The Five E’s of Social Media

By on February 12, 2013

A friend of mine that owns an ice cream shop told me a story the other day about a conversation she had in line at the grocery store. She was commiserating with a college student about how coffee shops are lousy for studying because of the noise. So, she asked if the student knew about a corner of one of the campus greens that still picked up Wifi and was right next to a parking lot.

“She hadn’t and thanked me emphatically because she loved being outside. We kept chatting and she asked what I did. I told her and she was in the next afternoon,” my friend told me.

What struck me most about this anecdote was that the sales pitch happened naturally in their conversation. Thanks to the proliferation of social media, sales strategists of all stripes can create these kind of interactions online – all of the time. My friend just serendipitously happened to be in a physical location where prospects gather. But online, these places are much easier to find, leverage and scale.

This month, Nimble CEO and founder Jon Ferrara shared several steps with with Software Advice, a research consultancy, about how others can socialize their sales cycle in the manner described above. This is primarily done through building a strategic online presence. Here’s a review of the “Five E’s” he recommends.

  • Educate: Here’s where the “why” comes in. What exactly do you have that they need? Don’t sell; describe and explain in a broader sense how they can address these needs to succeed. Create ebooks, tip sheets, articles and commentary. Then participate in forums and discussions relevant to your business. This will establish your brand as a helpful expert remembered during those “trigger times” that immediately precede a buying decision.
  • Enchant: Enchantment means sharing in an authentic, relevant and transparent way. Create guiding principles for your online tone of voice just as you might style guidelines for logos and color schemes. Creating an online presence is a big part of brand identity, so build one that will attract the audience you want. Is your voice “business friendly?” Humorous? Do you encourage spirited debate, or do you want to avoid controversy and stick to a more academic tone?
  • Engage: Like. Comment. Chat. Get involved. You’ve shared your passions; encourage others to do the same. Even if they’re not potential customers, they have friends that are. A great habit to develop is to take some time each day to view your social universe and participate, reach out, and keep relationships active.
  • Embrace: Identify those individuals and companies whose needs mesh with your strengths. Formalize connections and continue to talk, listen and watch. LinkedIn groups are one great way to share experiences, ask questions, get to know people, and develop ideas. Quora is another way to participate in thoughtful give-and-take on business issues. Ask a question on Quora and you could get straightforward advice from experts, tips and links.
  • Empower: Empowerment means giving people the tools they need to be successful. When you have access to the best ways to engage and educate your prospects, clients, and peers, you can become a trusted advisor and increase selling opportunities.

The Social Selling Impact

Jon believes that factoring these steps into daily tasks and brand culture shows your readers, prospects, and fans how their lives can be better and their businesses run more efficiently. How does your business leverage social in the sales cycle? Chime in the conversation with a comment here.

Ashley VerrillAbout the Author: Ashley Verrill

Ashley Verrill is a market analyst that writes for Software Advice. She has spent the last six years reporting and writing business news and strategy features. Her work has appeared in myriad publications including Inc., Upstart Business Journal, the Austin Business Journal and the North Bay Business Journal.


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