The 5 Pillars of Social Selling Success

How do you get started with social selling? I recently had a chat with Tim Hughes, Director at Oracle UK as well as a social selling evangelist, avid tweeter and blogger. Have a listen to the audio podcast above or keep reading for a summary of our conversation. A longer version of this interview is available at Link Humans.

Why is social selling important?

We’ve seen a big change, not necessarily so much within the selling process, but within the buying process. Most people now, whenever you want to buy something, you go to Google and you do a search. Quite often, people actually are actually making decisions and purchasing online and are going ahead and doing that based on from that search. And they’re not actually involving a salesperson.

Some of the research says that something like 72% of buyers are going through a process, and when they get to something like 50%, 60%, 70% – I’ve even got figures that show 80% of the way through the buying cycle – it’s only then that they actually engage with the salesperson. Going back 20 years ago, it would have been a 20% of the way through the buying cycle. Some research indicates that 25% of B2B salespeople jobs won’t exist in 2020. And what will you be replaced by? You’ll be replaced with a search engine.

The 5 pillars of social selling success are:

1. LinkedIn

First and foremost I recommend that you get in on LinkedIn. While you can use the free version, I do recommend you get the professional addition because you get access to the Sales Navigator. If you’re looking to get hold of the people and looking and searching for people, then the Sales Navigator will help you. You’ve got to move away from the traditional, “I’ve set up my LinkedIn profile as a way of attracting recruiters for my next job” and actually create what I would call a bio-centric profile.

So you need to think about your product and service and outputs, what is it that it actually does? Does it increase revenue? Does it improve profit? Does it enable you to reduce stock? What is that end point you’re going to do? And that is what you need to be looking at, building your LinkedIn profile around.

tim hughes linkedinAnd if anyone goes to my LinkedIn profile, what you’ll see is that I don’t have a job title like Master Principal Consultant. The job title is what I do, and it’s what I do in my online world. I have a picture because if you don’t have a picture, you’re like a spammer. And you have a description of what you do. And again, this is about an output, and this is not about that you make a hundred calls a day. It’s about what the output is and this fact that you’re creating leads or appointments for people. So it’s a way of moving the LinkedIn profile on, and it’s a way of getting to position. And if somebody is in a position that they’re looking to buy something, you should be, and your LinkedIn profile should, in effect, be coming up on the searches that they’re doing.

If you went to that media, video, Powerpoints, you’re posting on that daily in terms of interesting articles, people are going to go, “Hmm, that’s an interesting person. I need to talk to them.” And I also talk to people about… Even if you’re not using it for demand generation and you’re going to meetings, most people now, when you were interested in me, the first thing that you would have done was go into my LinkedIn profile. And you would have made a decision about whether Tim was interesting and whether Tim was interesting to have a webcast with purely from my shop window, which is at LinkedIn profile.

So my LinkedIn profile obviously worked in that particular case. It is your shop window to the world. And how you create and what you put on there, I don’t want to labour the point about it, but don’t come across as too much as a corporate suit. Also, think about what it is that you want other people to think about you. So you’re loyal. You’re trustworthy. You are a family man. You’ve got old cars. You’re into crochet or whatever it is. So make sure that the LinkedIn profile is about you as a whole and about you as a total person, not that you work for a particular corporation or a particular company. It’s got to be everything about you. So that’s the first step or pillar that I recommend that people look up.

2. Listening

So it’s listening out on social media, whether that’s with listening on hashtags, listening about your brand, listening about people coming on saying, “I’m thinking about…”. For example, I’ve been interested in doing demand generation about video. And I’ve been on to Twitter a couple of times and said, “I’m interested in doing some demand gen. Are there any video companies that want to come and contact me?” There are people that are doing that. And as a B2B organisation, we use a tool to listen to certain things that are going on and the footprints that people are leaving out there in social media.

3. Marketing automation

The third element that I recommend is that you start looking at some form of marketing automation. Now, marketing automation is a big step. It’s usually a big implementation. But the gains that you’ll get from that are usually pretty good. In terms of our return on investment, when we were doing… If I can admit that we actually have people that cold-call, if you actually are cold-calling people, usually we would get a response of about 5 in 100. Of those 100, another 25 would say, “Yeah, I’m kind of interested, but it’ll be another three or six months.”

