In today’s digital and technological economy, social selling is bigger and more prevalent than ever, possibly due to the recent global pandemic. It may also be more challenging than ever since there are now so many more people and brands using social media. But wait, isn’t social selling just social media marketing? Yes, and no.
Though social selling is done on social media, it allows you to target your brand’s right buyers by leveraging your existing connections and establishing a solid rapport with them. It requires a bit more finesse than simply running an ad, and it may well be the modern-day replacement to cold calling when done well. Nutshell? Social selling is about building meaningful and relevant relationships, utilizing the power of social media connections, and then turning those relationships into sales.
So, how can a business cut through the ‘noise’ and reach their target audience, without sacrificing the ‘social’ and community aspect? There’s a fine line to walk in keeping your social media interactions targeted and branded, without losing the integral human connection of social media, and potentially alienating followers.
To help, below are some of the best practices we know of for social selling successfully. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a manufacturing company or selling your services, if you are selling something, you’ve got to learn how to do it well.
Establish Yourself on Relevant Platforms
There are several social media platforms these days, which means it can be difficult to know where to focus your time and attention. Let’s face it, social media can be a time suck if you’re not using it wisely. Do your due diligence before getting started, and determine which platforms are most popular for the demographics and markets you want to target. Choose to spend your time on your top 2-3 sites, because trying to be everywhere all the time can quickly become exhausting. Plus, by focusing on just a handful of sites, you can truly establish yourself and create a well-branded social persona that’s attractive to your audience.
Create a Game Plan
Social selling takes time and commitment. You can’t go at it halfway and expect to succeed. Building a following and establishing street cred takes time and consistency, and you can’t be consistent with anything without some kind of game plan in place.
Ask yourself questions, like:
- What types of content do you plan to share?
- How often do you plan to post new content?
- What time of day will you post your content?
- What are the best times of day to reach your target audience?
- Will you enlist help in your social media campaigns?
- What will they help you do?
- What benchmarks will help you know your tactics are working?
Of course, this isn’t an exhaustive list of questions, but they are some basics to get you rolling. Going into anything with a failure to plan means you’re only planning to fail. You have to know what your goals are and how you’re going to reach them, otherwise, you’re going to waste a lot of time spinning your wheels. Social selling is effective, but it takes strategy.
Prioritize Relationships Over Sales
Social media is so named, because the whole point is being social with others, creating connections, and building relationships. It’s sales 101 that absolutely no one will be interested in buying something from you unless they know you, like you, and trust you. All three of those things are established through relationships.
When you nail them, sales naturally follow, because people have a relationship with you and your brand, and they know they aren’t merely seen as a transaction, but truly valued as a customer. It sometimes feels like good, old-fashioned customer service has taken a beating over the last several years, but there’s something to be said for seeking to serve your customers and clients well.
How can you begin to serve your customers? By ridding yourself of the ‘what can I sell you’ mentality, and exchanging it for the ‘how can I help you’ mentality instead. Social media is a wonderful way to connect with people and offer real value to them, through the content you produce and share. Done well, and sales follow naturally.
Commit to Real Interaction
No, you don’t have to reply to every single comment you receive on social media. However, brands that do really well, are typically responsive and do in fact reply to almost everyone. As your business grows in size, you might have to enlist help doing this, but hey––that’s a great problem to have!
It’s also important to start relevant conversations with your audience and keep them going until the conversation dies off. Then, start another! This takes regular interaction and engagement, which is why it’s so important to have your plan in place and to create a consistent social media schedule.
Granted, this short list is by no means an exhaustive one. There are many effective strategies you can use to market your business on social media. Just remember that social selling can be a bit of an art, so if your business wants to stay competitive and relevant, it pays to invest your time in mastering it.