If the epidemic affected anything about consumer behavior, it was their shopping habits. They are not only placing more orders online, but they are also doing it through a variety of channels. The popularity of social selling is rising across industries, not only in B2C. B2B businesses use social media to advertise their products and areas of expertise. And given that 75% of B2B buyers use social media to influence their purchasing decisions, why shouldn’t they? Sales teams that want to cultivate potential clients and differentiate themselves from the competition should take advantage of this lead generation strategy. But first, let’s define social selling so that we may discuss how to create an effective social selling plan.
What is social selling, exactly?
Using social media to connect with potential consumers and engage in conversation is known as social selling. For instance, marketing specialists can share advice with businesses in a certain area on LinkedIn (e.g., eCommerce, SaaS, finance). As they gain experience and credibility, they may eventually be able to charge clients for their regular usage of the platform. It’s a tactful method to promote your offerings without utilizing your posts as adverts.
Is Social Selling the Same as Social Media Marketing?
A product or service is intended to be sold via social selling and social media marketing. The latter, however, focuses on the brand and has a wider audience in mind. The goal of social selling, on the other hand, is to develop personal connections with potential clients while promoting your business. While social media marketing increases brand recognition, social selling prioritizes sales. It involves presenting yourself as a respected thought leader or subject-matter authority to increase sales. Now, social selling isn’t just about promoting a good or service all the time; it’s also about convincing prospects that you are an authority in the field by demonstrating your knowledge of it.
- Pinpoint Your Social Selling Strategy
The first step: create a solid strategy. Identify the ultimate goal, so you have a clear path to getting the results you want. For example, getting more leads from sales professionals needing coaching services.
Here are several questions to answer before you begin:
- Who is my ideal customer?
- Where can I find these prospective customers or leads?
- What value can I bring to the table?
- What channels are my competitors using?
- What channels should I focus on?
With the answers to these questions, you’ll know who you’re targeting and how to reach them.
The Best Platforms for Social Selling
The best social media platforms will vary based on your target customers. For instance, if you’re selling software to businesses that sell professional services, then LinkedIn or Twitter are ideal channels. However, say you sell a digital tool or service targeting small eCommerce businesses, then Instagram may be an excellent place to engage with prospective customers. Social listening can also help you find prospective customers to engage with. For example, using Twitter’s Advanced Search Feature to find and follow specific hashtags. On LinkedIn, you can also follow hashtags and join groups related to topics or industries. Then there are social listening tools that make the process easier with less manual work on your end, like Sprout Social and Mention.
- Optimize Your Profile
To build credibility, you need a professional profile that clearly states your offer. If a prospect heads over to your page, they should know immediately what you do and how you can help them.
When designing your profile, keep the following in mind:
- Use a high-quality or professional image for your profile
- Add a professional banner to your profile (for LinkedIn and Twitter)
- Have a concise headline or description that sums up who you are and what you do
- Link to your website or company’s page
Whether you’ll social sell on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest, keep the look consistent across platforms. For example, use the same profile photos and bios, so it’s easy to identify your profiles across platforms.
- Bring Value to the Table
While marketing and advertising are direct, social selling takes a more subtle approach. Your content shouldn’t constantly promote your brand, product, or service. Think about it – would you follow someone on social media who just posts ads? If you want to build trust with your audience and truly get them to be interested in what you have to say, bring value to their feeds. People enjoy learning ways to make their lives easier, both professionally and personally. Tailor your content with that in mind. But don’t be afraid to show your personality through memes, funny anecdotes, and hot takes that those in your industry will appreciate. Not sure where to begin with content creation? Put yourself in your customer’s shoes. What frustrates them? What is their daily work routine? What’s tedious and time-consuming that your product or service can help solve? Use a mix of short, easily digestible posts with long-form content. The topic and channel will determine which to use. Experiment with both across various channels to see what performs best.
- Engage Meaningfully
Posting thought leadership content from your blogs, studies, videos, and research is valuable. But what gets engagement are posts that start a conversation. So pose a question to your audience or comment on recent developments in the industry to get feedback. Use current events that are buzzing on social to offer your unique take. In the example above, the LinkedIn user isn’t selling anything. But the number of reactions, comments, and shares shows this type of content resonates with people, including job seekers (who would be this user’s target customers). While it’s a different approach to social selling than previous examples, the result is similar—this individual builds credibility, trust, and awareness among her audience. But social selling isn’t posting content and logging off, only to return when you have something else to share. If people comment on your posts, give meaningful responses to them. Comment on others’ posts, and if that person is looking for recommendations or advice on something you’re knowledgeable about, share your expertise.
- Be Consistent & Active
Set aside time in your schedule to be consistently active on social media. If you publish a post and engage with your prospects one day and disappear for two weeks, you won’t make a lasting impression. Social selling works because it’s a gradual nurturing process. Relationships aren’t built overnight – it may be months until you see results. But putting the time in is worth it if it means growing your business. Finding the line between posting too little or too often can be tricky. But if you’re just starting, once a week is a good place to begin. Divide your time between engaging in others’ posts and posting your content. Remember, engagement is a two-way street—you post on others’ content and they’ll likely return the favor (and even bring along some of their audience with them).
- Stay Updated on Trends
Social media is fast-paced, making it tough to keep up with the trend and the momentum they bring. As you’re searching for topics to touch on, avoid being the individual that jumps on a topic just because it’s hot. Choose topics wisely that resonate with you, your brand, and your target audience. For example, if you have a web development agency and Google makes an update to its algorithm that rewards sites for user-friendliness, you can share your insights. Let your audience know what they can do to improve their UX so it’s accessible.
Google’s update is likely a hot discussion already – but you can spin it from an angle that appeals to prospective customers. And indirectly show them how your agency can ensure their website will always be up to speed with changing guidelines. Aside from the content piece of the equation, something you’ll also have to consider is the format. Video content, for example, has the highest engagement per impression rate on LinkedIn. Other social platforms also tend to see higher engagement with video content rather than static images or plain text – but that doesn’t mean that you can’t get results from adding these types of formats to the mix. What matters, at the end of the day, is what formats get your customers’ attention.
Building your online profile and clientele through social selling is a fantastic strategy. If done correctly, you may build a devoted customer base that promotes your company’s goods and services. Just remember to keep your eyes on the prize to avoid following fads to fit in. You use social media to develop relationships, not to become the most popular person, at the end of the day. Start with these pointers, then experiment and think outside the box to attain better outcomes.