If you’re not using sales automation software yet, you’re wasting valuable time and money.
Imagine a tireless fleet of employees taking care of all the mundane, repetitive tasks that keep your business running. Meanwhile, your other team members are focusing on important projects, like closing sales. Working together, these teams ensure your business operations are coordinated and effective.
Don’t have the budget to hire a whole new team of dedicated assistants who can work 24/7? That’s where sales automation comes in.
Bonus: Learn how to sell more products on social media with our free Social Commerce 101 guide. Delight your customers and improve conversion rates.
What is sales automation?
Sales automation is the use of sales automation tools to complete manual tasks that are predictable and routine.
Think sending invoices and follow-up emails, or answering customer questions. These administrative tasks can take up a huge amount of valuable employee time. And they often need to be done monthly, weekly, or even daily.
Outsourcing these tasks to sales automation software increases the productivity of your team. And it costs a lot less than hiring a new assistant who happens to love repetitive labor. You can automate up to one-third of all sales tasks!
What are the benefits of using sales automation software?
In short, sales automation software increases your productivity and revenues. Businesses that use sales automation have reported a 10 to 15% increase in efficiency, and up to 10% higher sales.
Despite these huge benefits, only one in four companies has automated sales tasks. That means three in four companies spend more time than they need to!
If you’re one of them, here’s how sales automation can support your success.
Streamline and boost your sales pipeline
Automation tools can tackle important (but time-consuming) elements of the sales pipeline. Collecting customer data and email addresses? No problem. Sending personalized emails? A breeze.
Automation software can even make product recommendations and guide customers through check-out.
Ensure no prospects fall through the cracks
First impressions count. Forgetting to follow up with new prospects can cost you their business. However, if you’re sending all those follow-up emails yourself, it’s bound to happen.
Increase customer satisfaction
A human touch matters to your customers. Some business owners worry that they’ll lose that essential element if they rely on automation. But the right automation strategy can have the opposite effect. With more time, your team can provide faster, better support to your customers when it counts.
Your whole organization has the same data
Sales automation tools integrate with your customer service software to keep all the important details in one place. Centralizing sales data ensures your team members can work in harmony. That way you can build on one another’s efforts instead of stepping on one another’s toes.
Benchmark your performance
In addition to performing tasks, automation software can report on them. Get data on important KPIs like qualified leads or new subscribers whenever you need them. These analytics can help you track growth and set goals. Best of all, you won’t need to spend precious time producing them.
10 ways to use sales automation tools
Below are just a few of the most essential tasks that sales automation can tackle for sales reps. At the end of this post, we’ve rounded up a selection of tools that can do all of these and more.
Collecting data is crucial, but time-consuming. Adding new leads to your CRM by hand can eat up your afternoons. Sales automation software can take care of collecting data and updating customer information. You’ll want a tool that integrates with all your lead sources, for one unified database.
Once you generate qualified leads, you need to reach out to them. You might be hesitant to automate prospecting. After all, these emails are important. They need to be warm and personal, not robotic. They need to set the right tone and engage your prospects.
Fortunately, you can automate a personalized email for each prospect with the data you’ve collected. You can also customize triggers, like reaching out to prospects who RSVP to an event. This ensures that each communication from your brand arrives right when your prospect is most interested and engaged.
Only 10-15% of your leads will turn into sales. To maximize your ROI, you want to focus your efforts on the most valuable leads. Sales automation tools can help you with lead generation, lead scoring, and direct your efforts where they’re most likely to pay off in the sales funnel.
Scheduling a simple call can often feel as complex as scheduling a rocket launch. You need to consider calendars, commitments, time zones, statutory holidays, moon phases… the list goes on. Automating the meeting scheduling process is the way to go. You can send your prospect a single link, and they choose a time that works for both of you. Or let your customers schedule their own in-store appointments, using a tool like Heyday.
Email templates and automation
Email marketing offers the best bang for your buck, generating $42 for every $1 spent. But 47% of sales teams are still sending emails manually. Typing out each email and contact details to schedule a sales call is a huge waste of time. Copy-and-pasting is faster but sloppy. The best solution is an email template, which can be populated by individual customer data for a personal touch.
Sales automation software can create and send these email campaigns for you. The software can also scale up as your small business grows. You can send automated messages to 100 or 10,000 qualified leads in the same amount of time. Then, when customers are ready to talk with a human being, you can step in.
If you use an eCommerce platform like Shopify, automating order management is easy. There are a ton of order management apps that integrate directly into the platform. These can generate invoices, shipping info, and delivery updates.
And when the order is done, you can also automate a customer satisfaction survey!
Customer service FAQs
Automating answers to frequently asked questions is a huge time-saver. It also benefits your customers! They can get support 24/7, and receive answers faster. One company was able to automate 88% of all customer questions using Heyday’s chatbot! That also meant faster support for the 12% of customers who needed a human to take over.
Social media scheduling
More than half of Instagram users log on daily. So do 70% of Facebook users and almost half of Twitter users. Your brand needs to stay active on social media to keep up. Fortunately, you don’t need to log in to each platform every day to post your updates. You can use a social media management tool like Hootsuite.
This is a good time to remind you that any automation requires human oversight. That’s a lesson Drag Race learned after Queen Elizabeth II passed shortly before this tweet was sent:
CHECK YOUR SCHEDULED TWEETS!!!!! pic.twitter.com/Hz92RFFPih
— an ancient man (@goulcher) September 8, 2022
As always, automation works in harmony with your team. You want to be monitoring your channels and engaging with audiences. And remember to delete any awkward pre-scheduled posts.
