Social selling is not social media marketing.
Social selling, or yesterday’s relationship marketing, is using social media, digital technology, and empathy to have conversations (not pitches) with prospects.
Here’s what you need to know about social selling – and what B2B and DTC social sellers are doing right now.
What is Social Selling in Marketing?
If you want your business to thrive online, you need to get comfortable with social selling.
The definition of social selling is: creating relationships, gaining visibility, and establishing credibility.
Social selling puts less focus on snappy (and costly) ads and more focus on nurturing one-to-one interactions with customers.
Fostering these relationships takes a great deal of time, patience and effort, but ultimately increases the lifetime value of your customer.
Relationship Marketing: People Like to Buy From People
Social selling is about understanding your target audience – who they are, what their needs are, and where they spend time online.
A connection by itself is not enough.
I got 5 cold emails and 3 cold DMs today. Zero relationship with any of them. All asked me to buy something or send their links to my friends as their very first correspondence.
Once more for folks in back:
“Annoy the many to convert a few” is not a marketing strategy.
— Jay Acunzo (@jayacunzo) February 22, 2021
People like to buy from people. We don’t buy from faceless companies or brands, even though we are connected to them online 24/7.
Building a successful relationship marketing strategy boils down to humanizing a brand and building long-term trust in relationships.
It’s the deeper relationship that propels sales.
Community Building: Power in Numbers
After you develop that meaningful relationship with your potential customers, your product or service will be the first option they think about when they’re ready to buy.
Social Selling is a key component of Inbound Marketing because it helps focus on building a trusted network of allies and advocates to extend the reach of your marketing campaigns.
Social Selling is Not Spam
In this age of information overload, social selling allows your marketing message to reach the right people authentically.
The most important thing is to understand your buyer and tailor your outreach accordingly.
It doesn’t involve bombarding strangers with annoying emails, private messages, or unsolicited tweets and LinkedIn messages.
Social selling entices consumers by using strategies that address their needs and gives them a solution to their problems.
Instead of becoming just another online nuisance, you’re commenting, liking, or sharing solutions to your prospects’ pain points.
This helps you become part of the conversation and boosts your credibility by showing an active interest in what your buyers are posting and talking about.
The Benefits of Social Selling
If you haven’t embraced community building and your competitors have, your company may find itself dead in the water.
According to an internal study by LinkedIn, 78% of social sellers outsell peers who don’t use social media. This makes sense when you consider that it also produces 45% more sales opportunities.
If that’s not a convincing enough argument, here are some other benefits of social selling:
Your Brand Visibility Increases
If you haven’t yet tapped into the social media market, you’ll open the door to a whole new market of potential buyers.
And when you and your employees share content and optimize profiles, those networks will get more clicks and engagement.
Drives More Leads
Due to the increased visibility of your brand, you will start to see an increase in not only leads but the quality of leads. That’s because your social sellers are educating your potential customers and providing them with relevant content.
Boost Your Online Presence
As your brand visibility increases, so will your online presence. When your employees share company content and news, more people will click or search for your company’s website.
Employee generated content being incentivized by major brands.
I love the employees as influencers model – encourages brand loyalty from within and accelerates overall brand growth. @Wendys @Arbys @dunkindonuts and more are fueling employee content creators and it FIRES me up.
— Dev Machette (@DevMachette_) December 11, 2020
Boost Your Sales
An increase in visibility and leads doesn’t matter unless you’re seeing real results. Companies that utilize social selling tools also increase deal size and drive better win rates, which means more clients, customers, and revenue for your business.
Furthermore, 94% of B2B buyers conduct some degree of research online before making a business purchase, with 55% conducting online research for at least half of their purchases, according to Accenture’s State of B2B Procurement Study.
If you’re wondering why that matters, consider that 91% of B2B buyers are now active and involved in social media, 84% of senior executives use social media to support purchase decisions, and 75% of B2B buyers are significantly influenced by social media, according to research by IDC.
You can expect these figures to increase as millennials become decision-makers in the near future.
