How to Level Up Your Social Selling Strategy
Millennials and Gen-Zs are officially the largest global consumer group. What do most (if not all) of them have in common? Their deep passion for social media.
Businesses that understand this are rapidly shifting how they engage with customers. Sure, emails and calls remain highly effective, but there's a new front-runner in the B2B sales world - social media.
Just so there’s no confusion, social selling is not social media marketing, and it definitely isn’t mass harassing social media users with constant sales and marketing messages.
Instead, social selling refers to the business practice of relying on a brand’s social media to find, connect, engage, nurture, and build relationships with prospects.
A social selling strategy entails a concrete plan for slowly building up your brand, expanding your network, engaging with existing audiences, identifying their pain points, and providing value through content and posts.
In return, your brand will pop up on your audience’s radar when making a purchasing decision or be easily discovered by the completely unknown, purchase-ready buyers that go online to search for products.
Chances are your business already partakes in social selling one way or another - through your corporate LinkedIn page or your team members’ profiles when they share the news or talk about their experiences.
So now that you’ve dipped your toes, why not create a thought-out strategy to make it a powerful lead-generating and nurturing machine?
Is Social Selling Effective?
In our day and age, new business buzzwords fly around all the time. So then, does social selling live up to the hype? Let’s see:
- To kick things off, over half of the entire world population is on social media - imagine how many people can see your posts, profiles, comments, etc.
- 75% of all internet users research brands through social media before purchasing.
- A positive social media presence creates a strong brand reputation, which makes 92.4% of B2B buyers more willing to buy a product.
While social selling won’t bring results overnight, if you play the long game - you’re in for a pleasant surprise.
Let’s dive into some key concepts that will help salespeople squeeze the most out of our social selling efforts.
Deciding On The Best Channels
The best social media channels for social strategies will differ depending on your industry, niche, and market demographics, but nothing that a bit of research can’t fix. Besides, it’s best to mix it up to reach a larger audience and experiment with different social selling techniques.
Don’t know where to start? There are some sure-fire channels that your business can utilize right away:
- LinkedIn is absolutely necessary for all B2B companies looking to make waves with social selling. A whopping 50 percent of all B2B buyers turn to LinkedIn during their purchasing decisions, and why not, considering the massive 58 million catalog of company profiles.
Supplied with their all-mighty Sales Navigator, businesses can pinpoint and narrow down their ideal audience to focus their social selling efforts most efficiently. LinkedIn is also a way of reaching out directly to decision-makers and bypassing gatekeepers.
For B2C, the story is slightly different, with Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Youtube being the most popular choice (heavily depending on your niche):
- Facebook accommodates over 1 million brands and 200 million active monthly buyers!
- Instagram analytics found that two in three users agree the platform enables their engagement with businesses, and with Instagram features like business chat, interacting with them is even easier.
- TikTok builds deeper brand connections than any other social network for over 70% of users.
7 Ways To Level Up Your Social Selling Strategy
Just like other sales strategies, like cold calling and lead nurturing, social selling requires a strategic approach. Here are seven ways sales professionals can super-charge social selling.
Optimize Your Profiles
First impressions last - and even more so in the digital world, which is a double-edged sword for businesses. An optimized, visually-pleasing profile page will spark interest, and one that isn’t can easily scare away what could be a future long-term customer.
When we talk about optimizing, this applies to both company and personal profiles, and while the details vary from one social media platform to another, in general, this means:
→ Relevant profile picture and cover image (professional, friendly)
→ Crisp profile bio/headline (short, catchy)
→ Detailed summary (value proposition, social proof, CTA, link, contact, etc.)
→ Optimized for mobile from top to bottom
Here’s a perfect example of a well-optimized LinkedIn page by Lavender:
Remember, social selling is about more than just posting content and hoping people will find it. Make sure your profile establishes your personal brand and reflects who you are–and who you’re hoping to connect with.
