Social Selling is defined as an online sales technique that many companies have integrated into their marketing strategies with the advent of Digital Transformation. Its aim is to sell products and services, focusing on immediate profits and customer satisfaction.
You should know that there is a subtle difference between Social Selling and Network Marketing. The latter involves the direct sale of a product/service to a customer base acquired through social networks. On the other hand, a Social Selling strategy uses social networks to identify potential and new customers, optimizing the sales process.
It’s a process through which companies build trust with their users and establish stronger relationships with leads and customers to meet their target audience’s needs. This is primarily achieved by creating valuable content on social media that is useful to the users. The benefits are numerous, including increased sales and the creation of valuable relationships.
In this article, I will show you the different aspects of Social Selling. Specifically, I will cover:
- what Social Selling is and why it’s important;
- how to create a Social Selling strategy in 3 steps;
- how to identify the best channels for selling online;
- who is involved in selling through social media;
- some examples of Social Selling. prospects. If you are a young entrepreneur, a start-up, or a company eager to embrace the digital world and find it challenging to acquire new customers and turn sales into immediate profits, the “Digital Sales Account” Course can be very useful for you. In this course, you will learn new sales techniques and successful innovative strategies.
But now, let’s get started!
Social Selling: ,eaning and definition
You are probably wondering: what does Social Selling mean? Literally, it means “selling on social media.” This definition is very simplistic and, moreover, doesn’t fully capture its essence as a specific online sales strategy. In reality, this technique involves a series of steps where the product/service you offer is merely a “pretext” to gain the trust of the final customer. But let’s take it step by step.
First of all, let me tell you what Social Selling is not:
- It’s not about advertising or Social Media Marketing;
- It doesn’t rely on pushy sales techniques;
- It’s not about chasing prospects on social media to sell them the product;
- It doesn’t involve an outbound approach to customers through mass messaging and friend requests just to expand the contact list.
So, what is Social Selling? According to a recent definition, Social Selling is an activity in which salespeople use social media to directly interact with their prospects, providing valuable content and answering their questions until the potential customer completes the purchase process.
Social Selling vs Social Media Marketing
Social Media Marketing is a branch of web marketing that allows you to create engagement and social sharing through social channels to generate brand awareness or perform personal branding. Among its activities is the promotion/sale of products and services through sharing and sponsoring valuable content.
So, Social Selling and Social Media Marketing may seem the same thing. But they’re not! The most substantial difference between the two digital techniques lies in the type of communication. On social media, there’s one-to-many communication, and marketers spread content to a wide audience.
In Social Selling, however, communication is mostly one-to-one. By publishing valuable content, you can get closer to individual prospects who could be your target audience, thereby expanding your reference audience; then, by directly addressing your customers and engaging with them, you establish a relationship of mutual trust (lead nurturing).
Using this online selling strategy, you can get as close as possible to your ideal customer compared to traditional online selling, and especially in B2B, personal and immediate contact is essential.
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Why is Social Selling important?
Engaging in Social Selling allows you to take a leap forward in sales. Why? Think about it for a moment. What is the main characteristic of social media? The ability to gather an enormous user base.
In online selling strategies, this is crucial, as Selling through communities and groups allows you to build trust with prospects through targeted content, bypassing the initial distrust that may arise when your audience doesn’t know you. Furthermore, when dealing with existing customers, everything becomes more straightforward by sending content specifically tailored to them.
To ensure that Social Selling doesn’t turn into a fruitless activity on social media, it’s crucial to establish a connection between marketing and sales. This is achieved through regularly publishing content. Social platforms are perfect for Content Marketing: by providing valuable content and posting regularly, it becomes easier for you to gain authority in the eyes of prospects and customers and become an expert in your field.
Finally, Selling through online channels allows you to take a step ahead of traditional sales methods, as potential customers and followers who directly reach out to you can receive an immediate response, speeding up the process of acquiring new clients.
How to Create a Social Selling Strategy in 3 Steps
How do you do Social Selling? To be successful as a digital technique to increase your things to sell to make money, it requires a proper strategy: one that allows you to establish direct contact with your prospects at the right times. The earlier the contact, the more time you have to build a relationship of trust that leads to finalizing the sale.
