Here’s a story for you… The conference speaker started talking about how great social selling could be. And when I saw the excited grins on the faces of my company’s sales team, I was scared, scared stiff.
As a longtime professional communicator, I was extremely worried about having our sales folks posting all kinds of unauthorized, unwanted, and sometimes unintelligible things on the major social channels. And in my role as Director of Content Marketing for the company, I was afraid of all of the above.
To be clear – it’s not that they were incapable of doing it. It was more about the fact that there might be little-to-no oversight… and plenty of room for error and off-brand messaging.
What is Social Selling?
Briefly, it’s using social media channels to sell a specific product or service. People do it every day – some well, some not so well.
Today, I’m not going to talk about paid advertising on social media, which is a whole other topic. Here, we’ll focus on the good and bad of social posts published with the purpose of selling products and/or services.
How Can You Use Social Selling?
If you’ve read any of my previous Rocks Digital blog posts, you know that I’m partial to the Big Three social channels: Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. (Not that I’m not on Snaproulette and Pintagram and all the other cool, hip networks!)
In fact, I’ve already shared my ideas on social media “musts” for your new business, growing your business social media network, and things business owners should never post on social media!
Here are my thoughts on social selling on the big three. Keep reading to get started.
It might seem natural that people would use Facebook as a sales channel, since so many people are already “selling” stuff to their friends and family. Many Facebookers post product/service recommendations, photos of their meals, and “check in” from various stores, restaurants, etc.
But in my mind, Facebook is best used when connecting with family and friends – and more often than not, you don’t want to be selling to them. After all, they very likely know who you work for, what you sell, and have already decided whether they’re interested or not.
Most of us use Facebook as an escape from work and business, so a sales message might be considered unwelcome or even rude.
So definitely tread carefully if you want to try selling on Facebook. Make sure you’re talking to the right people, and be both friendly and professional. The last thing you want to do is annoy your family and friends with irrelevant or inappropriate sales messages – especially with that poop emoji just a click away!
Pro Tip: Consider setting up a separate, professional Facebook account.
It’s hard enough to write a hilarious Tweet in 140 characters or less, much less craft an impactful sales message within those limitations. (At press time, rumors are spreading about a possible increase to 280 characters, but we’re talking about the here and now.)
Unless you’ve carefully curated your Twitter followers and the people/accounts that you follow, Twitter can be a very hit-or-miss proposition when it comes to getting your Tweets read. You really need to find your target audience(s) and develop specific sales messages for them.
And again, most Tweeters seem to be on the channel to connect with friends and follow their favorite news sources, companies, etc., in an informal manner. I would bet that most people on Twitter aren’t fond of being sold to there.
Pro Tip: Consider setting up a separate, professional Twitter account. (And yes, I’m repeating the same tip as above on purpose. This separation can be quite important when implementing social selling.)
Finally – a social media channel where social selling is not only acceptable, it’s de rigueur! (I took Spanish, but I’m told that’s a cool French term to use.)
Because it’s a professional site, users understand that they’ll be seeing a lot of sales-y posts in their timeline. So they’re already primed for you to hit them with a targeted sales message – don’t waste the opportunity!
Whether they’re on LinkedIn that day to connect with their peers, look for jobs, or get some industry insights, the odds are really good that users are thinking about work and business. And if your product/service is right for them – especially if it’s work-related – then they should be receptive prospects.
Pro Tip: Include a clutter-busting (but relevant) image with your post to stand out.
Don’t Be Scared of Social Selling – But Do it Right!
I’m not a huge fan of social selling, unless it’s done right. And that means you need to:
- Make sure you’re talking to the right people on the right channel.
- Be on-brand. Use company-approved verbiage, images, etc.
- Use spellcheck. You’re representing your company here!
- If you can, run it by your company’s marketing team for approval. (Or ask them to create some posts you can use!)
- Avoid overdoing it. People get tired of sales messages quickly, especially if it’s on a social media channel where they come to click “Like” on funny memes.
With fingers trembling, I wish you good luck with your social selling!
Do you currently use social selling? What results have you achieved? Any lessons you can share? Please post in the comments below.