Also, make sure your website is battle-ready at all times since that’s where users will (hopefully) visit as they move down the funnel. There are a few ways to do this, including adding relevant images where necessary. However, you have to ensure your photos aren't too busy. Otherwise, your audience will get distracted. Fortunately, you can remove clutter from your photos by using software like Picsart.
Stay Close To Your Audience
As a business, entering the digital world can be overwhelming, to say the least - where do you even begin? Like traditional sales, social selling strategies should focus on quality rather than quantity.
Don’t fall for the ‘get more followers - get more customers’ trap. Instead of joining the most popular groups or spaces to reach the most people, locate the groups and platforms where your target audience is present and stay active there.
LinkedIn group? Facebook community? Quora space? Why not all of the above?
For starters, you’ll be interacting with users who are already interested in your niche, but also you’ll stumble upon their trending topics and challenges.
Here’s an example of staying close to your audience, in this case - in Quora:
This is commonly referred to as social listening - a sales process of monitoring your brand, competitor, and niche mentions in the online world, as well as specific buying signals.
With social listening tools, you can set alerts for any of these triggers to stay on top of everything in your niche.
This is priceless information for marketing teams to adjust their content and sales teams - their value proposition accordingly.
Heck, this could even give insights into tweaking the entire product to solve the most current needs.
Be Thoughtful With Your Posts
Each social media platform has its own socially-acceptable rules for posting.
Social selling on LinkedIn gives room to expand on a topic with quality content, Instagram and Facebook are best for exploring visuals, while with Reddit - you better avoid anything to do with selling at all costs!
A good rule of thumb in social selling is to give way, way more than you ask in return. Mix it up. Experiment with different content formats like text, pictures, videos, polls, etc.
Speaking of videos, you might want to double down on them, considering that videos posted on social media profiles generated new customers for over 90 percent of businesses! Talk about a sure thing.
Focus your posts around the trending topics and challenges your audience faces at the moment, which you successfully picked up from your social listening efforts mentioned above.
When reaching out to prospects, find a way to personalize each conversation by referencing a common contact, a piece of your content they recently commented on, or anything else that would make it less dull.
As mentioned before, social selling is a long journey with several milestones along the way. One of them is building credibility and establishing trust. Social media users have every right to be wary of engaging with businesses they have never heard of before.
Social sellers build credibility naturally by posting and sharing valuable content, research, case studies, and engaging in topic-related conversations, creating thought leadership.
Here’s an example of one of my favorite recent LinkedIn posts:
Notice how I didn’t mention anything about our product? Some posts should have the sole purpose of adding value to your community, helping out even those who aren’t interested in your product at all. Essentially, you want to be seen as a thought leader for your target audience.
Show your personality and authenticity in every post and comment, and with time - credibility will come along.
Once it does - your name will work like a magnet, with users reaching out to you for advice or solutions, not the other way around.
And remember, no old-school sales tricks in social selling - around two in three buyers are more than willing to pay more for complete transparency.
Know When To Make The Move
Earlier I mentioned you should aim to build relationships and not sell, and that’s definitely the case. But at some point, the selling journey has to begin.
There has to be a clear path depicting how the warm prospects in your social audiences become sales-qualified leads (SQLs). How sales reps determine when to qualify leads differs, but the common questions at hand are usually:
Are they a good fit for your product? Do they have the budget? What about the decision-making authority? Whichever way you decide to shape it - make sure to baby-step it.
This process could begin with posts inviting your audience to sign-up for a newsletter for more valuable resources or product discounts. Similarly, you could make the move through direct outreach by inviting your qualified, purchase-ready followers for a free trial or product demo at the perfect time.
Sarah Brazier from Gong posted a fantastic first-hand experience of making the move in social selling. Once a casual user downloaded their very product-related content, Gong qualified him as a warm lead.
Next, Sarah reached out with that content as the talking point, hoping to learn more about their business and get in touch with the decision maker, which the prospect happily agreed to for an appearance on his podcast. And just like that - eventually, she made the sale!
