Tag Archives: social selling

An Effective Way To Add High-Level B2B Connections On LinkedIn For #SocialSelling

More than ever, Business to Business (B2B) marketing requires one-on-one relationships. Making real, human connections with your business prospects to forge relationships that open doors to social selling. Being effective within social media to achieve this all important task is paramount to short and long-term success.

Add High-Level B2B Connections On LinkedInOne of the key social networks for effectively forging B2B relationships is LinkedIn. Unfortunately, as the most formal business social network, higher level connections are sometimes not as open to connecting with people they don’t know. All too often, the decision makers many B2B companies want to connect with, are also bombarded by contacts that are pitching them and sending them spam, without first making the all important relationship connection. This can lead to executives denying or ignoring friend requests.

So what is an effective way to improve your LinkedIn connections?

We have found that if you leverage the most informal social platform WITH the most formal one, amazing things can happen. Twitter is the most informal social network there is and you don’t have to already be a “friend” to engage with someone. When you want to build a relationships with a B2B connection on LinkedIn there are steps you can follow to do this very effectively.

1) Most LinkedIn users display their Twitter account name if they also have a Twitter account. Go connect with them on Twitter first.

2) Spend a few weeks commenting, retweeting and getting into conversations with the person on Twitter. Start slow and build the daily amount up to about 3-4 daily interactions over at least a two-week period.

3) Build rapport and name recognition with the person without coming across needy or as a stalker.

4) Once you have invested a few weeks in building a relationship, then friend request on them on LinkedIn with a personal message that references your conversations on LinkedIn.

Ok You’re Connected, What Now?

When the connection on LinkedIn is accepted, don’t make the newbie mistake of sending your sales pitch or requesting a call or meeting. You’re not done yet. You will want to continue the escalated engagement on Twitter, and add the same slowly ramped up activity of liking, sharing their content and commenting on the posts of your new connection for a few more weeks. The goal here is to build a deeper rapport with your connection that focuses on conversation around common interests. Only when you have accomplished that do you bring up a potential discussion out of the social graph.

Wrap Up

Providing that your contact is at least fairly active on social media, this process is highly effective. People that would never respond to you or accept a friend request on LinkedIn will often follow, respond and engage with you on the far more informal Twitter. Putting in the time and effort using this process breaks down the barriers that they have within the formal LinkedIn ecosystem, making them far more receptive to an add.

Remember that Business to Business connections are human. People often do business with people they feel they know and like. Today, business IS personal and not the cold fiscal only decision-making process of earlier times. When connections become relationships through conversation and mutual interests, those relationships become friendships and potential customers.

If you take a different view of LinkedIn as part of the overall social media flow, rather than a prospecting tool, your B2B efforts will be rewarded with incredible relationships, sales and customers.

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Filed under Content, Relationship, Social Business, Social Media, Social Selling, Twitter

Social Media Conversations That Become Leads

Conversations within social media is what builds relationships. Those resulting relationships are what lay the foundations for real results like sales, revenue and customer acquisition. But the question I hear most often is “How do you get into conversations that become leads?”

Social media conversations that become leadsOne way to get into conversations is to simply start them with others. For brands this is an infinitely more difficult task given the resources required, the restrictions of certain social networks and simply time. This doesn’t scale well and therefore is often only a small part of a social strategy long-term. Starting conversations with your target audience is effective, but requires massive resources to pull it off with anything resembling return on investment (ROI).

Another and more frequently used approach to starting conversations is something I call luring.

I frequently use analogies to correlate social media marketing to things that most people already understand. I find that many comprehend some of the complexities of social media much better this way. So let’s look at social media engagement or social selling as fishing.

Lure, luring, fishing. Get it?

If you agree that “Content leads to conversations, conversations build relationships and relationships result in ROI“, then we can equate content to a fishing lure and getting a bite on the line as a conversation. The reason for a fishing lure is to attract and catch fish. Different sizes and types of lures are designed to attract different types and sizes of fish. Therefore the right content, created and curated (the lure) in your streams will attract a certain type of prospect and therefore increase the chances that they share, comment or like the content you post (the bite).

