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Social Selling: 5 Myths Busted

“I’m a big fan of the misunderstood, the vilified, the underdog, the breaking of myths.” Dominic Monaghan

We all do it. We get a preconceived notion in our heads and it becomes the truth. Here at Cisco we believe deeply in omni-channel customer communication and social engagement, but sometimes we need to do a reality check – particularly when it comes to how our partners interact with their prospective and current customers.

We wanted to know what matters to partners when it comes to using social media for sales and marketing. So we used a tried-and-tested approach: we asked them. In partnership with Leader Networks, we conducted a mixed-method study (which included interviews and a survey) with 240 Cisco partners in our EMEAR (Europe, Middle East, Africa, and Russia) region. Our goal was to understand:

  • The opportunities, barriers, and challenges Cisco partners experience when engaging prospective and current customers
  • The areas where social engagement could enhance or accelerate sales and marketing efforts
  • The tools and support Cisco partners need to be successful on the social channels

Of course, we entered the process with a set of assumptions – including a theory that, because our partners engage with customers in highly localised, highly personalised ways, they would tell us that social engagement was a ‘nice to have’ instead of a strategic need. Guess what? We were wrong! Here’s what we learned:

Myth: Social selling is a good idea but it doesn’t really work for the partner community.

Fact: Social engagement is becoming critical to partners’ sales and marketing initiatives.

According to our study, 91% of Cisco EMEAR partners believe social engagement will become important or very important to their organisation in the next 12-18 months. That’s almost all of them. This indicates that social selling is not just a market trend swirling outside the partner community. It’s very real and very relevant to partners right now.

Myth: Most partners aren’t active on social channels.

Fact: Partners are smart about social – and they’re getting smarter.

Our survey showed that the majority of EMEAR partners use LinkedIn and more than half use Twitter and Facebook.

What’s more, 60% report that they use social channels in their sales practices. Although some partners are in the experimental stages, many are on their way up the social selling maturity curve – and they’re developing stronger strategies and programs by the day.

Myth: Partners only use social selling techniques for lead generation.

Fact: Social selling is delivering a host of meaningful benefits.

Some organisations use social channels to shout: to digitally broadcast and amplify their ideas. Our partners are using social selling techniques to listen and engage – and that is paying dividends. According to our study, socially engaged partners report meaningful benefits such as an increase in their visibility among prospective customers (84%), closer relationships with customers (71%), and greater awareness of customer needs (70%).  Taken one step further, our partners are not only using social engagement to sell products and services – they’re gaining invaluable insight that can be used to drive new products and services.

Myth: Partners want pre-packaged content that they can “push” over social channels.

Fact: Partners want to become thought leaders who craft their own content.

To advance their social selling strategies, EMEAR partners desire more information and insight. They want to create and share content about industry trends and new perspectives to make valuable contributions to their customers. They also want the training and support they need to do so. Said another way: they don’t want fish; they want to become fishermen.

Myth: Only millennials use social selling techniques.

Fact: Social selling is universal.

In our study, we spoke with partners in a wide range of ages across multiple countries and organizations of varying sizes. There were no significant differences in their responses – whether they were digital natives or a seasoned salespeople, working in Austria or Algeria, employed by a large or small firm. The bottom line? Social selling has the potential to yield benefits for all partners. Full stop.

Our partners are incredibly important to Cisco. They’re on the front lines with our customers – working hand-in-hand to help them get the business outcomes they’re looking for. By continuing to use social media as a two-way communications channel, our partners are in a unique position to gain the deep insight that will inform new products and solutions, drive business transformation for customers, and ultimately shape the future of Cisco. That’s a fact.

Click here for our Infographic.

Tags: , , phasing out support of some old browsers

All good things come to an end, and on we’re planning to retire our active support of some old desktop browsers in the new year. Specifically, we’ll be stopping active support of Internet Explorer versions 8 and 9.  These browsers almost qualify and Internet antiques, having been launched in 2009 and 2011 respectively. They both have excellent alternatives now, including newer versions of IE, Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Opera.

The majority of pages will continue to work fine into the foreseeable future, but we won’t be diligently debugging against IE 8 and 9 has we have done in the past.

Use the comments below to let the team know of any questions, compliments, or concerns you have on this update.

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Top 3 Reasons for Integrating Video Now

ball-563972_640Just about everyone today knows the power of social video; however, some do not know how to articulate the top reasons why marketers should incorporate video into our marketing campaigns. I have combined my 15 years of experience in marketing, communications, e-commerce and social media management with degrees in Videography and Public relations to compose the top 3 reasons for integrating video. These top three reasons will help you modernize your marketing efforts by giving you best practices in video that will not only enhance your marketing budget/efforts but will also extend your ROI by way of greater adoption through engagement and reach.