Proposals and contracts
Automation can even help you close a deal. Rather than typing out each proposal, automation software can pull key details from your CRM and use them to populate a template. It also minimizes the risk of human error.
These tools can also monitor the documents. You’ll get a notification when your customer has viewed and signed. Save even more time by automating reminders.
Regular reports are important for tracking your performance, but producing them can be a drag. Instead, use software tools with integrated analytics to measure your business activities. These can include your social media reports, chatbot analytics, or sales data.
The 12 best sales automation software for 2022
There are a ton of tools out there that promise to transform your business. Here are our picks for the most indispensable options.
Heyday is a conversational AI assistant, designed to support your customers at every stage of their shopping journey. Heyday helps customers find the products they want, answers FAQs, and provides order updates. It can also support your sales team, by capturing leads and collecting data. It integrates with all your messaging channels to support customers everywhere.
Heyday also provides powerful built-in analytics to sharpen your business strategy. Learn more about your customers with each interaction, and direct your efforts for the greatest impact.
Social media has never been more important— or more time-consuming if you’re posting manually. Hootsuite can do the heavy lifting of scheduling and posting to each platform. Plus, it provides you with the most important social media analytics. It also centralizes all your social media profiles into one clear, organized dashboard.
Beyond posting, Hootsuite also lets you monitor audience engagement. You can tune into important customer conversations, and coordinate your team’s replies. Plus, your sales team can use Hootsuite to find and connect with new leads.
LeadGenius helps sales and marketing teams connect with valuable prospects. With LeadGenius, you can automate data acquisition tasks using their Flow browser extension. This allows you to quickly find new potential customers, and update your existing contacts.
And with DataGenius, you can search the web for accounts and contacts that align with your target audience. That means less time spent searching for new customers, and more high-quality prospects. You know the phrase “Work smarter, not harder?” This is exactly what it means.
Overloop (formerly Prospect.io) is a sales automation tool for outbound campaigns. It allows your sales team to scale up their prospecting efforts across multiple channels, and analyze their results. From there, you can create custom flows to maximize your results.
Your team can also use Overloop to automate recruitment and business development activities. Plus, it integrates with other automation tools for a unified workflow.
Where can you find new prospects? Well, the world’s largest professional network is a start.
With more than 830 million members, the people you’re searching for are already on LinkedIn. And with Sales Navigator, you can find prospects using customized, targeted search tools. Manage leads in the platform, or integrate with your CRM.
Why do some interactions lead to a deal, and others to a dead end? With Gong, you can stop wondering. It captures and analyzes your customer interactions, yielding data on the most effective tactics and strategies. In short, it turns the art of customer engagement into a science.
Gong can help every member of your sales team become a star performer, by creating data-driven workflows to follow. Identify weaknesses in your sales pipeline and address them with clear, actionable steps.
Skip the back-and-forth scheduling nightmares. With Calendly, your prospects and customers can book meetings with a single click. You’ll never have to send another email saying, “Are you free Monday afternoon for a call?” Let alone the inevitable follow-up: “Okay, how about Tuesday?”
Founded in 2013, Calendly exploded during the pandemic. (The sudden proliferation of virtual meetings might have something to do with it.) In 2020 alone, the user base grew by an incredible 1,180%!
It integrates directly with your calendar, so you can determine your windows of availability. You can also collect contact data and send follow-ups automatically.
84% of customers value experience as much as product quality. To stay competitive, you need to provide a top-tier customer experience. That’s why you need a CRM.
A CRM helps all your departments work together, by centralizing customer data. That means everyone has the same information, and can see what actions have been taken. From the customer perspective, it’s smoother, more coordinated support at every step.
And Salesforce is a top-rated CRM for good reason. It’s endlessly customizable for your business needs, and integrates with all the other tools you rely on. Plus, you can automate repetitive processes like emails, approvals and data entry.
Another superpowered CRM option, perfect for teams of all sizes. Hubspot Sales Hub coordinates each stage of your sales pipeline, allowing you to track and measure your team’s activities.
You can nurture customers and prospects automatically, using customized workflows. Spend less time enrolling prospects and sending emails, and increase your revenues and response rates at the same time.
For smaller businesses, Sales Hub has free and affordable monthly plans. You can scale up as you grow while spending your finite resources wisely.
ClientPoint lets you streamline the process of creating and sharing documents. These include contracts, proposals, and information packages.
With ClientPoint, you can also get analytics on each document and set up automated alerts and reminders to close the deal.
Odds are, your sales team does a lot of email outreach. Yesware helps you streamline and focus your efforts, by tracking the results of your communications. It integrates directly with your email client, so it doesn’t feel like an extra step in your process. In fact, you don’t need to change anything at all: Yesware gathers information for you, then makes it easy to share insights with your team.
Yesware also lets you save your best emails as templates, so you can duplicate your success. It also includes features like scheduling and email sending.
Zapier is an app for apps. It allows you to link one app to another, creating a continuous automated workflow. For example, you can automate personalized emails to new customers by creating a “Zap” between Shopify and Gmail. Or send weekly social media reports to your team by using Zapier to connect Hootsuite and Slack. With over 5,000 apps, the possibilities are almost endless.
Ready to add sales automation to your operations? Start with a Heyday demo to learn how conversational AI can boost your sales and customer satisfaction!
