As soon as they realized that social media was a gathering place for consumers, many marketers also understood that it was a potential space for promoting goods and services. But in many cases, these earlier adopters simply treated social platforms as just another channel through which to broadcast their advertising messages.
Unfortunately these early attempts tended to be less than successful — mainly because they were anti-social.
So what is social selling?
At a given time, many social media users may not be at a purchase-ready stage, and ads or content that sell directly will be less effective. That doesn’t mean, however, that social selling can’t be effective for this audience.
This is because social selling is mostly about building and maintaining relationships. Establishing connections with new prospects, and fostering strong bonds with existing clients that encourage repeat business.
Social media — the start of something beautiful
Social tools like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn can be used as another point where you can reach potential clients and start the inbound sales process. Your social media accounts are like a storefront, allowing users to see your business in action.
At the start of the social selling process, this means establishing credibility and authority by sharing knowledge — and great quality content. By identifying and addressing the challenges of your intended audience, you raise the profile of your organization, and help to build trust with each follower.
Social selling: an ongoing process
The actual experience of doing business with you is what satisfies customers, especially if you want them to keep coming back. Echo Research found that 70% of customers are willing to spend more with a company that provides good customer service.
With this in mind, providing outstanding customer service using every channel — including social media — to answer questions, resolve issues and provide relevant advice, makes good business sense. Done correctly, these ongoing relationships will continue to provide additional value to your clients and sales for your order books.
You will also find that good service translates to positive referrals. Followers are more likely to re-share your updates, or to talk about their positive experiences with their own social networks. Or to write reviews of your products and services on blogs or other community-driven websites. Which all helps to raise the profile of your business online and attract new prospects.
Social selling is not about broadcasting your message
It is worth repeating the point that social selling is not about constantly trying to sell. There is nothing wrong with recommending products and services in the right context. But the majority of your efforts must focus on providing useful information and assistance to clients old and new.
If the focus shifts away from your customers, the social media campaign will suffer.