Now, in 3 simple steps, I’ll show you how to create a successful strategy.
Identify your target and their needs
Based on relationships, the first step for a successful Social Selling strategy is to identify your target audience. This step is crucial as it enables you to create tailor-made content and deliver messages aimed at closing the sale. But how do you do it? Social channels offer the opportunity to identify potential customers, but with an infinite number of users, reaching them isn’t easy!
To define your target, you must start with buyer personas, the archetype of the ideal customer you want to reach. You can determine this by gathering general information such as demographics, gender, interests, and behaviors, and there may be more than one.
By placing it within an effective customer journey, you can easily study their behavior based on the phase of the purchase process they are in (funnel). The more information you have, the easier it will be to define the right communication message and identify potential objections that your potential customer might raise regarding the product/service you’re offering. Therefore, you need to be able to understand the goals, fears, and needs to fulfill.
How? By establishing a genuine connection with your target audience. As your potential customers increasingly relate to the content you publish, you will have successfully identified your target audience!
In addition, you also have the possibility to further refine your target audience using the features provided by different social platforms, such as quizzes, surveys, and open-ended questions that allow you to gather additional information. By selling your product/service to people who truly need it, your sales will increase.
Attract users with valuable content
Relying on the collected information about your target audience, the second step is creating tailored content. How? By combining the Social Selling strategy with Content Marketing.
The content you propose on these platforms should:
- establish you as an expert in your field;
- make you a reference point for users, prospects, and customers with specific needs.
For instance, you can offer free content that users can download to learn more about your company and products, without overloading them with promotional materials or content focused on personal branding. Remember, your goal is to build strong relationships!
So, your Content Marketing strategy should:
- focus on producing a large quantity of diverse content;
- include valuable content aimed at the emotional engagement of your audience and branding;
- provide added value to your network.
Build trustful relationships
In a successful Social Selling strategy, actively listening to your potential customers is vital: through social listening and joining communities and groups, you can observe what prospects post, participate in conversations, and support your potential contacts by sending messages and responding to questions.
Online Selling, indeed, offers the opportunity to build one-to-one professional relationships that can turn into business opportunities in B2B settings. But it’s important to keep in mind that the sale is only the opportunity to build the relationship. Through the ensuing dialogue, you can understand your interlocutor’s needs and present your product/service as the solution to their needs.
In Selling through online social channels, sales play an asynchronous role, as it’s not guaranteed that your product/service will be immediately purchased by your customer. So, in the relationship that ensues, you must lay the foundation for successfully concluding the sale over time.
The best channels for Social Selling
In online Selling, social media plays a fundamental role in growing your business. Of course, an easy mistake to make is to think that being present on all channels automatically allows you to find new customers and triple your sales. Managing a social profile is not simple, as it requires attention and consistency!
So, I recommend focusing on only a few platforms and devising actions for each one to make the most of their potential.
How do you choose the most suitable social platform for your business?
- Thoroughly study the characteristics of each social platform to create and optimize your content;
- Leave nothing to chance: all operations on platforms must be planned to achieve clear and achievable objectives;
- In relation to the social platform, study the characteristics of the target audience and the already acquired customers to create targeted content;
- Analyze the competition and their business: competitor analysis is crucial to understand how to differentiate yourself and perform well in your activity.
Furthermore, social media offers various opportunities for successful online selling. But what are the most suitable functions and tools?
- groups and communities: useful for listening to your audience and identifying prospects. By participating in conversations, you have the chance to send messages, presenting your business as a solution to specific needs;
- comments: by publishing consistently and encouraging interaction, you can use the comments left by your followers and prospects to better understand the tastes and needs of your target audience;
- instant messaging: leveraging the immediacy of Facebook Messenger, Instagram Direct, and especially Twitter, you can significantly accelerate the sales process, proportionally to gaining the trust of your customer.
So, which are the best platforms for successful Social Selling? Keep reading to find out!
