The face of sales is longer mired in the old school of sales approach imprinted in the culture by David Mamet’s culture defining “GlenGarry Glen Ross” – a tale of desperate men chasing the American dream using outdated sales “methods.”
Social selling is not new. People have always “bought socially”: asking advice about goods and services from friends and getting referrals from credible sources.
But we’ve now amplified the process, using technology and platforms that drive instant “always on” digital reach.
The Sales Food Chain is Shifting Under your Brand
Your site may be the last connection point with a social buyer, not the first. Consumers and other businesses are “finding” your brand on social platforms: LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, SnapChat and via apps on their mobile phones.
Your profile, social content and engagement with others on these platforms defines what your business is about, what problems you solve and should drive sales on the social platform or move consumers into a sales funnel connecting back to your web site.
Social Media and Content are Moving SEO into the Background
SEO rankings are being co-opted slowly by social presence and mobile apps. And, social prosumers (professional consumers) want engaging short, long form, video, GIFs, podcasts – content that’s engaging and piques their interest.
That’s not to say you should ignore SEO; you shouldn’t, but it’s no longer a “search is everything” marketing challenge. Smart content and social media are mission critical attributes for your business.
Social Selling Requires a Well Trained Staff that Can Do More than Take Selfies & Upload to Facebook
Today, savvy community management is a brand defining skill set. Your staff needs to be trained on the platforms where you have a presence, should how to utilize third party apps and services including baseline CRM, Google Analytics and need sufficient maturity and judgment to escalate problems or solve them in real time right on the platform.
Pay attention to what’s being said in the social eco system and respond back quickly. The “average consumer” expects to get a response back within 42 minutes on a social platform and there is no distinction for most whether it’s the night or week-end.
Don’t Chase Too Many Social Platforms & Risk Diluting your Reach
Social selling is not driven by selecting snazzy cool platforms, tools and apps. You must understand your client base first: their demographics, person, likes, needs, preferences and problems. Then, select a social platform that maps to your customer focus.
Facebook is a wonderful platform for any brand targeting consumers; assuming you know going in success requires advertising and Instagram and YouTube (or video) integration are corollary “channels” for high impact brand reach. For biz focused brands, Twitter is great for “radar screen” hashtag or topic listening and use LinkedIn for direct one one pitches.
It’s going to take time and careful measurement to understand and recognize whether or not social channels are working for your business. Expect to review data for 90-180 days to understand where/if how consumers are engaging with your brand. Key metrics include, time on site, bounce rates, number of pages visited, conversion metrics: ebooks, actions, purchases, contact form reach.
The quality of social media referral traffic will vary significantly by platform and be aware, your web site User Interface, Images, Menus and Navigation are always part of the equation.
Since the dawn of the digital age, billions of dollars have been spent chasing Google’s algorithmic driven search engine rankings and social platforms require similar marketing tactics.
Standing up and out on LinkedIn (the premier B2B channel) is not easy: high visibility is driven by showing up on Pulse; if you make the cut generating 20-30K views is easy to accomplish, if you don’t, expect to get 30-50 views of your content.
Over the last 3-5 years Facebook has slowly choked off algorithmic driven organic reach on the platform. No consumer facing brand will be successful on Facebook unless you coupled “organic presence” with an advertising campaign.
According to Robert Scoble (one of the digital age’s best thought leaders), Facebook has a team of 30 engineers who are constantly tweaking how content is found on the platform. Don’t chase their algorithms. It’s a fools game. Share high quality content (images, video and updates), build Groups as a front end to your sales funnel and couple “organic status updates” with a highly targeted advertising campaign.
Nine Critical Drivers for Social Selling
- What’s the best platform for connecting with your prospects? Social is “smart selling” as long as your brand is on the right platform. Consumer focused: Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube & second tier platforms like Tumblr. For B2B brands: Twitter and LinkedIn.
- Determine the optimum way to connect with your prospects: @at messages on Twitter are much better than “DMs” (direct messages); many don’t even monitor the latter. LinkedIn is a great way to find and connect with professionals; but, do it directly with a personalized invitation to connect. Cut and paste messaging is not an optimum way to build rapport.
- Create an attention grabbing profile: underscoring what makes you business or personal brand different from others, updated frequently (they get “stale’), with some baked in personality. #dontbeboring
- Use social to front end load your brand reach: Twitter’s Advanced Search is a great way to find conversations and individuals and then couple this with direct contact via LinkedIn.
- Contribute to conversations on social to drive engagement. Don’t 24/7 broadcast or use social selling as a one call close. It’s about building relationships.
- Don’t use generic pitches to prospects with a link to your home page. Share a link that relates to their specific problems. Social selling is about personalization.
- Your Sales Team needs to know social selling has a sales cycle like any sales channel: research issues, identify contacts, engage and then reach out with a personal message.
- Social media platforms represent critical opportunities to shape consumer experience around your brand but it takes frequency (repetition) to get their attention.
- Moving forward, inculcate direct social sales right on the platform of choice to negate sales funnel drop offs and to leverage the always on immediacy of social media.
A Blog Will Always be an Integral Channel for Social Selling
A blog is the social voice of your business, enabling you to write about problems your business services and products solve for your customers. And, any social media needs high quality content feeds and a blog is essential to building social voice.
Driving and building brand awareness across all social media platforms; showing your prospects your business and brand is credible, you solve specific problems that map to their needs and you’re a trustworthy business.
Expect to See Social Direct Platform Sales Accelerating
Twitter and Facebook are testing buy buttons with select accounts. Expect this trend to accelerate moving forward as all social platforms are looking to bulk up “time on site” statistics and find new sources of revenue.
Facebook is now supporting buying and selling products directly in Groups.
Company’s like Stripe and Gumroad are incorporating buy functionality on the fly, enabling brands to sell within apps and on any/all platforms. Even second tier social platforms like Snapchat are embracing early stage social eCommerce, adding “snapcash” to its native functionality.
Anticipate these trends will accelerate moving forward. Again, social media is changing from a two dimensional marketing and engagement platform to eCommerce direct social selling – a social platform is a must have for any brand that wants to find new sources for commerce.
Originally published as Social Selling has Morphed from Theoretical to Reality by Lee Traupel of Linked Media World , on LinkedIn, and re-published with permission.
Lee is a Huff Post Contributor | Content Strategist| Design Decoder | ROI Herder | Mojo Maker | Techy Not Coder | UX/UI Romanticist | Just Delta Blues | Digital strategist – market honed digital navigator for brands big and small. You can connect with Lee on Twitter or Linked Media Group.
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