How to Start Social Selling the Right Way

Aashish Gururaj for Outplay

By 

Aashish Gururaj for Outplay

Published 

June 15, 2022

How to Start Social Selling the Right Way

“Before LinkedIn and other social networks, in the sales world, ABC stood for Always Be Closing. Now, it means ‘Always Be Connecting.” – Jill Rowley

If you want more sales, you need to go where the customers are. These days, you can find businesses and their respective target audiences across various niches on social media - Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc. Originally starting as just a social media platform that people use to post small threads or tweets, Twitter is now a viable platform for online businesses. Content creators, business and fitness coaches, etc., have bought into Twitter in a big way - amassing tons of followers and, in turn, buyers. 

Since its inception as a tool that allowed job seekers and professionals to post their CVs online, LinkedIn has blossomed into an incredibly powerful tool for content creation and marketing. According to Hootsuite, 93% of B2B content marketers use LinkedIn for organic marketing. Let that sink in. So, social selling is real and more popular than ever. 

If you’re looking for the nuts and bolts of social selling, this article is for you. 

What Is Social Selling?

Social selling involves using your brand’s social media channels to build relationships with your prospective clients. It involves engaging your potential customers on social media and building a relationship with them to a point where they consider your brand first when they are finally ready to make a purchase. 

In other words, social selling is lead nurturing, not hard closing. 

What Social Selling Is Not

Social selling does NOT involve spamming strangers with irrelevant messages that do not help them in any way. It's also not about increasing your list of random followers and sending random messages to engage them. It’s about making those interactions meaningful for them. You’re looking for quality leads, not just quantity.

Why Do You Need Social Selling?

Okay, so you know what social selling is and what it isn’t. However, it is vital to know why social selling is as important as we are making it out to be. Here are a few critical reasons you ought to be aware of: 

1. Your Audience Is On Social Media

Your prospects are on social media so you ought to be on social media, selling to them. Seems blatantly obvious, doesn’t it? Think of it this way - a big chunk of your audience grew up with phones and social media and people of all age groups seem to be scrolling through their Instagram and Facebook feeds incessantly. According to Sprout Social, Instagram has 2 Billion active users. If you’re not selling to them on Instagram (or another social media platform of your choice), think of how many opportunities you are missing. 

2. People Use Social Media For Research

Ever found yourself taking a hard look at a brand’s Instagram or LinkedIn page to determine whether or not they were legitimate? Your prospects are doing the same thing. It is no longer enough to have a stunning website that loads fast. You need everything optimized - including your social media. While social media serves as an excellent tool for salespeople, it also acts as a vast source of information. According to HubSpot, 41% of B2B buyers view 3-5 pieces of content online before interacting with a salesperson.

3. Manage Reputation

Reputation is everything in this day and age because social proof is a critical factor in boosting sales and gaining credibility. If you promote your brand and manage your reputation properly, you can expect to amass more followers and attention. However, a negative reputation will slow down your growth in no time.

Social selling allows you to: 

  • Track for competitors' online activities. You can check if there’s anything being said against your brand. 
  • Engage with your customers directly and instantaneously. 
  • Receive instant notifications when you receive comments or if your brand’s name is mentioned. 

4. Customer Retention

Everything we’ve mentioned thus far has to do with acquiring new customers, which is ideally what you should be doing. However, you need to retain these customers to increase your revenue. Once you have acquired a client, you need to make them come back for more. Social selling helps you do this. Your sales team can use social selling to gauge the position and perspective of your current and previous clients and engage them accordingly. These techniques will help you create the offers and content that your current clients need to return to your business. 

5. Improved Selling

In this day and age, cold calls and emails, and outbound marketing do not suffice. Today, customers do not seem to interact with businesses in this way nearly as much as they would in the past. You need to engage them on social media. More engagement means more sales. Personalized engagement makes a significant difference because you are catering to their preferences and pain points, giving them solutions, and building trust in the process. This kind of engagement can help establish brand loyalty, which means that they will turn to you once they are ready to purchase.

