Join us this week at Entrepreneurship 101 for a cleantech panel keen to share the opportunities and challenges they’ve faced in building a business. The E101 demo pit will feature the latest cleantech ventures to come out of MaRS. After the panel discussion, there will be time for Q&A and networking.

Last week at Entrepreneurship 101, one of our speakers, Tucker Schreiber, Content Marketer, Shopify, explored how the nature of content has evolved and how marketers and salespeople need to leverage the power of social media. Tucker shares insights on social selling below.

The Oxford English Dictionary recently announced its 2015 word of the year: Emoji: Face with Tears of Joy

The “Face with Tears of Joy” emoji joins the ranks among past winners like selfie, GIF and unfriend—which sheds light on the ever-evolving world of language.

What is it about these words (and emojis) that’s so important to the business world? Their importance lies in how we interact with one another, and how relationships are being made and nurtured at a business level through all forms of content.

Using good content to build and nurture relationships

Long gone are the days of content being considered primarily as blog posts and white papers. Content has been disseminated to all platforms: social media, video, email and more. And it’s being used in ways you might never expect from large companies.

On Twitter, you can tweet at Domino’s Pizza the Emoji: Pizza slice emoji to order a pizza. In a more traditional space, companies like Chevy Motors have done entire press releases written with emojis only. And in a mobile world, push notifications have even started to include emojis in them too.

But there’s much more to it than the increased use of emojis as a form of expression that crosses language barriers. It’s about building and nurturing relationships with clients and customers by using good content.

Your social presence matters

The way we look at content from a consumer perspective is changing. And as such, it should change from a business standpoint too. Winning a sale or acquiring a new customer is a long-term game nowadays. The hard sell is slowly starting to fade away. Digital Marketing Magazine found that 74% of buyers check social media before making a purchasing decision. So your social presence plays a big role in the beginning of that buyer’s journey.

One company that had this realization was AT&T who scored a $47 million deal after using content to help propel it as a thought leader. It used its content as a bit of a Trojan horse through Twitter and LinkedIn, which is where its business counterparts spent most of their time.

Similarly, BuzzFeed’s Tasty channel—Buzzfeed primarily produces entertainment-style content—was reportedly able to win a $3.5 million production deal from an unnamed company to produce native content in the same vein. The deal never would have been made if it weren’t for the wide breadth of knowledge that BuzzFeed has when it comes to content and social media.

In addition to BuzzFeed and AT&T, Shopify Masters was started by an entrepreneur who wanted to learn more about successful Shopify storeowners. The podcast provides the knowledge and inspiration you need to build, launch and grow a profitable online store. This is powerfully valuable content for anyone with ambition. Originally started by Felix Thea as a side project, Shopify Masters recently started working with us at Shopify in an official capacity because of how solid the podcast content was, and because of Thea’s distribution approach on social media.

Reach the conversion point more effectively

And that’s where we as entrepreneurs need to begin to take note—social media and content need to play a bigger role in our marketing and sales funnel.

By using catered content and social media as a distribution tool, salespeople can get to a pivotal conversion point more effectively with their clients.

Through social media engagement and consistently nurturing relationships with customers, salespeople are able to qualify their value sooner in the sales process and eventually win bigger, more trusting sales.

Missed the lecture?

You can still catch what Tucker and our other E101 speakers had to say! Check out the videos below. Mark Elliott, Co-Founder, Venture Accelerator Partners Inc., spoke about the importance of effectively managing your sales funnel and advocated the use of CRM (customer relationship management) software no matter how big or small your business. And Mark Evans, Principal of ME Consulting and the author of Storytelling for Startups, discussed the art of delivering a clear sales message as well the need to foster good sales relationships and to persevere.

Manage Your Sales Funnel

The Art & Science of Sales: Tips, tricks & tools

The Mini-Guide to Social Selling

Entrepreneurship 101 course resources

And search “Entrepreneurship 101” on iTunes U.

Tucker Schreiber

Tucker Schreiber is a content marketer at Shopify, the leading cloud-based multi-channel commerce platform. See more…