What is social selling, and why should you start using it right now?

If, like us, you enjoy perusing up-to-the-minute marketing blogs and online selling trends, you’ll have likely stumbled across the phrase ‘social selling.’ 

Over the last few years, this buzzword has skyrocketed in popularity. 

Why? Because social selling has the potential to replace the dreaded cold call.

It’s easy to mistake social selling for social media marketing. But don’t fall into this trap. Social selling empowers you to break through social media marketing limitations. 

‘What limitations?’ we hear you cry!

Well, as many as 70-80% of users ignore sponsored search results on social media. Similar flaws apply to traditional advertising too. Today’s consumers are bombarded with ads everywhere they turn, and consequently, they’ve learned to tune them out. 

This is where social selling comes into play. 

Unlike social media and other traditional marketing methods, social selling enables brands to build and maintain genuine relationships with their customers. Consequently, shoppers flock to them without the need for paid advertisement.

Makes sense? Excellent! In this article, we’re revealing everything you need to know about social selling to start using this sales technique to its fullest potential. 

Let’s dive in!

What is Social Selling?

According to Linkedin, social selling is “leveraging your social network to find the right prospects” and build trusted relationships. In essence, it’s the craft of using social media to connect with and nurture prospective customers.

In light of that, you’re most likely already engaging in the basic premise of social selling if you have:

  • A Facebook business page
  • A Linkedin profile
  • A professional Twitter account
  • An Instagram business account
  • A blog

Social selling, unlike social media marketing, isn’t about bombarding prospects with content. Instead, it focuses on finding the best opportunities to provide real value and establish credibility with your target demographic. 

Businesses that prioritize social selling very rarely use paid-for advertising. Instead, they spend their time, energy, and resources on perfecting their inbound marketing strategies—usually by creating the kind of content prospects are already searching for. If you don’t have the time to develop meaningful content or know-how to achieve, you could always hire a freelancer to help you out. 

Therefore, to succeed in this strategy, marketers need to pinpoint the right moment to enter the ‘conversation’ and present their solutions to their audience’s problems. 

Why Should You Start Social Selling?

Traditional advertising isn’t as effective as it used to be. It’s not enough to provide shoppers with info about your products and services. Instead, consumers are more likely to give up their valuable time and attention to authentic brands they can relate to. 

For you, this means making an effort to provide genuine value—be it educational content, entertainment, a good deal, etc. How you provide value is up to you. But, you’ll need to give this some thought to ensure you’re giving prospects something they actually want. This is crucial for building brand loyalty and strong customer relationships so that over time, you’ll nurture brand ambassadors who happily recommend your products and services to friends and family.  

Eventually, this means you won’t have to spend as much time finding new prospects because, thanks to your social selling efforts, they’ll come to you. Instead, you’ll need to shift your attention to nurturing prospective customers that already have a buying intent. These are the kinds of qualified prospects you want because they’re way more likely to become paying consumers. 

Of course, this has the added bonus of boosting organic traffic to your site, which works wonders for enhancing your SEO. Therefore, your brand’s visibility on search engines gets stronger—again, this can only be good for business!

In light of all that, it’s no wonder 71% of sales professionals are already using social selling tools. By not engaging in the same practices, you risk your business falling behind. So, if you’re not already, now’s the time to start engaging in social selling.

The Core Principles of Social Selling

There are four fundamentals to note (and a few best practices that accompany them) when it comes to social selling. So, to make your life easier, we’ve compiled them below: 

1. Create a Professional Brand

First off, establishing a professional and credible brand is the cornerstone of social selling success. It stands to reason that you won’t cultivate customer loyalty if your branding isn’t consistent and your website doesn’t appear trustworthy. 

If you’re unsure how to develop a professional brand, here are some pointers to help steer you in the right direction: 

  • Establish and exude clear and consistent values across every facet of your business—your mission statement, products, services, day-to-day operations, etc. 
  • Ensure your website boasts a professional-looking design and user-friendly navigation
  • Offer high-quality products and services. No amount of social selling can make up for lousy merchandise. Quality should always be your number one priority.

2. Hone in on Higher-Quality Prospects

Instead of continually hunting around for new customers, social selling focuses on the leads you already have that meet the criteria for becoming loyal fans of your brand. 

