The nitty-gritty of social selling lies in the basics. Familiarize yourself with these tips before getting started.
If you own or work with a business that sells online, you must have heard of the term “social selling.” However, you might not be entirely sure what it means or how to execute it.
Is it the same as digital marketing? No!
Social media marketing? No!
How about online advertising? No!
So what is social selling?
Social selling is the process of using social media platforms to build a network of current and prospective customers. It helps find, connect with, understand, and nurture prospective customers (aka leads) within the social media ecosystem. The idea is to establish the business as a trusted advisor, such that whenever the leads are ready to purchase, they turn to you.
If you have a personal/business profile on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc., you have already taken the first step for social selling.
Whether you’ve taken that first step or you’re just getting started, we’ve prepared this article to help you maximize your social selling business.
Why is social selling important?
Simple answer—social selling helps increase sales by enabling you to better understand and qualify prospective customers.
To understand the importance and current practices related to social selling, we surveyed sales and marketing professionals across B2B and B2C small and midsize businesses (SMBs). Seventy-nine percent of the participants state that outreach to prospective customers via social media platforms has helped them increase sales.
For B2C businesses, social media allows laser-targeting the leads by taking a deep dive to identify who they are and what are their likes, dislikes, and behavioral traits. For B2B businesses, social media enables putting together a personalized pitch by discovering common connections with the leads, their business challenges, and if they have decision-making power within their organizations.
How do I start social selling?
Now that we understand the importance of social selling, let us dive into creating a social selling strategy that will help bring in more leads.
Tip #1: Choose the right social media platforms (instead of trying to cover them all!)
Today, there is no dearth of social media platforms that you could be using. In such a situation, it becomes important to not get lost by the distractions of too many options and focus on making the right choice.
Our survey finds that Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are the top choices for SMBs. Fifty-three of the businesses report using Facebook and Instagram collectively whereas 33% report using Facebook along with Twitter.
When choosing social media platforms it is important to keep in mind the target demography and the look-and-feel of the platform.
In a study last year in the U.S., 75% of respondents between 18 to 24 years of age reported using Instagram whereas only 17% of these respondents reported using LinkedIn. On the other hand, 44% of respondents within 25 to 29 years of age and 37% within 30 to 49 years of age reported using LinkedIn.
When it comes to the look-and-feel, each social media platform brings something unique. For instance, Instagram and Pinterest are a lot more visual in their nature than LinkedIn or Twitter. Twitter, on the other hand, is optimized for a quick series of conversations and Facebook for mixed browsing between text, images, and video content.
Don’t get distracted by the idea of being on every social media space. Limit to a couple of platforms that align your product/service to the prospective customers and provide the appropriate modes to convey your message.
Tip #2: Designate a SPOC to lead social selling initiatives (and stay streamlined!)
To implement any strategy successfully, it is important to designate a single-point-of-contact (SPOC) for responsibility and accountability. Without that, initiatives can quickly devolve into a mess, with too many conflicting ideas and constant indecisions.
Once a SPOC is identified to lead social selling initiatives, let him/her figure out what kind of collaboration is required and how to go about it.
Our survey finds that social selling initiatives at 36% of the businesses are a collaborative effort between the sales and the marketing teams. In 9% of the businesses, the owner takes primary responsibility for social selling initiatives.
Take a step back and look at your teams—analyze how they usually collaborate and go about their projects and ascertain who has the right skills to be the SPOC. Once you spot the SPOC person, make it his/her job to put together and execute your social selling initiatives.
Tip #3: Know how much you’re willing to invest (and plan accordingly!)
Our survey finds that 82% of small and midsize businesses achieve a positive return on investment (ROI) on their social selling initiatives. But it is important to remember that to achieve this positive ROI, financial and human resources have to be channeled toward the initiative.
In B2C businesses, social media platforms often require sponsoring each post to increase the audience-reach and make it visible to the leads that fit the criteria. In B2B businesses, social media platforms often require a premium or business account to access leads’ information and send them messages.
