If you ask most people what the main purpose of social media marketing is, you’ll probably get answers that focus on spreading brand awareness and generating traffic through organic content.
Although these are certainly important functions of social media, they’re not the be-all and end-all. When it’s approached the right way, social media can also be a powerful tool for driving sales too.
If your social media efforts have generally been focussed on organic branding so far, and you’re looking to orient it more towards your sales goals, then this will require an understanding of the strategies and techniques that can be used to actively drive sales.
Here’s 5 of the most effective social media strategies you can use to improve your sales.
- Focus your Resources on the Platforms your Target Customers Use
One of the best things you can do to optimize your social media efforts for sales is to develop an understanding of where potential leads are spending most of their time, and align your resources to target those platforms.
While it’s true that almost all audience demographics and segments maintain active profiles on a number of different social media platforms, it’s generally good practice to concentrate on just a few lucrative platforms, as opposed to spreading your resources too thin across too many accounts.
Plan some time to revisit analysis of your target audience, both by looking at the demographics and behaviors of your current customers, and by researching new segments that haven’t been a part of your marketing strategies so far.
Once you’re equipped with a more detailed picture of your audience, you’ll be able to take the next step of determining which social media platforms your demographics spend the most time on, and then align your social media resource allocation to match these proportions. By keeping your brand in front of the right people in their ‘natural habitat’, you’ll improve your chances of being seen when they’re in a buying mindset.
- Tailor your Posts to the Platform
Now that you know what your target audience’s regular haunts are, it’s time to ensure that your content is suited to those spaces and platforms. You might maintain very high standards of quality for your content, but when it’s being distributed on social media channels, it will only be impactful when it takes context into account.
You can probably think of a time when you’ve seen a brand or an individual posting content that isn’t well-suited to the platform it’s on, demonstrating a level of tone-deafness, laziness, and a general lack of quality that can severely tarnish your brand equity.
Each social media platform has a specific context that will dictate what kind of content will succeed and fail on it. Here’s a brief summary of some of the major platforms to give you an idea of how the same topics and content should be approached differently:
Distinguished as a visual-first network, Instagram is the ideal platform to stage the best videos and photos relating to your brand. Now the second most popular social network in terms of active users, Instagram is a great place for brands to publish a wide range of visual content, including text graphics, educational content, memes, and screenshots of customer interactions.
Although Twitter has expanded from its original ‘microblogging’ model and allowed users to share photos, gifs, and videos, it still lends itself naturally to short, text-based posts about promotions, industry news, and similar content. It’s also a popular way for customers to engage with brands, giving you an opportunity to build rapport through two-way communication.
As a professionally-oriented social platform, LinkedIn should be used for any kind of content geared towards B2B customers or investors. Explicit self-promotion is a lot more well-received here, which often makes it easier to come up with fresh content ideas. However, LinkedIn is also known as a hub for thought leadership content, which can make standing out from the crowd a challenge. When planning out a content calendar for LinkedIn, be sure to keep the more basic promotional posts broken up by more in-depth and unique long-form content.
- Turn Social Channels into Primary Prospecting Tools
Though social media usually comes into the typical B2B prospecting process at some point, many sales teams still don’t see social media as a primary part of their prospecting arsenal.
Cold calls and emails, partnerships and referrals, all still have their place in the modern sales landscape, but active social prospecting can be a great way to support these more traditional, tried-and-tested methods at your company.
Aside from offering an easy way to gather detailed information on your prospects and define your ideal customers with a higher degree of detail, connecting with your prospects on social media will also go a long way in helping your prospects know who you are, and set up any future interactions for better success.
If your sales team has been foregoing direct involvement in your social channels to leave it in the hands of marketing, then it may be time to bridge the communication gap between your sales and marketing teams.
Social media analytics tools and CRM platforms are generally thought of as being the exclusive territory of marketing and sales respectively, but if you can encourage these teams to share their knowledge and methods, it can lead to much more cohesive and effective prospecting overall.
- Encourage and Curate User-Generated Content
Social proof in marketing is bigger than ever, and your potential leads are highly likely to look for testimonials and reviews of a product before they even think about making a purchase. For many of those potential leads, social media is going to be the first place they look when searching for authentic customer experiences and seeing what a product can do for them.
User-generated content is one of the most effective content types for highlighting the kind of positive experiences customers can have with your product. In fact, one 2019 study by visual content engine Stackla found that “79 percent of people say user-generated content highly impacts their purchasing decisions”.
Start devoting resources to actively finding and sharing content that shows customers having a positive experience with your product, and then share this content on your own official platforms. Whether it’s sharing an Instagram post or story, retweeting customer tweets, or duetting on TikTok, making sure that user-generated content is relayed to your brand’s direct followers will improve your social proof, and unlock an elevated degree of authenticity that you won’t be able to achieve through brand-created content.
Aside from interacting with the content your customers are putting out already, there are also steps you can take to actively encourage new user-generated content. Running competitions and quizzes that require interaction with your brand’s accounts, leveraging hashtags to spread the word about goings-on at your company, asking questions of your audience, and directly offering rewards for interaction can all be effective ways to encourage more user-generated content that will enhance your social proof.
- Use Interactive Content to Stimulate Top-of-Funnel Interest
If you have a background in sales, then passive, neutral messaging that’s associated more with marketing may not come naturally to you. However, one of the biggest mistakes people make when trying to use social media to increase sales is only using it to hard-sell, and letting more organic activity fall by the wayside.
Before you can approach leads with the kind of straightforward messaging that will convert them into prospects, you’ll need to nurture interest in your product or niche with softer, more indirect contact. People use social media the most outside of working hours. They open their favorite app to see things they find interesting or entertaining, not so they can be pushed to part with their money.
One of the best ways to generate interest in your product, without explicitly singing its praises, is to place a new emphasis on interactive content in your social media calendar.
Interactive content has proven to be much more engaging than non-interactive equivalents, and the experience of actively interacting with your content is likely to be much more memorable for your target audience, allowing you to set sales relationships up for success before they’ve even begun.
Interactive content can also be a great way to capture more data from your target audience, providing more tangible value to your social media users and making them more inclined to join mailing lists etc.
Interactive infographics, 360 videos, quizzes and surveys, and business ROI calculators, are all examples of interactive content types that can go a long way towards strengthening your brand’s social equity and demonstrating value up front. Do some research on the kinds of content that will work with your brand, and use them to change up your social media calendar.
In Summary: Reaping the benefits of social media strategies to drive sales
We hope you find this guide useful as you work to integrate social media tools into your sales strategy.
Lead generation through social media can be a daunting prospect for more traditional sales teams, but by tailoring your activities to the relevant platforms and audience segments, you’ll soon begin to see the positive impact that good social marketing can have on your pipeline.