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Social media has billions of active users, numbers like those make them perfect for businesses as social selling tools. Selling products on social media is becoming a common practice. Businesses have always looked for ways to tap unrealized value so the shift towards social selling platforms makes a lot of sense. Most managers consider selling on social media essential nowadays, with many businesses even making it central to their brand.
What is social selling?
Social selling is the practice of using social media platforms to find, connect, interact, and nurture sales prospects. An example of social selling would be if a business created a social media profile, created content to accumulate followers, interacted with and learned from their followers, and created a funnel to convert followers into sales.
How has social selling evolved?
Many would consider and we certainly recognize, that selling on social media is standard practice in e-commerce. How has this come to be? We used to use billboards, fliers, and any variety of physical advertisements to generate brand exposure. We also relied on cold calls, radio, and TV commercials for an extended amount of time. Since the emergence of social selling tools, those older marketing methods have taken a back seat to the more agile and dynamic social selling strategies.
Why is social selling important?
The pivot away from traditional sales strategies is part of the greater shift towards e-commerce and the monetization of social media. Selling on social media has become ingrained in the future of global commerce alongside e-commerce which will most likely be the case for a long time. Major social media platforms like Meta generate the bulk of their earnings from advertising revenue, so ad spending is what makes these social media platforms viable. Social selling is important because it is an important tool for millions of businesses as well.
Benefits of Social Selling
Social selling has many benefits, like the ability to find targeted shoppers, the scalability of social selling platforms, and the data-driven nature of social selling tools. By selling on social media you can find the right customer, retain that customer, and prepare highly targeted marketing campaigns.
- Broader Reach: Social media is great for broadening your reach. With social selling tools, we are able to expand our reach by generating impressions and eliminating geographical barriers. This means previously unreachable individuals and new markets.
- Personalized Engagement: When using social media to sell your product you draw consumers with your targeted content. This makes it easier to match search intent to consumers and communicate directly to your main customer base.
- Stronger Relationships: When selling on social media, you benefit from clear interest and the ability to accumulate followers. This is an opportunity to learn, communicate, and create content that appeals to your dedicated followers.
- Scalable: Social selling tools are popular because of how cost-effective they can be and how easily scalable they are with investment. While organic impressions are a great source of leads, you can also invest in content or paid ads to create serious engagement.
- Brand Awareness: Social media can be highly engaging, infinitely scalable, and personalized. The content you prepare can be deeply versatile and can define and align your brand with customers' interests. All of this makes social media a great tool for branding your business.
- Direct Communication and Agile: Selling through social media is advantageous as a direct channel to followers. It is possible to quickly and effectively communicate to followers virtually any message you wish.
- Informative and Data-Driven: Social selling tools happen to be great sources of data to learn and adapt from. Being that social media platforms are technologically driven, each interaction is recorded and can be analyzed. This makes them also highly effective for important insights.
These few examples describe the benefits of social selling, which also help social selling tools stand out as a strong addition to any marketing strategy. It is perfectly common for businesses to implement their own social selling strategy as one of their first initiatives. There are almost no barriers to starting and the benefits, although time-consuming are very clear.
Why is Social Selling Important for Competition?
Selling on social platforms has become common practice in recent years, so common in fact, that competition on social selling platforms has escalated. Key differentiating points involve the quality of content that you can produce and how well you connect with your core demo. For those brands that focus on social selling platforms, this means authority, especially amongst comparable brands. Those brands that use social selling tools can cultivate authority while creating targeted content for commerce purposes. And the closer you understand the desires of your dedicated customers, the more resilient the demand you create.
Best Practices for Effective Social Selling
Effectively scaling your reach is an important process for any social selling strategy. While it's perfectly possible to incrementally broaden your reach through consistent content production, there is an optimal order of operation.
- Create Engaging Content: Content types, quality, and frequency are your only direct method for scaling your social selling platform organically. It is important to understand what sort of content your viewers find most engaging, improve the quality of that content, and accelerate the production.
- Testing and Revision: Producing “more” engaging content, suggests that we measure performance and test multiple approaches to identify user preferences. Once we can narrow down the effectiveness of a particular type of content or subject, we can begin to accelerate content production within that topic.
- Listen Actively and Personalize: A major benefit of social selling is the ability to interact and produce personalized content for your dedicated viewer base. This allows you to deeply refine your messaging and appeal specifically to your segment of choice.
- Organize and Schedule Content: It is almost impossible to consistently produce quality content without proper organization. You will find that when creating, revising, and scheduling content, you are required to monitor hundreds of posts at any given time. This is a serious challenge that could easily fall into chaos if allowed, so having a clear and well-functioning database is necessary for success.
- Syndication of Content: It is highly advisable that once you can produce valuable content consistently, you also begin to syndicate your content across multiple social selling platforms. This allows you to broaden your reach and use the time you spend creating content more effectively. Further steps can be taken; such as adjusting content according to the platform and interlinking across platforms.
The suggestions above are ways to improve your social selling strategy and can result in a greater impact on your growth. Organic methods are always challenging and we cannot always rely on strong brand recognition to carry us to glory. A sound social selling approach starts with how you produce and moderate your strategy.
Challenges for Selling on Social Media
Selling on social media is common in the digital era, but that does not come without its fair share of challenges. Below is a list of issues that are commonly associated with social selling tools. It’s important to understand that selling products on social media is an ongoing process that requires consistent output.
