Most of us are spending far more time at home in the wake of the pandemic.
While some of us are tackling projects around the house, homeschooling kids, and trying to work a full-time job, there’s one other activity that takes up a good portion of our time these days — and it’s social media.
According to a recent study, social media usage grew by 50 percent in early March, when most states first enacted their stay at home orders.
Social media usage is at an all-time high, with sites like Facebook and Instagram reporting more than a billion users each.
That makes now the best time to leverage social selling to drive sales and brand awareness.
What is Social Selling and Why Does it Matter?
Social selling is the practice of using social media to find, understand, and connect with prospective customers or clients. It is a modern way for brands to build meaningful relationships with potential customers so that your brand stays top of mind.
Unlike cold calling, social selling is more authentic — which can be incredibly valuable during downtimes, such as curing the COVID-19 crisis.
Social selling is a term for things you are likely already doing. For example, adding social sharing buttons to content on your blog like the one at the end of this post on chat acronyms by Preply.
Another way to use social selling is by promoting product landing pages through Facebook ads, or even using social media to promote content related to your Amazon store.
Pretty much any time you use social media to promote a product or services, it’s social selling!
Let’s look at a few ways brands can use social selling to drive connections and sales to win more customers.
1. Leverage User-Generated Content
People don’t trust brands — they trust other people, which is one reason why user-generated content is so powerful at driving social sales.
User-generated content will have a natural tone that speaks to your customers naturally. Look at how StuDocu uses their Twitter account to retweet relatable memes from other accounts in their niche.
Although they’re not selling anything in such posts, it contributes to their overall brand image and tone. Sometimes your audience just wants to be entertained without being pitched to.
2. Partner with Social Media Influencers
Selling products right now is tough — you don’t want to come across as insensitive — promoting your brand when people are struggling to pay their bills. Instead of directly promoting your products, consider partnering with social media influencers.
Kimberly Brook, a producer and business consultant who wed James Van Der Beek in 2010, users her social platform to promote brands related to sustainability and natural ingredients, as in this post.
Not sure where to find the most effective social media influencers for your brand? Look for smaller influencers who have a solid following but not quite celebrity status. Ninety-two percent of users trust influencers more than celebrities like the Kardashians.
Another prime example of this is how Runners Athletics runs their Instagram page. If you look on their homepage, you’ll see a section synced to their Instagram account. This not only encourages visitors to follow Runners’ social media, but also allows them to trust the brand more. How exactly, you ask?
Runners Athletics uses partners with smaller social media influencers who use their sunglasses. This builds deeper trust and connection between because visitors just don’t see a brand and a product. They see an actual person who enjoys using their product.
3. Combine Social Selling and SEO
When it comes to social selling, SEO (search engine optimization) might not be at the forefront of your worries. They are vastly different approaches, after all. However, combining the two strategies can be very powerful.
For example, posting on LinkedIn can improve your SEO and also drive sales. Joe Pulizzi, the cofounder of the Content Marketing Institute, uses LinkedIn to connect with customers and colleagues and to sell a newly-released novel.
Don’t forget about more niche social sites like LinkedIn, Reddit, or Slideshare — they can be just as valuable as Facebook and Instagram for some brands.
4. Tie Podcast Promotion and Social Selling
When was the last time you listened to a podcast? If you are like the majority of Americans, it was sometime in the last month. It is a powerful platform, and social media can help get the word out with your audience.
In fact, in January 2021, there were over 72 million monthly podcast downloads on Buzzsprout, from 91,000 active podcasts.
Tun Myaing, the founder and producer of Art of the Grind Podcast, shared this tip about using social selling to promote their podcast:
“We have mostly used word of mouth to spread our podcast. Some of our guests have huge social media followings so we use their fans to get more listeners.”
Get creative. And while you’re at it, make sure you’re engaging and interacting with your customers through your podcasts as well.
Whether it’s a small mention to a regular listener who commented on your Facebook post or creating an entire series your audience wanted, it’s important to listen to your customers and make them feel part of the group.
5. Combine Social With Email Marketing
For most businesses, their email list is the most valuable asset they have. According to Oberlo, more than 3.9 million people use email worldwide, and that number may reach 4.3 billion by 2023.
Combining the power of social media and email marketing is a one-two punch that your business can’t afford to ignore.
Here are a few strategies to combine social selling and email marketing:
- Use your email signature in Gmail templates to promote your social channels.
- Share an “exclusive content” tease to social media that can only be accessed by signing up for an email list.
- Add an email sign up form to your Facebook page.
6. Make it Easy to Buy On Social
If you want to sell more, you have to make it easier for customers to complete their purchase. Just one extra click (from five to six) in the checkout process can reduce your sales by 10 percent.
Reduce friction by tying your Facebook category with your inventory, which makes it easier for customers to buy directly from their social feed, without dealing with multiple sites or signing in to other platforms.
Final Thoughts on Social Selling to Win Over Your Customers
Selling during a pandemic is no easy task. You want to be sensitive to the changing world, but cutting marketing entirely could be a death sentence for your business. In fact, more than half of all small businesses say they may not survive the next six months of the pandemic without filing bankruptcy.
Using social selling helps brands walk the line between going quiet and pushing on as if nothing happened.
The thing is — your clients are already on social media, and they are buying. The question is — will they see you there?