The use of social media in the last few years has had a huge impact on the way businesses and brands conduct themselves – from customer service to advertising and selling directly to customers on those platforms, there has been a great deal to learn and many changes to adjust to.
There are many different terms that use ‘Social’ as a descriptor – social media management, social selling, social media advertising; and while it’s tempting to combine these disciplines into one umbrella term, each discipline operates in significantly different ways, each with their own best practices and outcomes,
Social Selling Defined
Social selling is a vital tool which keeps your brand at the forefront of your customer’s mind; it’s a technique which utilises social media to identify your customers, connect with them, understand their needs, and encourage them to purchase from you.
Social selling techniques are used for cultivating brand awareness and building relationships on a more personalised level; something that is increasingly important with digitally savvy customers – your prospects want to feel that they matter to you, social selling gives you the tools to create personalised interactions with your audience and make them feel like appreciated.
Why is Social Selling Important?
Brands that don’t have an online presence are missing out on a huge potential market. Between December 2016 and January 2017, more than 1 in 5 of the global population shopped online. Having your brand name recognised and making potential customers aware of your company is the key to success.
In 2016 MarketCube (on behalf of LinkedIn) conducted a survey with 1017 US sales or business professionals – they found that more than 70% of their panel used social selling tools (including LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter), and that 90% of the individuals in the group who were considered to be the ‘top salespeople’ of their respective businesses used these tools as part of their sales strategy.
In 2016, 97% of global online adults aged 16 to 64 used or visited a social media site at least once per month – an estimated 1 in every 3 minutes spent online was spent using social media – with an average daily engagement of nearly 2 hours (1hr 58 minutes)
Companies who are not seen engaging with their audience will soon fade from the public consciousness – but whilst publicity stunts and one-off events may generate a certain ‘buzz’ it will only last until the next interesting topic arises. Having a social selling strategy allows your company to respond to current events in a manner best suited to your business, it lets potential clients see that you are active and socially aware – encouraging them to engage with you, without having to create an ‘artificial’ engagement that may actually backfire and turn your intended audience away from you.
Having a strong strategy in place is vital, and social selling is one way to nurture and grow your rates of engagement, increase your brand awareness and promote a positive company reputation.
Social Selling can essentially be broken down into four main approaches – creating a strong brand, building relationships, engaging with your customers and focusing on your prospects.
In 2016, 91% of retail brands used two or more social media channels allowing them potential access to the 2.3 billion users who were active that year.
Why Do You Need Social Selling?
Having a social media presence gets you brand recognition, allows you to build relationships (not just with potential customers, but other businesses as well), and ensure your customer service is running at optimal speed.
There are many tools available (such as Google Analytics or Hootsuite) which allow you to optimise your approach to social media, and then record a quantifiable data stream to analyse. Getting the right balance of content, approach and channel exposure may take some time – you will need to fully understand who your customer is and what they want from you, then find out which social media platforms they make the most use of (there is no point targeting your advertising at a channel that your target audience doesn’t use).
Once you have created and optimised your customer profile and begun your engagement, you can use the social selling techniques to create further recognition and trust in your brand, generating new leads and potentially new sales.
Using the data provided by the analytic sites, you will be able to see which parts of your strategy are working, which aren’t – which could do with improvement, and which need to be expanded on because they’re doing well.
Social Selling gives you the tools to show your audience that your company is active, aware and approachable, and provides you with the data to turn those connections into potential sales.