How to Write a Great Social Media Call to Action
When you work in marketing, you’re always trying to convince your audience of something. Maybe you want your followers to sign up for a free trial, download a PDF, visit your landing page, or pick up the phone and call. But getting people to take action, especially on social media, is tricky… unless you use a clear call to action.
If there’s something you want your audience to do, you can’t just hope and hint (this same advice holds true for most things in life, actually). You need a compelling call to action, or CTA, to draw people in and point them in the right direction.
In this post, we’ll teach you what a good social CTA is and share tips and examples from brands that are nailing it. By the end, you should have everything you need to write a social media call to action that gets results.
Bonus: Unlock 28 inspiring social media bio templates to create your own in seconds and stand out from the crowd.
A call to action (or CTA) is a text prompt that encourages your reader to take a specific action. On social media, a call to action might direct your followers to leave a comment, buy a product or subscribe to your newsletter, but there are many options.
Social media CTAs can appear on both organic posts and ads. The actual call to action will appear as text on the image, in the caption, or on a CTA button.
In ads, like this one from Loop Earplugs, you’ll often find CTAs in all three places.
Source: Loop on Facebook
A CTA can be as simple as a single word, like “Buy!” or “Subscribe,” but effective CTAs are usually a little longer and more specific. They tell the reader what they’re going to get by taking the desired action, and they often include a sense of urgency. The best CTAs are also highly relevant to the specific audience they’re targeting.
A great CTA will make it easy and enticing for your target audience to take the action you want them to take.
Before you can start writing, you need to know what you want your audience to do. Do you want them to make a purchase, visit your landing page, create an account, enter a contest, or like your latest selfie? (Kidding. Mostly.)
Your desired action should also fit within your overall social media marketing strategy. Think about how your CTA will serve your social media goals.
Here are some simple tips to keep in mind while you write.
There’s no need to be formal. You and your ideal customer are already best friends*, right?
Encourage a connection by using “you” and “your” in your copy. It’s an easy way to make your message feel more personal and less like a sales pitch.
*If you are not, in fact, best friends with your ideal customer, check out our guide to creating buyer personas.
You want to inspire your audience to take action — this is no time to play coy.
CTAs that use powerful, clear, instructive verbs (aka command words) can help cut down on decision fatigue.
Try phrases like:
- “Sign up for your free trial”
- “Download my guide”
- “Get your free instant quote”
- “Shop dog hammocks”
- “Post jobs for free”
Simple and direct is usually best, but avoid phrases like “Click here,” which can sound spammy or off-putting.
The more specific your CTA is, the better. Instead of saying, “Sign up for our newsletter,” try, “Sign up for our weekly travel newsletter to get the latest flight deals.”
It’s also a good idea to stick to one CTA per post. Otherwise, you risk overwhelming your reader with too much information and losing them completely.
As any impulse shopper can tell you, nothing is more tempting than a limited-time offer. The clock is ticking!
Lean on FOMO and use words like “now,” “today,” or “this week only” in your CTA to encourage people to take action right away.
Vessi has limited edition fall sneakers? Better snap those up now!
Source: Vessi on Instagram
Features are what your product or service does, but benefits are what your customer gains from those features.
For example, instead of saying, “Sign up for my 6-week course on social marketing,” you could try something more like, “Learn how to make six figures by selling on Instagram!”
The first example tells your audience exactly what they’re signing up for, while the second tells them what they’ll gain by signing up.
Ultimately, both CTAs might drive readers to the same destination, but one is a whole lot more intriguing than the other.
Need a little extra oomph? Go beyond benefits and give your readers an unbeatable reason to take the desired action.
Free delivery is often a major motivator. In fact, almost 50% of internet users are motivated to complete an online purchase if they’re offered free shipping.
Source: Digital 2022
Discounts are always compelling, especially when combined with the urgency of a limited-time offer, like Gap does here:
Source: Gap on Instagram
You can also try offering access to exclusive content. See, we’re even doing it right here:
Bonus: Unlock 28 inspiring social media bio templates to create your own in seconds and stand out from the crowd.
Your offer should be valuable, but it doesn’t have to be expensive. Just make sure there’s something in it for your audience.
Consistency is important on social media. Once you’ve established a brand, you want to stick with it. Believe us, your followers will notice if you slip up.
LensCrafters, for example, leans into its polished brand voice on social. This LensCrafters post uses words like “discover,” “premium,” and “high quality” in its CTA to build trust and convey their professional expertise.
But can you imagine if this post ended with “Hey Four Eyes, get your goggles here!”? An unusual CTA might earn a second-look, but it will also cause confusion.
You only have a few seconds to make an impact, so save the jargon and wordplay for another time. Your CTA should be brief, clear and to the point.
Source: Digital Trends 2022
The average person spends almost 2.5 hours on social media platforms every day, and in that time, they’re bombarded with ads. If you manage to grab their attention, make sure they know what they’re getting and how to get it.
If your first campaign falls flat, pick yourself back up. Experimentation will serve you well.
Try switching up the words, the colors, the placement, the images, or even the font to see what drives traffic best.
A/B testing can help you measure what works best and then tweak, polish and try again.
Even a simple change from “Start your free trial” to “Start my free trial” can make a world of difference.
Every ad you post should have a call to action, but organic social media content can also include CTAs. Here are a few places you can sneak in a CTA:
This is a great place to include a CTA that’s relevant to all of your followers, such as “Check out our website for more info!”
