Leveraging Social Media for More Deal Flow: 10 Resources for Middle Market Advisors

The National Center for the Middle Market details in an article by Dorie Clark, that “social media is a powerful sales and marketing tool [for Middle Market Advisors], but it’s important to recognize you’re playing the long game.”  

Clark cites the advice of Bryan Kramer, CEO of Silicon Valley-based digital agency Pure Matter, who recommends looking at every relationship on social media as long term, utilizing a focused effort on the social channels where your clients will be active, while also delivering thought leadership you produce to them via those channels – then only selling your services when the time is right.

Middle Market advisors may ask, however, which social media channels should they utilize for their unique businesses? As well, what sort of thought leadership should they produce, and with what frequency?  And finally, who can help them do this effectively so the efforts lead to more deal flow?

To help answer these (and more) questions Middle Market advisors might have about how they might effectively adopt social media as a means by which to generate more deal flow, I’ve compiled a list of 10 articles I’ve produced on a variety of social media subjects for Middle Market Advisors.  Here’s a list of them in chronological order, with an excerpt from each that provides an overview of the subject each article covers:

  1. How investment bankers can find needle-in-the-haystack deals, By John Grimley, LinkedIn Pulse, July 26, 2014. “Middle-market focused investment bankers are well-positioned to secure new deal flow in highly specialized niche-areas by blogging. Whether it’s based on the geography, revenue, sector or ownership structure of the companies you serve – or the market niche you’ve carved out in your financial services business.”
  2. Why investment bankers should be blogging, By John Grimley, LinkedIn Pulse, August 4, 2014. “The importance of social media in the decision making process of senior corporate management teams is increasing rapidly. Compared to the costs associated with traditional referral methods used to generate proprietary deal flow, it is likely that a blog will generate more proprietary deal flow at significantly less cost.”
  3. International opportunity dawns for boutique investment banks, By John Grimley, LinkedIn Pulse, August 9, 2014. “Boutique investment bankers seeking cross-border deal flow in an increasingly global marketplace need to transcend traditional deal origination methods characterized by in-person networking and become active on social media – in particular, blogging – in order to most effectively reach sources of deal flow across the globe on a 24/7 basis.”
  4. Social Media: An Overlooked Business Development Tool, By John Grimley, Axial Forum, September 3, 2014. “Mid-market deal professionals, from private equity professionals to investment bankers, often face the challenge of being perceived as simply a vendor to mid-market C-Suite executives – their services indistinguishable from their competitors.­ However, social media is increasingly becoming a tool to help overcome this misconception.”
  5. Do You Need Social Media to Secure More Deal Flow?, By John Grimley, Axial Forum, January 20, 2015. “Strictly speaking, no middle-market advisor must use social media. Traditional in-person networking has, and will continue to have, a fundamental role in middle market dealmaking. But in an age where the internet is increasingly becoming the means of communication (Twitter alone has 284 million active users) — if you’re not using social media to source deals and nurture relationships, you are likely missing out on some opportunity.”
  6. Why Private Equity Firms Should Publish, By John Grimley, Axial Forum, June 15, 2015. “As Forbes magazine recently outlined, the US economy is now the number one focus for foreign private equity investors seeking a global safe haven.  But what they’ll find here, as Forbes explains, is “more capital in the hands of a growing number of PE funds chasing too few good assets..”
  7. How Content Marketing Can Help Portfolio Companies Grow, By John Grimley, Axial Forum, September 8, 2015. “To outperform their rivals, private equity firms will need to enhance their ability to spur organic growth in the companies they own,”.  Content Marketing can be a part of generating that organic growth.”
  8. Why Deal Professionals Should Emulate Business Insider, By John Grimley, Axial Forum, December 2, 2015. “Midmarket deal professionals can learn something from the recent acquisition of online digital news magazine Business Insider by European publishing company Axel Springer: Online publishing is something you should be embracing.”
  9. How to Combine Social Media and Traditional Deal Sourcing for Maximum Results, By John Grimley, Axia Forum, May 10, 2016. “Combining traditional deal flow sourcing with social media and content marketing can help middle market dealmakers more effectively connect to key audiences, including C-suite executives”
  10. How private equity can generate more deal flow in the Asia-Pacific region, By John Grimley, LinkedIn Pulse, November 25, 2016. “A new Bain report details how Asia-Pacific region economic uncertainty and fierce competition for deals means that private equity funds in Asia — currently holding much unspent capital — will have to work harder and in a more disciplined fashion to find attractive companies.”

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10 ways to use Twitter to promote business blogs

Blogs are a very effective method for generating new business leads, however a blog itself needs to be promoted to be fully effective.  Among the most effective ways to promote a blog is informed use of Twitter, as Wishpond details.  