- Time-Consuming: Expanding reach and actualizing substantial impact through social selling platforms can take time and investment. While they are dependable tools for branding and content marketing, they fail to assure growth and exposure. This places greater emphasis on our implementation and strategy.
- Changing Algorithms: All platforms and digital tools are susceptible to changes in algorithms that can affect our reach and performance. These changes are known to cause drops in organic performance industry-wide and can fundamentally change how a team operates.
- Ensuring Quality and Authenticity: It is often difficult to ensure the engagement and performance of any piece of content. Creating consistent and high-quality posts can be difficult for any marketing team, as a result, we may see poor engagement and misrepresentation of brand values.
- Platform Limitations: Each social selling platform has a particular function and is designed to reach a specific type of user. This means that certain types of content are less effective on some platforms and that some content types are incompatible on others. As an example, LinkedIn being a professional network is largely different from the user base of Instagram, whereas on Instagram you will rarely ever see long-form text.
- Finding the Right Audience: There is no point in producing content for social selling if we fail to find our target demographic. On some platforms or by unforced error, we may fail to target and retain the correct audience. This will reflect poorly on the performance of your social selling strategy and prove to be a waste of time.
- Over-Dependence: While selling on social media is a highly advisable strategy, there are certain risks associated with over-dependency. When it comes to e-commerce, social media selling is just one channel amongst several. Diversifying your e-commerce strategy includes leveraging the full breadth of digital tools for maximum potential.
Scaling social selling platforms takes time and commitment. A good goal to have is expanding interactions and accumulating followers, which is a good sign so long as you are accumulating the right followers. These issues with social selling tools are intended to give you a better understanding of the sort of task you might have ahead of you.
Actionable Tips on Selling Products on Social Media
The common practice in today's digital environment means leveraging social media as an additional sales channel and integrating it into your overall e-commerce function. Numerous techniques enable us to better utilize social selling platforms to support our e-commerce goals.
- Double Referrals: These types of perks are considered very persuasive. They work by granting rewards to both the referrer and the referee, making them perfect for generating referral traffic.
- Rewards for Social Interaction: It is common in e-commerce to reward customers with points or discounts actions like; social media shares, reviews, UGC, likes, comments, and follows. This helps you expand your reach and accumulate followers across your social selling platforms.
- Promoting User-Generated Content: Creating special campaigns that promote UGC is a great way to give back to your community and generate advocacy. UGC is one of the most trustworthy content you can find because it gives people real-life examples to draw inspiration from.
- Engaging Users with Valuable Content: Creating engaging stories, posts, and how-to’s; can be a great way to engage and retain potential shoppers. This means going beyond simple selling strategies and instead focusing on creating relatable content.
- Showcasing Instagram Galleries: Working on making a stunning social media profile takes effort, it would make sense to showcase those posts on your e-commerce website. This is a common social selling strategy that integrates your social media into your core e-commerce function.
- Product Tagging and On-page Checkout: We have noticed countless examples of businesses using social selling strategies like product tagging and one-click checkout on the actual social selling platform. This makes it easier to convert social media views without interrupting them.
- Content Production: Major brands have upwards of a thousand posts on their social selling platforms, they make it a mission to keep their followers engaged with frequent and quality posts. They are known to use humor to make their content more enjoyable, going as far as to even make top-tier memes.
Listed above are actionable ways that you can implement social selling. They include ways to increase the reach, encourage sharing, new features, and common content strategies. Like always, having a varied approach is advisable, so implementing multiple social selling tools is essential to an effective campaign.
Examples of Successful Social Selling Strategies
We’ve identified a few common traits among the most successful social-selling brands. From the examples below we can see that maintaining a balance of quality and the frequency of posts is essential for a successful social selling strategy. Another important distinction, no single brand uses only one social media platform to market its business. Each business had a different content strategy, but all of them made sure to create high-quality branded content.
Semrush is an example of an all-digital brand that's scaling its reach by producing a lot of variety. On their profile, you can find that they promote their content across multiple social platforms and use a lot of templated humor to make it entertaining for followers. They focus on keeping activity high, judging by their large amount of posts and they make sure to keep things relevant to their goals. We also noticed that they repurpose their blog content into slideshows and feature trending topics in their posts. Check out the post below, a great way to stay relevant and keep things light-hearted.
H&M is a powerful global brand that is going big on social selling platforms like X for their branding. We can see that they’ve posted more than 14k+ times so far and they don’t seem to be slowing down. For H&M it's more about staying connected with their loyal customers and enriching their brand image with stunning photo galleries. Like many other brands, H&M uses a multi-channel approach for their social selling strategy with a massive following on all major social selling platforms. H&M uses engaging images as their primary form of branding, which means whatever social selling tools they use will require great image displays.
Nike is undoubtedly a powerful global brand and maintaining that brand strength is central to their long-term goals. Social selling platforms like Facebook are perfect for the task as they can generate millions of likes, and follows and support the content they use for branding. Facebook has everything they need to create powerful messaging in the most direct way possible. If you scroll through their feed, you will see countless brand ambassadors who are central to Nike’s brand image as a global brand. Social selling platforms like Facebook make it easier for major brands to connect with their fanbase and to keep the conversation going.
By now you should see why social selling platforms are essential to e-commerce and digital marketing. Since the emergence of widely popular platforms, it has become dramatically easier to keep close to your target demographic and to interact with them. While starting small can be a challenge, this article should give you enough context to take full advantage of powerful social selling tools for your e-commerce needs.