Instagram still doesn’t allow links in captions, so The New Yorker uses its bio to point followers to a landing page with links to more information on each post.
You can include CTAs in individual social media posts, depending on what you’re promoting.
You can place your CTA pretty much anywhere in your post:
- At the top, if you want to grab attention right away
- In the middle, separated by a few line breaks, if you want to mix it up
- At the end, if you want to establish some context
For example, if you want people to visit your new blog post, you might want to share a few highlights before including an end-of-post CTA like “Check out the link to learn more!”
When Sephora starts carrying your products, it’s kind of a big deal. Beauty brand Tower 28 pointed followers to the nearest Sephora location with this Instagram post.
CTA stickers are a great way to encourage your audience to take action. You can use link stickers to promote things like contests, new products, or blog posts.
Link stickers can be placed anywhere on your Story. Just make sure to keep them away from the edges of your post, so they aren’t difficult to read (or tap!).
Source: Erie Basin on Instagram
Vintage jewelry dealer Erie Basin shares the newest additions to their shop with a simple product shot and CTA link sticker.
If you’re almost ready to get writing but still need a little inspiration, check out these examples of great social media CTAs.
1. Sign up for our newsletter
Cookbook author Dorie Greenspan is famous for her sweet treats. When she tells followers that they can get free recipes just by signing up for her free newsletter, you better believe they come stampeding.
2. Don’t miss this sale
Makeup brand Kosas knows just how to speak to their target audience. This post advertising their Friends and Family sale is specific, urgent and personal.
Who doesn’t want to be friends with Kosas?
3. Like, tag, and follow to win
HelloFresh Canada offers a major incentive to enter their contest that also happens to benefit the brand.
Followers have to like, tag, and follow to enter their contest, boosting HelloFresh’s reach and engagement.
4. Go minimal
— Netflix (@netflix) October 27, 2022
Netflix promotes their new Discord bot with a tweet that will likely confuse anyone who isn’t part of their target audience — and that’s the point.
The minimal slash command will be familiar to any Discord user, though.
5. Sneak peek
Poet-artist Morgan Harper Nichols offers a long preview of exclusive content from her (paid) app to encourage her followers to download.
By the time you make it to the end, you just want to keep going.
6. Register now
P99 CONF is the event for developers who care about P99 percentiles and high-performance, low-latency applications.
It is not about products but about technology, so open source solutions are preferred.
Highly technical audience only. Your boss is not invited.
— P99CONF (@P99CONF) July 12, 2022
The CTAs on the image and headline are both simple, driving followers toward a registration link, but the body of the tweet is doing the heavy lifting here.
My boss isn’t invited? How exclusive!
7. Take the quiz
What’s your role? Tag yourself or comment with your own role and why.
— Dungeons & Dragons (@Wizards_DnD) September 27, 2022
This is a great example of a low-cost, high-value CTA. The official Dungeons & Dragons account encourages engagement by sharing a graphic and asking followers to tag themselves.
But if you’re still deciding if you’re a Wizard or a Rogue, you can take their free quiz to find out.
8. Find a store near you
Le Labo’s Reel shows behind-the-scenes footage of their in-house perfume lab and then casually reminds followers that it’s easy to find refills.
9. Focus on values
Instead of going right for the hard sell, Aesop uses this post to focus on the principles behind its brand. This softer approach uses a “Learn more”/”Discover more” CTA that invites the reader in and builds a connection.
A post like this is a long-term investment that can really pay off. Almost 20% of online shoppers are more motivated to purchase from an eco-friendly company.
10. Shop the link in our profile
Super simple and effective, this post from home goods store Nineteen Ten does everything right.
They share the product on sale and make sure the reader knows where they can find more just like it.
Save time managing your social media presence with Hootsuite. Publish and schedule posts, find relevant conversions, engage the audience, measure results, and more — all from a single dashboard. Try it free today.
LinkedIn Marketing Strategy: 17 Tips for 2023
More than 59 million companies use LinkedIn Pages to connect with the platform’s 875 million members. A well-thought-out LinkedIn marketing strategy is the best way for you to stand out in that crowd.
LinkedIn is a very different beast from the other social platforms. Building an effective strategy will require some planning and perseverance. But once your LinkedIn efforts are running like clockwork, the results can benefit multiple areas of your business.
Read on to find out how to build a LinkedIn strategy that will help you build an engaged community and effectively promote your business on the platform.
Bonus: Download a free guide that shows the 11 tactics Hootsuite’s social media team used to grow their LinkedIn audience from 0 to 278,000 followers.
What is a LinkedIn marketing strategy?
A LinkedIn marketing strategy is a plan for using LinkedIn to reach specific marketing goals. LinkedIn marketing can include everything from recruiting top talent to building your brand.
LinkedIn is a unique network. On most platforms, brands take a back seat to personal connections. But on LinkedIn, business networking is the name of the game. That means businesses of all types are expected to be more visible and engaged in the overall conversation.
LinkedIn is well known as the social network of choice for B2B marketers. But B2C brands can also find success on LinkedIn. All you need is a solid strategy based on well-planned LinkedIn goals that fit into your larger social marketing plan.
General LinkedIn marketing tips
So, where do you start? Here are some key steps for any brand interested in building an effective LinkedIn marketing strategy.
1. Set clear goals
The first step to any marketing plan is figuring out what you want to achieve. Put some thought into how LinkedIn fits into your overall marketing strategy. What specific goals do you want to achieve on this business-forward platform?
