Canada’s Internet fact book (issued by CIRA) is full of facts and figures about how Canadians use the Internet.
Conspicuously absent from the fact book is the number of Canadians who aren’t using the Internet at all. I don’t think we bother counting that number anymore.
Consumers are looking for houses, insurance, mortgages, spouses, jobs and so much more online. What are the chances your customers aren’t there? Pretty low, I’d say.
And those online customers get 57% of the way through their purchase process before they have any meaningful contact with the seller.
Social media has changed the purchasing model. It stands to reason that the selling model has to change too.
Enter “social selling”
If you’re using social platforms now to build your brand, you may think you’re already using social selling. But, chances are you’re not.
With social selling, you’re generating leads and converting, rather than just being “out there” with your content.
Social selling has the same basic principles as traditional sales, though. You need to engage with people just enough to be top of mind, without too much pressure.
It differs in that you can skip cold calls. That’s because social platforms let you generate warm leads. Just be prepared for customers who have done their research online.
If you’re not social selling, you’re missing out. Here’s why…
Social selling gives you many advantages that salespeople didn’t have in the past:
- You can target your audience
- You can find and engage your prospects in the same place–in real time
- Social platforms provide a lot of information if you know how to mine it
- Introductions, testimonials and word-of-mouth are easy and travel fast
The numbers support social selling. ROI is better for social sellers and their sales are higher.
Social selling works. But how do you do it?
- Find your platform – Where is your target audience most active? Don’t just pick the platform most Canadians use (Facebook at 84%).
There are lots of analytics and tools available. But you can also just ask your current customers which platforms they would use.
You can upload your email database to most platforms, too. Then you’ll see how many of your customers are using that platform.
- Follow the right conversations – That means joining and participating in and knowing the right hashtags to follow.
Keyhole provides hashtag analytics for Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. There are many others that do this as well.
- Engage with influencers and follow the right users – Influencers are talking about your topic and people are listening to what they’re saying. But you need to connect with the right influencer.
Find out who they are in your industry and engage with them.
If you want to find the right platform users are following, tools like Followerwonk find the right users on various platforms.
Just searching your brand and keywords will help you find out who you need to engage with, too.
- Have a social-listening strategy – Use alerts to let you know when there’s a discussion about an important topic or hashtag, or–more importantly–about you or your brand. That will make it easier to be part of the conversation.
There are many services available to help you monitor relevant conversations, including Hootsuite, Hubspot, Sprout Social and Buffer.
- Repurpose your content – If you or your company regularly puts out articles or other pertinent industry material, you can re-purpose these posts. Include a call-to-action that will encourage the customer to get in touch with you.
But be careful not to make the content too sales-y. Be informative and helpful, use real-life images and re-format items into tips.
And target the material to the platform it’s being posted on. For example, if you are using LinkedIn, articles work well. But Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc., work best with nuggets of information and great visuals.
- Support content with ads – Social media platforms offer easy and cost-effective advertising.
You get more reach (especially if you’re building your relationships). You also gain valuable insights about where your target customers are.
- Use video – Video gives you an excellent opportunity to speak to your potential customers. Most platforms support uploading your video directly, known as native uploads. If it’s longer than the platform allows for you to upload directly, you can upload it to YouTube and link to it there.
Your videos don’t have to be long and you don’t need anything more complicated than a cellphone and decent lighting. Sometimes videos you shoot yourself are more effective than scripted videos shot and edited by pros.
Don’t know what to say? Consider featuring guests you can interview or have a casual chat with.
- Use messaging features – Many platforms let you connect with people you don’t know. InMail from LinkedIn is an example. While it’s a paid service, you can connect with people well beyond your network. That means many more warm leads.
Can you afford not to be there?
Let’s go back to that point about purchasing decisions. People are more than halfway through the sales process before talking to a professional.
If you’re not social selling, there’s a good chance they’ll have made their decision without you. And you can bet others will be there waiting to help them take the last steps towards a purchase.
If all of this is outside of yours and your team’s capabilities, you can always delegate the social media aspect of your business to a marketing professional who can hit the ground running.