Furthering our analogy, if you don’t cast enough times on the day you are fishing, you greatly reduce your chances of getting any bites. Casting your lure into the lake only a few times will likely result in no fish being attracted to your lure. You have to keep casting, reeling in and casting again in order to increase the odds that a fish will even see your lure, let alone be attracted to it. This is why having enough consistent, relevant, valuable content in your streams is so important.

This gets even complex when there are numerous types of fish in the lake, but you’re only interested in catching a specific kind. Now you have to consider WHICH lures (content subject matter) are best to attract that specific type of fish and also how many times you need to be casting and reeling in your lure each and every day in order to get a bite. If you want to attract fish that have a higher propensity to engage with you from the content you post, focus on curating content that highlights the challenges that your product and service solves for your target audience.

5 Social Media Ways To Foster Conversations With The Right Audience –

  1. Enough Posts (Casting) – social network users are logging on and off, and switching from desktop to mobile all day long. If you do not have enough posts all day, every day, you’re likely to be seen less.
  2. Content Type (The Lure) – Whether you are curating or creating content, you need to ensure that what you are posting is relevant and interesting to your target audience. Know what THEY are interested in and post about those topics. This is what will get them to engage YOU.
  3. Crowded Waters – Just because an article is popular or comes from a popular site, doesn’t mean you should post it in your streams. In fact, I would say that in most cases the opposite it true. Sharing content that everyone has already seen, read and shared themselves is hardly an effective strategy. If your peers and competitors are fishing in the same cove of the lake, grab your fishing pole and fish somewhere else where this fish see less of the same lures.
  4. Create Lures – Along with posting curated content, you should also be creating content. Think of this as the experienced fly fisherman that ties their own flies. Know your intended audience (fish) and what they’re interested in and create content that connects their needs, challenges and interests with what you do, without overtly pitching your product or service.
  5. Leads – When you have a “fish on” (conversation started) don’t reel it in as fast as humanly possible. Take the time to expand the conversation around your contact without immediately moving to what you do. Building relationships over time is what gets results. Getting a bite and immediately attempting to land the fish is a great way to rip the hook out and lose the fish altogether.

At the end of the day, social media marketing lead generation is not dissimilar to the real world. Relationships take time and often require many conversations to build trust. Taking the time to earn that trust will open doors to discuss what you do with your connections and turn relationships into leads.

If you’re having the right conversations with the right connections, your conversations will become leads.

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Filed under Brand, Community, Content, content creation, Curation, Engagement, Marketing, Relationship, Results, Social Media, Social Media Marketing, Social Selling, Uncategorized

Should Engagement Be Valued Over Sales In Social Media Marketing

Social Media Confused BrandsIn a word, NO!  Engagement should not be valued over sales in social media marketing. Engagement is simply part of the required functions of social media marketing that leads to Sales, but only when done properly.

A report published by eMarketer last year states that brands believe consumer engagement and brand lift were the number one goals of their social media marketing. Consumer engagement represented a 17% increase in this goal, which replaced “positive sentiment” as the number one goal just a year ago.

The study further shows that in 2011 increasing sales was the number one goal of social media marketing, yet it quickly dropped below 50% by 2012. Now brands seem to be even more confused on priorities, as increasing sales is now cited as the leading goal by 58% of the respondents.

These new statistics seem to indicate to me that many still don’t have an understanding of how social media marketing is best utilized at the brand level. It also makes me think that confusion and lack of proper strategy and execution make changing the primary goal of their efforts an easier migration, then actually achieving real results. Scary? I believe so…

In just three short years, brands have modified their social focus from actually achieving results from the channel to the fluffy measurement of likes, comments and shares as a metric of success. So the question is, should engagement be valued over sales, or should engagement combined with a proper strategy lead to a focused sales, revenue and ROI metric approach?

Here are some questions that I think should be answered by most brands:

1) Is the Effort vs Return worth the time spent to obtain engagement?

2) Are you seeking False Positives in the form of engagement in order to measure how well you are doing?

3) Is the Activity you are performing to achieve engagement appropriate?

4) Is your Strategy and Execution wrong, therefore leading you to focus on engagement instead of sales/revenue?

5) Have you defined your Target Audience appropriately in order to actually achieve sales/revenue?

6) Are you avoiding Sales and Revenue as a top priority because you don’t really know how to achieve that?