The ways in which people use LinkedIn differ significantly from the ways in which they use other social networks:
- Keeping up to date with news and current events: 29.2%
- Following or researching brands and products: 26.9%
- Posting or sharing photos or videos: 17.7%
- Messaging friends and family: 14.6%
- Looking for funny or entertaining content: 13.8%
And, of course, LinkedIn is also the social network most commonly used for recruiting, as well as the top platform for B2B lead generation.
This is important information to consider when planning your LinkedIn strategy goals. But it’s also important to think about how your style of organization fits into the LinkedIn ecosystem.
As mentioned, for B2B companies, LinkedIn can be a goldmine of lead development and relationship building. For B2C companies, LinkedIn might serve primarily as a recruiting platform. Only you and your team can decide what makes the most sense for you.
Don’t know where to start? Check out our blog post on how to set goals for social media marketing.
2. Make the most of your LinkedIn Page
No matter what goals you’re working towards, make sure you have a complete LinkedIn Page that takes advantage of all relevant tabs and sections. LinkedIn data shows that complete Pages get 30% more weekly views.
Check out all the tabs on Microsoft’s LinkedIn Page. You can find as much or as little detail as you want about life at the company by exploring the different tabs.
Source: Microsoft on LinkedIn
For larger organizations, Showcase Pages can help keep your content marketing focused on the right audience. Try setting them up for different initiatives or programs within your company.
And don’t let your main Page content get stale: LinkedIn recommends updating your cover image at least twice a year.
3. Understand your audience
LinkedIn user demographics differ from those of the other social platforms. Users skew older and tend to have a higher income.
But that’s just a starting point. It’s important to understand who your specific audience is and what kind of information they’re looking for from your LinkedIn Page.
LinkedIn analytics are a good way to find the demographics specific to your audience. Hootsuite’s Audience Discovery tool for LinkedIn can provide even more insights about your LinkedIn audience and how they interact with your content.
4. Track and refine your performance
As you start to understand your audience better, you’ll also get a better sense of the kind of content that most resonates with them. Tracking the results of your LinkedIn content gives you important insights. Apply these over time to refine your LinkedIn marketing strategy.
Again, LinkedIn analytics provide critical strategic information. The native LinkedIn Analytics tool provides a good overview of your LInkedIn Page and post performance.
Hootsuite’s LinkedIn analytics can provide additional details. They also evaluate your LinkedIn marketing efforts in the context of your other social channels.
The best way to highlight the results of your LinkedIn marketing is to share your results. Regular LinkedIn marketing reports are a great vehicle. These allow you to see patterns emerge and refine your strategy over time. They also create broader opportunities for brainstorming strategic improvements.
5. Be human
LinkedIn research shows employee networks have an average of 10 times more connections than a company has followers. And content gets twice as many click-throughs when posted by an employee rather than on the company’s business page.
On the recruiting front, employees are likely to have LinkedIn connections in their areas of expertise. When they share job opportunities, they reach a much more targeted audience than your LinkedIn company page.
That’s one of the many reasons why it’s important to include personal profiles in your LinkedIn marketing strategy. That might mean training your C-suite on how to use LinkedIn effectively for thought leadership content. Or it might mean encouraging your employees to share their work life on LinkedIn.
Remember that users can choose to follow personal profiles. This way, they see content from people they want to learn from but don’t know well enough to send a connection request. That further extends the reach of everyone who works for your company, from entry-level employees to the CEO.
Make it easy for employees to share content on their LinkedIn profiles with an employee advocacy program. Hootsuite Amplify helps you manage and share approved content. You can also use this social media advocacy and marketing tool to measure results and drive higher employee engagement in your advocacy program.
6. Focus on leads, not sales
LinkedIn is more about social selling than social commerce. As mentioned earlier, it’s the top brand for B2B lead generation. It’s a perfect platform for building relationships and connections that will lead to sales over time.
It’s less effective as a platform for spur-of-the-moment purchases. It’s just not the place people go when they’re looking for the latest trending items to buy.
So, rather than trying to sell directly on LinkedIn, focus on building relationships and credibility. Reach out when you see an opportunity, but offer expert advice rather than a hard sell. You’ll be front of mind when the time is right for a buyer to make the purchasing call.
That said, using LinkedIn to drive online sales is not impossible. If you want to take this approach, be sure to position your product or service in a business-appropriate context. It might be helpful to work with an appropriate influencer, as Days did in this LinkedIn post about their alcohol-free beer.
7. Build your employer brand
Building your employer brand is about more than just job postings. It’s all about showcasing what it’s like to work at your company so candidates feel motivated to join your team.
A strong employer brand makes life much easier for everyone working in your recruiting department. After all, no matter how great a particular role might sound, no one wants to work at a company that gives them doubts or seems like a poor cultural fit.
One of the best ways to show off your culture is to harness the enthusiasm of your existing employees. For example, at Hootsuite, employee advocacy accounts for 94% of organic employer brand content impressions. An employee advocacy tool makes it easy for employees to share approved brand content with their networks.
And a chorus of ringing endorsements of the corporate culture from people who really work there provides exceptional social proof for potential new recruits.
Businesses can also add a Trending Employee Content galley to their LinkedIn Page. It’s based on associated hashtags, like this example from Google.
Source: Google on LinkedIn
8. Participate in the community
LinkedIn is all about participation. Remember, you’re building a reputation that will lead to sales over time. Responding to comments and joining the conversation is an important part of building that reputation.
