Episode 70: Stephanie Sides – Social Listening for Building Relationships That Lead to Sales
Stephanie Sides joins our hosts Brynne Tillman and Bill McCormick to talk about why the last thing you should be doing on social media is to sell. Listen as Stephanie explains what social listening is and why sales professionals should pay attention to what your people are saying about them and their businesses.
Learn about listening points that will help you determine the trajectory you need to take to establish more sales relationships in an authentic way, as well as tools you can use for social listening if you have a limited budget, manpower, or resources.
Stephanie Sides 00:00
For social media, especially the last thing that you do is sell. I believe that first, you educate, you inform, you entertain, you inspire, and you listen and then the sales come. And I look at social media as — it’s a conversation — people forget to be social on social media. Advertising is not a conversation. A TV ad blasts something out at you and you’re expected to do something with it but there’s not a conversation. Social media is a conversation and those conversations, start relationships, build relationships, and from those relationships come the sales.
Bob Woods 00:39
Welcome to the Making Sales Social Podcast! Featuring the top voices in sales and marketing. Join hosts Brynne Tillman and Bill McCormick as they discuss the best tips and strategies they are teaching their clients so you can leverage them for your own virtual and social selling. You can also listen to us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, and Google Play. Here are your hosts, Brynne Tillman, and Bill McCormick.
Bill McCormick 01:17
Welcome to another episode of Making Sales Social. I’m Bill McCormick.
Brynne Tillman 01:22
I’m Brynne Tillman.
Bill McCormick 01:23
So Brynne, who’s our guest today?
Brynne Tillman 01:24
Oh, my gosh! I am so excited to have my in-real-life friend, Steph Sides, with us today. I met Steph years ago, and she is brilliant at social media beyond LinkedIn. So she knows things that we could not even imagine. So I thought, “Hey, let’s bring her on” and we’re gonna focus on social listening today. Steph, if you want to just kind of share a little bit about your background on who you are?
Stephanie Sides 01:51
Great! Thanks, I am so excited to be here with both of you. I am a social strategist. Social Chicy is my business and I work with businesses around the country, around the world actually, to help them integrate their social media strategy into their bigger business goals and marketing goals. So I don’t look at just the social media, but how it fits in and supports everything else that they’re doing in their business to reach those financial goals, their sales goals, their marketing goals, things of that nature.
So you know, I got people all over the ends of the spectrum that I’m helping with that and social listening is something that a lot of people are not doing. They’re really not doing and I find it, I do it for them in the course of the strategies that I put together. So I’m really excited to be here to talk about that today.
Bill McCormick 02:44
lots of questions are popping up in my brain but before we get to those, Steph, we always ask every guest one question, what does making sales social mean to you?
Stephanie Sides 02:56
You know, I always… I come from the point where, for social media, especially, the last thing that you do is sell. I believe that first, you educate, you inform, you entertain, you inspire, and you listen, and then the sales come.
And I look at social media as it’s a conversation, people forget to be social on social media. Advertising is not a conversation. A TV ad blasts something out at you and you’re expected to do something with it but there’s not a conversation.
Social media is a conversation and those conversations, start relationships, build relationships, and from those relationships come sales. So if you’re truly social, and you’re listening and conversing, that’s how you get the sales. So that’s how I feel. That’s what I think social selling is, it’s really those relationships in the conversations that you have with people.
Bill McCormick 03:55
I totally, totally agree. That’s a great, great answer. So we’re talking about social selling. No, we’re not talking about social selling, we are kind of in a broad term context. We’re talking about social listening. So what’s your definition of social listening, Steph?
Stephanie Sides 04:09
Social listening is really, you know, paying attention to not only just what other people are saying about you out there but what is your audience, your prospective clients, and connections saying, in general, that affects your business?
Are they talking about a problem that they have, a pain point? Are they saying good things about you, but saying really great things about your competitor? And what does that mean for you? How do you fold that into your strategy?
If they’re saying not so nice things about you, what does that say to your business and how can you improve a process or a product? It’s making sure they’re saying the right things about you. I have, you know, early in my networking, when I started my business, I had a lot of people that would say, “Oh, you do websites?” No, I don’t. I know enough about WordPress to be dangerous. You don’t want me for a website, this is what I do. So it’s educating to make sure that your audience, your referral, your connections, know enough about what you do and how to refer you in that way.
