Social media is one of the best marketing tools out there: you can grow and reach a large audience with content and ads, and people who like and/or follow you are your fans, so they’re already your target group.
However, people can be resistant to selling on these platforms. They see sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter as places to share content and interact with friends, families—and nowadays, brands. You really have to approach this the right way or you could alienate your audience, causing them to unfollow or unlike you because they expect a two-way conversation and engaging content, not to be marketed to.
It’s also important to clarify that social selling doesn’t mean advertising your product or service online for people to buy. Social selling means you’re using social media to connect with sales prospects and nurture relationships to hopefully convert them into customers.
Now that we’ve defined social selling, let’s discuss what you can do to increase your odds of success:
1. Think relationships, not dollar signs. Make sure you’re posting relevant, non-sales content. You want to become an expert resource in your industry, so focus on adding value to your users’ feeds.
According to a study performed by LinkedIn, buyers who are active on social media welcome input from industry experts. In addition, 76% of buyers are ready to have a conversation with potential providers.
Get to know your potential customers by asking them engaging questions, answering their questions in a timely manner and responding to comments. The more trust and loyalty you build, the better your odds of converting a follower into a paying customer.
Once upon a time your strategy was probably largely focused on sharing links to third-party content with your audience. Well, those days are over, and if you want to stand out in the crowded and noisy online environment, you need to focus on content marketing storytelling.
2. Take the time to build out your accounts. Make sure that your bio and profile are filled out on all the platforms you want to use for social selling. You should include your website URL, About Us, contact information, and a privacy statement.
It can also help to pin relevant posts, make sure your branding stands out and have high-quality images to attract followers’ attention. Again, this builds trust and loyalty, making people feel more comfortable and secure doing business with you.
3. Choose your messaging wisely. What works on one platform may not work on another. Where do your potential clients hang out? Where do they talk business, or go for restaurant recommendations? Generally:
* LinkedIn is more business-focused, so people are more comfortable with marketing messaging there.
* Twitter has a great search function, so you can more easily connect with prospects, and find relevant topics.
* Facebook has many communities that you can join and network in (remember, don’t be pushy!)
* Instagram and Pinterest is for visuals, not long content pieces.
By tailoring your messaging for each platform, you’ll be more likely to attract the right kind of customer.
4. Let user-generated content sell for you. You don’t have to do all the work of social selling alone! There are so many ways to use user-generated content (UGC) to your advantage, including:
* Contests and giveaways that encourage followers to share your content, hashtags and/or messaging.
* Ratings or reviews for your product or service
For example, J.Crew posts user ratings and reviews on their website, so when they post a dress or shirt on their social media account and someone clicks on through, they see other people’s votes of confidence
Not only does user-generated content help you, but it helps your customers. Almost 80 percent of people say that UGC drives their purchasing decisions. It’s a win-win situation!
5. Try, test and try again. Every business owner should be tracking and measuring their efforts, whether it’s a digital Newsletter push or a Google Adwords campaign. Look at your data and stats to determine what’s working and what isn’t.
Maybe people are being referred to a page on your website from your Facebook post, but they’re only spending a few seconds on it. You need to look at why that is: is your messaging unclear? Boring? Is there a broken link? By tracking your visitors’ paths, you can see where you need to take a closer look.
Google Analytics is a free tool you can use to measure your website statistics, and there are also paid tools out there that can help you break down and understand your data.
The more you test and tighten your social media selling attempts, the better your ROI will be (and the happier your followers will be).
While social selling is different than traditional methods, it’s still about building relationships and credibility. Focus on the person behind the platform, not on converting them into a sale or guiding them down a marketing funnel. Take the time to build connections and you’ll create a community of prospects who will welcome hearing from you.