Look for opportunities to contribute. Congratulate your colleagues and connections on their achievements and career moves. Show support for those who may be newly looking for work.
Most importantly, be sure to monitor the comments on your own LinkedIn content, and reply to let users know you hear them and appreciate them. Remember, their engagement with your content exponentially extends its reach.
Hootsuite Inbox makes sure you never miss a chance to engage with followers. You can respond to comments directly, or assign them to an appropriate team member. You can also integrate your CRM into Hootsuite to see a full picture of your buyers at every point of contact.
Be community-minded in your content sharing too. For every piece of content you share about your organization, LinkedIn recommends sharing an update from an outside source plus four pieces of content from others. Resharing content in which you’re tagged can be a good place to start.
LinkedIn content strategy tips
9. Write long posts (sometimes)
Try repurposing long-form content as thought leadership articles to post natively on LinkedIn.
LinkedIn accounts for only 0.33% of web traffic referrals from social media. (Compare that to Facebook’s 71.64%.) Rather than focusing on driving traffic away from the site, provide value within your LInkedIn articles themselves.
But don’t go too long too often. LinkedIn recommends articles be around 500 to 1,000 words. That said, Paul Shapiro of Search Wilderness found that articles in the range of 1,900 to 2,000 words performed best. So, you’ll need to do some testing to find out what works best for your audience.
LinkedIn is adding SEO titles, descriptions, and tags for LinkedIn articles. This will help other users find your original content. If you regularly post long-form content. Consider creating a LinkedIn Newsletter.
Note: Your regular LinkedIn updates can be much shorter, with an ideal length of just 25 words.
10. Experiment with different content types
You can use the various tabs on your LinkedIn Page to showcase just about anything happening at your company. Company news, corporate culture, and upcoming product details are just a few examples.
There are lots of different content formats to experiment with, too. Consider these important LinkedIn content statistics when planning out what to test:
- Images get a 2 times higher comment rate, and image collages can work even better
- Videos get 5 times more engagement, and live video gets a whopping 24 times more engagement
Once again, though, this is all a starting point. Experimentation is the name of the game when finding out what works for your brand on LinkedIn. Implement an effective testing strategy and keep an eye on your analytics to learn which content formats work best based on your goals.
11. Include a hook above “the fold”
Remember newspapers? As in real physical newspapers that were sold at newsstands? In order to grab your attention, they put the biggest story on the top half of the front page. That half, of course, is above the fold. You see it as soon as you glance at the paper, without having to pick it up, and it intrigues you enough to buy the paper to read more.
There may not be a literal fold on your screen, but there is a metaphorical one. In this case, “above the fold” refers to the content visible without scrolling or clicking “more.” It’s the content seen without making the effort to pick the metaphorical paper up and turn it over.
Make the value proposition for your content clear in this prime real estate. Why should someone read on? What do you have to say that’s worth scrolling for?
LinkedIn posting strategy tips
12. Understand the best time to post
Hootsuite research shows the best time to post on LinkedIn is 9 a.m. on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. When you’re first getting started with the platform, that’s a good place to start.
But the best time to post for your particular brand depends on your particular audience. Specifically, when they’re most likely to be online and ready to engage.
Hootsuite’s Best Time to Post feature gives you a heat map that shows when your content is most likely to make an impression. You can also find custom posting time recommendations for the best times to post on your LinkedIn Page. These are based on whether you want to build brand awareness, increase engagement, or drive traffic.
13. Schedule your posts in advance
Of course, the best time to post for your audience might not be the best time to post for you. That’s one reason why it’s a good idea to create your posts in advance and schedule them to post automatically at the best time.
Another reason is that creating your posts in advance allows you to dedicate regular chunks of time to creating LinkedIn content. This is easier and more effective than trying to post on the fly. Especially when you’re creating longer form content, it’s a good idea to block off time on your schedule and really get your brain engaged.
Creating content in advance also allows you to get more of the team involved, from senior leaders contributing their thought leadership to editors going over your work with a fine-tooth comb.
Finally, planning and scheduling your content in advance allows you to see how your Linkedin posts fit into your larger social media calendar.
14. Set up a regular posting schedule
Once you’ve determined the best times to post, post consistently at those times. Your audience will come to expect fresh content from you on your schedule, and they’ll be primed to read it and respond.
LinkedIn DM strategy tips
15. Send personalized messages
Bulk direct messages may save time, but they do not get the best results. LinkedIn data shows that InMails sent individually get 15% more responses than messages sent in bulk.
For maximum effect, mention a detail in the email that shows you actually read the prospect’s profile. Did they mention a skill that’s critical to the role? Have a particularly great LinkedIn bio? Highlight something that tells them why you’re interested, and that they’re not just a potential cog in the machine.
16. Send shorter messages
If you’re sending InMail to a potential connection, collaborator, or candidate, you might be tempted to pack the message with details about the potential opportunity. But LinkedIn research recently found that shorter InMails actually see a much higher response.
Messages up to 800 characters receive an above average response, with messages under 400 characters performing best of all.
However, 90% of those recruiting on LinkedIn send messages longer than 400 characters. So sending a shorter message can really help you stand out from the crowd.
17. Don’t send on Friday or Saturday
It makes sense that weekends would be slower-response days for sending messages on LinkedIn. But, oddly enough, messages sent on Sundays significantly outperform those sent on Fridays.