What we do is that we put those 25 into a nurture program using our Eloqua product. And we nurture those now over a three- to six-month period. So generally what happens is that, while in the past, we had a 5-out-of-100 response, we now get a 30-out-of-100 response. So that’s a pretty good ROI, and that’s certainly something that you build up over time. But again, it’s not necessarily for the fainthearted.

4. Influencers

The fourth pillar that I’ve looked up really is about influencers. So what is an influencer, and why would I care? In the past, generally, people would go out to third party organisations, probably Gartner, Forrester, IDC, and sought their opinion about whatever they were particularly looking at. And those organisations are still important. But there are people out there, bloggers like myself who have an influence. People like Ted Rubin, Brian Solis, Bryan Kramer, people like that who have an opinion and are also driving the debate forward in terms of social, social enterprise, the sharing economy etc.

So one of the things that you might want to do is actually contact those people. And why would you want to do that? When a buyer goes through the buying process, generally, they’ll go on and look at Google. They’ll make a decision, and then they will start talking to influencers, that maybe that they’ll turn to somebody in the office and say, “You bought an HCM system when you worked at AstraZeneca. What did you buy? Was it any good?” And I did that when I bought my car. I turned to people that had the make of car as me. But also, there’s people that they could be contacting that have an influence. So I actually get people that come to me directly and say, “What CRM system should I buy?”.

And from a sales perspective, you can move yourself where you can present not only your shop window in terms of LinkedIn, but you can start hacking the sales process that you’re starting to pick up people that are looking for your products and service as they move down up towards that 60%. So before they’ve actually rung you up, you’re picking those up. Not only will you be getting more pipeline, but you should be winning more because you were able to close those down ahead of the competition.

5. Enterprise social network

The final one is something that we’ve actually implemented internally, which is an enterprise social network. And it happens to be our own because we’re Oracle and we have one. But what we do with the enterprise social network is it’s a bit like an internal Facebook. So the amounts of emails that we now get has reduced.

We’ve done some measurements and we’ve actually worked out that the efficiency of employees has increased by about 25%. We have 100,000 employees worldwide, so we’ve gained something like 25,000 employees. And what we do is we collaborate, and we collaborate across teams. So whereas in the past, marketing used to sit in the silo and sales were in the silo, now we basically cooperate and work together. For example, every single marketing event, we create will be the equivalent of a Facebook group, and the people that need to be on that group get in there and they collaborate and provide their opinion. And we found that has been quite game-changing in the way that we work.

Connect with Tim on Twitter @Timothy_Hughes and check out his blog.

How to Become a Social Superhero [Free eBook]

social superheroes banner

Are your marketing powers a bit weak?

90% of all businesses now use social media for business purposes, whether they are trying to build brand awareness, grow an engaged following, support their customers, or leverage social to drive leads and customers for their business.

The trouble is that many companies don’t have the right strategy and tactical plans in place and don’t see any real business benefits from social media.


To address this, we have looked at what strategy and tactics brands should apply in the most obvious way of them all, social super-powers:

  • Stretch – also known as social media reach
  • X-Ray vision – taking advantage of the open web
  • Teleportation – using different networks at the same time
  • Mind reading – predict what your target audience wants
  • Strength – a never-faltering presence
  • Human – every brand needs a human side

We’ve teamed up with our friends at HubSpotBrandwatch and Buzzsumo to create the free Social Superheroes eBook.

social superheroes ebookOur Social Superheroes will show you how to:

  • Research and ensure your content will be successful
  • Find the right content topics and formats to share
  • Produce quality content and in lightening speed
  • Create interesting and eye-catching assets to use on social media during a campaign
  • Stretch the reach of your posts beyond the realm of imagination
  • Make a campaign entertaining and engaging for your audience
  • Hijack and outperform what your competitors are doing
  • Build an influencer network to get others sharing your content
  • Measure the success of your campaign by tracking the right metrics

…plus many more!