So, you know, it’s listening, it’s looking what Google is saying about you, it’s looking at what your network says about you. When I do, when I start with any business, I do a really big deep dive this audit, but I don’t call it an audit, because who wants to be audited, I call it a S-P-A-R-K, and it stands for Strengths, Possibilities, Analytics, Results and Keys to Success. And as I’m looking at an entire online digital process, social media, and I’ll look at some offline work that a client is doing, I’m looking for that social listening. I have found that they have been mentioned in articles or by bloggers or on websites that my client has no idea that they’ve ever been mentioned out there, I find that they might be worried about spending a lot of money to be at the top of Google search results but they’re not responding to any reviews that anybody puts out there on Google or on Facebook. It’s not responding right to LinkedIn message. It’s not sending the right LinkedIn messages. So I look at that as all listening points and I’ll come up with, you know, a lot of examples of things that are going on around them about their business, and they go, “Oh, my gosh, I had no idea”. So then we say, okay, how can we address this? And how do we build that into their strategy? They just put stuff out there and forget to see what comes back.
Brynne Tillman 06:47
I love that! So it’s funny, because we talk a lot about social listening around what matters to them but we don’t, we haven’t talked a whole lot about how it’s directly affected with our company and our industry.
So a couple of questions. I mean, I had some “aha” moments there. A couple of questions, do you, when you do social listening, take a look at their client’s industry and what’s being said around the industry or around particular topics that they’re talking about, like, beyond like, what’s happening specifically with my company? What’s like, the next kind of listening strategy?
Stephanie Sides 07:32
Yes, it’s definitely looking at the industry. So I will look at part of that SPARK that I do, I look and see who were your natural brands or organizations, companies that you do business with day to day? So I’ll start there, and I’ll look, I’ll do a couple things, I’ll make sure that A, my client is following them on their social media to build that relationship and look and see what their customers and clients are saying, what are their pain points? What are they saying? What do they love about this company? How they’re presenting themselves online?
And then yes, it’s the industry, are they part of industry association, professional organizations? You know, there’s a lot of information, a lot of listening that can be done in those organizations. It could be groups, could be Facebook groups, LinkedIn groups, you know, where those conversations are happening. So I do look at that, and I will look at topic, if it’s a product type thing, I look at other people with that product, but I do look into the bigger industry. Because I might say to somebody, like, “Hey, they’re talking about this over here, and you need to be a player, you need to be over on that field, and you’re not. So let’s get you over there, you’re missing a lot of opportunity to pipe in to give your expertise, to educate that audience, and to make connections and build relationships.” And you know, some people will be like, “Well, I don’t think there’s genuine leads over there.” I’m like, “You’re not gonna walk in there and sell. We’re gonna walk in there and we’re going to establish your expertise and we’re going to build relationships over there.” So yes, I totally [inaudible].
Brynne Tillman 09:10
I love that. You know, I don’t know why we haven’t thought much about really following your competitors, and what they’re doing. I think that’s awesome.
Bill McCormick 09:21
You know, as you’re talking, I had this vision of a networking room and you know, before we got on, we were in the green room, we were talking about, you know, some places there are people actually, are actually gathering together in groups again, hallelujah. But you think about you walk into a networking room, and there’s groups of people, right? And wouldn’t you say that social listening is like walking around the room and listening for the right conversation to become a part of, not to go in and throw your business card at everyone, right? But to go, but to listen to say, “Oh, Hey, I’m Bill McCormick. What are you doing?” You know, to put yourself into that conversation because that’s what you talked about, is really what social selling is about, is being able to start conversations.
Stephanie Sides 10:08
Absolutely! That’s a great way to demonstrate what that means. Absolutely. And the people that do walk into those networking groups and interrupt the conversations and throw their business card out at you, like, you know, your sales is done that way, like right off the bat, you don’t even have a chance.
Bill McCormick 10:26
I learned the hard way. Like, I used to be a business card slinger, I could draw my card faster than anyone. So, it sounds to me like this could be a lot of work. So if I’m a sales rep, who maybe doesn’t have a marketing department behind me, or I’m a small business owner, and I’m thinking, “Man, I just have enough trouble just listening to my employees or my customers,” what are some simple tips that you can give for people to begin to listen, if they’re on a limited budget, limited manpower, limited resources?