Tips To Optimize Your Social Selling

Now that we’ve established why you need social selling, here are a few social selling tips and practices that you can employ to optimize your social selling efforts: 

1. Optimize Your Profiles

This is the first thing you should do. If you are on platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, etc., you will have to spruce up your profile before you start social selling or your prospects may end up ignoring your messages. We will show you how to optimize your profile later in this piece. 

2. Create and Share Content

Content is the name of the game. Any business or personal brand that has consistently created quality content has managed to gain significant mileage online. Online content is generally entertaining or educational, or ideally both. Remember - your social media platforms serve as an information source, which means that you need to cement your brand as an authority in your respective niche. Creating and posting compelling content consistently will help your brand become a thought leader in your niche. 

3. Interact With Your Followers Consistently

If you regularly create quality content, you can expect to have new followers, connections, messages, and so forth. Be sure to stay in touch with them. It is incredibly vital to reply to their comments, reply to their messages, answer their questions, find their pain points, direct them to the right resources, and forge a solid relationship in the process.

Doing this will help you in two ways:

  • Based on the engagement you get, you can determine which kind of content works best and stick to that.

  • Secondly, as highlighted earlier, you get an accurate view of your audience’s pain points. You can use this information to eventually make customers out of them.

4. Track Your Engagement

We mentioned finding out what kind of content works best and sticking to that. You can only do this if you track the engagement your posts receive. Be sure to track the likes, comments, shares, message response rate, follower engagement rate, Click Through Rate (CTR), revenue, etc. We shall take a look at some of these metrics later in this article. 

5. Communicate With Your Prospects On Different Platforms

Sure, you have them on Instagram and Facebook. Why not talk to them on LinkedIn and Twitter as well? Each platform has different nuances, which means the tone of the content you share on each platform will be different. Also, we understand that when you’re handling multiple prospects, it can be difficult to keep your interactions personal with each prospect when done manually. However, you can use a tool like Outplay’s Multi-channel Outreach to create personalized sequences across various platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn, SMS, email, etc. 

6. Join Different Groups And Forums

As we mentioned earlier, you are looking for quality leads. Why not go where you’re bound to find them? Sign up and join different groups and forums. Doing this will help you: 

- Stay up to date with the latest challenges your potential customers are facing, allowing you to provide more effective solutions

- Find the kind of leads you are looking for

However, remember to add to discussions and build trust with members of these groups instead of using these platforms to pitch your services right off the bat. Sales-y messages will most likely annoy people.

How To Optimize Your Social Profiles?

Remember how we said LinkedIn and Twitter are excellent platforms for business? We are going to give you a quick run-through on how to optimize your profiles on these platforms to maximize your social selling efforts. 

LinkedIn

  • Have a high-resolution, professional photograph. As you know, it’s all about first impressions. With a professional photograph, you want people to see the professional side of you at first glance. 

  • Write a punchy headline. Your headline tells the viewer what they can expect from you at first glance. So, mention what you do and who you help. 

  • Write a concise, yet informative bio. You need to essentially re-iterate your headline and supplement it with a detail or two. This means that if you mention you work in a certain niche, be sure to explain what kind of results you were able to bring your clients in that niche. End it with a Call-to-Action (CTA).

  • Complete your profile. No seriously, fill up all the relevant fields. Also, add details where you can. So, if you are in a certain company, make sure you mention what that company is and represents, what your role was in that company and what kind of results you were able to generate. 

  • Get testimonials from your previous clients and feature them on your profile to demonstrate your credibility. 

Twitter

Unlike LinkedIn, you do not have much to work with. So, here’s what you can do to revamp your Twitter profile: 

  • Use a high-res, professional photograph. 
  • Mention what you do and who you help in the bio. 
  • Include a link to your LinkedIn profile. 
  • Add relevant hashtags to your bio. 

How To Measure Social Selling Success?

