Social selling is, as the name suggests, a way to sell products or services via social networks like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn or TikTok. But what makes it different to other more conventional forms of selling, like phone calls, emails or ads?
Very simply, social selling is about selling via social channels, often using a more conversational tone of voice, style and more personal approach than you might use in other forms of communication. Selling on social media can encourage a more personal and authentic connection than other conventional advertising or sales activities. You might ask "what's the difference between selling my business on social media and just promoting business on social media?" It's a great question, and the lines are blurry. Social selling is arguably more actionable, giving your customers an opportunity to buy through social networks.
Social selling begins with ‘social listening’ – the process of working out who you’re trying to sell to and what your audience is talking about and what topics they’re interested in.
This approach creates a one-on-one experience. A well-maintained online connection can ultimately lead to more in-depth interactions and, ideally, successful deals.
Remember, social selling – just like nurturing leads and fostering relationships in real life – requires time, thought and genuine interest in the needs of the customer. Social selling works best when you prioritise quality over quantity.
Here are ten tips to help you get the most from social selling.
You want to be messaging and sending content to the right people – not just firing social posts into the world without rhyme or reason. So, first, you need to work out who you’re selling to. There’s a good chance you already know who your customers are, but finding them online is a different task. Here are three steps you can take to identify your target market:
Four ways to segment your audience:
Explain the importance of not over-stretching yourself on lots of social media channels, just for the sake of it. Research the platforms and identify which ones match your target audience and your marketing goals. Your business is unique and the normal categories may not apply, but broadly speaking we can say Facebook (owned by Meta) is for general audiences (sometimes for B2B too), Instagram (also owned by Meta) generally has a younger audience and often works well for product categories like fashion. LinkedIn is business-focused and more professional, more on B2B social selling and how to sell on LinkedIn can be found here. TikTok is younger and (some would say) edgier than Instagram, focusing on very short videos. Twitter, now known as X, has seen many changes recently, and it now faces competition from Meta's Threads.
The key question to ask yourself is “where is my audience most active?”. When managing social media, consider your available resources. It's a time-consuming commitment, so allocate your resources wisely. If you have only one person with five hours a week, limit your channels to one or two. With a full-time person, you can handle more. Be cautious, as social media can consume all your time. Before adding new channels, ensure you have the necessary resources. Also, tailor your content for each platform and avoid duplicating messages. In the next blog post, the author will explore platform selection further.
You can read our complete guide to choosing your social platforms here.
63% of businesses don’t have a documented strategy1, which means they resort to an ad-lib approach and come up with the topics on the fly without much or any forward planning. Think about what content you are putting out on social media - it needs careful consideration. Develop a content strategy that balances promotional content with valuable, informative, and entertaining posts. Create a content calendar, and use content pillars to help the creative flow of content.
Not convinced about video? Here are three facts, via Sprout Social and Hubspot, that will change your mind.
According to a recent report, over 54% of marketers consider video to be the most valuable content type for achieving social media marketing goals2. However, video is also the most underutilized format across Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, comprising only 14%, 11%, and 5% of each network's content, respectively3. Interestingly, 87% of companies say video has a direct positive impact on sales4.
If you don’t have a video strategy, or make video a huge part of your content output, it's time to get started right away!
There's a huge range of video content you can make almost immediately. Short videos of your products or services in use might make for good short-form social content that could help your audience understand them better. Before you grab your smartphone and start recording, take a moment to develop a strategy: this will depend on your business—you might decide that there are quick wins to be had by posting videos immediately. For other companies, a more formal, documented video strategy and a longer video production timeline might make sense.
Just posting is not enough on social media. You need to be engaging with your target audience in conversation and debate. The hard sell probably isn’t the best approach, certainly not at first.
Actively managing your social media community can significantly boost your brand visibility and awareness. It enables you to reach a massive online audience and spread the word about your brand. Engaging with your followers through likes, comments, shares, and shoutouts can help you not only get your name out there but also foster a positive brand image. By consistently delivering social media content, listening to your community's feedback, and being there for your followers, you'll create a tribe of loyal customers, which ultimately cultivates loyalty and advocacy. The best part is that loyal customers become your biggest advocates, who refer your brand to other buyers, thereby improving your bottom line.
In today’s smartphone-led world, everyone has a video camera in their pocket. TikTok, YouTube and other platforms have proven that user-generated content (UGC) is a big deal. Featuring UGC shows your brand to be authentic and genuine. In the media-savvy world of the internet age, everyone is wary of overly slick and glossy marketing, so something that’s a little rough around the edges implies trustworthiness and honesty.
Regular use of UGC, mixed with conventional higher-budget marketing output, fosters brand loyalty. People naturally seek to be part of something greater than themselves.
But where will this user-generated content come from? Reach out to influencers in your sector or ask existing customers to send you content (running a competition or a special offer might act as an incentive).
Social media is constantly changing, and it is therefore important to stay up to date with these changes so that you can adapt your social media strategy. Should you be on Threads? Is Instagram still where your audience is hanging out? Is X (formerly Twitter) still worthwhile? And what’s the etiquette on each social network?
Social commerce is a business strategy that involves selling products or services directly through social media platforms. It combines e-commerce with social networking to enable customers to discover, evaluate, and purchase products within the social media environment. Social commerce leverages the inherent social aspects of these platforms, such as user reviews, recommendations, and influencer marketing, to facilitate transactions. Popular social media platforms that support social commerce include Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and more.
As mobile devices continue to dominate our digital lives, mobile optimization has become a critical element of online success. In 2023, mobile optimization will be more important than ever before as the number of mobile users continues to grow and mobile searches and purchases become increasingly common.
Mobile-friendly websites are crucial for online visibility and competitiveness. Google prioritizes mobile-friendly sites, leading to higher rankings in search engine results. Mobile optimization also boosts conversion rates by improving the user experience. It is essential for supporting omni-channel marketing, which provides a seamless customer experience across multiple channels and devices.
Organic social content is great for building brand awareness, but paid social media advertising will allow you to reach target specific demographics and reach a broader audience.
Many brands are experiencing a decrease in their organic reach on social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram. This is primarily due to social algorithms (algorithms are sets of rules that determine what you and other users will see on their social feed) that prioritize paid content over organic content. As more brands invest in paid social media advertising, organic reach continues to decrease. But it works in both directions: better organic content seems to have a positive impact on the effectiveness of paid advertising.
We hope these tips have given you a head start on your social selling journey. Every business is different, and the only way to find out what works is to give it a try, find out what works, and – most importantly – measure your results. After all, you can't improve what you don't measure. Learn what type of post and content gets the most engagement (and the least engagement), and find out what makes your audience click through to either find out more or make a purchase.
Want to know more about using social media to promote and sell your brand? Read our guide to making the most of your social strategy.