The main feature of LinkedIn is being the only social channel designed to foster relationships among professionals. These relationships add value to every stage of the sales process, whether it’s B2B or B2C business. Indeed, it is a professional social network aimed at facilitating information exchange between companies to increase their authority.
To create an effective Social Selling strategy on LinkedIn, simply adopt these best practices:
- Define and target your reference audience;
- Once identified, segment it to find prospects that best fit your business;
- Understanding their needs, sending personalized messages, also using bots and automation, but always with caution;
- Monitor statistics to identify possible errors and improve accordingly;
- Use the comments left under your posts to better understand the preferences of your target audience.
To make your Sales Process more effective, LinkedIn offers Sales Navigator in its Premium version. This allows you to:
- Improve your lead generation;
- Expand your network;
- Find new contacts to convert into customers.
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This social platform can be used in various ways to create your business through a successful Social Selling strategy: the channel offers various advertising functions and, above all, provides access to a wide user base. Remember, customers can use Facebook to create discussions in groups and communities, seeking to gather as much information as possible about certain products/services to meet their needs.
To create an effective Selling strategy on Facebook, I recommend:
- Set clear and achievable objectives;
- Define your target: from this perspective, the social media platform facilitates you by incorporating a large number of users with different ages and general characteristics;
- Create a page that identifies your business: it’s essential to include a logo and useful information that allows users to contact you, in addition to publishing posts with relevant and valuable content that encourage people to view your page. The increase in customers and sales will be directly proportional to the possibility of being viewed and contacted to proceed with the purchase;
- Use Facebook Ads to create sponsorships: this way, you directly connect your page to the website, thus pushing users, prospects, and customers to view the website and proceed with the purchase of products/services that interest them.
The main feature of Twitter is real-time communication: in the context of a Social Selling plan, this is a crucial factor, to the extent that this platform has become a powerful tool for selling online. By communicating instantly with your audience, you have the opportunity to voice your thoughts directly through tweets.
The synchronous communication provided by this social media platform offers you a double advantage:
- Listening to your audience allows you to gain as many insights as possible to define your buyer personas and profile your target audience even better;
- As a Salesperson, you can use a more playful and casual tone of voice compared to LinkedIn and Facebook, giving voice to your brand and remaining as authentic as possible. Staying true to yourself and not overdoing the pursuit of trends makes it easier for you to gain the trust of users, prospects, and customers.
Here are some tips for you to build a successful Twitter Selling strategy:
- Check your profile by examining the insights: analyzing hashtag performance, individual tweets, and your audience allows you to create a strategy that optimizes coverage and engagement with your audience;
- Set measurable objectives focused on brand awareness, lead generation, increased website traffic, and brand loyalty;
- Create an editorial calendar to “be on top of things”: scheduled tweets can generate tremendous engagement and become viral. It’s up to you to decide the frequency of posting based on the adopted strategy;
- Use hashtags and trends: this tool allows you to present your product/service to new audience segments that may be interested. You can create new hashtags for specific situations or highlight a tweet, encouraging users to share;
- Utilize sponsorships: the advantage is that it increases the coverage of a tweet much faster. They also allow you to reach users who are not familiar with you but share some interests with your target audience, appearing in their timeline.
Recently, the social channel announced the release of an update that will allow even more exploitation of the platform’s commercial potential and thus optimize Social Selling: Twitter Commerce.
This service offers the possibility of selling products/services directly through tweets, inserting links for users, creating product cards, and opening a shop. The link can be shared, displaying elements such as the product’s cost and the Call To Action (CTA) button that encourages purchases. This way, you can create content to monetize and use the Shop Module function to create a product carousel similar to a catalog to be browsed directly on Twitter.
In a way not very different from Facebook, this platform is also suitable for Social Selling. On Instagram, “Content is the king”: by curating your profile with the publication of visually appealing and emotionally engaging content, you have the opportunity to attract as many followers as possible and convert them into customers.
Instagram provides its users with various features such as videos, stories, IGTV, and reels. These allow you to create immediate, authentic, and trustworthy content—qualities that users seek especially in relation to the satisfaction derived from the products/services you may offer.
