I expect social selling to grow substantially in 2021!
It’s no surprise to say that 2020 has brought with it a lot of change. Over the year, the global pandemic has led the business world, education and health sectors, as well as general daily life, in directions we could have never thought possible.
The situation has led businesses into an accelerated form of digital transformation, adopting digital-first strategies at breakneck speed in order to adapt to the newly digital world. Who would have thought at the start of 2020 that Zoom and Teams calls would become a thing of the norm?
During this time with little else to do, there has understandably been a rise in social media usage. On those platforms, a behavioural shift has happened – instead of just sharing memes, social channels now represent peoples’ identity and personal brand. As a result, we can see marketers and businesses flocking to social platforms in the hope of connecting with their target customers through sharing thoughtful content. The result? Online competition is getting denser and denser.
Today, 360-degree marketing has gained importance with digital marketing strategies. 360-degree marketing, which includes all elements of advertising, promotion and events, aims to exist in every channel while communicating with the customer. For this purpose, the main objective is to reach the customer through every channel – meaning that social media and digital marketing cannot be considered separately. Strategies shaped by the shifts in daily lives, peoples’ habits and technology seem to mark the year 2021.
One strategy that I expect to grow substantially in 2021 is social selling. It’s thought that 3.6 billion people used social media in some capacity in 2020, and this is predicted to grow even further by 2025.
The rise of social media usage has encouraged organisations to look into ways that utilise technology to improve their sales, which has led to the development of social selling.
What is social selling and why should you care?
I define social selling as the process of researching, connecting and interacting with prospects and customers on social media networks. It focuses on nurturing leads, building brand authenticity and building trust with your prospects.
Leading firms have taken advantage of social selling and have begun reaping the benefits it offers. Research has shown that 70% of sales professionals are active on LinkedIn for business purposes; 89% believe social networking platforms such as LinkedIn are important in closing deals, and 64% of sales reps that invest time in social media are hitting their sales quota (SuperOffice).
But to stand out from the noise on social media, it’s essential to provide value to your audience through high-quality content, insight and real conversations.
How does it help you?
Social selling allows salespeople to laser-target prospects, establish rapport with their networks, and ultimately push prospects down their sales funnel. It often takes place via social networks and focuses on a salesperson or business building relationships with targets and engaging them with high-value content that shares insights.
It helps you demonstrate you're taking an interest in your prospects, and shows that you are taking the time to understand them by offering value through content and interactions.
Social selling helps you to engage with audiences on their terms, positioning yourself as an industry expert who is authentic and trustworthy. Naturally, this will encourage your prospects to show an interest in you, and to see you as the go-to person for their problems or challenges.
Why is social selling important?
Here are some of the key benefits you can gain by taking advantage of social selling:
Getting in front of the right people
Today's buyers have 12 to 18 nonhuman and human interactions along their journey. It's vital this behaviour is central to your sales and marketing efforts. You can do this by building content to address specific pain points and challenges.
Furthermore, 68% of buyers prefer to research on their own online, and 62% develop selection criteria or finalise a vendor list based solely on digital content. So, when you create content that follows your buyers' journeys, you are influencing their research process. This is how you appeal to the modern buyer.
Engaging with social buyers
You can use social listening and other social research strategies to find prospects and contacts that are engaged with social media and are using it to find potential vendors and perform independent research.
75% of people admit to buying something just because they saw it on social media, and 90% say that they will turn to social media if they need help on a buying decision, meaning that social media has the power to influence consumer purchasing decisions.
Added to this, research indicates that by 2021, eCommerce is expected to generate US$4.5 trillion in sales per year.
Using the Mere Exposure Effect
The Mere Exposure Effect was discovered in 1968 by social psychologist, Robert Zajonc. According to this social phenomenon, the more people are exposed to something, the more they develop a preference for that thing over time.
Social selling allows you to take advantage of this principle by maximising social media, drip feeding your messages across multiple platforms.