Other than avoiding Fridays and Saturdays, it doesn’t seem to matter much which day of the week you send InMails. Remember, though, that this is different from the best times to post content to your LinkedIn Page.
Easily manage your LinkedIn Page and all your other social channels using Hootsuite. From a single dashboard, you can schedule and share content (including video), reply to comments and engage your network. Try it free today.
How to Create Effective Social Media Guidelines for Your Business
No matter what industry you’re in, every modern business needs to have social media guidelines.
Social media guidelines lay out the best social practices for your employees. In some cases, these rules are required by law or for legal protection. But ultimately, the goal of these guidelines is to empower employees with the information they need to make the right choices on social media, both for themselves, and for the company.
This is true even if your company doesn’t have a social media presence yet. Whether you have an official Twitter account or Instagram profile or not, you’d better believe your employees are out there on the internet, chatting up a storm.
This article will review:
- The difference between a social media policy and social media guidelines
- Real-life examples from other brands
- How to use our free social media guidelines template to create your own set of guidelines
Bonus: Get a free, customizable social media guidelines template to quickly and easily create recommendations for your company and employees.
Social media guidelines are suggestions for how employees of a company should represent themselves and the company on their personal social media accounts.
Think of social media guidelines as an employee manual for social media best practices.
They should outline how to behave on social media in a way that’s positive and healthy for the company, employees, and customers alike. Social guidelines may include etiquette tips, helpful tools, and links to important resources.
Importantly, we really don’t recommend prohibiting employees from using social, or restricting them from talking about your company at all. It’s not a good look to police or censor your team members’ social presence: talk about a morale killer, and say goodbye to any organic ambassador opportunities.
Social media guidelines, it should be noted, are different from your company’s social media policy. They’re also distinct from your social media style guide.
A social media policy is a comprehensive document that describes in detail how the company and its employees use social media. These policies are intended to protect a brand from legal risk, and maintain its reputation on social media. Where a social media policy lays out the rules and repercussions for breaking them, social media guidelines are more instructive.
A social media style guide, meanwhile, defines the brand voice, brand visuals, and other important marketing elements. It is often used by the content creators in an organization to ensure that their posts are “on brand”.
One more distinction: social media guidelines are also different from community guidelines, which set the rules for public engagement with your account or group.
Want to learn more? Take Hootsuite Academy’s free course Implementing Social Media Governance Within your Organization.
Every single employee (yes, including Maurice in accounting) is a potential online brand ambassador. Sharing social media guidelines is your chance to provide the whole team with tools to help them hype you up positively, inclusively, and respectfully.
Use social media guidelines to:
- Empower your employees to engage positively on their personal social accounts
- Educate on social media best practices
- Encourage employees to follow your official accounts or use official hashtags
- Distribute your company’s social media strategy
- Introduce employees to helpful third-party tools and resources, such as Hootsuite’s social media dashboard or Hootsuite Academy training
- Protect your employees from social harassment
- Safeguard your company from cybersecurity risks
- Clarify what information is OK to share, and what is a violation of confidentiality
- Boost your brand’s reputation on social media
While social media guidelines are usually crafted to share with employees, anyone else you’re working with can benefit from these best practices too — think corporate partners, marketing agencies, or influencers.
If you don’t create best practices around how your company is represented or discussed on social media, things can spiral out of control fast. And on the flipside, a lack of social media guidelines also can prevent you from benefiting from employee content. An enthusiastic team member, armed with social guidelines and feeling confident about what they’re allowed to say, can become a powerful ambassador for your brand.
Here’s a rundown of core sections you should include in your social media guidelines. But of course, while these details are common, go ahead and tailor any part of this to fit your brand: after all every industry is different.
In fact, every company is different… so before you lock in any hard and fast rules, you might want to check in with your team. Your employees might have specific questions or concerns that could be helpful to address in your master doc.
1. Official accounts
Identify your company’s official social media channels, and encourage employees to follow. This isn’t just a chance to gain a few more followers: it’s an excellent opportunity to demo to employees how your brand presents itself on social media.
You might also want to identify specific hashtags, too, if those are a core part of your social strategy.
In some cases, companies either allow or require certain employees to run brand-affiliated social accounts. If that’s something your business does, this is a good place in your social guidelines to explain how a team member can (or can’t) be authorized for their own branded account.
2. Disclosure and transparency
If your team members are proudly identifying on their social accounts that they work for your company, it’s a good idea to ask them to clarify that they’re creating social media posts on behalf of themselves, not your brand. Adding a disclosure to their social profile or bio that “All opinions expressed are my own” (or similar) helps make it clear that these are not official viewpoints.
That being said, if they’re going to discuss company-related matters on social, it’s actually required by law that they identify themselves as an employee. This one’s a rule, not a friendly suggestion. In fact, in the United States, the Federal Trade Commission requires the identification to occur in the relevant post. Just noting it in a bio is not enough.
An example of a Google employee’s Twitter bio
It never hurts to remind your team that confidential company information is confidential off the clock, too. Whether private info about coworkers, financial disclosures, upcoming products, private communications, research and development intel, or other sensitive information, clarify that privacy and confidentiality should be respected across all social media platforms.
4. Cyber safety
Cyber hacks and threats are no joke. Even if your employees are vigilant about phishing scams and the like, it never hurts to review cyber-safety basics, especially if you collect information about customers or clients.
Cyber safety first!