Therefore, by combining a bit of strategy with content marketing, you are more likely to reach the ideal customer and conclude the sales process. Remember never to lose sight of the duration and complexity of your prospect’s customer journey and try to lay the foundation for a strong and lasting relationship of trust.
This is why to create a winning Social Selling strategy on Instagram, you must:
- Create a profile that represents your business: pay particular attention to the “biography” section where you insert information about yourself, your company, and what you offer. In a few words, you must ensure that users notice you: use hashtags in a way that places your profile within a category and include the URL that links to your website;
- Determine your target audience and analyze competitors: through generic hashtags related to your business, you have the opportunity to study the competition and its target audience, which will facilitate the creation of your buyer personas and online sales strategy that allows you to differentiate yourself;
- Invest in content production: Instagram allows you to create various types of content that can attract your prospect’s attention and encourage engagement;
- Keep in mind that your audience wants to be inspired and identify with what you post: diversify the content, alternating images of products/services with real-life moments, making your account more credible; pay attention to aesthetics, aiming for uniqueness and overall harmony; create videos that inspire, educate, and evoke emotions;
- Use the right hashtags: by properly and pertinently “cataloging” your posts related to your business, you allow users to find you more easily and increase engagement.
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Anyone who engages in Social Selling activities is referred to as a Social Seller. But who is this figure, and what activities do they perform?
It could be anyone, including you or your salespeople, who are involved in Social Selling. Generally, Salespersons are sales representatives who use social media to maximize their sales opportunities, but not only that. Being a Social Seller means being a trustworthy person and a salesperson recognized as authoritative both by their customers and prospects. In practice, it is a person responsible for online sales through social media.
Remember that before making a purchase, users search for all the necessary information, sometimes even identifying the person to contact directly for direct communication. So, you must encourage inquiries and then purchases. But how to do that?
- Create interest by attracting prospects with pull methodologies and non-invasive techniques, such as interacting in interest groups and communities;
- Engage with potential customers and partners through the systems provided by different social platforms, not with the intention of selling but to share information;
- Publish valuable content that talks about your business sector or explains how you satisfy the needs and desires of your audience.
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Examples of Social Selling
After showing you how to create a Social Selling strategy for each social media channel, I want to propose some examples that can help make your online sales technique more effective and successful. Considering them will undoubtedly assist you in setting up an editorial calendar and making the most of each platform’s potential.
The creation and sharing of content are the epitome of Social Selling activities. But what types of content are the most effective?
- Free content: can be especially useful for brand awareness and personal branding. You can talk about yourself and your business through CSR, educational videos, and live events to make you and your business more credible. This way, it will be easier to reach professionals in your industry to build professional relationships, as well as existing, new, and potential customers;
- Lead magnets: useful for lead generation and overall engagement. Classic examples include guides, ebooks, and brochures to which you can add a CTA. Pay attention to creating the right call to action in order to generate valuable leads and thus promote your business;
- Instagram stories: these allow you to create polls, quizzes, and direct questions to your audience, fostering listening and knowledge, even from prospects and customers.
Conclusions and strategic consulting
As I have shown you in this article, Social Selling is a sales strategy through platforms that has completely revolutionized traditional business methods. If done correctly, it can help you revolutionize the way you do business. Keep in mind that these strategies are successful only when you have gained the trust of prospects. Content plays a fundamental role in personal branding, advocacy marketing, employee advocacy, and Social CRM (Social Relationship Management).
In 3 simple steps, you can create an online selling strategy that, through the creation of valuable content, helps you identify the target audience and build strong and lasting trust-based relationships. I have also shown you how to choose the most suitable platform for your business among the main ones (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram) and insert best practices based on their intrinsic characteristics.
I have shown you who the Social Seller is and what activities they must perform to establish themselves as leaders in their own industry and facilitate the construction of a successful strategy. I have provided you with some examples of Social Selling.
In summary: content is the bridge between you and your prospect and contributes to creating a winning profile. Curate them in terms of aesthetics and vary them based on the social platform and target audience. This will help you appear more credible in the eyes of your audience and position yourself as their point of reference. Once you have gained their trust, your sales will triple!
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