How to Effectively Use Social Media as a Sales Platform
Social media is a relatively young field where the best methods to generate sales are still up for discussion. Convince and Convert found that social media represented just 1.55 percent of all e-commerce traffic, with a .71 percent conversion rate. Does it mean that selling in social media is not worth it? Absolutely, not!
Every online marketer worth his salt knows that social networks are not the best options for direct selling. They are perfect, however, for soft selling where you guide your customers through every stage of the sales funnel from creating awareness, establishing the relationship, and closing the sale. Social media assists sales that ultimately happen in store or on your website.
Learn the art of soft selling and watch your sales skyrocket. Here’s how to use social media as a sales platform.
Before selling, you should:
Define your objective
When defining your objective, you must be as clear as possible. Are you campaigning for a specific event, service, product, or promo? Do you expect to boost brand awareness, generate new leads, increase customer engagement, or drive sales? What methods will you use to achieve these goals?
A clearly defined objective will provide a blueprint to help you achieve desired results.
Know your audience
The most effective sellers on social media know how to reach their audience. When we say audience, it includes your current customer base and prospects. The former is easy to identify but the latter, not so much.
Social media offers powerful tools that help you generate new leads and turn them into paying customers. If you know your target customers including their interests and demographics, you can leverage the information and run ultra-targeted campaigns.
Your familiarity with your market will significantly influence the number of sales from social media.
Determine social media channel(s)
Part of knowing your audience is determining the best social network to connect and interact with them. If your target market includes professionals, LinkedIn is your platform. If you serve fashionable millennials, Instagram is your best bet.
Determining where your audience spends most of their social media time puts you in a great position to drive sales.
How to sell on 4 top social media channels
Selling on Facebook begins with a Facebook page where you can establish your brand’s following and create a Facebook shop.
While opening your own Facebook shop can generate some sales, tending to your Facebook page can give you the best results. Businesses mostly rely on creative and attention-grabbing posts to drive traffic but the social network’s new algorithm limits organic reach in favor of paid ads. Before you write Facebook off, the features that come with paid ads have been known to return over eight times of total investment.
If you’ve done your homework (steps above), you will be able to quickly enter the details of your objective and your audience. For targeting, you have the option to choose Custom Audience which is a powerful feature. It enables you to target users who visited your website (using the Facebook Pixel), people who are in your company’s customer database, and lookalike audiences or people with similar likes and interests to those who have already interacted with your website.
These features allow you to run ultra-targeted sales campaigns that expand your customer base and increases sales.
Example of successful selling on Facebook
Navid Moazzez, the creator of Virtual Summit Mastery program, previously relied on word-of-mouth advertising until he started selling the course on Facebook. With social media, it is easier to get people to accept a gift than buy something. For his first ad, Moazzez advertised relevant content in exchange for an email address that would be added to the course’s sales funnel.
(Source: Andrew Hubbard)
To expand his audience, Moazzez leveraged the Custom Audience feature to target lookalike audiences and offered a free relevant blog post with the option to sign up and get another free product. Those who visited his website to read the blog post but did not sign up were automatically targeted with another ad through Facebook Pixel. In the end, Moazzez created an ad campaign that exponentially expanded his customer base.
As a result, sales skyrocketed. His $4,000 investment turned into $36,449 in profits.
Your brand’s identity on Twitter starts with a unique and captivating personality. On social media, especially on Twitter, people find you through your posts and use of hashtags. Gaining a following means consistently posting content that attracts your audience. With a respectable fan base, you can leverage Twitter ads and increase sales. One company turned to Twitter ads to increase awareness, engage customers, and drive product sales.
Example of successful selling on Twitter
Poncho 8 is a small burrito chain based in London. The company turned to Twitter with the intention of creating awareness and driving customers to their new location. To achieve these goals, they provided highly personalized responses in a friendly and timely fashion.
(Source: Twitter Case Study)
Poncho 8 wanted to connect with young professionals and foodies within the vicinity of their new location. To do this, they leveraged paid ads and targeted followers of popular media outlets and trendy food micro bloggers like @londoneating, @standardnews, and @TimeOutLondon.
The ad featured an image with a call-to-action, sense of urgency, and map of the new location. The text is warm and inviting and specifically calls out the audience using a hashtag.
Roughly one in four users engaged their promoted tweets which led to concrete business results according to Poncho 8’s social media manager.
The professional networking site offers the advantage of connecting with people in the same industry. LinkedIn is the perfect platform to get in touch with decision-makers for business to business opportunities.
Selling on LinkedIn happens in two ways. You can create an ad that appears on your audience’s newsfeed or you can contact them via messaging. Whatever the method is, success on this platform depends on your ability to target the right people. LinkedIn’s powerful search tool facilitates your targeting efforts by filtering results using years of experience, location, industry, etc.
Example of successful selling on LinkedIn
Founder and CEO of You Move Me, Brian Scudamore, needed qualified leads to promote the company to potential franchise owners. To meet this huge challenge, he needed to connect with professionals in entrepreneurial industries like sales, real estate, and transportation with 10 to 15 years of experience who might be ready to buy and run their own business and located in areas where Scudamore wanted to expand.
(Source: LinkedIn Case Study)
The next part came easy. He ran his already existing brand as Sponsored Content so it appeared on his market’s newsfeed. He also purchased Sponsored InMails to connect with prospects with a personalized touch. As a result, traffic to his franchise website increased by 150 percent. More importantly, conversion climbed by two times for leads from LinkedIn.
It’s a myth that only lifestyle businesses can thrive on Instagram. They may have an edge on this platform but the most important factor is to portray a unique brand regardless of industry. You can be in construction and be successful on Instagram if you post beautiful photos of structures made by your company.
Instagram is king in soft selling among social platforms. Shopify revealed that the average order value from Instagram marketing is $65.00 which is higher than from Facebook or Pinterest.
The most successful brands on Instagram use the platform not to sell but to increase awareness and engagement. This is the network to show the personal side of your business that your market can relate to. People who identify with your brand will follow you and will engage with your posts. Of course, you can get more exposure by using relevant hashtags or by liking and commenting on posts of your competitor’s followers or even following them.
Example of successful selling on Instagram
Take for example the story of Camp Brand Goods. The outdoor adventure apparel brand uses Instagram to share positive experiences. Owner Leslie McNeilly said, “Instagram is our purest form of social media interaction with our customers in the sense that it’s less about the product than it is about sharing good times.” New followers don’t usually own Camp Brand Goods products but often times they make a purchase a few weeks after following the brand.
Camp Brand Goods do not pay for Instagram ads to get more exposure. Instead, they post a mixture of scenery and product shots and use the hashtag #keepitwild. They also give out a free T-shirt weekly to the user who best portrays the keep it wild theme. Everything is done to have fun and connect with outdoor enthusiasts.
Social media may not be the best platform for hard sales but it’s a great channel to guide your customers through every stage of the sales funnel. If you interact and engage with your audience in the right way, sales will eventually come.
Maggie Aland is a staff writer and marketing expert at Fit Small Business, where she writes how-to guides and articles on marketing for small business owners.
Subscribe to our newsletter
Fresh small business insights and ideas delivered weekly to your inbox, gratis.
100 ways to make social media easier
Social media success isn't easy - but we can help!