Similarly, you would need to spare human resources who would plan and execute the social selling strategy. In B2C businesses, these could include people to prepare content and design campaigns, as well as people to analyze the audience’s response. In B2B businesses, these could include people to research a lead’s history and behavior and run outreach campaigns.
Our survey finds that 20% of SMBs invest 10%-20% of their sales or marketing budget toward social selling initiatives; 18% report investing less than 10% and 17% report investing between 20%-30%. Please note that these investments are separate from their digital marketing budgets, as well as any cost of personnel.
To further your social selling journey, take stock of your resources and ascertain what amount of financial or human resources you can invest. Accordingly, set out a budget for social selling initiatives and look at sparing or hiring the necessary personnel.
Tip #4: Listen strategically to identify leads (and engage with them!)
A key component of social selling is leveraging the fact that people on social media platforms are already talking about your industry or your business. They could be sharing positive things, posting negative feedback, or talking about unaddressed challenges and market opportunities.
Depending on the social media platform, you can find appropriate tools to listen to these conversations, get strategic insights out of them, and identify and engage with leads.
Our survey finds that 79% of businesses use their own websites. Forty-eight percent of businesses report using the “shop” or “sell” pages of social media platforms and 20% report using messenger services like WeChat and Facebook Messenger.
For each of these platforms, there are tools that help stay on top of the conversations and engage with leads.
For instance, for a business website, there are live chat solutions to capture leads and prompt them to engage with the business. For social media platforms, there are social media monitoring tools to listen to and analyze what people are saying and generate actionable insights. And for messenger services, there are conversational artificial intelligence (AI) platforms to reach out to leads, share appropriate content with them, and have conversations about your products and services.
Explore these tools and prepare to “listen” to your network, identify leads, and engage with them.
Tip #5: Provide leads with meaningful interactions (and don’t spam them!)
The bridge to convert a lead into a customer is the value provided through your interactions. Be it a B2C or B2B business, it boils down to using the right tone and type of content.
B2C businesses can focus on providing relevant call-to-action (CTA) or keeping an eye on the comments section to ensure all positive and negative views are addressed appropriately. While it’s okay to mention a product/service on social media posts, do play around a little with creative campaigns.
B2B businesses can share relevant information on their social media networks and establish themselves as experts. Beyond creating their own content, they can also share relevant posts from others (including market competitors) with short comments of their own.
The line between meaningful interaction and spam is quite thin and without relevant expertise, it can be easy to falter on the latter end.
Our survey finds that 95% of businesses could execute their social selling initiatives with the current team they had. However, 5% of businesses sought external expertise and hired people for the roles of digital marketing managers, sales enablement specialists, social media consultants, customer relationship officers, and content creators.
To further your social selling journey, ensure that you have the expertise on your team to provide leads with meaningful interaction. Without that, there is the risk of spamming the leads and defeating the purpose of social selling altogether.
What are the next steps?
Now that you know what it takes to start creating a social selling strategy for your business, here are a couple of tools that you can consider to help you execute this:
- Social media marketing tools: These tools help connect multiple social media profiles to a single dashboard and share content with the audience. They also help expand your outreach by providing insights into audience response.
- Social media analytics tools: These tools provide a higher level of an analytical overview than social media marketing tools and help track social trends. They can also be used to analyze campaign performance, conduct sentiment analysis, and generate post-publishing statistics.
If you are already using a tool for social selling, please leave us a comment below to share your experience. For more information about social media tools and social selling, you can go through our following expert articles:
- 5 Free Social Media Software Options to Boost Your Company’s Digital Presence
- 10 Pro Tips on How to Become a Social Media Manager
- 6 Best Social Media Marketing Tips for Small Businesses
In January 2020, Capterra conducted an online survey with 186 small and midsize businesses to learn about the tools that they are using for social and digital selling. Respondents had to own or be working with a business in the U.S. The demographics of the respondents is as follows:
|1-49 people (small)||55%|
|Between 50-999 people (midsize)||45%|
|Lead of sales or managerial position/team lead within the sales team||28%|
|Lead of marketing or managerial position/team lead within the marketing team||20%|
|Mix of online and brick and mortar store||39%|
|Brick and mortar store only||9%|