If you own a business today, there’s really no excuse for not having a social media footprint. Social selling through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Google+, and other social media outlets is a popular way to stay connected with your clientele while also reaching potential new customers. Honestly, I can’t think of a single major company that doesn’t have at least one social media account in this day and age. And if there is one out there that I don’t know about, I have one piece of advice: Wake up, or you’re getting left in the dust! Social selling is important to the future of your business and to the sales industry in general.
What exactly is social selling?
Social selling is pretty self-explanatory. It’s developing a relationship with someone through the sales process with the end result being to generate revenue, partnerships, or more. It happens every day offline, but it takes special skill to make it happen online
So how do I use social selling online?
First, I’m going to assume that you already have social media accounts up and running, and that you actually use them. If you don’t, please see my advice listed above (i.e. wake up!). With social media accounts you can reach pretty much anyone you want so long as they too are using similar outlets. The first thing you’ll want to do is figure out who you want to reach. Ask yourself: Who is my potential audience? Then seek out these people and companies and learn a little bit more about them by exploring their website or LinkedIn page.
For example, let’s say you own an advertising firm and you’re browsing Twitter and a tweet pops up in your newsfeed from Dave’s Doodads saying that they’re on the hunt for a new advertising firm to represent them. It just so happens that you’re the owner of a company that has years of experience advertising businesses that sell doodads. This is where you tweet back to them and introduce yourself. Bam! You just made yourself a social sell, not to mention you’re networking in the process.
Another scenario is someone tweets something you like. You have a few options: You can share the tweet with your own followers by retweeting it, star it as a favorite, or begin following the person who wrote it. Or, if you feel so inclined, you can do all three. Whatever your action, that person or company will receive a ping notifying them of your response; it’s quite possible that they might start following you too and begin liking and retweeting your tweets. And this newly formed business relationship could possibly lead to future business—you never know!
What about hashtags?
Once upon a time the hashtag symbol (#) was called the number or pound sign. It was a common dialing mechanism on telephones and kids used it to play Tic-Tac-Toe. Fast-forward to today and people are using hashtags on social media to make a word or phrase that will hopefully grow in popularity and start trending. For example, as I write this a few hashtags that I noticed are currently trending on Twitter include #CSuite and #TBT. If you run a search of a specific phrase or word with a hashtag in front of it, you’ll get a list of tweets that mentioned the hashtag. This is a great way to engage with customers and pull all of their comments into one place.
Here are a few examples of hashtags you can use: your company’s name, your company’s motto, or a subject that is pertinent to your business such as #b2b, #marketing, or #sales. Or you can start a hashtag campaign from scratch. One of my favorite successful hashtag campaigns was when Domino’s Pizza in the United Kingdom began tweeting #letsdolunch. The campaign engaged followers and encouraged them to use the hashtag in their own tweets. The more they did, the lower Domino’s would set the price of its pizzas for that day. According to Domino’s UK, its online sales increased 43 percent. But I guess its tactic was a no brainer because who doesn’t like buying pizza when it’s on sale?
As you get more active on social media, you’ll begin to learn what works and what doesn’t for your business. My best advice is to not get discouraged if your first few attempts fall on deaf ears and result in zero replies and a lackluster number of followers. You’ll find that, over time, your base of followers will grow and you’ll begin to wonder how you made sales before social media was around.