Twitter is a social media channel utilized by many prospective clients, customers, influencers and media in your industry. Notably, recent studies reflect the increasing utilization of Twitter by businesses to engage key audiences including potential clients or customers.Proactive use of Twitter, therefore, will expand exposure for your blog among these key audiences.  

Lisa Bruckner, a small business entrepreneur, has written about how Twitter has been a  “powerful business communication tool” which helped her grow her business and business blog via connecting her with ideal prospective customers quickly and efficiently.  

For those who are or planning to utilize a blog to promote their business, here’s a list of 10 ways (curated from a larger list from Wishpond) to most effectively use Twitter to support your blog:

  1. Use Short Tweets – as they generate a higher interaction rate.  When posting tweets, it’s not necessary to post the original article title.  
  2. Post an excerpt from the article – Studies reflect that tweets including quotes are more likely to be retweeted.
  3. Include statistics – Numbers and characters makes tweets stand out amidst many other tweets in readers timelines
  4. Use #hashtags – Hashtags are regularly used and help connect you to users beyond your followers
  5. Use @mentions — Mention prominent bloggers, companies or clients/customers via a tweet that links to your post
  6. Retweet Mentioned Blog Content — If someone mentions your blog content on Twitter, retweet their tweet.”
  7. Ask for a Retweet – This leads to more shares
  8. Use Images – These increase interaction with posts and, and drive traffic back to blogs
  9. Pose Topical Questions — This increases curiosity and engagement from readers
  10. Include a link to your blog bio or other posts – This will increase traffic to other sections of your blog

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How to write blog posts that generate new client leads

The ultimate goal of any content marketing initiative is to generate new potential client leads.  

Julie Neidlinger, writing in Single Grain, explains that: “There’s a general misunderstanding among most bloggers: you think that simply getting people to read what you’ve written is the point.  In an ideal world, they just read your blog post and immediately (and happily) sign up for your newsletter, download your “ultimate guide,” and head on over to your online store. Your amazing content leads to conversions which translates to cold hard cash in the bank. It’s as simple as that, right? Yes, that is what can happen. That is what should happen. But as long as you hold on to that initial misunderstanding, that isn’t what will happen. The truth is, readers don’t automatically become customers. They tend to stay readers unless you make a concerted effort to convert them into a customer.” [emphasis added]

How to generate leads from blog posts

Strong Social has detailed what is required to avoid the pitfall Julie Neidlinger details above — and create successful, lead-generating blog posts.  Their recommendations include:

  • Be clear and concise — “Clarity is the key to mutual understanding between you and your customers.” This requires removing excessive language in blogposts.
  • Ensure your blog posts are client-centric.
  • Break the blogpost up into subheadings and bullet points –  They cite a Nielsen Norman Group study which “found that 79% of readers skim, while only 16% read every word on a page. Breaking up your page with subheads and bullets will make it easier for those 79% to digest the copy—and ultimately take a desired action—on your website.”
  • Avoid buzzwords and industry jargon which can reduce the clarity of your message.
  • Include a compelling call to action — The call to action (CTA) is one of the most important aspects of web copywriting. Ensure the reader knows what to do next. This is perhaps the most important element of a good blogpost, as well as perhaps the most overlooked.
  • Be aware of the web copy your direct competitors are using as a means to keep fully up-to-date with the market.
  • Know your audience — Understand their needs and address them in your blogposts. “Figure out why people buy your product or service, how they buy it, what they use it for, and what really matters to them.”

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Social media has made international trade more accessible

“Social media has made international trade more accessible”, says Tuck Shop Trading Co.’s Founder Lyndsay Borschke, in an interview with Jeff Brownlee of ExportWise, a publication of EDC, Canada’s export credit agency.

96% of consumers are outside the United States

This easier access via social media is important for U.S. exporters in particular — because — as Sarah Mitchell writes in ContentMarketingInstitute.com — 96% of the world’s consumers live outside the United States.  But to effectively reach overseas markets via social media, content needs to be produced for a global audience, as Mitchell details, citing an earlier article by Scott Abel.

Global internet market in excess of 2.5 billion

Mitchell details an interesting figure, citing John Yunker, “who claims the global market for international domain names (IDN) is greater that 2.5 billion people.   The same number, (⅓ of the world’s population) is active on social media, as Esther Curiel writes.

Content marketing helps open international markets

Curiel recommends, therefore, “that brands [should seek to] find their audiences in those [social] channels, where they are already spending a good portion of their online time.” And content marketing to global audiences, she details, will increase brand awareness, trust, likeability, accessibility, and engagement, and ultimately, new business leads.

