With the world shifting more and more online, this means companies and brands are also adapting their marketing strategies to optimize and reach their audiences. One effective way that they are doing this is through a strategy called “social selling.”
If you’re a content creator, you’ve most likely already engaged in social selling naturally to connect with your audience.
Social selling is often confused with “social media marketing” or “social advertising.” And while it’s still a form of drawing in potential customers using social media, it uses a completely different approach.
Social selling isn’t about posting ads on your feed and pointing everybody to go buy your product or follow your brand. Instead, it’s all about engaging with your potential customers, and creating authentic connections with them. It puts a focus on building real relationships online, with the intention of turning them into business relationships somewhere down the road.
But for it to be effective, it has to be done properly.
The most important goal of social selling is to show that, behind your brand, there is a genuine person who wants to help their audience. Not just a CEO that is out to grab people’s attention and money.
Old marketing strategies would rely heavily on something called “the hypodermic needle model” – a scenario where media producers would deliver one-way messages to their audiences, knowing that consumers would follow without question. But nowadays, the world is much different, and consumers are much smarter.
Now, more than ever, a brand’s success is about conversation, community, and being perceived as authentic.
Social selling helps guide, teach, and engage audiences. It helps you as a producer really understand your consumer’s needs, allowing you to assist them in whatever their journey may be. Instead of your social presence being a bulletin board for product flyers, urging people to “call this number,” you’re crafting motivation for people to engage and explore opportunities with you – as a collaborative effort.
It’s an experience that, in the end, results in mutual gain; it’s going the extra mile to ultimately leverage those relationships to get customers.
Proper social selling will earn you a space in people’s minds, and a spot in their inventory of resources. That way, should they (or someone else they know) ever need somebody like you, they know who they can turn to. You can become their default, their go-to, all because they remember having a positive experience engaging with you.
Social selling is about growing your business by focusing on buyers as individuals, not as customers.
Selling yourself online has never been more important – especially with the rise of virtual opportunities brought on by the pandemic. Crafting the right social profiles and brand voice is the prime way to bring in new business, and get your brand noticed.
But while social media is booming for marketing opportunities, audiences are becoming less and less responsive to corporate, direct marketing styles; instead, they’re becoming more interested in the human element behind a brand.
That means, if you haven’t already adopted a social selling technique into your marketing strategy – now is the perfect time to start!
A report from the Harvard Business Review has shown that 84% of B2B (business-to-business) selling relationships begin through referrals. And furthermore, brands that have the highest social selling indexes (SSI) create 45% more opportunities for sales than ones who have a lower SSI.
That means, if you build a connection with the right person, you could earn yourself double the customers. Think about the possibilities of a positive relationship with someone online, turning into a chain of referrals when they recommend you to their peers and friends. Building up this network of referrals is an amazing way to boost sales, and increase the presence of your brand.
Not to mention, it will increase your credibility and is more likely to encourage people to buy from you – because they are being prompted not just through a targeted ad, but from somebody they already know and trust.
Social selling helps you learn about the people around you, what they they need, and where they are. From there, you can find out where your product solution can fit into their journey.
In fact, 63% of organizations claim social selling has helped their revenue, in comparison to 41% who don’t use social selling. It can clearly have tremendous benefits for your brand – but you have to keep up with it, and always follow best practices.
Instead of driving your customers to a point of sale, drive them to a point of conversation.
As mentioned in an article by Vengreso, social selling is an attempt at turning regular conversations into “sales conversations.”
To do this, you have to start these conversations with the right people. Source people who are following you, interested in your company, looking for resources that you have, or who are interested in hearing what you have to say. Then, see how you can deepen those connections.
So, create content that aligns with this goal. Ask questions and engage with a particular market that you want to break into and connect with. This shows that you are invested – but also that you are somebody they can come to and have discussions with in the future.
It shows that you are committed to helping and building a relationship with them.
Ask questions that help you find common interests, find out their needs, get them to reflect, and ultimately, just get them to talk with you. And when they do, listen.
By listening, you can more accurately show everything you have to give them. While a large part of showing what you have to give comes from creating content, or sharing relevant content, it also comes from what kind of profile your followers see.
When it comes to social selling, your profile is everything.
Whether it be your LinkedIn profile or your Facebook business page, you have to make it social selling-friendly. Think about it like this:
Just as you would present yourself in front of a possible customer in real life with a smile, a firm handshake and an open, polite demeanor – your profile should have that same, warm welcoming.
When people search for answers to their problems on the internet, you want to come up as a resource for them when they do – even if they are not directly looking to be customers of yours at the time You want to be approachable enough that they will want to engage with you. So, make your mission clear on your profile.