Read More »

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6 Tips for Creating a Successful Blog Strategy

dreamstime_s_29668737Blogs can be tricky. They are a great asset until you realize you haven’t posted in a week. Or, one day you wake up and there are 13 blogs you have to review and approve.

An essential component to any social media strategy at a company is a good blog program. We have an open blogging system and authors are able to publish directly – this is a good thing! However, how do you manage an influx of blog requests that can impact the overall engagement and metrics of your blog?

What can you do when your blog becomes wild and untamed?

1. Start with an audit of all bloggers

When we performed an audit we realized some of our authors had changed organizations and were no longer focused on blogging and a number of the authors had not blogged in over a year. We removed the individuals who had changed focus and those who had not blogged for a significant amount of time.

2. Re-train the authors

After the audit, we noticed some of our active bloggers had another issue – blogs were written in formal, company-branded voices that read more like a press release. We wanted our blog to highlight the individual voices and share real stories. We trained over 100 bloggers in three different sessions on how to bring their own voice to their blog, encouraged them to share photos, graphics, and videos. We also reviewed best practices such as SEO for blogs, how to use the “read more” function, and create a custom tweet for each blog article.  This kind of training can help even seasoned bloggers understand new trends in blogging and social media, new tools available in the blogging platform, and reinforce company guidelines.

3. Use Gamification

Cisco had recently partnered with Bunchball to create Social Rewards – social gamification and badges on the blog site for authors and subscribers to the blogs. In our training sessions, we encouraged authors to use the Social Rewards to help boost their own author profile and to support the other authors on their team. After we reviewed the program we had some very healthy competition going on who could reach higher levels.

4. Focus on Engagement, Not just Page Views

In all our training and efforts, we focused on engagement and social shares on the blog, not just page views and visits. When an individual puts their social profile behind content by sharing it on their social media accounts, they are giving you a true stamp of approval. This is a significant measure of just how well your content is resonating with your audience.  As a team, we set an initial goal of a minimum number of social shares per blog to encourage authors to think deeper about what their audience wanted to hear – and to encourage personal sharing on their own account. It was a naturally occurring result that by encouraging our audience to take part in the Social Rewards program, we were also encouraging social shares.

5. Build an Editorial Calendar

We set a self-service editorial calendar where bloggers could sign up for their blog timeslot. We limited blogs to no more than two a day and limited posts on “big news” days. By having a public editorial calendar, we allow the authors to see what is being planned and if their content is redundant or something fresh and new. When conflicts arise, we leave it to the bloggers to decide amongst themselves which topic should be a priority.

6. Measure and Report

Measurement is critical. I ran a baseline for five months before we started the audit and all other aspects of the new program. Then, every month we ran reports on top blogs and the lowest performing blogs. We looked at social shares, unique visitors, and page views. We tracked month over month success and called out the areas were we did not see success.

The Results:

By implementing the steps above we saw a major change in the blog content and performance. From January 2015 to July 2015, the average social shares per post increased by 40% and the average unique visitors per post increased by 555%! In addition, after May we saw zero blogs with under 50 social shares. This is our success story!

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Twitter Polls Are Coming!

You may have heard the news coming in from Twitter this week…


Cisco Data Center, @CiscoDC, received the opportunity to be one of the first Twitter handles to have the polling enabled on to our account. (Yes, we do feel special too). Here at Cisco, we are excited to test the feature so we conducted our first poll yesterday with great results.

Benefits of Polling

One of the biggest benefits to Twitter Polls is that it gives brands a new opportunity to engage with their Twitter network. The most obvious benefit is that brands now have the opportunity to ask anything and get feedback in real time. The real time aspect of Twitter’s new polling feature will enable quicker decision making that will help brands create more effective social media campaigns.

Time and Analytics

Each poll is live for 24 hours, which gives people only 24 hours to choose one answer of the two you can provide. No third or fourth answers are possible. During this time you will be able to see real time analytics of the number of respondents and the current results of the poll . Your respondents are able to answer the question anonymously.

During Polling Analytics Information

During the 24-hour response period, mobile users are able to see the question rendering in two big buttons like this:


Participants are also able to see how many people have already voted and how many more hours the poll is open to respond.

After participants have answered, they are able to see via visual confirmation, their choice and also the real time results of the poll as show below:

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Post Polling Analytics Information

Once the poll has closed, everyone (whether they have participated in the poll or not), will be able to see the results of your poll. As seen here:

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Character Limits

For the initial tweet, you are limited to 95 characters and for each of the possible answers; you are limited to 21 characters. Clear messaging and a concise plan will be critical for using this feature.

Are you excited to use this feature on your account? What would be your first poll question be?

Tell me in the comments below.



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