7) Are you Changing Your Goals year after year to fit what you ARE achieving, instead of adjusting what you are doing to achieve what you know you should?

I think there are some significant flaws in the thinking associated with this report by the brands that responded. I believe there is a disconnect in understanding effective social media marketing and how to do it. I believe that the limitations brands are self imposing, prevent them from actually doing social media marketing in a way that achieves real results.

What do you think?

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Filed under Brand, Engagement, Marketing, Relationship, Results, Social Media, Social Media Marketing, Social Media ROI, Strategy, Uncategorized

The Drastic Difference Between Social Selling And Spam

Social Selling continues to gain popularity as a term and an action within the social media marketing space. Social selling has many definitions, but I like the one by @JulioVisko in a Social Media Today article from 2012 that says “staying connected with your prospects and build a relationship with them that goes beyond a vendor toward a trusted advisor.” The key word here is relationship, not selling, something often misunderstand by online marketers and brands alike.

Correct me if I am wrong, but we are all experiencing an increase in Social Selling VS Spamwhat I consider to be the opposite of social selling, under the guise of the often misunderstood phrase. Many newer social media applications are gaining popularity that purport to “find prospects that need your product/service and automate or suggest responses” that supposedly increase “engagement” and sales. Sounds really good, doesn’t it? Not so fast.

All, if not most of these applications are developed by gear-heads that have incredible programming skills, but little to no social media marketing experience or understanding. What results is the numerous @ mentions we are all experiencing when we tweet a specific word or phrase from brands, marketers and twitter accounts we have had ZERO engagement with. It’s simply a search for and respond with function that fills the social graph with noise, frustration and inappropriate sales messaging that has nothing to do with social.

Recently I had a Skype call with the CEO of one such technology company. The demo and call didn’t go very well as you can imagine, and actually degraded into an argument over what social media marketing actually is. This brilliant programmer’s company has tons of logo’s of major brand customers and news sites “validating” how awesome his technology is, which magnifies the problem even further. The individual argued that it is perfectly fine for brands and marketers to use technology to find “prospects” and @ mention them with a specific offer of their products, even if they have never followed, engaged or connected with the twitter account previously.

Well, I vehemently and respectfully disagree. Where I come from, we call that spam. You know, the unwanted and unrequested direct contact by a person or brand you don’t know, soliciting a product or service you did not want information about. Easily recognized in our email inbox, yet regrettably it is overlooked as acceptable by the inexperienced in social media.

What is social selling and how do you do it properly?

In a word, social selling is relationships. It is derived from connections and conversations within social networks with prospects for your products and services that start and end around building a long-term relationship. It is providing selfless value to your prospect community and earning the opportunity to “pitch” what you do.

Can you target prospects in social selling?

Absolutely you can and SHOULD! Use tools, searches and hashtags to find your target audience or prospects that need what you do, then connect and communicate with them about anything other than what you do. Show interest in them and what they do and most importantly ensure that the content you are sharing is interesting and relevant to THEM, not exclusively pitching what you do.

Social selling and spam are at opposite ends of the spectrum of effective social media marketing.

One is targeted, sustainable and long-term, one is not.

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Filed under App, Brand, Community, Hashtag, Marketing, Relationship, Social Media, Social Media Marketing, Social Selling, Spam, Twitter

Customer Service “IS” Sales In Social Media – 2 Examples and 3 Tips

Customer service is at the core of effective social media marketing. The beginning of effective customer service is  listening to your customers and prospects, but more than that, it’s showing that you’re listening by responding. Even further, it’s responding in real-time that delivers the message of responsiveness, authenticity, priority and that the your connections are important. Taking it all the way to an end game, proper social media customer service actually results in sales, WHEN DONE RIGHT.

Don’t believe it? Here’s one example of the right idea that misses the mark.

(I apologize early in the post for the numerous graphics, but I felt it was important to show actual threads and engagement that depict the points we are covering.)

Example 1:

Last week I had some tire trouble. Specifically, I had a leak in one of the rear tires and had to get it resolved because it would no longer hold pressure. I tweeted about it and headed off to Les Schwab to get it handled. As usual, Les Bad Social Media CustomerServiceSchwab (on site) has fabulous customer service and quickly removed the nail and got me on my way after pointing out another issue with my front tires. With no time to have the front tire issue handled that day, I got back to the office to get back on schedule.

