You’re likely already connecting with your customers on social media platforms. Is it time to take those interactions to the next level and use social media as another sales outlet? Whether it’s to further connect with your local retail base or to expand your reach, social selling has gained traction, particularly as the COVID pandemic shuttered retail doors for a while. While in-store is still the way consumers prefer to shop, selling or even making the connection on social can be a valuable marketing strategy.
According to Hootsuite, in the last six months of 2020, 25 percent of Americans ages 18 to 34 made a purchase via social media. That number has only grown from there.
Considering the sheer volume of people currently using social media, you can see that the potential for social selling can be lucrative:
- 4.2 billion people worldwide are active on social media.
- Social media platforms gained 490 million users in 2020.
- That’s a 13.2 percent increase — 2019 saw a growth rate of 7.2 percent.
The pandemic likely had something to do with the growth of social media users. The question is, will the consumer now shift away from social media? That’s unlikely.
- A lot of these users are using social platforms for brand research and they’re often getting ready to buy. According to data from Statista: “In 2020, an estimated 25 percent of e-commerce enterprises worldwide were planning to sell their goods on social media.” And with good reason:
- 200 million Instagram users visit a profile at least once a day and 81 percent of Instagram users are researching products and services on the platform.
- 18.3 percent of American Facebook users made a purchase via Facebook in 2020, and that number continues to grow.
- 70 percent of YouTube users have bought a brand’s product after seeing it on YouTube.
Where to start? We don’t have unlimited hours to test all of the social media platforms we could be selling on. Your choice should depend on your target audience and your approach to social selling. Instagram, for example, is a great platform for interacting with home furnishings customers. It offers tools for responding to customer questions, and it’s a casual virtual space where communication comes naturally. Once you’ve researched the best platforms to engage with your customers — Instagram and Facebook would be good places to start — there are tips for engaging content that can lead to sales.
On Facebook for example, make sure you have a Facebook page, and then get busy engaging with your customers and other businesses. Be sure to respond to your follower’s comments and mentions of your brand. Also, when putting together your own posts, include questions to spark conversations with your Facebook audience — they don’t need to be directly related to your product to be effective.
With other brands, it’s easy to reach out through likes, comments and shares. But you can do more: if you create thoughtful, valuable content, it’s could be shared, increasing your brand’s reach. Your Facebook Page could be exposed to a new audience as other businesses share and like your content. social selling best practices
1. Establish your brand. by providing value When interacting with prospects and customers through social networks, it’s important not to be too sales-focused. And if your brand is new to a social media platform, don’t dive into social selling right away. Before you start with sales pitches, establish your position as an expert in your industry. You can also share content others will find useful to establish your brand (or personal brand) as an industry thought leader.
2. Listen strategically. and build relationships with the right people Effective social selling means paying attention. Make sure you’re also “social listening.” Use social lists and Hootsuite streams to monitor what people are saying about you, your company, your industry and your competitors. Watch for pain points and requests, both of which provide natural opportunities to offer solutions. You can also leverage your existing network whenever possible.
3. Make it personal. Instead of writing one note and sending it to countless potential buyers, take the time to personalize your social selling messaging. This means you could:
- Acknowledge your mutual professional contacts.
- Refer to a piece of content you both shared or reacted to.
- Highlight a shared interest or something else you have in common. Be yourself. Form a connection by starting a genuine conversation. You could use automated liking and commenting tools, but these don’t help build rapport. This type of automation can possibly damage your personal and professional brand. When it comes to selling, nothing beats connecting with a human.
4. Be consistent. Finally, don’t expect immediate results. If your relationship-building efforts don’t yield immediate results, don’t give up. Some contacts may not be ready to purchase whatever you’re offering quite yet — but make sure you keep in touch.
Follow up with new leads. Reach out to contacts you’ve previously connected with but haven’t heard from in a while. Maintain meaningful relationships by offering congratulations when there’s a milestone event. Engage with the content your followers share over social media. Be ready to offer advice or help, even if it doesn’t directly promote your product.
Building these relationships takes time and energy, but once you have a solid following of interested potential customers, social selling is a channel that can be rewarding.