A quick refresh of cyber security 101:
- Choose strong passwords
- Use a different password for every social account
- Don’t use the same passwords for your corporate accounts
- Use two-factor (or multi-factor) authentication to login to social networks
- Limit the personal and professional information you share
- Use personal credentials for personal accounts
- Make sure your Internet connection is secure
- Do not download or click on suspicious content
- Only activate geolocation services on apps when necessary
- Practice safe browsing
Guidelines commonly remind staff to be kind on social media. But beyond promoting positivity, businesses should also make clear that they do not tolerate any form of social media harassment.
On the flip side of that is an opportunity to provide your employees with support should they experience harassment. Define your policy for dealing with trolls or bullies, whether it’s to report them, ignore them, or block or ban them.
Tell people how to report issues they may have seen or experienced. If support is needed, tell employees how and where they can get it.
Providing protocol and tools is going to help your team nip problems in the bud before it grows into a full-blown social media crisis.
It’s important for every employer and brand to promote inclusivity on and off social media. Encouraging your employees to do the same is a way to show that you care about them, too.
Inclusivity guidelines may include:
- Use inclusive pronouns (they/them/theirs/folks)
- Provide descriptive captions for images
- Be thoughtful about representation
- Don’t make assumptions about gender, race, experience, or ability
- Avoid gender or race-specific emojis
- Feel free to share your preferred pronouns
- Use title case for hashtags (this makes them more legible for screen readers_
- Use diverse imagery and icons. This includes stock imagery, emojis, and branded visuals.
- Report and remove any comments deemed sexist, racist, ableist, ageist, homophobic, or hateful to any group or person
- Make text accessible, using plain language and accessible to people learning English as a second language or those with learning disabilities
7. Legal Considerations
Your social guidelines can include a reminder to employees to respect intellectual property, copyright, trademarks, and other relevant laws. When in doubt, the rule of thumb is relatively simple: if it’s not yours, and you don’t have permission, don’t post it. Easy!
8. Do’s and don’ts
Of course, while you may want to get into detail with the previous sections, making a quick-to-reference list of do’s and don’ts is a chance to spell things out super clearly.
- DO list the company as your employer in your social media bio (if you wish to)
- DON’T engage with competitors in an inappropriate way
- DO share company social media posts, events, and stories
- DON’T share company secrets or confidential information of your colleagues
- DO express your own opinion — just make sure it’s clear you’re not speaking on behalf of the company
- DON’T comment on legal matters pertaining to the company
- DO report harassment you’ve experienced or noticed
- DON’T engage with trolls, negative coverage or comments
9. Helpful resources
You may wish to include links to helpful resources throughout your guideline document, or you might want to list in a separate section. Wherever you put them, it’s a good idea to link to your social media policy, social media style guide, and community guidelines, so everyone has this info at their fingertips.
Other links you might want to include could be:
- company documents
- corporate code of conduct
- employee agreements
- privacy policies
- Marketing, advertising and sales regulations from the Government of Canada and the FTC
If your company offers social media resources, what better place than your social media guidelines to make everyone aware of them? Whether its tools or training from Hootsuite, or stipends for social media classes, empower the people that work for you to put their best foot (feet?) forward on social.
For instance, may we recommend Hootsuite Amplify? It’s a great way to find vetted content to share and enhance your personal brand.
10. Contact Information and Date
Be sure to also add information where questions can be sent. That may be a specific person, a forum or Slack channel, or an email address.
You should also indicate when your guidelines were most recently updated.
Looking for real world examples of social media guidelines? We’ve assembled a few sources of inspiration.
The Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District outlines tips for best practices clearly and concisely. “Freedom of speech must be exercised responsibly,” the page reminds readers. “These recommendations provide a roadmap for constructive, respectful, and productive use of social networking sites.”
Intel makes every effort to assure employees that they’re not here to censor or police their online behavior. “We trust you,” the guidelines say, both explicitly and implicitly. Right off the top, Intel is clear about its wishes: Be Upfront, Focus on the Good, and Use Your Best Judgement.
Stanford University (yep, the same institution Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg dropped out of) has social media guidelines that are quite dense, but provide lots of resources and context for users. If your social media guidelines are this thorough, it may be a good idea to review the key takeaways with your team in a workshop or seminar to make sure the details aren’t skimmed over.
Bloomberg School of Nursing at the University of Toronto has a very concise, bullet-point list of guidelines that are easy to digest at a glance. It’s a good reminder that how you design your guidelines can help with comprehension, whether it’s a web page, a PDF or a brochure.
Remember that your guidelines can be as long or as a brief as you wish. Sharp News, for example, only has four guidelines for social media use.
The Olympic Committee kept its social media guidelines to one page for the Beijing Olympics — albeit a pretty dense one. Leaning on the “do’s” and “don’ts” makes it clear at a glance what is acceptable and what is frowned upon.
Because Nordstrom is a company that deals with customer service and privacy is important, its social media guidelines are heavily focused on protecting customers. Your own industry will have its own special sensitivities, so adjust your guidelines to fit your specific problem areas (or opportunities!).
We’ve distilled all these hot tips into one free downloadable template. It’s just a simple Google doc and quite easy to use.
Simply make a copy and start plugging in your recommendations to guide your team to social media greatness.
Save time managing your social media presence with Hootsuite. From a single dashboard you can publish and schedule posts, find relevant conversions, engage the audience, measure results, and more. Try it free today.
Hootsuite Amplify makes it easy for your employees to safely share your content with their followers—boosting your reach on social media. Book a personalized, no-pressure demo to see it in action.
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