In this episode, Richard Bliss helps teams bring LinkedIn strategy and action together, as he talks about social selling as a team boosting strategy. Richard has helped hundreds of sales teams implement these online strategies and encourages digital-first leaders to empower their own teams.
Speaker 1: Welcome to Digital First Leadership, the podcast that focuses on helping leaders and teams understand how to master the language of social media in today's digital-first world. In this episode, Richard helps teams bring LinkedIn strategy and action together as he talks about social selling as a team-boosting strategy. Richard has helped hundreds of sales teams implement these online strategies and encourages digital-first leaders to empower their own teams.
Richard Bliss: Hi. Welcome to the show. I'm Richard Bliss, your host. Thank you for joining me. There is so much going on when it comes to finding a way to be successful on social media that oftentimes we find ourselves feeling isolated, feeling like we're on our own, feeling like it's just heavy lifting all by ourselves, and feeling inadequate because all of the effort that we're putting in, all of the work that we're doing, we're getting almost no return. It just doesn't seem to be working.
Richard Bliss: This is very common feedback that I get from many of my clients before they go through our training, before they spend time with me to help them understand how to master social selling, is that they just don't feel they're getting their money's worth because I'm telling you, you have a problem right now. Your salespeople can't get in front of their customers for the past 15 months and they're trying to figure out a way to be relevant, to be present. They're sending out the InMails, they're spamming their prospect lists, they're doing everything they can, and it's just not working, or it's working at a very suboptimal level, so one of the things that we want to talk about today is how to become more effective as a team to approach this challenge rather than relying individually.
Richard Bliss: Okay, let's first talk about the obstacle that we have in front of us. One of the biggest obstacles we have when it comes to social selling is the belief that social media is a personal tool, that my Facebook account, my Twitter account, my LinkedIn, my TikTok, my YouTube, all of these are my personal accounts and the company should not be expecting me to use them to pitch the company, right? That's kind of like, "No, this is mine. This is my brand. This is me."
Richard Bliss: Okay, that's an obstacle because there's a lot of truth to it, but there is a but. The but is that in today's world now, our digital identity is what we lead with and our physical real-world identity follows. It used to be the other way around, ladies and gentlemen, that people would get to know me, my friends, my colleagues, my work people, and then they would follow my social media, and now it's the other way around.
Richard Bliss: I have 10 people at BlissPoint that work for me. I've never met half of them. Now, we have a big event coming up this fall. We're going to get together. I'm flying them in from all over the world and we're going to get together because a lot of us have never met each other. Well, why? Because, well, we're on a Zoom call. Does that count?
Richard Bliss: But my point here is that the idea that we are coming from, this obstacle that I talked about is that traditionally we thought about social media as a means of keeping in touch with our family and our friends and our personal outside of work, but more and more, because of the whole work from home, the digital environment, we are now online working much more than we are in person working. That's the first obstacle we need to overcome. I'm not here to talk about and say that you should turn over your Facebook and start using Facebook to sell. I'm not even here to say that about Twitter, although Twitter is a great place for techie people to hang out. A lot of techie people hang out on Twitter talking about techie stuff. I'm not talking that you need to turn your TikTok into a selling tool, although it can be very effective, but I'm here to talk about your digital calling card, or I call it your "digital house," your digital identity. In the work environment, it is the hub of your digital identity. That is LinkedIn. LinkedIn.
Richard Bliss: Look, if I just heard about you, I'm not going to google you, I'm going to go on LinkedIn and look you up. If I attended as a VR virtual event, I'm not going to google you, I'm going to look you up on LinkedIn now. Yes, I'm going to use Google to do a lot of research, but I'm going to go to LinkedIn first. You don't believe me? Go google me, google anybody. What's the first thing that's going to show up on the Google? Your LinkedIn. Even if you google me, the first thing that's going to hit is LinkedIn, but most of the time, I counted this the other day that somebody is like, "Well, I've got my website and I drive people to my website for traffic and here's how I google people and look them up." No, most people today are going to go to LinkedIn first and look them up.
Richard Bliss: Now, here's the problem: Your LinkedIn looks like a resume. Your LinkedIn looks like talking points: "Here's all my skills, my certifications, everything I've done." It doesn't look like a tool for you to actively engage and do business. It looks like you're looking for a job, not doing your job, so there's a whole nother conversation about getting your digital house in order. What we're here to talk about, though, is that once you get your digital house in order, how do you start to now operate together and work as a team?
