Selling has always been a decidedly social activity. While the platforms upon which selling is practiced have evolved over the years, selling really boils down to trying to turn a profit by building rapport and relationships with potential customers. Historically, that has been done in-person or—at the very least—over the phone, but the continuous rise in popularity of social media has allowed for both a global reach and a need to apply new tactics to succeed.
According to the Digital 2021 April Global Statshot Report co-published by Hootsuite and We Are Social, more than half a billion people joined the various popular social media platforms over the past year. This brings the global total of social media user to 4.33 billion. To put that into perspective, that’s more than half of the population of the planet—and quite a lot of prospective customers. It certainly makes for a strong case towards adapting to nuances in communication and interaction that social media brings.
Strategic Social Selling is the Way to Go
One of the best things about social selling is that it empowers just about anyone with even a minimal social media presence with the ability to make a profit over products they’re either passionate about or make themselves. You only need take a look at any social media feed—from Facebook to Twitter to Whatsapp and others—to find everyday, ordinary people selling something. What social selling makes clear is that you no longer need to be part of a big company to make money online through sales.
In countries where the COVID-19 hit particularly strong and lasted longer, many people took to selling within their own communities to either replace lost sources of income or to supplement what income they still had. While it’s nothing new, B2B companies would be wise to invest in social selling as part of their overall strategy. After all, 97% of customers nowadays research products online and 47% go through three to five pieces of content before coming to a purchase decision.
With much bigger budgets and a team of experts on-hand, B2Bcompanies have a distinct advantage in social settings. It all boils down to the approach and the strategy you apply to your social selling efforts. Let me walk you through some actionable insights that will move you closer to success.
1. Everyone in your company is a social salesperson all the time.
Social media has added a new dimension to how B2B companies can approach and engage customers. In a sense, it’s something between email and calling in that there’s very little face-to-face, but engagement can be in real time. This has opened up social selling to those who might not be sales or marketing people. Anyone in the company who has a social media presence from the CEO down to the rank and file can and should have involvement in increasing the reach of your brand messages.
What that means practically is that your social selling strategy should also take into consideration the impact each employee has on the overall perception of the company. Given that they represent you, everyone must at least be briefed on the proper ways to act in their social spaces—particularly if they are very active and clearly identify with your company. Better than that, however, is engendering buy-in at all levels that each one of your people will be able to confidently “sell” your brand when they happen to be the point of initial contact for potential customers.
2. Become a master of a relevant few.
There are many social media platforms out there and, while it’s tempting to want to establish a presence on as many as you can, that kind of thinking actually harms your social selling. For one thing, different social media platforms have different specializations. Instagram is focused on images and video—more dynamic content, Facebook gives more room for longer form content and deeper interaction, LinkedIn is a professional network—and so on.
The truth is that you won’t be a fit for some of these. So how do you choose? Follow your audience. Given the personality and nature of your business and your products, your ideal customers likely share many traits and characteristics—which in turn, are targeted by social media companies themselves. In some cases, it’s obvious. Companies catering to business needs would do well on Facebook and LinkedIn. Those who might focus on creative services would find success on Instagram or even Pinterest. Go where it fits who your business is.
3. Leverage your profiles.
The best way to think about your social media profiles is that they are your passive storefronts. From the profile image you use, to the banner images you choose, and what information you share, all of these contribute to the overall perception your B2B customers have of your brand. Your prospective customers are going to gauge the kinds of solutions you can provide, size you up for credibility all within moments of landing on your social media profile. You want to make it good a good experience and a great impression overall.
You’re also going to want to take a peek at what your personal profile says about your brand—particularly if you are in a leadership role. While this is a bigger consideration if your brand operates mainly on LinkedIn, you shouldn’t ignore the fact that if you’re the face of your company, people are going to extend their research on your company to what you present yourself. That’s why many B2B companies go for thought leadership pieces authored by their leaders and shared onto their company socials.
4. Be active.
The past three insights have all basically focused on setting yourself up for social selling success. All that will not be worth much, however, if you don’t actually go out and do it. It’s important that your company is very active in your chosen social media channels. You should firstly be constantly posting updates and meaningful content on your socials—preferably following an organized schedule and varying in mediums.
You should then also be active in responding to queries whether comments on the posts themselves or to direct messages sent to you. While you may not be able to keep tabs on these 24/7—you should if you can, however—you should make sure not to make your customers wait too long. In a world where people can get things quickly and with little hassle, you’re just going to be ignored and set aside if you don’t react quickly enough.
5. Be proactive about analysis—and adapt.
So you want to be active in social media and get your social selling off to a good start? You can’t go in blind. It is very important that your approach—whether it’s your posted content or your direct interactions with your customers—is carefully metered to reflect what they need to know or hear. It’s critical to understand what your customers are looking for. That’s where analytics comes in. Whether you’re using free platform-based suites or more expansive paid options, this is key.
In fact, you should strongly consider going for intent data to guide your social selling strategy. It’s essentially a dataset that shows which of your prospective customers, those engaging you on your social media platforms, are genuinely interested based on their interactions with you and your online/offline presences. Sourced from a reliable provider, this will essentially help you focus your efforts on those who are more likely to convert to paying customers and allow you to tailor your content accordingly.
Preparedness is one cornerstone of effective social selling; the other is the right kind of data smartly applied. Here at Internal Results, we’re all about helping B2B companies connect to the people most likely to love and purchase their products and services—regardless of what platform they use.