Social media has completely revolutionized how products are sold, and yet there are still businesses that only use social media outlets to spam their followers with coupon codes and pointless blog posts about how great their business is. Back in 2010, a WhiteHorse survey found that only 52% of B2C business, and a mere 32% of B2B marketers, are using social marketing despite over 80% of marketers in both sectors using social media. While numbers have likely gotten a bit better over the past two years, that still shows a serious discrepancy between companies that make a Facebook profile or Twitter account and let it stagnate versus companies that actively sell on these mediums. The sales game has changed, and any company looking to increase sales numbers need to change with it.
Take a good, hard look at your social media outlets and make sure you are doing the following.
Never Use Twitter as a Tool for Spam
The key to successful social selling is communication. If you are clogging up your Twitter feed with offer after offer, you aren't selling anything. In fact, you may be generating a bit of bad press - HabitUK was infamously called out for its Twitter practices back in 2009. Maybe you'll have one or two people accidentally stumble across your feed, but if you actually want to use Twitter as a tool to sell a product, you have to communicate with your target audience. Have someone monitor your Twitter profile and make it clear that an actual human being is in charge of it. Search for the product or service you offer using Twitter's built-in function, and engage people who are talking about it. We occasionally do a quick search for people tweeting about starting a new business and use our Twitter handle to talk to them. Even if it doesn't result in a sale, every person who looks at either Twitter feed will see a company taking an active interest in potential customers. That does a lot to inspire trust, and will lead to more consumer traffic coming your way.
Use a Landing Page as a Base of Operations
Centralization is very important for any social media campaign. Customers will quickly lose interest if they have to go on a scavenger hunt for details on promotions. To combat this, use your company's Facebook profile as a base of operations. Have a nice, big landing page pop up the minute anyone clicks on your profile detailing whichever sale or promotion you are trying to promote, and use your Facebook wall as a place to answer questions. When you send out newsletters or any other marketing materials, guide people to that Facebook page so you have one, as the primary place that you can monitor and work within. You'll quickly find that people will come to rely on that page for updates, and suddenly the group of consumers most reachable by social marketing will grow around your Facebook page.
Have People Available, and Awake, To Talk
Social media consumers need to feel like they are being paid attention to. If they post a question on Facebook or Twitter and it takes any longer than a few hours to answer it, you can bet they will start looking at your competitor's site. During business hours have someone monitoring social media channels, at least hourly, just to make sure you aren't missing potential sales because consumers feel ignored. Time zones and business hours can make this difficult, but the more often someone checks into these channels, the less likely it is that you'll lose a potential customer. A key part of sales has always been making sure the customer is happy, and that hasn't changed. You just need to be a bit more available to do that.
While social marketing is not easy, it is extremely useful. You have a lot of control over what potential consumers see, and social marketing is highly customizable. As more and more people begin to use social media, a strong social marketing campaign will become vital for a business's success. So make sure your company is using social marketing to communicate with customers, not bog them down with offers.
Trust me - once you start communicating, you'll start selling.
Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation, an online filing services company that specializes in incorporations and LLCs. Find her online at mycorporation.com and on Twitter @deborahsweeney and @mycorporation.