The art of Social Selling in B2B
Chris Whife 31st October 2016
There’s simply no getting away from it – it’s everywhere. It’s in the pub with you when you’re having a drink with friends, it’s everywhere at your cousin’s baby shower, it shows up in your workplace, and it even follows you on your holidays. Social media is inescapable and, for the savvy salesperson, it’s a tool that simply shouldn’t be missed out on.
But it isn’t all Facebook ads and product notices on Twitter. No, you have to be significantly more clever than that to survive social media nowadays, because nobody is interested in following someone on social media who is constantly trying to flog them something. It’s not interesting, it’s somewhat annoying and it doesn’t make for engaging content.
In fact, the trick is right there in the name – social media. It’s a social thing, not a business thing and any business that hopes to successfully use social media to sell a product or service had better master the art of engaging with customers or it’s going to be a lot of wasted time and, if you’re employing a social media person, money.
But what makes the difference between social media success and social media failure? How can you use social media to your company’s best advantage?
1 – Use the right channel for the job
All social media is not created equal. Twitter is a vastly different platform to Facebook, which in turn bears only the faintest passing resemblance to LinkedIn, while YouTube and Vimeo are a whole different story – and they themselves are wildly different from each other. And that’s not even getting started on Snapchat, Instagram or your company blog.
Twitter, for example, is great for quick nuggets of info, like informing people which store is having a special, what an exciting time your staff had at a charity do… anything quick and easy. LinkedIn, on the other hand, is where you share your in-depth expertise and business knowledge, while Facebook is where you engage on every level from memes to lovely personal stories.
2 – Engage authentically
When a crisis hits and finds its way onto social media, such as an unhappy customer venting their vitriol all over your Facebook page, you absolutely need to engage that person on a one-to-one level. A standard cut-and-paste “whoops, sorry” will do you significantly more damage because anyone seeing that will gleefully spread the news about your “soulless corporation”.
Authentic engagement goes for positive experiences too. If someone compliments your business in any way, you need to respond in a real voice – whatever you do, don’t try to use it as marketing spin. Authenticity is highly valued in the social media space and there is very little tolerance for someone who is clearly trying to blow their own trumpet or spin a compliment into a sale.
3 – Ditch the hard sell
By all means, use social media to announce special offers, competitions, events and so on, but don’t bombard your social media following with it. Rather link to engaging stories about positive experiences – whether they have anything to do with your company or not. Social media is about creating a personality for your company, and you need to work out what that personality is. And again, it must be authentic. Get to know your audience and give them things they’re interested in.
The best way to look at social media is to think of it as a platform to build awareness. You want people to know your company exists, and that there is a real person on the other end who is interested in their opinion, issues or experiences with your company. Social media isn’t there to do the hard sell for you, it’s there to build your brand’s reputation.
Want to know more about how to do social media right? Stay in touch, because we’ll be covering some of the best (and worst) responses on companies’ social media platforms in the coming weeks.