Social media brings people together. It’s pretty much its entire reason for existence. For marketers, it’s an essential tool for engaging with consumers and promoting a company’s goods or services. But can it be used to actively sell to people?
The reasons people use social media do not often involve purchasing. They usually involve bragging about festivals and competing for who can make the wittiest remark about tube strikes. People rarely use Facebook to find things they want to buy, and don’t often want to feel like their social media experience is being violated by people trying to sell them things.
The best social media campaigns focus primarily on providing information that is relevant and valuable to their followers and fans, and only around 10% of content should actually be promotional material. One example of a firm doing the engagement side of things well is Betfair Poker, which has won awards for its Twitter feed. Betfair Poker’s Twitter feed very rarely mentions any of their products, or poker at all, but primarily focuses on making jokes and interacting with followers. For example, it’s latest tweet reads: ‘I thought a Chucklevision blooper reel would be hilarious, but it was just two men carrying a ladder really well.’
This method does not work for every company though. In order to really engage with customers, it is vital to have a good understanding of what your audience is looking for. Using social media analytics helps to build a complete profile of which posts your followers are interacting with, and helps when it then comes to targeting content and promotional material. It is important not only that you are providing content that they will want to engage with, but also want to share and distribute around people they know. By looking at who is sharing your posts you can target them, failure to do so being a huge missed opportunity to employ what is essentially a team of free flyer distributors.
In terms of directly selling to customers, however, there is a fine line to tread. For interacting with existing customers there is less pressure on trying not to be too direct, but in terms of attracting customers, you don’t want to appear as if you’re following them around screaming in their face. Unfollowing or unsubscribing is a button click away, and there is little loyalty on Facebook and Twitter.
For salespeople, the ability to gauge interest before approaching people is one of the most useful aspects. It enables salespeople to see what prospects are saying about their brand and their competitors, and also generate leads. In B2B sales, LinkedIn is an especially useful tool when selling to the business community. It helps to pinpoint the buyers within an organization. For B2C sales, this is likely to be different. Again, using analytics to find out which platform best suits your product is important as it allows you to direct your energies correctly. This includes those such as Instagram and Pinterest.
The most important thing with selling on social media, as it is in all sales, is establishing trust. Building a personal account, engaging with people, and really ingratiating yourself within a community helps build relationships. Sharing quality content that people will want to read will help grow this community, and generate more leads to nurture and follow up on.