Later that day, another Oregon tire company jumped in to check on me via Twitter. Being a social media professional I really dig attentive brands and eagerly responded about the situation. I loved that they were watching for opportunities that make sense to make a connection, but my enthusiasm didn’t last.

They took three days to respond to my reply and dropped me like I was hot. No attempt to be better than another option close to me, offer alternatives or pursue a relationship or a sales opportunity. They just bowed out altogether.

To make matters worse, Les Schwab never responded at all. In fact their Twitter account is completely inactive and never responds to anyone. What missed opportunities to make connections with customers and prospects. What missed opportunities to stand out and get a sale. Needless to say, I will not be buying tires or having my alignment done at either of these companies.

Customer service within social media is too often NOT matching a brands brick and mortar reputation or intent. A fail any way you slice it that does not achieve social selling.

*Bonus Example:

Social Media ResponseAn article entitled “Customer Service as a differentiator” last week about our customer service was published by another one of our users and sparked a pretty interesting comment thread from one reader. They seemed to have a pretty negative and misguided view of customer service that many may share. It badly needed a response and of course we responded. Are you responding to comments on blog posts that reference your brand? You should be, as they represent incredible opportunity to show ways you are different.

Example 2:

Our brand is constantly listening AND responding online. Whenever we are mentioned as a part of a discussion, we do not delay in responding, offering assistance and showing our authentic brand. When someone expresses interest in what we do, is referred by one of our users or is having an issue, we do not take it lightly. Review the following thread to get a good idea of how this works and contemplate how you can replicate something similar in your social media marketing.

Example of social media Customer Service

Customer Service Bundle Post

The results of approaching customer service in this fashion can clearly be seen. In less than an hour we had engaged a referral and helped them not only register for Bundle Post, but also got them setup and trained! Clearly people appreciate when you respond at the time they are there and not days later. In addition, sales, customers, referrals and an incredible reputation often result.

3 tips to amazing social media customer service:

1) Respond – Have you ever heard the phrase “It’s not what you say it’s how you say it?” In social media customer service it’s more like “It is what you say and WHEN you say.” Listening and responding quickly has many benefits in social media marketing. Two of those benefits are 1) defusing frustration before it escalates and 2) striking while the iron is hot.

When someone mentions your brand in the social graph, they are doing so when they are logged in. Responding quickly ensures the conversation can progress fluidly since you already know the person is online.  The sooner you respond to a customer or prospects comment, the greater the opportunity to be of service, resulting in a sale or a positive outcome.

2) Acknowledge – Like responding, acknowledging someone and their comment or concern goes a long way. You acknowledge by responding quickly. Offer resolutions, options and suggestions that address and acknowledge the comment the user had.

**Be sure to show empathy if it is a complaint!

3) Be Authentic – You have to really care and show it. If you or your brand does not have this real view at the core of your culture, it is really going to be challenging to show it.

As we stated in the comment thread of that earlier mentioned Bonus Example blog post from last week, “We approach our business from our experienced social media marketing perspective, combined with our real concern and relationships with our users. We have thousands you can ask if you care to. We do in fact love our users because they are all based on relationships. We aren’t some gear heads that decided to make some software for social media because it’s a hot industry.”

Customer service within social media is actually selling. Sales within social media marketing should also include a mindset toward effective customer service. Together they are powerful forces that lead to real measurable results. On their own, without working together they are often short-term or at least considerably less effective.

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Filed under Blog, Engagement, Marketing, Relationship, Social Media, Social Media Marketing, Social Selling, Twitter

Reality Check: Daily Required Social Media Marketing Activity

I am frequently seeing articles explaining how to do social media marketing in 30 minutes or an hour each day and decided it was time to deliver a reality check. Unless you are a social media “guru”, “author”, “celebrity” or #fauxpert that has never done social media marketing outside of self promotion and has a huge social following, it’s time for a reality check. Any expectation that real results, revenue and return on investment for any SMB or marketer will be achieved by following such advice is foolish thinking.

