When social selling replaced cold calling as a common marketing practice, everyone won. Marketers finally got more than 10% of people replying to their first outreach, and customers got a much bigger chance of being offered something they might actually be interested in.
Social selling means finding potential leads online, connecting with them, and nurturing them - and as with any multidimensional, time-consuming process (and make no mistake, social selling isn't quick or easy), there are plenty of tools available to simplify and streamline your efforts.
For this post, I've picked three tool that I find most essential, and which may help improve your own social selling workflow.
Awario is a social media monitoring tool that keeps you aware (as the name implies) of all online conversations happening around your brand, product, niche, or anything else you type in as a keyword (keywords).
And those conversations are happening - according to Hubspot, 74% of B2B buyers conduct more than half of their research online before making a decision on a product or service. These people aren't looking at the company's website for an objective outlook on a product, so where do they look? The answer is social media, and not only Twitter and Facebook, but also blogs, forums, review sites. Awario helps you stay across all of these potential mentions.
Social media monitoring is invaluable to social selling. The first goal of the process is to find potential (read: interested) customers, and the simplest way to do that is to find posts that clearly express intent to buy your product. This works through typing in keywords like"look for a [product]", "can anyone recommend a [product]", and monitoring your competitors' brand mentions. People mostly complain online, which can provide opportunity for you to step in and offer your product as an alternative one - but the same time, Michaela Prouzova, a Community Manager at Nimble, recommends that businesses employing this tactic should send visitors to their content, instead of a sales page. Customers are generally looking for information that helps them make informed decisions, not ads.
The key to social selling is building a relationship with your potential customers, so that they no longer see you as a stranger (and your messages as spam). By monitoring mentions of your products, you can get a better understanding of audience interests, provide answers to relevant queries and establish connections with social media influencers, which helps to broaden your presence.
The first part of social selling - the one discussed above - is reacting to what people are saying. The second step, which is equally important, is creating and curating content.
Buffer, a social scheduling tool, simplifies and automated the content sharing process, freeing up yor time to concentrate on other tasks, while ensuring you maintain a consistent social presence.
The main goal here is to share valuable, engaging content - created by you or by experts in your niche - that can help establish your brand as a leading voice in the field. You should also consider seasonal events in your social sharing strategy to help tap into trending topics and build community around your business.
Ann Smarty, the founder of MyBlogU and brand manager at Internet Marketing Ninjas, recommends sharing content related to specific events like:
- Monthly holidays (including weird / unofficial holidays)
- Big entertaining or business events (especially those specific to your niche)
- Festivals, upcoming big movie releases and concerts
- Your company plans and events (birthdays, anniversaries, company trips, etc)
You can see how these topics not only increase engagement, but can also create a sense of community for your social media followers.
By now you should have the main idea of what social selling is all about: building relationships with your potential customers and then swooping in with your product and service when the latter is needed. Building relationships on multiple platforms and keeping track of them can be pretty complicated, especially if you're one person doing the job. If that's something you're struggling with, or you just want to make the process more effective, check out IFTTT.
IFTTT (which is short for "If This, Then That") synchronizes your multiple apps and social networks and builds "recipes" that allow actions on one app result in a reaction on a different app. IFTTT can perform simple tasks (e.g., posting a photo on Twitter every time you post one on Facebook) and more complicated ones (e.g., automatically email readers when they comment on your WordPress blog). IFTTT supports Facebook, Instagram, Flickr, Tumblr, Google Calendar, Google Drive, Etsy, Feedly, Foursquare, LinkedIn, SoundCloud, WordPress, YouTube, and more - around 110 services in total.
There are numerous ways IFTTT can be useful to you, so I'd strongly suggest that you first evaluate which stage of the social selling process is taking up too much of your time, and then check out whether IFTTT can solve it. You can also go through the functions listed on the IFTTT site to see what you can add to your social selling strategy, depending on the apps you use.
Tools for social selling can help solve two main problems - producing and working with valuable content, and/or providing communication between your business and the buyer. The tools described in this post all address at least one of these issues, are easy to use, and are all low-priced. The one thing they all do require is testing. With Awario, you'll have to try different keywords, negative keywords, and keyword combinations before you figure out which ones bring you the most relevant audience. With Buffer, experiment with posting times, and keep in mind that it's not only algorithms but also people's peak activity times that determine how likely your post is to be seen. And with IFTTT there are so many options that can change your social selling life that it makes sense to experiment with the service before deciding which options to use.