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I'm Not a Marketer, but I Play One on Social Media

Posted August 30, 2016by Frank Bauer

Who else remembers that famous 1980s commercial for Vicks Formula 44 cough syrup in which General Hospital’s Chris Robinson states “I’m not a doctor, but I play one on TV”? Though the soap opera star was widely recognized for his role as Dr. Rick Webber on the show, the ad caught on because it featured the medical opinion of an actor pretending to be the real thing.

I can relate to this. No, my day job doesn’t involve nursing evil twins back to life like Dr. Rick Webber likely once did, but it does require me to provide marketing guidance without actually being a marketer, myself. Contrary to what my social media followers may think when I share links to blog posts or our latest eBooks, I’m actually a sales professional who believes it’s vitally important that I bolster my team’s marketing endeavors. In doing so, I'm supporting my own sales funnel and empowering our sales team's success. 

The Role of a Lifetime

So, how can you and your employees amplify your company’s marketing efforts? Become a brand advocate by embracing social media! 

Before I share tips on how to do so, who’s in a good position to own this responsibility? Who should you cast as your company’s social champions? You want to recruit team members who hold relationships with existing clients and those who are in charge of acquiring new customers. Typically, I encourage executives, sales people, account managers and virtual CIOs to amplify their company’s marketing messages through their online social channels.

But how can you get enough staff buy-in? Here are a few tactics I employ to dramatically expand our organization’s reach and influence. First, you need an audience.

Suggested Read: Step-by-Step Guide to Targeting Your Verticals on Social Media

1. Compete for the Most Social Followers

A couple of years ago, my colleague and I became competitive about our individual levels of social reach. At minimum, once per month, we shared our LinkedIn and Twitter follower counts, frequently leapfrogging each other for the lead. 

Why You Should Adopt This Approach:

It doesn't matter what you're sharing if no one's listening. The more you grow your social reach through LinkedIn connections, Twitter followers, Facebook fans etc., the more exposure your company’s content will receive. Then, consider the added benefit of one of your followers or connections retweeting or sharing your posts to potential prospects or social champions not currently in your network. After you lay your social follower foundation and maintain a consistent social publishing schedule, you’ll begin to build momentum and influence. Competing for followers helps speed this along!

The Strategy to Follow: 

To continue expanding our social networks, we followed those partners we worked closely with and also targeted fellow employees at Continuum, hoping they’d follow us back. From there, we duplicated this process with partners and colleagues we hadn’t worked with directly. Soon, it seemed like nearly everyone in the IT channel was a 2nd  degree connection to us on LinkedIn, meaning we were one connection removed from these individuals. We knew someone that they knew, enabling us to send connection requests their way. You should apply the same strategy to grow sizeable social networks. Target local media publications or any other accounts that have influence in your area, as well as your clients (unless you'd prefer not to make this information public). In return, your followers may end up reciprocating by connecting with and following you back! Then, if they retweet or share any of your content, everyone that's following or connected with them will see it, helping to increase your brand recognition. 

Pro-Tip: To keep your social media activity manageable, find a schedule that works best for you! For me, I had the most success early in the morning, while sipping coffee, after reading news and industry publications. For the colleague I competed against, he logged on later in the evenings after the kids were in bed, and his homework was complete. In the end, it doesn't matter when you do your social scheduling just as long as you alot a good chunk of time to work at it regularly.

Why It Works:

When you want to increase participation in and engagement with your company’s marketing initiatives, I’ve found “gamification” to be remarkably effective! Tap into your employees’ competitive nature and offer a prize for the team member who gains the most social followers by the end of the quarter. They’ll be more incentivized to help out if they feel rewarded for doing so. Plus, who can deny the allure of bragging rights as the ultimate motivator??

For the record, I’ve pulled ahead and I'm still in the lead.

Suggested Read: How to Use Social Media to Supplement Client Relationships 

2. Schedule Posts Ahead of Time

Once you’ve established a social following, it’s time to share the various types of content your company is already creating across your online channels. Continuum’s marketing team works tirelessly to feed our sales representatives and other prospect and client-facing teams with the right messaging and assets to promote. As a sales professional, this helps me pre-qualify leads for acquisitions and up-sells. Additionally, it helps me keep prospects engaged after I hang up the phone, as any good lead nurturing content should.

But with the volume of content being produced, I found I needed to make the publishing process more scalable. Who has time to manually publish each social post in real-time?

Not me, and I’m betting not you either! That’s why I schedule my posts ahead of time. If I know, for instance, that I’m hosting an upcoming webinar and need to promote the registration link, I can schedule ten different posts to publish at different times…all at once! Then, I can cross that item off of my to-do list, rather than having to remember to promote the webinar in the coming weeks. 

Why You Should Adopt This Approach:

If social media activity begins to feel like a chore and time-suck, you and your employees will inevitably give up on it. By scheduling social posts, you can arrange for them to publish at a later time and date. Scheduling posts in advance prevents social media promotion from becoming an afterthought, all while maximizing you company content’s visibility throughout the day. Additionally, it allows you to plan which posts get published when. Perhaps you want to post messages during lunchtime when your audience has a break to check their social feeds, but don’t want to forego your own downtime.

