Taking a look at headlines from just recent years past — Death Of A Salesman: The Rise Of Social Selling, Why Your Business Desperately Needs Social Selling Champions, etc. — it’s easy to see that the concept of social selling has taken off. There’s no shortage of discussion about this issue across the Internet and plenty of general guides to help neophytes get started.
Where many such guides fall short, however, is in ignoring how to shift techniques across social media platforms outside of the oft-praised LinkedIn. A large part of social selling is identifying which social networks prospects are using in order to target them where they spend the most time.
If potential customers are spending the majority of their time away from LinkedIn, that’s where reps should shift their focus. This article will provide a more in-depth look into social selling outside of LinkedIn and how to tailor an approach to achieve greater impact.
Social Selling: On LinkedIn and Beyond
A straightforward definition of what social selling is can be found via Forbes:
“Social selling is a way for sales teams to use social media to connect with prospects and provide them with value. Consider it similar to lead nurturing in the sense that your goal is to engage buyers on an on-going, long-term basis.”
While not a replacement for other avenues of sales, it does add another tool to a sales rep’s bag of tricks — if used properly. The winning formula, according to many sources, consists of four main elements:
1. Identifying “target prospects” and their main social media platforms.
2. Building a professional profile and establishing a personal brand.
3. Creating original content and valuable insights.
4. Engaging with the audience and building strong relationships.
These are simple enough steps to follow, but they are also very general. In cases where how-to articles do go into further detail, they’re focused on LinkedIn, as the platform has developed quite the connection with social selling and positioned itself as the go-to network for such activities.
And for good reason. The lack of “chatter and politics” present on other sites plays a large role in LinkedIn’s dominant position, according to Forbes, as does their incorporation of metrics like their Social Selling Index (SSI).
What of the other social networks, though? If prospects are using Instagram, Facebook or Twitter as their primary sites, is it possible to find social selling success there as well? It is, but success requires building upon the general rules to accommodate the platform in question.
How-To: Changing Methodologies
Optimizing profiles, adapting behavior and more go into honing social selling techniques for specific social media platforms.
On Facebook, it’s important to remember that users are generally browsing the platform with a casual mindset. Therefore, content posted to Facebook should make an attempt to capitalize on that mindset.
Sales professionals should take care not to inundate followers with too much. When they do post, they should include visual content that will resonate with their audience but be easy to digest: tips and tricks, short news pieces, etc. Lengthy treatises and straight-ahead pitches should be avoided.
When setting up their profile, sales professionals should set up a Facebook business page and put the focus on their personal brand. Using a visual motif that reflects the brand is a must, as is using the motif to maintain consistency throughout the profile.
Facebook’s recent push to compete in the Live Broadcasting economy is a huge leap ahead for sales professionals wanting to stand out as their own brand. Starting every Friday morning with a quick live feed about wins and losses of the week is one way to leverage this feature to build a consistent audience and create authenticity.
Only 19 percent of Twitter users hop on the platform to network, but that doesn’t mean it should be ignored. They may not be hopping on with networking as the goal, but they are reading the posts of the accounts they follow and that’s exactly what you want. When targeting prospects on Twitter, the focus should be on doing more with less. Twitter offers less “real estate” than other platforms so maximizing every character is a must.
When it comes to organizing their profiles, sales pros should use commonplace social media best practices like using a professional headshot for their profile photo, including a captivating title (with a value proposition), having a brief (but engaging) positioning statement and including hashtags that potential buyers might be interested in following. Salespeople should also consider linking to their LinkedIn accounts and company Twitter handle, if applicable.
When it comes to behavior on Twitter, sales professionals should take care to stay authentic. They should avoid posting in a “spammy” manner that signals they are only on the platform to generate leads. On the flip side, though, they should also avoid long periods of inactivity or posting content and following up with minimal engagement.
Instead, sales professionals should post consistently (minimum once a day) and mix things up with links to articles, retweets, favorites and the like. They should make generous use of so-called “rich media,” the kind that includes images, and participate in chats with other users to gain a natural following.
Twitter has become a central hub for social issues and while these can be dicey topics, they can also provide huge wins for sales professionals. Discover the social issues your company supports through its charitable work and use the hashtags associated with those topics. Proudly displaying your support and your company’s support for charitable organizations humanizes you both. Social media is based on sharing real life, remember. So this is a great way to do just that.
On Instagram, the focus on strong visuals should be taken to an even greater level. A sales pro’s bio and all posts should emphasize captivating video in order to maximize follower interest. Like Twitter, pros should make their profiles here succinct. On Instagram, though, it is also important to set profiles up for sales by including links to relevant outside pages (company page, store links, etc.).
Sales professionals should post regularly, using hashtags and calls-to-action to motivate followers. They should also focus on making connections using Instagram’s direct messaging feature. This allows for the vaunted one-on-one relationship with prospects that social selling is all about.
Instagram is a fun, light-hearted platform. Take advantage of this tone by going live on your way to a meeting and sharing the reason for why you are nervous or share the excitement immediately after a big close. Again, humanizing any brand is the fastest way to gain followers that become evangelists.
Sales professionals should keep these main points in mind when branching out into other networks for social selling:
The approach should fit the platform.
Facebook offers live broadcasting now.
Twitter is a great place to share your organization’s charitable work.
Instagram is the best place for multiple and frequent live broadcasts that bring your audience on the ride with you.