Stephanie Sides 11:01
So there’s, you know, there’s some quick tools, you know, you can get the Google alerts, the Reddit alerts from the blogs and things like that, that let you know. I subscribe to HARO — Help a Reporter Out, but you know, I get those emails two, three times a day, you know, for what media are looking for. You said that tipped me off to a conversation.
So those types of emails that are out there, you could sign up for and then you know, as you’re looking through your inbox, you’re just checking in and seeing. But I also encourage people to make this social side of their social media, because there’s only so much that I can do for a client. I will say, like, “Bill, you have to take some ownership of this, you know, your network, you know, your people, your competitors, your partners better than I ever could. So I’m going to encourage you to be part of that.” So I say, take 15 minutes at the beginning and the end of the day, and look at your inbox on social the comments, look at the pages that you might follow on Facebook, look at who you follow on Instagram, or Twitter, and just respond, you know, look, you know, you don’t have to sit there for and lose an hour, set a timer, 15, 20 minutes, you know, and it becomes a task. It’s a necessary business task. You know, every day you wake up, you look at, you know, you check your inbox, you check your feeds, you check your bank account, it’s no different than to be disciplined to look at it that way. But set a timer, and just make it part of your system.
Bill McCormick 12:37
I love that. So social isn’t an option anymore. It’s got to be part of the modern business landscape. And so, you know, as many times business owners, salespeople, they want to farm this out, they want a press and play solution. And so they hire someone like you, but you brought up a really good point. No one knows and I’m talking now to all the sales reps out there and business owners, no one knows your clients like you do. No one knows your solutions like you do. No one knows who your ideal clients are better than you do. So you have to take some ownership. I love that. I love that!
Stephanie Sides 13:17
And I don’t know the depth of the relationship, either, you know, to be able to, you know, can I DM them? What’s that tone? Can I, you know, be my sarcastic, humorous self with someone? Or do I need to be, you know, do I need to put my business suit on and be really straight-laced in a conversation with someone? And I learned some of that working with clients, but at the end of the day, it’s, they have to have that. And I honestly, Bill, I will not work with a client who will not be that partner. And to have some time to put in, I’ll teach you, I’ll coach you, I will help you, I’ll make it as seamless as possible but if you’re not going to do it, it’s not going to work. I look bad. Your business doesn’t grow. And so it’s not a good fit.
Brynne Tillman 14:01
Yeah, I think that’s great. Like you can’t send someone in to do your networking to build relationships. And I have one more social listening question before I you know, I could see Bill’s looking at the time but I have one more. Talk about hashtags, and where that falls in with social listening?
Stephanie Sides 14:19
So that’s another thing to look at is hashtags and so many people don’t understand the power of hashtags and in that SPARK that I do with people, I will create a hashtag library. And hashtags are just your keywords. I mean, we talked about you spend all this money on a website and SEO strategy and like the keywords and key phrases and what people are looking for while people are using hashtags and search terms. So it’s like you have keywords, just throw a pound symbol in front of it and it becomes that hashtag and yes, on certain platforms. You know, now Facebook has finally gotten on their hashtag bandwagon as of last year, before, they didn’t matter on that platform. You know, but you throw in a #sociallistening, #socialselling, #sales, #socialmedia, whatever.
You’ll see those conversations, the posts that come up where people are using those hashtags, and you might meet new people or again, see a conversation or a problem that somebody is having. So and you can use that in any platform and then on Google, you just don’t use the hashtag, you just use it as a keyword but it is key. It’s something that I do. It’s a strategy I put in place with clients and sometimes they’ll say, “well, how did you find that?” And I’ll say, “Well, I searched the hashtag, I searched the keyword” and I’ll show them how to do that love. Very important.
Brynne Tillman 15:42
Yeah! Awesome. So I know, I’m getting the “eye” from Bill.
Bill McCormick 15:46
Yeah. No, no, no, no. I have more questions. We’re good.
Brynne Tillman 15:51
Ohh good. It’s alI in my mind.
Bill McCormick 15:52
So you know, we’re all about LinkedIn. All right, we have a Twitter page and we have an Instagram page and we have a Pinterest page and we have a Facebook page but we don’t play in those realms. That’s not, you know, we’re LinkedIn trainers and social sales trainers, B2B trainers, so LinkedIn is our place. Give us a little idea of social listening on some, like, I know how to social listen on LinkedIn, what are some ideas around Twitter, Instagram, Facebook for social listening?