What are you waiting for?

superheroes ebook

How Undercover Recruiter Reached 100k Followers on Twitter

How did you get into social media? My story is that I was working as a recruiter and thought I’d start a blog a bit on the side which I decided to call Undercover Recruiter. It was basically a place for me to share my best tips with employers, jobseekers and other recruiters. In order to start promoting the content on the blog I was advised to set up various social media accounts. I was aware of Twitter from the news mainly, never thought I’d get an account but it seemed like a good way to reach a new audience for my blog posts. That was back in 2009 and here’s the first ever tweet (incidentally I still read Penelope Trunk’s excellent blog):

From that point on, I started curating career and recruiting content on the Twitter account and of course throwing one or two of Undercover Recruiter articles in the mix every now and then. That was five-six years ago, fast forward to December 2014 and we reached 100,000 followers on this Twitter account which was a great milestone. How exactly did we do it?

Content strategy:

Without great content you’ll struggle on social media. This is why we started sharing content from other sites very early on, my idea was to share the best career and recruiting content available online to our growing audience. Once we were seen as a place to find out the latest and greatest, we could start sharing even more of our own content. Today if you look at the feed you’ll find that we share our own articles regularly around the clock. Our biggest audience for this site is in the U.S. and most of our social activity is between 2pm and 8pm UK time. We also share articles from our friends such as ERE, Careerealism, Brazen Careerist and of course Penelope Trunk. In terms of content buckets, our followers tend to either be into either interview, resume, salary tips or tips on how to recruit better, use social media and industry studies and research. This will be explained by the fact that our followers include both people interested in careers in general and career professionals such as recruiters, HR professionals, career coaches and the like.


With retweets, favourites and replies happening about every five minutes it can sometimes be difficult to stay on top of the Undercover Recruiter Twitter account. We try to reply to everyone who isn’t an obvious spammer and we tend to retweet influencers who choose to share our content. The best way to do this is by searching URLs and setting up filters in your Twitter management dashboard. We also try to use hashtags whenever appropriate and we use regular weekly hashtags such as #UROpinion, #TechTuesday, #WisdomWednesday, #ThrowBackThursday and sometimes even the oldest one of them all; #FollowFriday:


As I mentioned, most of the Undercover Recruiter audience is in the United States, about 60% of our followers are based there. That being said, the number one city in terms of followers happens to be London, followed by New York City and Los Angeles. We have attracted a few notable followers in Join the Flock (Twitter recruitment), LinkedIn, Disney Jobs, Indeed and even Pepsi. 65% of our followers male, 35% are female. 27% of our followers also follow Mashable and Bill Gates. The top interest of our followers is unsurprisingly ‘Career news and general info’, followed by ‘Technology’ and ‘Business news and general info’.


Without some serious tools we’d struggle even more to stay on top. The main apps we use are Hootsuite, Tweetdeck and Buffer. Hootsuite is great for monitoring, reporting and using Twitter along with other social networks. Tweetdeck is unbeatable for managing Twitter only, it’s owned by Twitter and integrates seamlessly. Buffer is the tool we use for scheduling updates, typically with a large featured image, at a pre-defined schedule. I should point out that we have premium accounts with Hootsuite and Buffer.

I should also point out that since I started this Twitter account, managing it has very much been a Link Humans team effort – far too big a job for one. Do you follow @UndercoverRec yet? Join us on the journey to 200k!

RELATED: How to Actually Win at Real Time Twitter Marketing

Social Recruiting eBook

What Will Social Media Look Like in 2015?

2015 social media

2014 has been another interesting year for the world of social media, to catch up on it look no further than our regular Social Media Moments. We recently asked a few attendees of our Xmas party what their social media predictions are for 2015 (see the podcast episode at the bottom of this post), and thought we ought to share our own predictions. So here they are, the Link Humans predictions for 2015 – feel free to leave your predictions in the comments below or tweet us @LinkHumans.