Global audiences: Uniquely challenging to reach

Global audiences bring unique challenges to brands, Curiel notes. Brands, she writes, “have become adept at adapting their messages for global audiences” with the help of localization partners and translation. In order to accomplish more in international markets, therefore, brands “need to go one step further and be able to listen, react and engage” with local audiences in their language and in ways that elicit interactions.  Adapting for local business culture is also vital.  While “the challenges are significant”, Curiel explains, “so are the opportunities social media can create.”

Implications for your international business

If your business is seeking to expand in international markets, the opportunities social media presents are well worth noting.  It’s also important that the localization practices Esther Curiel details be employed as a means to expand the scope of international social media efforts.  The need to customize social media initiatives in international markets might seem obvious.  However, ensuring these efforts also always change to adapt as well as utilize best practices (while at the same time working in concert with your already existing marketing and business development efforts) is imperative if they are to realize their full potential.

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9 ways to use social media to promote business events

Social media can be used very effectively to promote business events.  Even if your firm or organization hasn’t yet utilized social media to promote events — here’s an inspirational story:  One very high-profile business organization has successfully gone from opposing the use of social media to promote its’ events — to enthusiastically embracing the use of social media: The World Economic Forum (WEF).

As the BBC reported in 2016 — in the past few years – WEF has gone from opposition to social media use – to a highly active and successful example of its’ best use.  As many will know, WEF’s annual meeting occurs in Davos’, Switzerland.  Attended by many prominent business and political leaders from around the world — in the last few years the organization has been superb at promoting this event using social media.  I wrote in more detail about those efforts here – and emulate them in another blog and social media channels I publish here.

As the BBC details: “In the past couple of years, the World Economic Forum’s social media operation has come into its own. A decade or so ago, sharing what was going on at the WEF’s meetings was verboten, but opposition to using social media as a communication tool at Davos has changed in a big way.”

WEF’s social media team in action

As the BBC explains, WEF now has a social media desk staffed by two professionals who search for what is being shared or provoking online discussion.  They then repost or repackage this content in a way tailored to reach a broader audience.  When WEF conducts its’ annual meeting at Davos, the WEF social media team live-tweets the event — often adding original posts focused on its’ followers on its’ widely followed social media channels.  In addition to Twitter, Facebook and it’s own blog — WEF also utilizes Weibo, LinkedIn, Instagram and Snapchat.

Mike Hanley, Head of Digital Communications for WEF () told the BBC that these outreach efforts are intended to harness the power of social media to amplify the conversations at Davos: “It helps us emphasize the importance and complexity of the issues that our participants are discussing, it helps us make those issues understandable, and it helps us bring the voice of the general public into our proceedings.”

How can your organization emulate WEF’s social media success?

Social Media-focused blog Tint has published an excellent article about how you can promote events via the use of social media.  Below I’ve distilled that post into 9 basic tips for promoting business events via social media:

  1. Create a short Twitter hashtag for your event and use it often — It can markedly increase awareness, participation and attendance for your event.
  2. Be proactive with your Twitter hashtag — “Promote it everywhere including your event website, dedicated emails, social networks, and the event’s mobile app. The hashtag is a great way for your attendees to engage with the event content, speakers, and each other. You’ll be able to watch what is trending around your event in real-time and get relevant feedback in the process.”
  3. Promote your event as early as possible — “The earlier you promote the event and dedicated hashtag, the greater your chances are for success. Promote early to create momentum and reach a larger audience.  Social media is an ideal channel for initiating conversations.”
  4. Create enthusiasm before the event — which in turn will encourage others to promote the event.  “Reach out to attendees, speakers, and prospective conference-goers to get them excited about the event.”  Share other related content about the event, e.g. blogposts by influencers, news reports, social posts by those interested in the event.
  5. Leverage Thoughts Leaders — “Using social correctly can help your attendees to become your biggest promoters. Encourage attendees to leverage their social networks to help spread the word. Create mutually beneficial relationships with industry and thought leaders by sharing their updates and engaging them in conversation online. They already have loyal fans and are admired in their industry.”
  6. Encourage event speakers to promote the event. It’s helpful for them to promote conferences where they’ll be speaking.
  7. Engage guests before the event — Here you might publish and promote shareable content with interesting facts, discounts or other creative efforts.
  8. Use All Your Social Channels – Or Create a Dedicated Event Channel — “Create a LinkedIn group and a Facebook page for your event. Post topics including activities, photos, sponsors, special guests, speakers, agenda info, and anything else that is relevant for the conference. Organically growing an attendee community on these networks means higher shareability for your event”.
  9. Follow Back — “Engage with and reward attendees [and dedicated social followers] who are regularly promoting and mentioning your events on social media and encourage two-way communication.”

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