When social media reached the mainstream, marketers were among the first adopters. More than ten years later, it’s sellers who are reshaping how companies view social media.
At the corporate level, businesses have deployed social media strategies designed to increase share of voice. This is increasingly true in organizations with employee advocacy programs. The barrage of corporate content on social channels makes it difficult for companies to stand out. That’s why relationships matter more than ever.
Today, the concept of the corporate brand is undergoing an evolution. This shift is most visible on social media where sellers can hone their personal brand and nurture relationships with customers.
The personal brand of sellers is becoming an extension of the company brand, expanding its reach and giving it a human, authentic presence.
Let’s use the wealth management industry as an example. Financial advisors work for a company, but they are the face of the brand to their clients. Financial advisors are entrusted with many of the tasks an entrepreneur would undertake such as prospecting, nurturing relationships, and identifying new ways to grow their “own” business.
The same is true across most corporate sellers. And social media gives these salespeople a powerful platform to build relationships, gain referrals, and build their personal brand.
An alternative to cold calling
Every seller has made cold calls at some point in their career. It can be awkward for the seller and the buyer and is often ineffective. Cold calling gives the salesperson the burden of asking something of a potential buyer before they’ve provided any value.
Even more, just 2% of cold calls are answered. As a result, major enterprises are moving away from cold calling entirely. Just recently, Merrill Lynch banned cold calling by trainee brokers, instead opting for referral outreach on LinkedIn.
Building your brand on social media means providing value. Sellers who are effective on social media act as a resource or subject matter expert within their field. By cultivating their brand, over time, they become thought leaders and influencers who generate value for their audience before making an ask.
Extending the brand
Buyers know more about your brand than ever before. Online research and review sites offer a birds-eye view of your business and its products. When customers decide to engage with your organization, they’re generally familiar with it and ready with questions.
Corporate collateral is helpful to buyers, but they also want to understand who they’ll potentially work with. Sellers who build authority and credibility on social media are differentiators for your business because buyers are familiar with them and want to work with them.
Extending the corporate brand allows sellers to complement how the brand is built at the corporate level. Corporate communications can establish the brand’s values while individuals have the ability to represent the values, intelligence, and insights of the company on social. The result is a powerful combination of the individual and company brand. And the collection of individual voices elevates the brand even higher.
Enabling sellers for success on social
Marketers can play a pivotal role in enabling individual sellers. Sales and marketing alignment traditionally means connecting sellers with the content produced by marketers. To support sellers in cultivating their personal brand, both sellers and marketers need to evolve their understanding of branding and content.
Sellers and marketers need to reframe the individual seller as a representative of the corporate brand. Elevating sellers’ individual brands will influence the type of content that gets shared on social media.
Sellers are stewards of corporate content, but they also need third-party content that’s tailored to their brand and audience. Individual sellers should embrace the eighty-twenty rule–a ratio that suggests sellers share 80% third-party content compared to 20% company content.
Sharing a healthy mix of third-party content helps sellers build their brand. It also builds credibility with buyers because they aren’t being sold to. So when sellers do share marketing-generated company content, they tend to generate higher engagement rates.
As organizations pivot to accommodate new digital-first buying patterns, it’s more important to deliver relevant, engaging experiences across every channel. For sellers who continue to build their personal brand, social media will allow them to remain top-of-mind with their prospects and customers.