Sorry to burst your bubble, but effective social media marketing is a detailed combination of technology integration, creativity and a whole lot of activity 24/7. It’s not working when you want, getting weekends off and forgetting to check your feeds, mentions and conversations for days at a time. We call that kind of activity and dedication social networking, not social media.

That’s great if you are an enthusiast that is not using social media channels for marketing, but then again I don’t write for enthusiasts. My articles are always focused on the average brand, SMB, individual marketer and social media agencies. It’s what I know and do, not a hobby or a subject matter I have become known for and use to generate book sales, speaking gigs or ad revenue from blog traffic.

Our goal is to change the message of the industry that is dominated by the folks outlined in the above paragraph into that of real effective use of social media by people who have and actually do it. It’s one thing to consult Starbucks or most other major brands on social media because you sold a ton of books about the subject. It’s another thing to actually create and execute a strategy for the majority that make up social media marketers like small and medium brands or individual marketers and get results. Heck, my 14-year-old daughter could consult Starbucks or most other major brands on their social media marketing. They do it wrong and don’t have to do it right. They have billions in media and marketing dollars that drive their brand on and offline.

While articles that tell you that you can get results with minimal time and effort in social media are incredibly appealing to the masses, I am hear to tell you that it takes work.

*Note – Social media agencies, consultants and coaches – keep reading. There are some reality checks for you as well. :-)

In an effort to both deliver a reality check as well as a real guide of activity, following is a list of SOME daily activities that are required to get results with any social media marketing program.

1) Content Posting: Every day you need to have relevant valuable content for your audience in your stream. Content that gets them to engage, like, comment and share. Not just posts about you or what you do, but information, news and articles your audience will find relevant.

How much content? Here is a basic list of posts per day on a few of the networks you are likely working with:

Twitter – 15-20
Facebook Personal – 4-8
Facebook Page – 3-6
LinkedIn Personal – 5-10
Groups – 1-4
G+ Personal – 10-15
G+ Brand Page – 2-5

Every industry, audience and brand is different, but this will give you a sense of some minimum levels that are required.

2) Content Creation: Like it or not, you have to not only share content relevant to your audience, you also have to create your own content. Blog posts, videos, images, infographics, etc. You can’t lead in an industry where you are not contributing to its message in new ways. This is not an occasional required activity, it’s every single week.

3) YOUR Content Posting: Once you have created content, you need to post it. The good news is that the more content you have created the more content you have available to post daily. I believe content you have created and posts that are about you and what you do should make up about 20% of what you post every day.

4) Content Sharing: Part of social media marketing is sharing other people’s social posts that you and your audience may find interesting and valuable. This serves two purposes;

  1. It delivers additional value to your audience beyond what you found and posted.
  2. It lets others know that you appreciate what they post and wanted to pass it along.

5) Real and Real-Time Posting: These posts are above posting and sharing content and are just about being real, human and approachable. These are often just text and consist of what you are thinking, the weather, where you are and what you are doing. Don’t forget that people connect with people in social media. Don’t be a logo or a robot. Nobody can like or build a relationship with either of those.

6) Community Growth: Every day you need to be growing your community of fans, followers and friends that are your target audience. If you build it they will come doesn’t work in social media. Though doing the above 5 activities every day will help you consistently grow your community, if you are using social media for marketing, that community size needs to increase. Therefore every day you need to be searching and finding your target audience on all of the social networks and connecting with them. Don’t wait for them to find you.

7) Community Outreach: Within your community you need to continually reach out and engage. That is no different from being at a live networking event. You start conversations and get to know them. You share their content and information with others and build a relationship. This must be done daily to be effective with social media marketing.

8) Response/Engage: The opposite of outreach is responding. When someone likes, shares, comments on your posts, acknowledge them, thank them and star a conversation. If someone mentions you in social media, respond.

I have a lot to say about this section, but in order to keep it a blog post and not an article I will say that timing matters. When someone mentions you or comments, they are there, online, right now. Waiting hours or days is missed opportunity and will never see any real results.

9) Follow Backs: When someone follows you on Twitter, Circles you on Google Plus or Friends you on Facebook or Linkedin, you need determine whether you want to reciprocate or accept. I recommend that this is done every single day. We do it twice per day ourselves.

