How to Use Social Media to Boost Sales

Social media, despite the word being right there in the name, is about much more than just being social. Savvy companies are using it very effectively to boost matter what their product or service happens to be.

An effective sales strategy involves identifying, understanding, and developing a relationship with your target market. Social media is tailor-made for that. And once you’re set up and connected, it can help you generate leads, spread brand awareness, and increase loyalty with your existing clients.

Where to Look?

First of all, though, you need to remember that not all social media is going to work for you and your company. Each platform (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, Snapchat, and on and on) is popular and frequented by different groups of people. Some are dominated by women (Pinterest), and others by men (Google+). Some are primarily professional in nature (LinkedIn), while others are the “it” spot for teenagers (Snapchat). Some are best for B2C (Facebook) while others for B2B (LinkedIn). You need to develop a presence on the platform(s) most popular with your market and prospects. Go to where they are first, and only then might you expand into other platforms to include a wider group of people. Connect with your customers where they hang out online.

Step 1: Find Them

So, the first step becomes finding your customers - both new and old - online. Where are they? A quick search for “social media user statistics” will give you a breakdown of who is hanging out where, typically broken down by gender, age, income, and sometimes even career industry. Know who your ideal prospect is, and then find them.

Step 2: Join Them

Once you know where they are, the next step is to join them there. Whatever social media platform is popular with your market is the platform you need to be on. Join. Set up a company profile (but don’t make it too salesy).

Step 3: Learn From Them

Once you’ve established a presence, spend some time just “listening”. What are your customers talking about on the platform? What is important to them? This may only concern you indirectly, if at all, but you’ll get a feel for their likes, dislikes, concerns, confusion, and so on. Then, you put yourself in a position to help them. Provide links, stories, pictures, advice that speak and appeal to them. But NO selling or promoting just yet. Just give them what they want. 

Step 4: Connect With Them

If you’ve listened, learned, and responded to them, they will find and connect (like, follow, share) with you. You won’t have to do anything. You can promote your profiles on your website, email signature, invoices, and newsletter, inviting people to find and connect with you online.

Step 5: Engage Them

Now that you have some fans/followers, it’s time to start engaging on a more active level. Your platform will demand attention. It needs it. You’ll have to update frequently, and respond almost immediately to direct questions and complaints if you want the full benefit of social media. Your customers will expect it. Join the discussion (check out the trending topics and hashtags each day). Pay attention. Respond. Listen for opportunities to organically promote or turn the news to your advantage (a great example is Oreo cookies and their “You can still dunk in the dark” tweet within minutes of the recent Super Bowl blackout. Follow the trending topics and keep your eyes open).

The golden rule when it comes to sharing material on social media is 80/20 - 80% of your posts should be useful, helpful, and/or entertaining for your followers, and only 20% (or even less) can be promotional. If you make your profile too much about “you”, then people won’t stick around. They don’t want to be inundated with sales offers and self-promotional posts. Be selective. Some people suggest a 90/10, or even 95/5 breakdown.

If you’ve done it all correctly, you’ll have a sizeable following of customers and prospects that enjoy and frequent your profile(s), and that’s when you take advantage of your 20% (or 10, or 5) and provide them with coupons, company updates, contests, and even flash sales. Social media provides unparalleled immediacy. You can reach hundreds of thousands, or even millions, or potential customers instantly. Use that power. Harness it to get the word out.

Connect with them. Develop a relationship. And then offer them excellent value. Social media can’t be ignored. Your sales demand that you take the time to use it.

Photo Credit: webtreats

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