Your ‘criteria’ will vary from niche to niche, but, for example, it might include:

  • Job role
  • Industry
  • Gender
  • Age
  • Location
  • Prior interaction with your brand
  • Specific shopping habits

Look to the data to see who your customers are. Then focus your time and energy on nurturing prospects who share similar characteristics to your current customer base. When you focus your efforts on higher-quality leads, you should start reaping more fruitful results. 

3. Establish Yourself as an Expert to Engage with Your Audience

Start sharing your know-how and relevant industry insights to establish yourself as an industry expert. This goes a long way to building credibility and trust with your audience as you’re showcasing you know what you’re talking about. Soon, both new and returning customers will flock to you to learn more. 

You can share your expert insights through your blog, webinars, courses, or even creating your own podcast. However, you decide to share your knowledge, one thing’s imperative: focus on topics your target demographic wants. You can validate your content ideas using SEO tools, like keyword finders or even Google Trends, to see what your audience is already searching for.  

4. Build Trusted Customer Relationships

Now that you’ve got your audience’s attention, it’s essential to build trust. One way to achieve this is through genuine conversations on social media. 

But, before diving into the deep end, be prepared to focus on your prospect’s needs before selling them anything. 

At this point, you’re looking to build a relationship, establish credibility, and then, if they come to like you, customers won’t have to be told to check out your products. They’ll do this off their own bat!

How to Get Started with Social Selling

As well as following the four fundamentals listed above, the best way to start social selling is by applying the best social media practices on channels you’re already using. Here are a few tips and tricks to help get you started:

…With Linkedin

For the uninitiated, Linkedin is a professional network used by businesses, ambitious professionals, and HR personnel to find new connections. This makes it perfect for B2B marketing strategies.

On Linkedin, you should:

  • Build credibility by asking for endorsements and recommendations from colleagues, previous workmates, and current clients. 
  • Ensure your profile highlights your expertise by listing your qualifications, work experience, and professional accolades. 
  • Focus on Linkedin lead generation and keep an eye on what other industry experts are up to
  • Be active in LinkedIn groups and discussions – start sharing your professional knowledge and provide value to others in your field.

…with Twitter

Twitter is a terrific place to start conversations and showcase your brand’s personality. If you’re witty and humorous, you’ll have fellow Twitter users in the palm of your hand in no time.

On Twitter, try to:

  • Use Twitter chats to establish yourself as an authority in your industry.
  • Identify potential customers and add them to a private list. This enables you to keep tabs on them so you know when best to engage, i.e., if requests for help or questions pop up, you can swoop in with helpful advice!
  • Keep an eye on your existing customers so you can engage in conversations. Be authentic in those interactions and keep your tone consistent – remember, you’re representing your brand at all times.
  • Create lead quizzes to get a more in-depth understanding of customer pain points and what your brand can do to help. 

…with Facebook

Many of your customers might use Facebook to connect with friends and family. As such, this social media channel isn’t always appropriate for pushing sales. To mitigate this, create a business page where you can provide value to customers that want to know more. 

Make sure you:

  • Use social proof in your Facebook ads to establish credibility and trust with your audience.
  • Engage followers by asking questions and sparking conversations. Actively participate in any chats that ensue.
  • Ask followers about their pain points, then create content that provides a solution.
  • Engage with other businesses on Facebook by liking, commenting, and sharing their content. Not only might you catch their customers’ attention, but you’ll also improve your business relationship with other experts in your field – win-win!

….with Instagram

Instagram is an excellent hub for social selling, as many consumers on this platform primarily use it to engage with their favorite brands.

On Instagram, make sure to:

  • Encourage user-generated content. Like and comment when customers post something related to your field and provide incentives for sharing your content in their stories.
  • Use Instagram stories to boost sales. This is an excellent medium for sharing daily news, product highlights, and showcasing your brand’s personality. 
  • Enable auto comments on Instagram; this works wonders for keeping engagement high.
  • Repost stories on Instagram to highlight members of your community. Doing so goes a long way to ensuring customers feel seen and appreciated.

Are You Ready to Start Social Selling?

By now, you probably appreciate that social selling is one of the best ways to drive organic traffic to your site and engage with higher-quality leads. 

To unleash your inbound marketing’s full potential, start using your social media channels to build powerful relationships with customers. When done well, social selling empowers you to transform your authentic expertise and personality into a profit by retaining loyal customers for longer.

For more marketing insights, follow our blog. Let us know in the comments below how you go about social selling. Speak soon!