As marketers and salesfolks, we hear a lot about “social selling” these days, and it’s starting to feel a bit buzzword-y. Social selling is actually a valuable and proven tool, and it’s important to really understand what we mean when we kick this phrase around to keep it from being met with sighs and sky-high eyerolls, because the reality of it is, it’s not going anywhere.
So, what is social selling?
Social selling is essentially leveraging social media platforms to generate and nurture new leads. By using social media to share educational content, answer people’s questions, and engage with other accounts throughout the buying process, your sales team is able to nurture a lead at every stage of the process until they’re ready to convert. For most of today’s audiences, social selling beats things like emails and cold-calling because social media interactions are faster, feel more authentic and natural, and are less aggressive and off-putting than some old school tactics. With that in mind, here are a few tips for bridging the gap between social media and sales:
Find your target audience’s best platform
Did you know you can reach 1 out of every 5 humans on earth right now if you’re on Facebook? That’s how many folks are on Facebook across the globe. Now, there are fewer on LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter. Some Facebook users have all of the above, some only have Facebook. Other social media users may prefer Instagram, Snapchat, and LinkedIn but recuse themselves from Facebook. You need to be where your people are. Is your target demographic more likely to be on Instagram, LinkedIn, or both?
Be strategic about your content
Remember the new and improved marketing flywheel and the OG buyer’s journey. When you post on social media, share others’ posts, and respond to engagement, are you doing those through the window of the buyer’s journey and the flywheel? Is the content you’re producing touching each stage of the buyer’s journey appropriately? Are you balancing content between attracting, engaging, and delighting your customers?
Turn your most loyal clients into advocates
Attract. Engage. Delight. Take your customers that are well within that “delight” stage and consider asking them to represent your business as brand ambassadors. This can be as simple as seeing who is wearing, using, or otherwise representing your products in their social media posts and offering them freebies or a discount to start tagging you if they aren’t already and start promoting a special hashtag and featuring more of your brand on their personal accounts.
What about influencers?
Brand advocates are similar to influencers, but rather than pitching your product to an influencer and paying them for some sort of partnership, you’re choosing to work with folks who already know and love your brand. Influencers are still an option and are often beneficial, but building a network of brand advocates is often more cost-effective, authentic, and impactful even though you might be reaching fewer people in one place.
Similar to asking brand ambassadors to feature your content in exchange for freebies or discounts, UGC works by encouraging your entire audience to share their personal photos of your brand, product, or service in the wild (real life). These candid shots are excellent for boosting your social clout, generating engagement, and taking some of the pressure off of your sales, marketing, and social teams to be pushing out content. A great way to kickstart a UGC initiative is to run some sort of photo or hashtag contest where the winner gets free swag or a discount on your products and/or services.
The organic route can be poignant and productive, but it can also be slow. Social media platforms have millions of users. You could have the best strategies in the world, but if your content isn’t getting in front of your target audience, it’s meaningless for driving leads and sales. Investing in targeted advertising can help your stellar content and brand get in front of users and help you attract and engage new prospects in a faster, more targeted manner than organic strategies alone.
Getting your sales team on board
Remember those sky-high eye-rolls we mentioned earlier? You might see them again when you tell your sales folks that it's time to get social. Here are a few tips for helping them cross over to the dark side:
- Start incorporating social selling into regular meetings to give everyone a heads up about the tools, tactics, and practices you’ll use as a company.
- Get their input on planning topics and curating sources.
- Work with them to write a social media policy for your company with SMART goals, protocol for handling customer and follower comments and feedback, and how much time should be dedicated to social media outlets.
- Make sure your sales team has the capacity to turn toward social selling without sacrificing performance elsewhere. It may be time to consider bringing on a new employee if you can.
- Be sure you can offer the resources and training they’ll need to closely track their social selling stats so that your business can adjust its social selling strategy accordingly.
So much of your success with social selling lies with your team’s ability to be adaptable, collaborative, and approachable, both internally and in outward-facing roles. Be sure you’re coming together to discuss social selling performance, goals, and strategy regularly and equip your team with the resources to be successful.