Social selling — a term that wasn’t even on the radar of sales reps 20 years ago.
To be competitive, you need a social selling plan in place. But how do you know what platforms to choose and how to best use them?
There are many platforms available for social selling, such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook, as well as others like Quora, Reddit, and Instagram. To help you succeed in the world of social selling, we’ve curated the best platforms and strategies to implement in your own sales strategy.
What is social selling?
Before diving into the platforms, let’s take a look at what social selling means.
Quite simply, it’s the art of interacting and engaging with prospects on social media. While the main focus is to build trust and a quality relationship, the overall hope is that said prospects will convert into customers.
Each social media platform offers different capabilities and draws a different audience. But the general idea on each platform is the same. You can use each one to
- share resources,
- like and comment on posts,
- start conversations, and
- answer questions.
The social media platforms you should be using will depend on your business and where your audience “lives.” There’s no one-size-fits-all. If you’re a sales rep for an insurtech company, for example, posting on Instagram might not be the best use of your time. Check with the marketing department to find out which platforms are currently being used by your company and which ones make the most sense for your sales strategy.
Just remember: You’re not on these platforms to close deals. Go into social selling with a customer-centric mind-set: Engage first, sell second. Build enough of a relationship with a potential customer before trying to convert to a sale.
To help you get started, we’ve laid out ideas for the best platforms below, as well as what kind of sales activity each platform is best structurally positioned to help you do.
Why it’s relevant: LinkedIn’s model, user base, and format are well suited for target prospecting, lead generation, and referrals for B2B companies. According to LinkedIn, “50% of B2B buyers use the platform as a source for making purchase decisions.” In addition, LinkedIn has 562 million users. User connections can be leveraged as prospects and referrals.
Before reaching out to prospects, ensure that your own account is worth viewing. Think of it as your professional brand page to establish credibility with viewers. Your LinkedIn page should be easy to read and void of any errors. Key elements to include the following:
- Summary with your value proposition
- Role description (hit on your accomplishments)
Social selling on LinkedIn:
Strategy 1: Participate in LinkedIn Groups.
- LinkedIn Groups are centered on topics like business or health. Members join these groups to learn more about these topics. Participating in groups related to your business is an effective method for outbound prospecting, especially considering LinkedIn allows 20,000 members in each group.
- You can join a maximum of 100 LinkedIn groups. Find relevant groups — there are over 1.7 million on the platform — through the LinkedIn search bar (choose “Groups” as your main filter). Or look through prospect profiles, see what groups they’re a part of, and consider joining them, too.
- Engage with group members often. Acting with the good of the community in mind builds trust. Whether you’re answering questions, commenting, or posting helpful resources, add value to the discussions. Set aside regular times during the week to interact with specific groups. Add these times to your calendar to make it easier to follow through.
- You are also allowed to create 30 groups of your own, which can be useful if you want to lead a community and attract prospects to content and ideas you’re offering.
Strategy 2: Uncover new connections.
- Using LinkedIn to find new, relevant connections is prospecting at its finest. To start, you can review connections of coworkers/current customers or find new ones through the LinkedIn search filters.
- LinkedIn Sales Navigator gives more options, but if you don’t have the budget for that, use LinkedIn’s robust search filters. Click on the search bar and type in the industry you’re interested in, such as “sales.” You can narrow your search by filters such as location, industries, connections, schools, etc. This is an excellent opportunity to find and connect with decision makers. Save your search, and set search alerts for when new results are available.
- When you find appropriate matches, send them a connection request with a personalized message. You have 300 characters to convince the person to add you. Review their profile for commonalities, and tell them why you want to connect. Maybe you have a mutual friend, or you have a certain LinkedIn group in common. “I went to college with Jim Douglas” or “I noticed we are both a member of the Tech Sales Talent group” are both viable reasons to connect.
Strategy 3: Offer valuable content.
- Along with engaging in discussions, provide valuable content for your connections. Don’t post promotional company material; instead, post helpful, educational resources. This could be your own articles (which establishes credibility) or content written by others. Repost content that has performed well on other channels. Webinars, white papers, blog posts, and podcasts are all possible ideas.
- LinkedIn articles can go viral. A few good practices for content: Keep titles short and sweet, publish often, use SEO, and include interesting images. See what content is trending by typing in hashtags or keywords in the search bar and sorting by “Content.” If you’re qualified, add your voice to the mix on a trending topic.
- Posting content to LinkedIn is an excellent way to gain exposure, and there are no parameters on what you can post. Basically, prospects come to you through this method. Tag relevant contacts and customers in comments to increase visibility.
Why it’s relevant: Many businesspeople are active on Twitter, which makes it a viable option for researching trends in your industry, prospecting, and engaging with prospects. That said, it’s not the best platform for hard selling or promotion. It’s aimed at quality conversations and interactions.
As with LinkedIn, make sure to optimize your profile for best results. This means your bio needs to be stellar. You have only 160 characters so make it count.
- Post a headshot.
- What’s your value proposition? Summarize and show your expertise.
- Include your company handle and related industry hashtags (i.e., #B2B #sales).
- Professional/personal rule: Share something interesting related to your industry and then something personal about yourself.
- Include a link to your company website or LinkedIn page.
To first build up your list of people to follow, check out your competitors. Who are they following? Also, use Twitter’s built-in search tool to customize your ideal audience profile by keywords and hashtags.
Social selling on Twitter:
Strategy 1: Be a social listener.
- Social listening involves monitoring digital conversations to find out what people are talking about in your industry. It helps you identify leads. On Twitter, you can listen to what prospects are saying all at once. Simply create a Twitter List (a curated group of Twitter accounts). You can create multiple lists based on different categories, such as job title or company. Here are five steps on how to create a list:
- You can make your list private or public. From there, find people to add to your list. Type in a keyword related to your audience and click enter. For example, maybe you want to see everyone involved in “sales tech.”A list will be generated based on the keyword. Simply follow the accounts that look relevant.