The social platforms available today - from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn - make it possible for you to share content and have touchpoints with your target audience numerous times per day, which in turn increases your visibility online and boosts your brand presence.
Social media tactics
Here are some key tactics to help you succeed with social selling:
Set your goals
Every action you take when it comes to your sales and marketing activity should be geared towards helping you achieve your overall business objectives and goals, so make sure you outline what you want to achieve from the beginning.
This will enable you to gear all your activities towards your end goal. It will give you something to focus on, and it will mean that your time is utilised to its full impact.
A key part of social selling is a focus on providing value to your targets through content.
This could be through sharing your own knowledge and learnings on specific subjects, by commenting on key topics within yours and your targets' industries, or simply answering existing customer questions and sharing your findings with your wider audience.
All of this activity will help you build your own personal brand and following, and it will give you a competitive advantage over other businesses.
Use listening tools
Social media listening tools can help you understand the topics your audiences are taking about, as well as the language and terminology they use. You then can begin to weave this language into your comments.
This will enable you to build up a stronger rapport with your targets and will help your content and activity resonate.
Optimise your posts
In order for your posts on social media to be seen by your target audience, you must optimise them correctly. You can do this by using hashtags on the channels that use them and using the keywords and terms that your audience follow.
Create your content with social channel algorithms in mind. For example, on LinkedIn, the channel gives prominence to unique, rich content - which is content that is visually-led and never has been seen online before.
Let your customers do the talking! Positive reviews are the best marketing you can ask for, as nothing sells and promotes a product or service more than a happy customer.
As human beings we're often swayed to trusting a third-party review or recommendation, and research has shown that 88% of consumers say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
Interact with your audience and followers
To open the dialogue with your prospects, start to engage with their online content. You can do this simply by showing you're there, by liking and resharing their posts. When you've built up your confidence online, begin to comment on their posts when they ask questions, and share insight and valuable information to teach them something they may not already know.
Interact with influencers
Industry influencers are a great way to expand your network, and you'll be able to tap into their existing network. When choosing an influencer to engage with, make sure their following and content resonates with and complements your business offering to make your engagement successful.
You can look into influencer partnerships and contact influencers to see if there are ways you can work together to really utilise their connections.
You need to show up daily and invest the time on your social channels to have the desired impact and break through the online noise. You can't post now and then and expect to get any return.
Instead, you need to be consistent and post useful content on a regular basis if you want to improve your online engagement and reach and see real return and results from your activity. This regular interaction online will show your audiences that you're committed to sharing information and helping them.
If you fail to prepare, you are preparing to fail…
To successfully leverage social selling, you need to optimise your social channels to showcase your expertise.
So, what do you need to do to give a positive first impression on your social channels?
Here are my top tips:
· Post a professional head and shoulders image of yourself
· Write your bio/summary to highlight your expertise and what you do on a professional level
· Include links to your website and other social channels to encourage visits
· Utilise hashtags that your prospects follow
· Create lists on Twitter to monitor content from specific accounts
· On LinkedIn, include your job title and keywords in your headline, ask for recommendations to boost your credibility and join LinkedIn groups that are relevant to your industry and begin networking in them.
Success doesn't happen by accident on social media, no matter what you're selling, and to make an impact you have to start, and fail, then succeed, and realise the value of building a brand and adapting to your community.
Many companies make the mistake of assuming that just because you're on social media means you're giving your consumers what they want. The reality is that there are millions of options for consumers now, so why should they care about you?
Take the time to find the online channels and forums your prospects are using, identify the content that they engage with the most, and aim to create more insightful and useful content that will help you gain their attention.
Remember to continue to refine your content and approach moving forward, so you can develop your style even more, and turn your prospects into customers.
If you are interested to know more about social media, or want to discuss your marketing plans, I’d be happy to jump on a Zoom call for a virtual coffee and chat. Just message me!
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