Using Social Media As a Sales Channel
Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter or an up and comer the likes of Pinterest, social media can help businesses of all sizes meet a broad range of goals. Driving sales is usually one of the tougher objectives, but with the right strategy it can be pulled off with regularity. This post will provide some fodder savvy social media marketers can use to concoct a strategy that seals the deal on sales.
1. Focus on Relationships
One of the biggest mistakes businesses make with social media is trying to hit a home run too early in their moment at the plate. They go into hardcore advertising mode and start pitching their products right off the bat instead of giving their fans time to warm up. In many cases, this will scare off potential customers who quickly come to see you as a greedy marketer who is simply out to pad their pockets.
You wouldn’t ask for a woman’s hand in marriage after five minutes of meeting her, would you? Then why would you ask a fan or follower to buy something right after connecting with them through social media? Like man to woman, the consumer must often establish a relationship with a brand before making such a huge commitment. The commitment in this case is making a purchase. Of course you have your exceptions, but if you can build a relationship with your audience, selling to them will be significantly easier.
2. Listen to Your Audience
Social media is many things, including a great communication tool. However, communication is a two-way street — or at least it should be. Social networks give everyone a voice. If you’re smart, you’ll listen attentively to what your audience members have to say. When customers take to your Facebook page or shoot you a direct message on Twitter, show that you are in fact listening by taking the time to reply. Listening is an effective strategy that can improve relationships, customer service, and sales.
3. Think Value, Not Bargain
If closing deals was as easy as dangling cost savings in front of the consumer, every other business would constantly be breaking sales records. Unfortunately, it’s a lot harder than that, especially in a channel like social media. Facebook and Twitter are extremely popular, but most members of those sites are logging to interact with friends and Candy Crush, not to buy something from a brand. Realizing this, you need to dish out valuable content that gets them into a different mindset, preferably one that leads to doing business with you.
4. Solve Problems When Problems Arise
People are facing a whole bundle of problems and really don’t mind talking about them on social networks. Some of these situations represent a perfect opportunity to hop in show your expertise. Of course you don’t want to get involved in matters that are too personal. However, if a follower’s computer problems, stock market issues or tax woes are relevant, provide some handy advice that can help them troubleshoot the matter. Chalking up an immediate sale isn’t important here. It’s about creating goodwill that will strengthen relationships and have people thinking of you when they do need something.
5. Create Strong Calls to Action
Selling on social media gets very strategic at times, often calling for you to walk on egg shells and take a more subtle approach than you normally would in other channels. Other times, however, it comes to down to good ole fashion marketing and sales tactics, and at the core of both is a call to action. Even when you’re going the route of soft sale, you need to make it clear exactly what it is you want the user to do. While you don’t want to be too aggressive, you certainly don’t want to beat around the bush and leave people in limbo when the conversion is in reach.
Social media is no doubt a great marketing tool, but few have perfected the craft of using it as a dependable sales channel. In fact, a report by Forrester shows that less than 1% of sales can be traced back to a social site. Don’t let numbers like that discourage you. It’s true that getting people to spend is challenging, but nothing is impossible. With a sound strategy, some patience, and a little luck, you could be in that small percentile pumping the social media cash cow for all she’s worth.