You might have heard the stats: sales reps who use social media as part of their sales techniques outsell 78 percent of their peers. Leads developed through employees’ social media activities convert 7 times more frequently than other leads.
How does this work? Can you really use social media and content marketing to drive sales and grow your business?
Yes, and I speak from experience. I regularly use my personal brand to bring in additional revenue for my company and I’m not a salesman. The following tips can work for anyone. Online branding efforts will give you a competitive edge in driving sales, whether you’re in a sales role or not.
The process is simple: by getting useful content in front of potential clients, you get more attention, control the narrative, broaden your sales funnel and ultimately drive revenue for your company.
1. Get attention
Wouldn’t you be in better shape if more people knew about your business?
Of course. That’s why business owners spend thousands on advertising initiatives. Sure, advertising can be helpful, but those campaigns are often expensive, impersonal and don’t provide any real value to the customer.
Instead, consider generating attention for your company by building up your personal brand and using it as a platform to educate and entertain your customers. It may require more effort than throwing money at an ad, but it’s far more cost-effective and will build you a longer-lasting, loyal base of brand advocates in the process.
Consider my online activity. To get attention for myself, I publish articles regularly on top-tier publications like Entrepreneur, Forbes and Huffington Post, and share them on social media platforms alongside industry news and other important articles. The goal is to be as helpful as possible to people who might have questions about online branding and reputation management. I’m by no means a celebrity, yet I’ve built a following of 15,000+ people who follow me and engage with my content every day on Twitter. That's kind of amazing.
2. Control the first impression:
What shows up when people Google you?
It better be good. Of all Internet users, 65 percent see online search as the most trusted source of information about people and companies. That’s a higher level of trust than any other online or offline source.
An impressive first impression that highlights press mentions and awards, and builds credibility? “Okay, maybe I’ll give them a call.”
Irrelevant or negative information? “Eh, maybe not.”
After all, your customers are just one Google search away from a competitor who looks much more credible than you do. So do your homework to make sure your first impression is as convincing as possible.
Here are a few steps that will make a difference:
a) Clean up your current situation: Scan your Google results, and delete any negative or irrelevant results that you control (unprofessional college photos, old websites, etc.) Then, use BrandYourself’s Social Scanner to quickly find and delete any inappropriate posts in your Facebook and Twitter feeds.
b) Build a personal website: Get yourself a domain with your name in the URL (like RyanErskine.com) and build it as a central hub of information about you, including your experience, blog content, relevant press, awards and honors.
c) Reserve your name on social media platforms: There are 10 search results on your first page of Google results, so you’ll need 10 properties ranking to take control of the narrative. Register your name on the most authoritative social media platforms and don’t forget to optimize them for SEO benefit when you’re done.
3. Generate Leads
Getting attention for your business is good, but generating leads is better.
Good news: if you do the right keyword research ahead of time, content marketing ends up paying dividends in the leads department for many months to come.
For example, the phrase “personal branding statistics” gets 30 searches per month, and I own the first two Google results, including the infobox. According to industry stats, that means nearly 50% (or 15 people) of those searchers are clicking on my results every month.
And, the more general phrase “branding statistics” gets 320 searchers per month. My article shows up in Google’s infobox for that term, which means I earn 31% of those searches, or 99 people each month.
So there are 114 people per month clicking on that one article thanks to those two keywords alone. It’s a small sample, but consider that I have dozens of articles optimized for key phrases in my industry, targeted to people at various places in the funnel. Also consider that I’m using paid promotion and social media platforms to drive more traffic to those articles than I would get from organic search volume alone.
The result is a web of educational content that consistently drives leads to my website, my email, my newsletter, and my social media channels.
4. Close the Sale
I talk a lot about the importance of online reputation management for business owners and entrepreneurs. Perhaps the most important benefit of my online brand is the inherent proof that I walk the walk.
Of course, this seems painfully obvious for someone in the industry of personal branding, but it can work for any industry. Imagine you’re starting a business selling DIY solar panel installation kits online. (I have no idea if this is a feasable business model, but bear with me.)
Let’s say you write content about the best and worst kinds of solar panels, tips for self-installation, and how you used your own kit to save money and the environment. When you get potential clients on the phone, and they complain, “I don’t know if I can really do this myself. Isn’t it difficult to install?” -- you can send them to your article, How I Installed My Own Solar Panels in 20 Minutes and Saved $550.
When they ask “But what if I stumble into a weird problem?” you can direct them to your latest article, The Ultimate Guide to DIY Solar Panel Installation and offer them your phone number for personal support.
When they ask, “Did you install your own solar panels?” you can tell them “Of course, I’ll send you a Youtube video where I documented the whole process.”
The point is this: having a portfolio of useful content shows that you’ve already thought through your customers’ potential problems -- and it shows you walk the walk.
When potential customers are skeptical about the benefits of improving their online brands, I can point to my own and ask, “Remember how you found me? This does work.” There’s no stronger argument than that.
Isn’t it time you took your personal brand more seriously?