WHAT IS ‘SOCIAL SELLING’ AND HOW CAN BUSINESSES DO IT EFFECTIVELY?

Social media selling strategy

Whether you have an online store, a product or a service to sell, there’s no denying that social media can be one of the best places to promote and sell your services.

Those who have experience with social platforms and social media selling will know that the strategy involved is more complex than simply posting content to social media followers and then watching the sales come flooding in.

There’s more to social media selling than meets the eye

What is social media selling?

Luan Wise defined social media selling as ‘the art of using social networks to find, connect with, understand and nurture sales prospects.’

This is the modern way of developing meaningful, authentic and ultimately productive online relationships with an audience and potential customer base. While selling may be in the title, it isn’t all about the sale.

Social selling is about developing and building relationships with previous customers so that potential customers are engaged with your brand. You are the organic first option of contact for future customers once they are ready to make a purchase or complete a transaction.

The most important aspect of how effective social selling is the cultivation of relationships built on trust and authenticity.

Social selling shouldn’t be treated as a quick-win solution. Those who treat it as a long game will, in the long term, yield better results and returns.

The best social selling strategies and tactics

  1. Brand

Your own personal brand or professional brand can have a huge effect on your social selling prospects. The way you are seen, and the way you position yourself online – and offline – is critical.

Start by Googling yourself, or your business, to see how you appear to your target market or audience, both online and on social media. Even if you don’t like what you find, it’s important to know what’s out there so you can put in any necessary measures to deal with the negatives.

You’ll also want to take a deep dive into your social media platforms, to perform a clean-up. Embarrassing old social posts can often have a habit of resurfacing.

Building the right brand for yourself on social media platforms takes time, take the time to do it properly and you’ll reap the rewards.

  1. Content

Strengthening your social media presence with engaging and relevant content will allow you to have relevant conversations, build connections and establish deeper relationships, as well as credibility, brand awareness and trust.

In the long term, this is crucial to converting your posts into sales. Pairing your social selling and content marketing strategies is crucial in the long term, as this will improve all aspects of the social selling index namely the customer journey, interaction and lead generation.

Create meaningful and engaging content which warrants engagement with your audience. Give them a reason to visit, like and comment on channels such as your own Facebook page or business page.

Creating these kinds of brand engagements will create staunch brand fans and loyal customers.

  1. Balance

Striking a balance between messaging is very important. If every social post you or your business puts out is a hard sales message, this won’t be doing you any favours.

Sales team and sales reps may say ‘always be closing’ but in the world of social media, the sales cycle is a fragile one. If you overload your content strategy with too much selling, then you’re more likely to turn off potential customers than attract them.

Remember, the name of the game here is building genuine relationships and engaging with your audience, keep yourself front of mind so that when the time for selling comes, you’re the first choice.

  1. Authenticity

If you build your professional brand authentically then it will help you to generate leads. An authentic brand sets itself apart from its competition, allowing you to have sales professionals generate leads in a. more authentic way and establish yourself as a leader in your industry.

  1. Engagement

All of the above will go to waste if you’re not engaging with your target audience on best social media platform. The rules of engagement are simple, you must react and interact with your audience on all social media sites and platforms, whether it’s good or bad.

A brand which is perceived to never engage with its audience, will never truly build a loyal following. But the same is also true for a brand that only reacts to the positives and ignores, or worse hides, the negatives.

You have to be fully prepared to engage with your audience online in times of feast and famine.

 

The importance of social listening

The practice of social listening is an important one, and it must be part of your wider social selling strategy. This is a hugely useful practice to implement as it gives businesses better insight into what their existing customers, target audiences and professional networks really think about them.

What this involves is the monitoring of social media channels for mentions of your business. This can also be paired out with competitors and their products and related keywords. However, for this to be truly effective the information you find during any social listening exercise needs to be properly analysed and turned into action points.

Effective social media listening lets you know when you’re doing things right, but most importantly it lets you know when you’re doing things wrong.

Knowing but not reacting or engaging to any negative results of an exercise is not only a dereliction of your audience, but it means all putting all your previous hard work will have been in vain.

Listening tactics

Tactics to implement a social media listening exercise can include:

  • Monitoring social media for mentions of a business, brand, services or products to better understand key audiences, such as customers and clients and target audiences.
  • Monitoring hashtags and keywords relevant to your industry
  • Monitoring of competitor social accounts
  • Developing an appropriate brand voice
  • Regular engagement with brand mentions
  • Dealing with complaints and crisis management support.
  • Analysis of listening activity to provide informed business development recommendations. These are important social selling tools.

 

Social prospecting

Finding prospective customers via social media platforms should be a part of your social media marketing strategy. If it isn’t, then you’re potentially missing out on entire subsections relevant groups of potential customers. Because each social media platform comes with its own in-built demographic, and advantages to reach those groups, making the most out of each social media channel is key to prospecting.

Linkedin Social Selling: using LinkedIn to find, connect, and build relationships with leads and prospects in hopes of driving sales. With a free account, you can save up to three free searches and receive email alerts when any new target prospects appear in your saved search.

Twitter: making use of the advanced search functions can be very useful. You can also use hashtags to your benefit, exploring keywords and trending tags to create a prospect list. Tagging (also known as ego-baiting) current and potential customers, as well as new business leads, with timely and engaging content, can be a good way to kick-start engagement.

Facebook & Linkedin groups: these social media connections can offer huge opportunities to find individuals and start meaningful relationships and conversations to identify potential customers. While this does involve a large amount of personal involvement, the benefits it brings to build brand awareness and relationship management far outweigh the time cost.

 

Taking it offline

Perhaps the ultimate irony in social selling is the benefits of taking the conversation off any given social network or media platform.

Going back to Luan again, she states that “A cup of coffee is still the most popular device for selling! Social is the tool for the beginning and middle.”

With this in mind, once your social selling efforts start to show their value can be even more valuable to nurture those networks and contacts in the real world. Luan is also a huge proponent of employee advocacy in the workplace.

If you’re planning to run an employee advocacy programme in your business – and you should. then take a moment to also read LinkedIn Employee Advocacy – how to overcome the challenges.

In summary

Social media platforms aren’t going away, so businesses need to be making to most out of their online channels. Because, if you aren’t you can guarantee your rivals are.

Social selling can be used as a powerful tool, to align sales strategy and marketing and content strategies to ramp up now only our sales process, but your entire customer journey and experience.

But the whole buying process itself is not without its pain points, which is why expert advice can help businesses really take advantage of these strategies and tactics, making the most of their social seeing performance.

If you’d like to find out how you can make the most of your social selling strategy, then get in touch now.