Find a balance between not going for the sale prematurely, but not waiting too long where your follower goes elsewhere to make a purchase. The best course of action is integrating your social selling efforts with your overall multichannel engagement strategy to take advantage of the perfect opportunity to begin your sales outreach.
When your social selling strategy generates a huge following, you should create separate qualifying paths with unique value propositions based on social media behavior, topics of interest, intent data, etc. As a result, you'll have hyper-personalized journeys for all your social leads.
Be There For Your Existing Customers
Social selling is mostly about prospecting and nurturing leads, but one common mistake businesses make is neglecting their good-old existing clients.
It’s no secret that getting new customers is more expensive than retaining, or maybe even upselling existing ones (with certain exceptions).
The oversimplified logic is that since they’ve bought from you once, they are more likely to buy again when compared to a completely new lead.
However, businesses can’t simply sit around and wait for it to happen naturally, they have to constantly make their existing clients feel valued and heard.
Check out this great example of how to listen to and engage with your existing audience by Grammarly:
By asking for constructive feedback, sharing relevant content, and simply engaging with them online, companies will solidify existing relationships, create upsell and cross-sell opportunities, increase their average lifetime value, and expand their reach across similar audiences.
Consistency Is Key
Whether it’s personal or business social media activity, consistency is crucial.
You definitely don’t want to overdo it by flooding social channels with your posts or liking and commenting on every post, but you do want to keep popping up in your prospects’ feeds from time to time.
The best (and I believe only) way to make this easy on yourselves is to create a social selling content schedule.
The fun part is that you have all the creative freedom in the world.
Mondays could be posting a weekly update, Tuesdays are quiet days for liking/commenting/replying, Wednesdays are for sharing relevant and trending news in your industry, and so on.
I guarantee your audience will appreciate the scheduled posts and hopefully even look forward to them!
Just as an example, I’ve recently tested out the “100 posts in 100 days” experiment, and the results were as expected - an exponential increase in engagement and followers, undoubtedly correlated with consistency.
Btw, consistency is not just about the type of content and the days you post it - it’s also about keeping a consistent brand tone and aesthetics.
Measuring The Results of Social Selling
One key component of every strategy for almost anything in the world is tracking its performance. After all, how else would you even know if it’s working or not?
Social selling is an abstract concept, so the truth is, measuring your strategy’s success can be quite tricky. Nevertheless, here are some proven ideas to get the ball rolling:
- Social Selling Index is a concept created by LinkedIn, as you guessed it, to analyze and score your social selling track record on this platform based on four key criteria:
- Social Media Network Growth is pretty straightforward yet useful - is your social selling strategy organically growing your audience over time?
- Engagement Rate is a metric that provides a clear picture of the quality of your posts and shows how engaging your content is with your audience.
Here’s a simple formula → [# of likes, comments, shares / # of followers] x 100.
- Referral Rate will show a growing number of referred new customers as your social selling efforts expand. For this, companies should keep track of their lead sources.
Here’s a simple formula → [# of referred customers / # of total customers]
The way potential buyers and sellers communicate has completely changed over the last few years, disrupting the traditional prospecting, nurturing, and retainment best practices.
Nowadays, and moving forward, proactive sales reps should focus their efforts on social networks where customers come to research, compare, inquire, and make purchasing decisions.
- If we haven’t emphasized this enough so far, let’s do it again – social selling is built on creating relationships, not constantly pushing to sell.
- Businesses can’t freeride it all the way - they should create dedicated social selling strategies to keep track of all their posts, content, engagement, and effectiveness over time.
- The online world has more than enough users for each niche and product type - just like with traditional prospecting, quality trumps quantity when expanding your audience.
- Certain tools (mentioned above) can automate social selling efforts and become a part of the broader sales machine for max effectiveness.
- It’s more than okay to go off-topic, share non-related content you’re passionate about, showcase your brand personality and values, or simply have a laugh - you’ll only be expanding your network!
Social selling doesn’t substitute sales reps or traditional sales techniques like cold outreach. Instead, it builds a brand new bridge connecting companies with their existing and potential customers in a more meaningful, personal way.
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