Social media platforms are the third pillar of your content marketing strategy. And they are a fluid pillar, changing daily.
This post is from our upcoming book tentatively entitled, Marketing Essentials for Small Business. The completed portions of the initial draft are temporarily available on this site via our new Free Content Library. Eventually, the book will be available as a pdf, ebook and in hard copy. Parts 1 and 2 of the book are also available as a downloadable pdf in the Free Content Library. They cover the first two pillars of your content marketing strategy, your website/blog and email marketing.
Bring the Rain
Social media platforms are the third pillar of your content marketing strategy. And they are a fluid pillar, changing daily. The ones your business should use will depend on your industry, your business, and most importantly your customers.
You will need to go where your customers and prospects are engaging with social media. Future chapters will look at individual platforms. But, a common thing you will do with all of them is engage in social selling. It is the tactic that can make your sales team into Rainmakers.
Hubspot has a good definition of social selling:
Social selling is when salespeople use social media to interact directly with their prospects. Salespeople will provide value by answering prospect questions and offering thoughtful content until the prospect is ready to buy.
Social media is also where your sales team will find and research prospects. They can initiate a relationship and nurture it through the sales cycle.
As you know, relationships are at the heart of any sales success. Social selling just lets you develop them at scale.
How is social media different from the other pillars of content marketing? Contently has a good explanation:
…social is inherently spontaneous, while content tends to be carefully crafted before it’s set loose upon the world. Social tends to be reactive; content, on the other hand, sparks conversation. And, finally, content is generally made by an experienced creative professional: a writer, designer, video producer, etc. Social? Not so much.
Social media is where your team members (that are not your content producers) can help your marketing efforts. However, they will be posting and sharing on their individual social media accounts, not your company accounts. And they should have separate accounts for business as opposed to personal accounts.
However, they will be posting and sharing on their individual social media accounts, not your company pages. And they should have separate accounts for business in addition to their personal ones. For example, if they have a personal Twitter account they should open a second one for social selling.
In Sales, Change is Constant
The profession of sales is quickly changing, but the role of social media in sales is changing even faster. These new communication methods are vital tools that will play a big role in your future sales success. The concept of social selling involves using them in a strategic manner in order to strengthen relationships with your clients and prospects.
But before we get into what to do with your social selling strategy lets take a quick look at how the sales process is changing.
By the time a potential client contacts you they are 60-70% through the buying process. They have been researching potential products and solutions in a “self-service” manner on a variety of online platforms. These include your website and blog. Social selling helps your team get involved in the buying process at an earlier point. The best way is by sharing content from your site/blog via social media.
Duct Tape Marketing believes you need to change your sales strategy in order to be relevant to potential customers. And most importantly to be useful to them. I agree. They note:
Today’s marketing minded salesperson thinks like a publisher and builds their own expertise by sharing and crafting a platform.
That platform is social media, and you need a social selling strategy to succeed in today’s market. You want to be providing the information your potential clients have been reviewing in a self-service manner prior to contacting a vendor. You want to be interacting with them online before they get 60% of the way through the buying process.
The goal is to become a resourceful and useful asset in your customers lives. You want to be seen as a trusted authority in your field. Your usefulness will make existing customers more loyal. And it will make potential ones more likely to initiate a relationship with you. Being useful and developing authority is part of effective content marketing.
After finishing part three of this book, you will have a better idea of the social platforms you need to use in order to create great relationships with your clients.
Concentrate on using two or three well rather than all of them poorly. Again, you want to go where your target audience is interacting with social media.
Now, let’s look at what you need to do to develop a social selling strategy.
The Strategy Behind Social Selling
In general, social media platforms let you:
- Listen to your customers and develop better products for them. These products will also be more profitable for you.
- Assist your clients with outstanding customer service. Or just converse with them.
- Drive traffic to your website so you can convert visitors into customers.
- Demonstrate your authority, expertise, and trustworthiness.
- Help make the world and the lives of your clients better.
- Develop relationships and deepen customer loyalty.
- Increase awareness of your brand.
- Research your competition.
- and so much more.
With social selling, you are concentrating on 4, 5, 6, and 8 from the list above.
In general, you may not want your sales team writing and producing the content for your site and blog. You do want them sharing relevant content from it with the prospects and clients they interact with each and every day. Think of your original content as fire and social media as gasoline to throw on it. Social media helps your content get seen.
Also keep this in mind, social media is important but investing in social selling without having original, evergreen content behind it is a waste of money and time.
Your sales team also needs to be “curating” relevant third-party content that covers the same subject matter as your original content. And sharing it with prospects and clients.
To see this strategy in action, please follow me on social media and note what I share. The links are at the top of the page. 😉
Demonstrate your authority, expertise, and trustworthiness
Sharing is not the only tactic involved in social selling. Equally important is being found by prospects that are looking for your products and services.
They usually know what they want to buy and if they are online they are ready to purchase. They want to find someone, who demonstrates authority and expertise. And they want to buy a solution from them.
They want to trust the vendor. So they search for authoritative and trustworthy sources of information.
A crucial part of selling is search marketing. And in social selling this involves optimizing your profiles on each social media platform. You want to get the keyword phrases people will be searching for into your social media profiles. The profiles should be complete, well-written, and use professional-looking images. No selfies, please.
Help make the lives of your clients better
Asking and answering questions is a big part of social selling. Get involved in conversations on the various platforms. Join groups and ask questions to start a conversation. You might even start a group or circle of your own.
However, you want to be in the groups your prospects are in not the ones that interest you. You want to address the subjects that are important to them. Not just what is important to you or what you are selling.
If someone else has asked a question on a social media platform, answer it. Or just contribute your two cents. Find the appropriate conversations via #hashtags. Include them in the conversations you start so your prospects can find you.
Be useful to be successful. The goal is to provide value but not show off. You want to be likeable. No one likes or trusts a self-promoting blowhard.
Develop relationships and deepen customer loyalty
As I mentioned before relationships are key to successful selling. And participating in social media is a way to develop new ones. It is a form of lead generation.
However, there is one thing to keep in mind. The point of social selling is not to generate more leads but to generate better leads. It is a way to qualify your leads and find those that are ready to purchase now.
Social selling is also a way to nurture existing relationships. By sharing relevant and useful information with existing clients, you will build loyalty. If you can help make them look like a hero to their boss, you will be a hero to them.
Follow your competition
You will want to follow your competition’s social media efforts. See who they are following and what topics they are sharing and engaging with. Then you can do the same.
Observe the subject matter they share that gets the most likes, follows, and favorites. Those topics are what you want to share content about as well. Social media is perfect for competitive research.
Like any form of content marketing, social selling is a long-term strategy and effort. You must be active and consistent. Decide on how much time you can commit to a strategy and stick to it. To use a farming analogy, you are planting seeds for the future harvest and nurturing your existing plants.
There are tools available that let you schedule social media posts. And there is a science to when and how often to post. The details vary from platform to platform. They help you post, curate, and share content consistently and strategically.
What will stay essential
- You will use social selling to research and develop relationships with clients and prospects.
- You will share relevant and useful information in order to build authority and trust with them.
- You must have a social selling strategy and work it consistently.
Social selling is a must in today’s marketplace. As you have seen it is a great way to demonstrate your authority, expertise, and trustworthiness. It helps make the world and the lives of your clients better. It helps you develop relationships and deepen customer loyalty. And it allows you to research your competition.
Social selling is the best selling. So, take this post’s advice to heart and get social! And feel free to contact us with any questions.