I think 2015 will be the year of privacy. Most of the major social networks are creating products where privacy is the main focus. Facebook released ‘Rooms’ and ‘Groups’ to encourage interaction between like-minded people. 2015 will also be the year when eCommerce and social media will become one, with people buying directly from Facebook and Twitter. There’s no doubt that new social networks will come and go but I believe at least 2 new platforms will still be around by the end of the year. [@wakanouka]


While industry experts, analysts and marketers have been evangelising about omnichannel marketing, more and more digital tools will finally start embracing that too. 2015 will see a lot of analytics providers merging with others and/or beefing up their offering to provide a more comprehensive suite of marketing tools. Is this the end of specialist analytics tools? Certainly not, but we’re definitely going to see a rise in all-in-one digital tools. We’ve already seen that with the likes of Socialbakers, and we’ve recently witnessed that with Simply Measured partnering with SHIFT, to provide in-depth analytics AND solid advertising options. This move will incentivise a lot of brands to think outside of the “digital silos” and start looking at various aspects of digital marketing as one – an essential step towards omnichannel marketing, which we’ll definitely see a lot more of in the coming year. [@FR314]


Social media will have an impact on all parts of an organisation and be used for internal communications, crowd-sourcing innovation and a place for any stakeholder to have an open dialogue with the people behind the brand. I also think Facebook at Work will give LinkedIn a run for its money, that SnapChat will continue to annoy Mark Zuckerberg and that Ello will never be spoken of again. [@jorgensundberg]


I believe that visual will be king in 2015 – with a new video site trying to take Vine’s crown coming through – and that e-commerce will get even easier. I think we are only a few years away from saying goodbye to physical shops altogether. [@laurencehebberd]


Crystal Ball Photography VariantWearable tech will start to have a bigger impact on social, with areas such as NFC being used more to create a personalised marketing experience. Brands will still try and be your friends more – and will then make just the same mistakes. Twitter will change its policy on trolls and help more. Lots more Angry Cat style characters will be launched on youtube with most disappearing into a black hole of sameness. LinkedIn will still upset people who don’t want a job. Facebook @ Work will be launched with lots of companies still concerned about individual privacy. [@lincoln_coutts]


We’ll see more people start to move away from Facebook looking for an alternative network. Instagram will hit 500 million users by the end of 2015. Facebook@Work will be a big success with tech savvy professionals. LinkedIn needs some healthy competition so this will benefit all users on either FB@Work or LinkedIn. I’m guessing FB@Work will be invite-only to add hysteria and further interest into the new network from Facebook. Me personally: I’ll continue to not understand Snapchat or Instagram, sticking to the safe haven of Twitter. [@robbie_palmer]


I think brands are going to up their visual-content-marketing game. Vine, Instagram and Snapchat will become integrated into more strategies, and content will become way more creative and competitive. It’s also going to be interesting seeing if Facebook at Work can provide LinkedIn with some competition… Let’s hope so! [@rubyl0ve]

And here are the 2015 predictions from our Xmas party as promised:

photos by: &

STUDY: How Recruiters & Job Seekers Use Social Media

social recruiting

Adecco Group have released the results of its first global study looking at the use of social media in recruitment and the job search – the most comprehensive study in this field to date. Here are the results in terms of job seekers – and they come from over 17,000 entrants in 24 different countries.

Key findings show that social media is, and will increasingly become, the new job market place, but best practices and impacts are not always clear for either the job seekers or the recruiters.

Adecco’s study found that more than half of all recruitment activity involved the internet. That number is expected to rise this year, as seven out of ten recruiters saying they currently use social media for their human resource’s professional activities.

The global study also discovered that an applicant’s social media engagement is important to recruiters, as candidates with an established online network receive more contact from potential employers. LinkedIn is the most popular network for recruiters assessing candidates at 68%, Facebook at 52%. An estimated one third of recruiters admit rejecting a potential candidate due to the content on an applicant’s profile. Silvia Zanella, Adecco Global Social Media & Online Marketing Director said…

“The predominant relevance of social media recruiting is a reality today and no doubt in the future. We can help job seekers get the most out of the unlimited opportunities available through proper use of social networks, and provide recruiters with the best tools for improving the quality of their social media professional practices. ”


  • The more people you know online, the better your chances are of finding a new job.
  • Avoid sensitive content on your social network profiles.
  • Use social networks in your job search- search relevant terms and hashtags to find the vacancies relevant to you.
  • Whilst searching keep distributing your CV to recruiters!
  • Keep your social networking consistent and up-to-date.