Richard Bliss: Think about it this way: You're at a networking event or something, you're standing around talking, drinks in your hand type of thing, and you have a prospect in the room and one of your colleagues that you work with happens to be sitting at dinner with them because it's a dinner or whatever. I mean, I can't even remember that far back when we used to do things like this, but they engage with them and they get a piece of knowledge and information. They're like, "Oh, interesting." Maybe it's their kid's getting accepted to Notre Dame or maybe they got a promotion or maybe, whatever it is, it's a piece of information. You now are probably going to share that information with your colleague who's trying to close business with that individual, right?
Richard Bliss: Now, there's a way that you can do that. It comes across awkwardly because we're not used to doing it online, but it's very natural when we do it in real life. I mean, if I had met somebody that night before at a networking event and saw you the next day at the office, I'd go tell you. Then I would probably pass the information in exchange. Anyway, you get the point.
Richard Bliss: But here's what you can do: We call this "social squads" or "team-building." The concept here is that LinkedIn rewards engagement and it rewards coordination of effort. Now, there are some people out there who abuse it aggressively. It's a term that you may have heard called a "pod." Pods are where an influencer throws up a piece of content and then they let all these thousands of people come in and they're like, "Great job. I agree," and they leave all these comments because the algorithm on LinkedIn recognizes that this activity is happening so it artificially boosts them at the moment, but it only artificially boosts them so far because LinkedIn has things in place to prevent that, but it still happens.
Richard Bliss: What I'm talking about is a coordinated effort on your part as a team to start working together to think about how you're putting content out on LinkedIn and not to do it from a siloed approach because right now, for many of my prospects, for many of the prospects I talk to, they've got an employee advocacy tool that's pumping content out to their employees, the employees are getting it on their mobile device, the employees are hitting the Post button and putting it on their LinkedIn, and that's it. They're posting and ghosting and they're not getting any traction and they're wondering why and there's gamification on the app and they're getting points internally, but they're getting no exposure externally.
Richard Bliss: This is a black eye that LinkedIn gets because it doesn't reward that kind of behavior, but there are many tools internally to a lot of corporations that drive that kind of behavior, and so what you want to do instead is to step back and realize what LinkedIn is looking for. LinkedIn is looking for conversations. It's looking for true engagement. It's looking for people to talk and to share ideas and content. It's doing that by measuring and looking at the comments and the quality of the comments, so you need to put content out there that drives conversations. But this doesn't mean that you can't use this content to drive conversations amongst your fellow employees.
Richard Bliss: Let me give you an example. One of my clients had a product launch and they had gone through our training and realized what we were talking about, so what they did is they wrote up the original piece of content that was going to get posted by one of their senior leaders. It was about 200 words of content, so let's say about 1,000 characters, 200 words. In this case, they actually put a picture of, I think the product, or it was a story.
Richard Bliss: Then what they did is before they posted it, they sent it around to the team and said, "This post is going live next Tuesday. Please prepare your comments accordingly to add to the conversation." They had a team meeting and they got together and they looked at the other senior leaders and the other members of the team and, "How can you add to the conversation to help our customers see the value of what we're about to do?" Because remember, and I've said this on other episodes of the podcast, when you put out a comment, that comment goes to your network, not just to the individual who posted. Think about this: Your colleague is going to post something and you're going to comment. Well, your colleague doesn't care that you know about this, what they care about, what you should care about is your network is now going to find out about it because of your comment.
Richard Bliss: They create the content first, they share it with the team. The team meets. They talk about the voice and the message and what they want to do and then everybody has their contribution prepared geared towards talking to their connections, geared towards helping their audience who's going to see the comment understand how it fits into the bigger post. This is what they did. They put it live and then everybody started leaving these detailed comments that added more richness to the subject matter. Their customers got pulled in, their partners got pulled in, and their prospects got pulled in to the point where they got two leads out of that in the following month.
Richard Bliss: They did this over a month period and the following month, they got two leads that opened the door for business opportunities. That's one way of doing it. Another client went through the training. What they did is they took their team and broke it into teams of 10 people of four teams each and then every week, each of the team leads... Excuse me. Each week, the team would pick a topic and they would pick one individual in the team who's going to create the content. Now, the team worked together with marketing to create that piece of content, two to 300 words, and then they socialized it internally so everybody knew when the content was going so that on Tuesday morning at 9:00 AM local time, they know the post is going to go live and they already know the comments they're going to share. The post goes live, they all engage. Now, that's week one.
