There’s a high chance that your business may already be engaged in the basics of social selling especially if you have a LinkedIn account, Twitter account and or actively engage in forums like Quora and Reddit as these are ideal platforms to ‘social sell’.
Social selling in short is when businesses find and engage with prospects through social media channels. By answering questions, sharing valuable content and responding to content prospects can be nurtured and be turned into qualified leads.
However, the time it takes for them to become qualified and if they ever will, depend hugely on a number of factors. For example, someone may be already using a similar service/product but is potentially thinking of making a switch to a different brand or product.
This may mean that they don’t reach out to you straight away as they may spend considerable time researching or thinking about whether to make the switch. But this doesn’t mean you should stop social selling to these users. At this stage, you want to be position yourself as an expert in that field and provide your prospects with valuable, educational and relevant content that can answer their challenges (even if you don’t know them personally or have them in a database).
Who does social selling apply to?
Social selling can be applied to anyone and for any business. However, a lot of what we cover in this article is around how-to social sell from an individual or personal account as this is where people often have a greater chance of becoming thought leaders in their field; whereas business accounts can struggle to gain the same kind of following.
That’s not to say business accounts don’t serve a purpose and don’t work for social selling (they definitely do) however the strategy tends to be most effective when using high-level individual accounts. That means your CEOs, CMOs, CFOs, CTOs, CIOs, UFOs, DTOs and COOs to name a few. This is because these are the people your potential customers might interact with and are most likely to elevate your businesses brand the most. It’s important to remember that, although less vital, social selling throughout all levels of an organisation from an intern to the director is still valid.
Social Selling Channels
Where to find and engage with prospects
Depending on your type of business you may want to focus on one or a couple of channels. As the world’s largest social network for professionals, if you’re a B2B company, LinkedIn may be the best bet. However, Twitter is also a fundamental platform for social selling as many people use it in their day to day lives. There isn’t a one size fits all channel and understanding who your customers are will help you identify which platform (or platforms) should be used.
Twitter by nature is inherently a ‘social’ platform and can be a more light-hearted than LinkedIn for example. However, if you’re coming to Twitter from a purely professional perspective, you’re not going to engage with anyone and you’re not going to be effectively social selling. Instead you need to adapt your content to the right channel and engage people in different ways.
A personal Twitter account can be used to spread a news article that’s on your website. However, it should also include content around community involvement or activities you may have been involved in. This shows you a real person, not just a business.
Platforms like Twitter are also perfect for engaging with your consumers. On channels such as this you can speak directly with your audience by commenting, retweeting and liking their content. Not only helping to show you care and are interested in what your audience talks about, it also helps to keep them engaged with you and your business.
Twitter also allows you to follow other thought leaders or relevant people related to your business. It’s therefore important to follow and engage with these leads as they can vicariously help you to grow you own following. These leaders can also be helpful for keeping up with important trends and providing ideas for your own content which you may be able to repurpose and or provide a different angle too (this doesn’t mean steal).
On the other hand, LinkedIn should be solely professional content. This doesn’t mean solely articles, thought pieces or industry news, but it does mean everything you share on LinkedIn should have some relation to work. A great example of this would be to not simply share a photo of your dog down the beach. But a picture of your dog visiting the office and the rest of your team, would be appropriate.
LinkedIn groups are a powerful tool for social selling. They help you to find like-minded connections that are going to be interested in not only what you’re saying but also in what you’re selling. The most important aspect of social selling in LinkedIn groups is to be helpful and provide value. If you join a group and all you do is try and sell your product or service, you will simply end up annoying people (and you may be removed). Instead provide valuable insights through blog posts and commenting on other member’s posts. Some general advice for groups would be to introduce yourself when you join and always comment when you believe you can provide an alternative and interesting point of view.
On a LinkedIn account it’s advisable to have the following split in content types:
- 50% External Posts
- 25% Company Posts
- 25% Personal Posts
How many posts should I do?