Your social selling efforts are only as effective as the social selling strategy you use. Tracking your success is an integral part of formulating an excellent social selling strategy. But, how do you know if social selling is working for you? We shall take a look at the most important metrics to track as you fine-tune your social selling efforts: 

Inbound Connections

Sure, you could send out as many connection requests as possible and expect 40-50% of them to accept them. However, this strategy doesn’t yield much in terms of business growth. Inbound connections are connections that come to you. If you receive connection requests, it means people are requesting to connect with you.

They may have found you in the search bar or through mutual connections. But, they’re finding you. A high frequency of inbound connections could mean that your social selling strategy is paying off. 

LinkedIn’s Social Selling Index (SSI)

LinkedIn’s SSI is an excellent tool to get a quick, overall analysis of your social selling strategy and efforts. Of course, this only applies to LinkedIn. You cannot gauge your performance on any other platform using the SSI. 

The SSI calculates your score based on your efforts to: 

  • Find the right people
  • Establish your professional brand
  • Engage with insights
  • Build relationships

Click-Through-Rate (CTR)

CTR is another vital metric to track because it is an indicator of how engaging your content is. The best and easiest way to calculate your CTR is by using a social selling tool for analytics. 

Message Response Rate

This one is a no-brainer. In your effort to forge solid relationships with prospects, you need to continually optimize the way you reach out to them. Tracking the message response rate - the rate at which your prospects get back to you, is an excellent way to find out if your openers are good. 

If you have a low message response rate, it probably means you aren’t warming up the prospects enough and need to change your strategy. 

Follower Engagement Rate

The follower engagement rate is an indicator of how effective your social selling strategy is. When you reach out to people on social platforms, do they follow you and engage with your content? If so, what’s the rate? The higher the follower engagement rate, the greater your chances of building a solid relationship with more prospects. 

Revenue

Seeing how boosting sales and revenue is the ultimate goal, it would make sense to include this as a metric that you ought to keep track of. Considering you're closely tracking the other metrics mentioned here, you probably have a good idea of how many leads you are nurturing and how your social selling pipeline looks overall.

Then, ask yourself if it makes sense to set aside money for social selling. However, if you are employing the social selling techniques in this article, you can be sure to build an online presence and reap the benefits of social selling. 

Common Social Selling Mistakes To Avoid

As you begin selling on social media and iron out your social selling strategy, you will inevitably make mistakes along the way. The key, however, is to be aware of them and avoid them as best you can. Here are some common social selling mistakes you should avoid: 

Creating Content Without Understanding Pain Points

A firm grasp of the prospects’ pain points is crucial to creating valuable, compelling content. If your content doesn’t appeal to your prospective customers, who are you creating content for? If you want to build credibility online, doing your research and understanding your prospects’ pain points is paramount.

Not Setting Up a Social Media Content Calendar

You need to be organized in your content creation and posting. A social media content calendar will alowyou to do this. However, if you do not have a social media content calendar in place, you will: not know what kind of content to post and when to post it. 

Not Building Relationships

Ultimately, it’s about building relationships with prospects on social media, not cold, hard closes. Having the best product or service to sell will not suffice because your prospects do not trust you yet. You will need to give them value first and establish trust before you sell them anything. In this respect, providing them value refers to addressing and solving their pain points. 

Not Optimizing Your Social Media Profiles

There’s no excuse for not optimizing your social media profiles. It is the easiest thing you can do right now to increase your message response and follower engagement rates. (Plus, we’ve already told you how to do it. Scroll up!) 

Not Tracking Your Social Selling 

Not tracking your social selling efforts is a surefire way to ensure you walk around in circles. While it is a good thing to experiment and take shots in the dark, there’s only so much time and money you can invest without putting a reliable social selling strategy in place. The best way to do that is by tracking the metrics we’ve mentioned in this article. 

Conclusion

So there it is - everything you need to know about social selling.

As you know by now, social selling is a real and lucrative strategy. Your competitors are already selling to customers on social media, so why aren’t you? This article should tell you everything you need to know about social selling to get started. If you want to expand your horizons on everything sales-related, be sure to check out our blog, and if you decide you want to give our product a try, request a demo here

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