*Tip – if you’re using social media for marketing, follow, friend and connect with those that are your target audience. If you are a restaurant in Tennessee, friending or following someone in the UK doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

10) Data/Statistics: You need to know what is working and what isn’t. Paying attention to your statistics, results, analytics and data on a daily basis is required. Knowing this information enables you to adjust the what’s and when’s of what you are doing and set realistic goals and targets. Not knowing means you are not getting anywhere.

11) Planning/Strategy: Every day you need to be planning and adjusting your strategy. Using what you learn to improve results in social media marketing is no different from anything else in business. Test, measure and adjust… DAILY.

More Reality Checks for Marketers:

So if you think that real, effective social media marketing can actually be accomplished in 30 minutes or an hour per day, I invite you to think again. This is why there are so many social media agencies out there and more popping up every single day. Not too many people have the time, knowledge and ability to execute all of these thins on a daily basis. If you can’t either or are not getting results, I suggest you speak with a qualified social media professional agency as well.

*If you are paying $99/mo for “social media” from some online company, you’re being robbed. It takes far too much time, tools and activities to really do social media marketing right that results in real business.

More Reality Checks for Social Media Agencies:

If your agency is teaching social media marketing instead of doing it, before taking some unsuspecting persons money, be sure they understand what it really takes. Stop taking money from people to teach them things they will never have the time, skill or experience to execute well. Anyway you slice it, it’s stealing…

*As a consultant or agency that teaches social media, the person you teach is rarely the CEO that paid for you. Be aware that the admin, intern or junior employee you train, will soon be in love with social media marketing just like you and will be starting their own agency when their employer pulls the plug. Stop creating competitors for yourself every six months, while making pennies for doing it. Do the hard work for clients and get them real results by delivering effective social media management that has value and recurring revenue.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. There is so much more required in social media marketing like strategy, targeting, social selling, conversations and more. But true to form, I am not here to condemn or be hurtful. My only goal here is to increase the effectiveness of social media marketing in general and change the message to real results, not scores, followers, likes or speakers. Go do this!

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Filed under Agency, Blog, Community, Engagement, Facebook, Fanpage, Followers, Google Plus, Infographic, Marketing, Relationship, Results, Social Media, Social Media Management, Social Media Marketing, Social Media ROI, Strategy, Twitter

Social Media Is NOT About Engagement

The definition of Engagement in social media marketing is sometimes a bit cloudy. I would describe social media engagement as listening, responding and communicating with your social community. It is being real, ever present and responsive to conversations taking place within your social presence. Engaging involves responding to activities that happen to you, like:

1) comments

2) mentions

3) shares

4) likes

Engagement also involves the proactive activities that solicit responses from others, like:

1) Posting relevant, interesting content

2) Liking other peoples content

3) Sharing or Retweeting other peoples content

I hear so frequently that social media is about Engaging, or Engagement. I also hear the phrase, content is king. Is it really? Is that what social media marketing is about? I disagree that social media is about content, engagement or even relationships. Effective social media marketing is not ABOUT those things, it simply USES those things to accomplish something. They are merely the methods to achieve a result.

“Content isn’t king, results are! Social Media is about Results! Whether you are a big brand, entrepreneur or social media agency, using social media for marketing, you should be here for a specific reason or reasons. One of those reasons, and hopefully the main one, is to acheive some kind of return on the significant investment of time, money and resources that you are spending in the space.

Someone recently posted a comment in response to an article I shared. They said, “Remember… it’s not the amount of likes, but the engagement that makes a page worthwhile.”

My response was, I disagree. It’s BOTH. You can have all the awesome engagement in the world, but without a large enough, targeted community, you will never get an ROI. After all it is about results, not engagement that is important.

I challenge you to look at content, engagement and other components of your social media management in the proper perspective. I challenge you to spend less time on the methods of social media and focus more on achieving real revenue and results. I challenge you to shift your daily activity from doing social media to being effective, which is measured by real results.

Yes, you need to engage and you must always respond and build relationships. Just be sure you are engaging and building the relationships that have a chance to achieve results. These things combined is what I call social selling.




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Filed under Agency, Community, Engagement, Marketing, Relationship, Results, Social Media, Social Media Content, Social Media Management, Social Media Marketing, Social Media ROI, Social Selling, Strategy