Stephanie Sides 16:20
So starting with that hashtag, searching as a specific hashtag that you want and you know, again, it’s two-fold. You can search a hashtag that’s going to bring your brand or your company up in the conversation, or you could be looking at the industry product or a problem searching for that, to find out what other people are talking about. So using the hashtags.
It’s following other people, whether you think they’re competitors, or frenemies, or like I said to professional organizations, or other brands that you naturally partner with that you don’t even realize that you rely on them for some sort of business guidance or mentorship, you want to make sure you’re looking at your pages feed and your followers and what they’re doing. And just it’s back to that taking 15, 20 minutes a day, to look at what everybody else is putting out there really reading it and making a meaningful comment or sharing something.
Part of that social listening that conversation is if you find that somebody says something that you’re like, “Wow, like, this is important, my audience needs to know that” And you share it. Don’t just share it, and not say anything about it. Say why it’s important. Why do I want my listeners today, I do this all the time, that the stuff that you guys put out on LinkedIn, you know, like, “Oh, my God, like, you have to listen to this tip.” Because business owners are missing out on this tip that Brynne and Bill have today. You know, and why it’s important to them, and it establishes you it makes you look like the expert.
So much of what I share on my other social comes from the social media gods that I train with and learn from social media today, Social Media Examiner, Mari Smith, Kim Garst, those people, they’re living in their platforms, so I share that information but I tell my audience why this is important, and how to use it. And they go, “Oh, if you need social media help, you need to talk to Steph.” They’re not going go to Mari or go to Kim they go, “No, Steph.”
So it’s using that information but I have to listen to what they’re saying and understand how it affects my audience, my customer, my client, to share that.
Bill McCormick 18:36
And that helps solve a problem that many small business owners individual sales or have reps have when it comes to content because they don’t know how to create it. And so you know, that’s curating the content, but then also adding your own thoughts in begins to build that credibility. And that’s really what we’re going after, we’re going after the credibility so when the time is right, somebody says, “Oh, yeah, I remember, I need help with social media. I’m going to Steph.” That’s the person because that’s because they see that regularly. So and, so many great, great tips here. So let’s wrap this up in a nutshell. What are the three biggest tips that you could give someone starting out social listening, like they’re not doing any right now? What are the three biggest things that they could do right now to start social listening?
Stephanie Sides 19:24
Follow on your social media as your brand, follow your friends, your marketing partners, professional organizations, even some of your competition, follow them on social so that you can see what they’re doing easily. So that’s number one.
Number two, it’s taking that time in your schedule to read what other people are putting out there and to comment and to share to engage with them to have that two-way conversation. So yes, you’re listening, but let’s speak now. And you know, it’s building that relationship, it’s just knowing that you need to listen, you’re not just throwing stuff out there and expecting sales to come and to make a bunch of money that, you know, just really look at it as a conversation and a relationship builder, and not just this sales machine that should be reducing every minute of the day.
Brynne Tillman 20:22
Yeah, we say all the time, slow down your outreach to speed up your outcome. Like and you said it, we say it all the time. It’s, you know, build relationships, share insights, via value, and the sale will come when the time is right. So I love that. Was that just two? Was there a third?
Bill McCormick 20:40
That is all three. So great, great stuff. I’ve got notes here. I can’t wait to get into some of this. I know Brynne and I are going to have a discussion about some of what you have said because it’s stuff that we’re not doing. So tell our listeners, how they can connect with you how they can if they’re interested in working with you how they can get a hold of you?
Stephanie Sides 21:01
The best place to find me is on social media. You can find me as Steph Sides or Social Chicy on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
Bill McCormick 21:11
Fantastic. Well, thank you so much. This was so valuable and thanks to our listeners for coming and being with us again this week. And we hope to see you again very soon. So as you’re out and about in your week this week, don’t forget to make your sales social. Bye-bye, everyone. Till next time.
Bob Woods 21:30
Bye. Thanks for watching and join us again for more special guest instructors bringing you marketing sales, training, and social selling strategy that will set you apart. Hit the subscribe button below to get the latest episodes from the Making Sales Social Podcast! Give this video a thumbs up and comment down below on what you want to hear from us next. You can also listen to us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, and Google Play. Visit our website socialsaleslink.com For more information.