Having a business social media presence is all about expanding your reach as a brand and enhancing your bottom line – and this means increasing sales. Selling on social media requires a specific approach which will capture the interest of consumers in such a way that they are keen to click through to your website and explore what you offer. Ideally, they will complete a purchase, post positively about it on social media, come back to shop with you again, and generate new leads for your business.
As such, it’s vital for the optimal success of your business to have a social media presence in at least one appropriate platform. Those social platforms generally most suited to eCommerce businesses and selling are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
Social media selling is a process of numerous steps. It involves:
- Capturing the attention of consumers
- Identifying a consumer’s need
- Showcasing how you can fill that need
- Building positive ongoing relationships
- Eliciting a positive response (that is, sales)
- Generating fresh leads
- Rewarding loyalty
With the right approach, social media can be used not just for strategic digital marketing, but also for selling.
Marketing versus selling
Social media is well known as a clever and effective marketing tool with a global reach. But it can also be an effective selling tool as well, when used properly.
“Marketing” and “selling” are terms often used interchangeably, yet they are not the same thing.
- Emphasises the consumer
- Identifies target prospects
- Communicates brand image
- Creates brand awareness
- Delivers premium customer service
- Requests consumer feedback
- Anticipates and meets consumer needs
- Strives to elicit positive brand-consumer interactions
Marketing is dynamic; its focus is on consumer rather than product. It revolves around satisfying the needs and interests of the consumer.
- Emphasises the product
- Proactively seeks prospects
- Qualifies prospects via interaction
- Acknowledges concerns of the prospect
- Elicits the purchase
- Follows up if purchase is not completed
Selling revolves around the interests of the vendor. It is focused on the product or service. It is all about converting a product or service into cash.
Social media selling relies on consumers having a positive perception of the brand or business’s competence, expertise and excellence. This is achieved via clever marketing, but marketing is not enough on its own to necessarily achieve sales.
Below are some effective tips for selling on social media. You can’t ignore everything you’ve learnt about digital marketing; these tactics should be used alongside proven social media marketing strategies.
You need to present yourself as genuine and engaging, and convert interested consumers into buyers. You need to do this without being aggressive or pushy. You need to deliver a message that it is all about the consumer – not you.
Tips for selling on social media
- Plan ahead. Develop a social media campaign that incorporates both marketing and selling. What is your brand identity? How will you communicate this via social media? What story do you wish to tell? You need to decide whether to emphasise a product, service, theme or promotion, and work out how to encourage consumers to actively participate with you in this.
- Don’t make assumptions about what customers want. What you find valuable in your product or service may not be what consumers value most. Put yourself in the shoes of a potential customer – what would it take for you to click through to your website and complete a purchase?
- Know your target customer. Look at what is trending on social media for people who are likely to patronise your business. You need to take the time to do some research.
- Create great content. You want to position yourself as an expert in your niche – but remember that, unless you’re focused on business-to-business selling, your audience will not be captured by technical or complex lingo or content. Create posts and link to blogs and other articles that are written for a general audience of normal people. Also remember to create content with a tone and material that suits your target consumer. For example, content targeted to someone in their twenties looking to attend festivals will differ greatly from content targeted to retirees looking at winery tours.
- Don’t be fooled into thinking that you need to manipulate people or subject them to the “hard sell”. This is actually more likely to drive customers away than to attract and hold them.
- Ensure your content addresses a need the consumer has and that you can fill or provide a solution to. By demonstrating more than one way that you can help bridge the gap between where they are and where they want to be, you show them why they should trust and purchase from your business.
- Post regularly. Make sure you also respond to comments on your posts – social media is a tool for communicating with consumers, not talking at them. You should post at least once a day on Facebook, and twice a day on Twitter or Instagram. It is through consistent posting that you get attention.
Don’t post too much sales-pitch type content. No more than 20 per cent of your posts should be directly promotional; you will gain and retain more followers if your posts are informational, motivational, inspirational or amusing. These are also the posts that get shared the most – expanding the reach of your brand. Great content will include an array of articles, quotes, memes, videos, photos, blogs and applicable content from others. This way you can make your promotional posts count a lot more – so that consumers actually look forward to receiving them.
- Ask for feedback! Ask your followers questions, run polls, mention or retweet comments, and feature feedback on your page. People like to feel that their opinion matters.
- Don’t assume that consumer conversion will take place on social media. Social media platforms are a place to create connections, build a relationship and trust, and encourage consumers to visit and explore your business website. Offer taster posts of what you offer online to hook the prospect and have them click-through to explore further and make a purchase.
- Encourage your followers to opt-in to email newsletters, SMS notifications and other forms of digital marketing.
- Create time-sensitive promotions that differ each time. Analyse what works best and tweak where necessary.
- When consumers become customers and complete a purchase, follow up with them! You could:
- Send an electronic thank you message
- Send a tweet to show appreciation
- Mention them in a post
- Share a discount voucher or code
- Reward them for their loyalty
- Encourage your followers to share your content – offer incentives for when an existing customer brings in a new customer.
ONE LAST TIP: Show your followers why you are the best in your business! Offer tips, tactics, insights and behind the scenes snippets. How to, why and intriguing stories that relate in any way to your business are valuable to consumers and will keep them following and sharing your profile.
Social media selling relies on connecting with your customers and potential customers and building a relationship with them. Even if a consumer isn’t ready to buy from you now, they will remember you in future if you have done your job well. You can’t force a sale, but you can make yourself memorable for all the right reasons.
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