The Strategy to Follow:  

I use Hootsuite to share interesting third-party content, promote company blog posts and press releases and provide details on upcoming events that Continuum is attending or hosting. The social scheduling tool gives me the ability to input links and text into the editor and have messages post to any social media feeds I connect. These posts can be instantaneous, but I use the tool to schedule messages promoting the same piece of content over an extended time period.

Let’s walk through an example:

With Navigate 2016, Continuum’s premier annual user conference, just around the corner, we want to build as much buzz as possible before, during and after the event. At the same time, being in sales requires me to devote all of my time to partners, face-to-face. So how can I still support our marketing team by promoting Navigate 2016 on social and getting #nav16 to trend? Enter: Hootsuite. 

Well before the event, I can load up my account with messages encouraging attendees to drop by the Continuum Booth at times I know I’ll be manning it, as well as schedule five-minute warning messages for our more than 36 breakout sessions. In effect, I can tweet in real time without having to publish posts right then and there. Social scheduling allows me to reinforce our marketing message without taking away from my core business objectives as a sales person. 

Suggested Read: How to Stand Out from the Crowd on Social Media

Why It Works: 

With everything going on in your day job, social sharing may be the last thing on your mind. By scheduling posts in advance, you can find the time of day (or night) that works best for you and knock it out all at once. Bottom line: you have too many things on your plate to be prioritizing social media marketing, but it’s still a shared responsibility within your company. Having the ability to tackle social sharing on your own terms makes you much more willing to do your part. With social scheduling tools helping you circumvent workload and time constraints, promoting content becomes more user-friendly and less intimidating.

But we can take this one step further…

3. Leverage a Social Automation Tool That Allows You to Do Both! 

You may still face opposition from employees who don't have the time or the desire to craft their own social messages and assign publishing times for each. Again, your technicians may be swamped trying to put out IT fires or receiving the latest competitive certifications. In my experience, if you want someone to do something for you, you have to make it quick and painless. The solution for these resistors is to automate their social activity. 

Why You Should Adopt This Approach:

The best way to maximize your social reach is to get more people sharing and posting. Automation removes barriers to entry that may dissuade you employees from helping to support your organization's marketing efforts. There's a hidden benefit to this approach, however. In having your accounts configured to automatically publish messages crafted by a member of marketing, you can spread the word without muddling its meaning. For marketing to be effective, there needs to be one consistent message and voice. That's not to say you can't inject your own personality in the social content you share, but you must always stay true to your company's brand. Having someone control what content is released into the wild helps you avoid any misleading or inappropriate language that could impact your company's reputation or public perception of your IT services.

The Strategy to Follow:

Getting the job done is all about having the right tools! At Continuum, we use a tool called GaggleAMP that allows employees to link all of their social media accounts to one platform. From there, the manager of the account (someone on marketing) preloads the platform with sample social messages to be shared. GaggleAmp then automates the process for the rest of us by emailing us daily with new messages we can share with the click of a button. It's also worth noting that the platform randomizes our communications, so that we don't all publish the same posts at once and blast our followers' feeds.

The third-party tool not only removes the hassle of social media management and unifies our organization's voice, but it also allows us to compete for social bragging rights!

Speaking of, remember how I said I was in the lead earlier? I'll just leave this here...

Frank-Bauer-GaggleAmp-Leader-Board-2.png

Utilizing a tool like GaggleAmp, which features a leaderboard measuring individual members' social contribution helps us gamify social media activity. Above, see how I rank for personal message reach. Not bad, huh?  

Why It Works: 

The proof is in the pudding! With over 1 million impressions on social messages, GaggleAmp has clearly been a success. It works because it's easy, fun and scalable for any company to adopt! You don't have to remember to log in to your account, and you don't have to wordsmith anything, yourself. Everything is delivered straight to your inbox, ready to be scheduled. It's that simple, yet effective! 

 

I'm not a marketer, but I play one on social media. Why? Because I recognize that it's everyone's duty to support their marketing team, no matter how large or small. In my case, it's vital that I do this in order to strengthen our sales funnel. As a sales person, the more I can attract new prospects, gain trust from those being worked and continue delighting partners by offering educational, remarkable content, the easier it is for me to hit my revenue goals.

Like! 

Get-Social-Media-for-MSPs-A-Guide-to-Grow-Your-Audience-Brand-and-Business-eBook

Frank Bauer is Sr Channel Development Manager for Continuum. Frank can talk, a lot, trust us, but doesn’t feel comfortable talking about himself, so we’ll do it for him. Frank has been serving the IT Channel since 1998 starting as a marketing assistant with a regional white box manufacturer. His career has spanned many positions in sales management with organizations such as Tandberg Data, Zenith Infotech and Artisan Infrastructure. Frank is also a proud, honorably discharged, veteran of the United States Navy, serving 2 years in Yokosuka, Japan and Everett, Washington. When we can get Frank out of the office, he enjoys tasting craft beers, spending time with his father and Pittsburgh sports.

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