local marketing staff to “concentrate on crafting more pertinent and appealing posts,” thus attracting more engagement (including clicks, comments, views, and check-ins) from local fans and followers.
Findings

  • An educational institution adopting Hearsay Social saw a 13X increase in online consumer engagement as measured by the number of Facebook “likes” recorded per page
  • Businesses saw a doubling of customer check-ins (Facebook, Foursquare) after implementing Hearsay Social
  • Agents at an insurance company reported a 5X increase in Facebook “likes” after adopting a social media marketing platform, as shown in the figure at left.

Drove Transactions

Better outreach and engagement of consumers at the local level positively impacted sales and other measures of business growth at the companies studied. Several companies reported jumps in sales conversion rates, with one retailer doubling sales tied to specific promotions, largely due to the ability of marketers to design more attractive deals with targeted local social media offerings.
As shown in the figure below, an insurance company adopting Hearsay Social saw business improvements in several areas, including a boost in lives insured, premiums, and total assets. The volume of posts and tweets increased overall, but especially among junior advisors who adopted social media as their primary channel for stimulating sales growth.
Findings

  • 50% to 500% increase in revenue performance measures at insurer adopting social media marketing platform
  • Sales conversion rate jumped from 1.5% to 3% at retailer due to targeted offerings

Thanks for reading! If you want to learn more, download Mainstay Salire’s study on Social Media ROI: Quantifying the Benefits of Social Media Marketing Platforms for the Enterprise.