You can download the full report at and click here to see the full infographic.

How Social Employees Can Be the Perfect Brand Ambassadors

Within the world of business, credibility and transparency is something that is rather important to the public nowadays. People want to know what is going on ‘behind closed doors’ within certain companies and how they deal with successes and failures. 

This is why treating employees as a part of your team of ambassadors is so powerful. When the public sees that the employee would personally recommend their company’s service or product to their direct network; they surely have confidence in the quality and stand by the brand.

Apart from the social media manager or marketing team making use of social media platforms to market their brand, alternative individuals working at the company might act as ambassadors on their social media channels.

Let’s take a look at some of the ways you could get your employees to become brand ambassadors for your company:

Create Social Brand Value

In order to get your employees to become a brand ambassador online is to create a social brand value. This term, Social Brand Value is explained by Michael;

“The concept is defined as the extent to which people share a brand or information about a brand as part of their everyday social lives at work or at home”.

This brand value shifts the extent of the company’s influence from the brand to the person, as such. It is important to gain social capital through ‘normal’ people without a premeditated sales pitch or advertorial. People want to connect on a personal level, and these days the platform for this connection is online.

It is then understood that if there is a strong social brand in place, the credibility of the company and its operations is likely to strengthen.

Choose the Right Brand Ambassadors

Even though passionate employees might be sharing your company’s message without you even urging them to do so, it’s still important to choose the right candidates for your team of ambassadors. Being part of this team doesn’t initially have to be a formal responsibility; scout which employees seem eager to showcase the message, services and products online by sounding sincere and relevant. If you can identify employees who already use and enjoy social media in a positive manner, you have won half the battle.

Have a Strong Employee Culture

If employees are happy in their workplace they would be more likely to put the brand in a good light online as well as offline. Find ways to create a unit within the company by creating a strong company culture. This works well when establishing certain workplace routine or surprising your employees every now and again. Think in the lines of Pizza Friday, Wednesday Drinks or enter a sports team in a local tournament. Consider what would be fun and enjoyable to your employees and make a habit of keeping them in a good mood.

southwest airlines career

Creating a strong employee culture can be a science in itself, check out South West Airlines employee culture to get an idea.

Encourage Activity on Social Media

In order for your employees to spread to word via social media channels, they have to be active on these platforms. Encourage your employees to create profiles on the main social media channels such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. The platform they use will depend on their personal preferences as well as the applicable platform for your brand.

Be sure to provide clear social media guidelines and training to encourage social media use, here’s an example from KPMG:

Some companies don’t even allow their employees to be active on social media during work hours because it can be a distraction. But because you aren’t restricting your employees, you might even subtly encourage them to share the positive things happening in the workplace. For your employees, interacting with other industry specialists online might even inspire and increase productivity.

Get Them Engaged

In order to have your employees represent and advertise your brand online, they have to know what the company and business is all about. Many companies don’t feel the need to share their vision, goals and mission with each employee, but this is essential to the social brand.

Six traits of engaged employees:

  1. Believe in their organisation
  2. Have the desire to work to make things better
  3. Understand the business context and the bigger picture
  4. Are respectful and helpful to colleagues
  5. Are willing to go the extra mile
  6. Stay up to date with developments within their industry

Praise According to Analytics

It’s one thing to create influential brand ambassadors online, but keeping them out of the loop of your business’ growth won’t make them feel included. If a tweet goes viral or there is a sudden increase in website traffic, find the source and praise the individual responsible. This way all the employees will feel connected in building the brand and spreading the word.

These are just a few ways in which you can get your employees to be strong candidates for being the brand’s online ambassadors. Can you add more? Please let us know in the comments below!

RELATED: How Nokia Turns Employees into Brand Ambassadors