Think about this: Who are you, and how can you help?
And make that very clear across all your profiles.
Show you are interested in helping your audience, and show them how you are going to do it – not just as a sales person, but as a genuine person. Show them you want to build a connection, relationship and see them through to finding what they need, from start to finish.
If these people are going to invest their time or money in you, then make sure you highlight that what you have, is what they’re looking for. Have a good, clear picture, make your titles authentic, easy to understand, write in a language they will understand, and most importantly: use your own voice.
With any social profile, people want to be able to easily see you, and easily see that what you have is something they can’t get anywhere else.
Make sure that you are doing everything you can to create a unique experience for your audience. Make sure to clearly advertise:
What makes you different? What makes you stand out from the crowd?
Use your own language and style in your content and approach – people will resonate with this, and see the genuine person that you are behind your brand.
People love to feel special.
People want to know that they are not being targeted as just another audience member in the masses. They want to feel a connection. And when people feel they are being listened to and respected, they are much more likely to engage.
Through a study done by Deloitte Digital, it was found that only 3% of people would recommend a brand to others based on what their company values or responsibilities are. On the other hand, 44% of people recommend a brand just based on emotional factors. Customers claimed that their favorite brands all valued and adhered to integrity (79%), trustworthiness (83%), and honesty (77%) – above all.
It’s important to have these connections with people, so that even if they aren’t converted right away, they will remember you, and they will come back to you one day when they’re ready.
You can build this emotional connection with your audience by asking honest questions on your social media and really reading people’s responses – and then responding back. Or, simply have a conversation with an individual and make sure to be in the moment with them. Don’t use too many pre-crafted responses or typical answers. Really listen to them and make them feel heard.
And don’t just listen when you’re talking directly to your audience, but listen as they interact with each other too.
When you listen attentively, you will create and connect in ways that will make people more inclined to connect back with you. And as they open and engage with you, you get a better look at how you can best serve them.
In order to build the type of connections that will lead people to follow you and your brand, you have to give them incentive.
You have to show people that you are somebody who is an expert in their area, and somebody they can trust.
In order to build this expertise and loyalty, you have to create and share thoughtful, accurate content that resonates with your audience – not just content that is about directing people to a checkout line. Use your content to educate, demonstrate, teach, and guide your viewers. Share regular updates in your industries, show that you do your research, and indicate the passion you have for your work.
This will show people you are somebody who is invested – and somebody they can invest in too.
So, focus on creating value in all areas online. With this, you will start to become someone that people want to follow and engage with. If you don’t create value when you’re social selling, you lose credibility. And when you lose credibility, you won’t be seen as a thought leader.
Creating quality content that teaches, helps, and connects is what makes it clear that you are somebody that people will want to keep following.
Share posts and content that teaches your audience something. Show them that you are always learning yourself, and that you are keeping an ear out in your industry. When people see that you are not just taking value from customers, but rather providing value back to them without any question, you’ll start converting viewers into followers.
Even simple posts that support people or help them in their journey is key to creating authentic relationships. Simple replies or guidance on a given issue can show audiences that you care. When they see that you are looking to build relationships and emotional connections, they will trust that you are going to do your best to help them as individuals, and not just as customers. The more you show that you are willing to genuinely help, the more people will come to you and pay for that help.
If you’re sharing content or creating it, make sure it connects with your consumers needs and current positions. Frame services or products you have in a way that audiences won’t feel targeted, but where they will simply feel like you’re collaborating with them. Don’t direct ads at them, share experiences. Simply show them what you have to offer.
Properly closing conversations and engagements is all about thinking ahead. Encourage people to follow along with certain projects, give them a video or a resource to look into to provide further value, invite them to attend an event – whatever aligns with your goals and brand.
Leaving a call to action at the end of conversations and selling efforts, is what’s going to keep you in the back of people’s minds and show that you are continuing to serve them, even after your engagement ended.
It’s about creating a continuous act of giving, and cultivating a relationship beyond a single interaction or occasional post.
Most importantly, when it comes to social selling, keep up with how you are performing. Look at your insights and measure how your efforts are playing out.
A great tool to measure your social selling is by using LinkedIn’s Social Selling Index, a resource created by LinkedIn for the specific purpose of monitoring how your social selling strategies are working.
This will help you identify how your strategy scores up, in relation to the 4 main pillars of social selling:
Analyze these general guidelines and best practices in each category, and try implement various tactics across all your social media platforms.
Because the minute your brand can find what works to successfully build authentic, engaged relationships with audiences – that’s when you start building good business.