Getting Started with Social Selling: Tips, Tools, and Tactics
If you’ve made it this far, then your interest has probably peaked and you’re wondering how to go about getting started with social selling.
Now that you have some background and understand the benefits of social selling, let’s get into the best practices for implementing an effective strategy.
— Wendy’s (@Wendys) February 11, 2021
Step 1. Set Up Your Profiles to Establish Credibility ✔️
Before you get out there and hit the ground running, you’ll want to update your social media profiles.
Your LinkedIn and Clubhouse profile, for example, should no longer look like a resume but rather a glimpse into how you are helping people and organizations succeed.
Here’s an example:
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Step 2. Find the Right Communities For Your Business
It’s important to conduct some research to pinpoint which social media platforms your target audience not only uses but also engages with.
To find the right users, there are great social selling tools like Followerwok that allow you to:
- Compare Twitter accounts to find overlaps and target new influencers.
- Breakout your followers by location, bio, who they follow, and more.
- Match your activities to gains and losses in followers to give your followers what they like best.
Another scrappy way to scale visibility is to take advantage of large Facebook groups that already exist online.
James stated, “We are happy to announce that we’ve received over 600+ sign-ups to our Beta launch and are thrilled to have received so much support from the WordPress community.”
Not only did he offer free lifetime memberships to the community, but he spent 6 months building his authority in the group by answering questions from community members across the forum.
Step 3. Set Up Social Listening Alerts
To stay on top of the latest news, insights, and what prospects are talking about, you’ll want to set up alerts for popular search keywords in your industry, branded keywords, and competitor handles.
You can then decide who you want to help or engage with as you receive alerts.
The social listening tool, Mention, combines social monitoring, analytics, and competitor spying capabilities.
Mention allows you to:
- Set up alerts to get notified whenever keywords are mentioned in real-time.
- Reply to mentions directly in the app. Share positive mentions on your social networks.
- Share alerts and assign tasks to your friend or coworkers to improve your online presence.
- Get a snapshot of your mentions by source, language, and over a selected period of time.
- Generate reports and export data to compare yourself to competitors.
Knowing when your target audience is active on social media is a key part of planning your social selling strategy.
Step 4. Tailor Your Engagement by Social Channel
The role of content is to build trust, demonstrate expertise, and have natural calls to action that are aligned with your brand’s voice.
Meaning you are not going to be a Brandbot, but rather a person that people feel they know, or who is funny, engaging, helpful, and most importantly human.
You want your voice to be known and remembered… not default and distasteful 🐸☕
Step 5. Connect with Potential Customers on Their Terms
If you’re asking to connect with someone on LinkedIn or other platforms, it’s important to leave a personalized message and to avoid going for a direct sales pitch.
To start building your social network, you’ll want to connect with them by following them AND engaging with them on their posts.
We love it! Give him a big high five for us! 🖐️
— Nike (@Nike) February 23, 2021
Nike made this little guy’s day even though his dad only has 6 followers.
Being wholesome is the best way to win more customers.
Step 6. Reward Customers Who Are Your Biggest Advocate
This is the reason why you should monitor what people say about your business, weigh in on those conversations, and reward their positive feedback.
— Simon Harper ☕💻 (@SRHDesign) January 17, 2021
Thanking customers will make them feel appreciated for their support and efforts in spreading the word. Showing gratitude will encourage and strengthen fan advocacy.
Kinsta, the best hosting company for WordPress, recognized that I was championing their brand on Marketing Twitter and rewarded me with free tech swag!
This will likely cause other customers to pay attention to the praise from others, become followers of your brand, and be more vocal about the brands they love on their feeds.
Step 7. Share Relevant Content and Be Consistent
Avoid pushing or selling your product or service.
Try to throw in interesting news about your industry, information on free events, or case studies relevant to your industry. While you probably won’t see results overnight, it’s important to be consistent — the results will pay off.
It’s no secret that sales are all about building and maintaining relationships. Sure, maybe the way in which you have to create those relationships have changed, but the foundation is still the same.
You can now use social selling tools to find, connect with, and nurture sales prospects better than ever. That leaves more time for you to concentrate on your business and what matters most — what you have to offer.