Richard Bliss: Week two, it moves to team two, and now it's their turn, and then team three, and then team four, and come start of the next month, team one's back. It's their responsibility. This way you spread it amongst the team and then they were able to measure success and how the content does, this type of thing. This is the type of activity that you can do to start to grow the exposure that your content gets. Richard Bliss: Now, there is a caveat. I call it "comment fatigue." One of the challenges you're going to face with is that you're constantly hitting your team up, "Hey, comment on my post, comment on my post, comment on my post," and if everybody's doing that, you're going to get tired of commenting on each other's posts, so what you want to do is that by organizing this into a team effort, by coordinating it, you reduce the comment fatigue the last minute. Because this is all done beforehand, you already have prepared your comments so you don't have to think about it at the last second.
Richard Bliss: There's another, though, caveat, just like all social media platforms, LinkedIn watches what you comment on, what you like, and what you engage with. Then the more you comment on certain sources, it will start to show you more and more of those sources, so if you're only commenting on content that's coming from your team, you will begin to only see content coming from your team, so your LinkedIn feed will just fill up with everybody in your team. You don't want that. Richard Bliss: Let me add to this. This has been another episode of the podcast that I did earlier on, but I'm going to add it here. That is the power of commenting. The way you prevent comment fatigue and this siloed limitation of content are that yes, you're doing this team-building activity where the team is coordinating, but on top of that, you should also be creating a piece of content at least once a week and then you should be commenting on three different individuals every other day.
Richard Bliss: What I mean by that is you're going to comment on your team, you're going to comment on something, maybe in your company, I would actually say in your industry, but then you're going to purposely pick somebody outside of your first-degree connections and comment on their posts, somebody you don't know. "Well, wait a minute. That seems awkward. Why would I comment on somebody I don't know?" Well, they put the content out there for people to see, so go comment on it because nobody else is, and you will stand out. Not only that, but people in your network will see your comment on their content, so they'll see you participating in conversations other than your company, and people in their network will start to see your comments. It'll broaden the reach of your influence. I recommend you do this, particularly with your partners and your customers. You're going to do one post this week with your team. Next week, go outside and do the same thing with one of your partners: "Hey, we're going to do this."
Richard Bliss: I got to tell you, a bit of a sales pitch here, but a lot of my clients bring me in to train their partners so that the two companies can work together to do this very thing, coordinating their activities and preventing then the siloed, everybody's seeing the same content from each other. Instead, you start actually doing this with your partners. I've done it for hundreds of partners for my clients over the last two years and it's something that makes it very easy for the teams to coordinate. It gives them a reason to coordinate. If you're interested, reach out to me, give me a direct message on LinkedIn. I'll have a quick call with you and explain how I do that.
Richard Bliss: What I'm talking about today is by coordinating your efforts and removing the siloed approach and making people personally responsible, instead, you make it part of the team effort. You can quickly build up influence so that your team is starting to be seen by a wide range of partners, customers, and prospects, and that you remove this burden of people saying, "Well, I don't know what to post, so I'm not going to post anything," or, "I'm just going to hit the Share button and be done." That's not doing anybody any favors, so instead, get everybody involved.
Richard Bliss: I'd love to come in and do a quick consultation with you. If you have some questions about how to do that, this team-building concept, it's something that we've had tremendous success with our clients around the world and it's something I think that you'll find valuable. I would also recommend that you take an opportunity to go out to Amazon and take a look at my book, Digital First Leadership, where I talk about some of the concepts that I've mentioned here on the call.
Richard Bliss: I'm always trying to help people find ways to become more effective, particularly when it comes to social media. This is one of the key ways for you to break down those barriers that so many of your people in your organization are having and it's to help them feel comfortable that they're doing something productive. I'm telling you, they're going to put posts out and you're going to start seeing not 1,000, but somewhere between three to 5,000 views on posts in a single day simply because you've started to take advantage of the tools and the way they work.
Richard Bliss: Thank you for listening. Thank you for being a fan. I appreciate the input and the comments and the connection requests and the engagement I have on social media with so many of you who are listening. Thanks again. Take care.
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