There is no defined number of posts you should post every week, month or year. However, the key is to be consistent. You shouldn’t post every day one week and then once a week for a month. You should also aim to keep your content consistent if someone has connected with you because they like your thought leadership on your profile. And you then stop doing this type of content, you’re just going to lose those connections or followers.
In general, we would recommend your post around 2-3 times a week, max. This is important as you don’t want to oversaturate someone’s feed and have them get sick of your content. Too little however can decrease engagement and you may not show in anyone’s feed at all!
Social Selling Personas
One of the main challenge’s businesses face when they look to improve their social selling strategy is how prospects should be spoken to. What kind of content do they care about? What are the problems they face on a daily basis? What action has driven them to make a certain decision? These are huge questions and understanding who your customers are and what problems they may have takes time. However, having the answers to these questions will allow you successfully change an individual from being a prospect into a qualified lead.
To answer these questions, you need personas. You might already have a few personas or have a basic understanding of their demographics. However, although these work to an extent, they often fail to provide you with the necessary information you need to implement an effective social selling strategy. Instead we would recommend using the a ‘jobs to be done’ persona framework. These personas are great for giving your business a better understanding of why someone takes action.
Below is the basic framework for ‘jobs-to-be-done’. The key is to understand the ‘job’ which the consumer’s struggle is, which motivates them to seek something new. For a more detailed overview of how you can implement this strategy yourself see our helpful guide on creating your perfect personas.
When… (the situation that triggers the struggle)
Help me… (struggle motivating them)
So, I can… (what’s the goal and what is this helping them accomplish)
How can ‘jobs to be done’ be used in a social selling scenario?
Social selling is all about improving how your business is perceived. You want prospects to visit your social channels and see that you’re a:
- Thought leader
- Provide Results
- Have a similar ethos
- Solve their specific problem
The problem with all these ideas is that they will look different to everyone or at least every persona. With these ‘jobs-to-be-done’ personas you can then tailor your content and messaging so it’s as effective and relevant as possible. If you can manage to do all these things, you’ll be sure to be running an effective social selling campaign.
The key with all these ideas is to be consistent and be relevant. What you put out on these channels is a reflection on the business and should always be done to the same high standard.
Lastly, it’s worth mentioning social selling is not a quick fix or a for quick returns/leads. Instead, social selling is often a long process that takes time, but you will be sure to see the results and the engagement if you do it correctly.
Turning Social Selling into Leads
The ultimate goal of any social selling endeavour is that ‘eventually’ you’re going to see an upturn in lead generation and therefore provide value added to your business. But how do you know when it’s time to contact your users and turn them from qualified prospects to high value leads?
Social selling by nature is a fairly passive strategy. You rarely going to directly contact your audience. This is one of the main positives of this strategy; as it requires less manual work, and one of the main negatives as well. Social selling will natively bring in leads who’ll contact you, making social selling a significant part of the inbound methodology. However, social selling can be used provide you with an engaged audience when you chose to reach out as well.
A perfect example of using social selling to create an audience which you can then capitalise on is through ads. On platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn you can create audiences from your follower network and connections which you can then target with lead generation ad formats. These formats work well as you can then get these qualified leads into a database where you can push them through the final stages of the customer journey.
Another, potentially simpler example is to respond to people’s questions on these channels with your solution or service. If you provide a solution that you know will help, people should be happy to hear it. But be sure not to push too hard and aim to be helpful more than anything else. Another added benefit of this is you can respond to people’s challenges as they happen, allowing you to be the first solution they come across. Even if your service isn’t applicable; but you know you can help solve that person’s issue, by helping so you’re showing the people that might actually be interested your knowledge and expertise.
Finally, you should always ensure you’re easily contactable. Ensure your details are accessible on your website and you can quickly respond to any direct messages you might receive. In addition, tools such as chat bots on your site can help greatly with ensuring you and your business are contactable 24/7. Be sure to check out our blog on how chatbots are taking over marketing for more information on this.
If your business is struggling with social selling or would like more information on some of the steps talked about in this article, feel free to get in touch with our experienced team of social marketers.