Social Selling Tactics for Marketers

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If you’ve been on Twitter for a while, you’ll likely have heard of ‘social selling.’ It’s a new kind of selling that defies all the traditional sales practices of attacking your prospects with a cold pitch. But what exactly is social selling and how can you incorporate it into your everyday social media practices? We invited Hootsuite’s social engagement specialist, Nick Martin, to help us better understand social selling strategies. Here’s a summary of our chat.

Guest: Nick Martin
Topic: Social selling tactics for marketers
Format: Eight questions directed at the guest. Everyone’s welcome to share.

Q1. How do you define social selling?

In its basic sense, social selling is about building and maintaining relationships with people you meet online. This mostly refers to prospects, existing customers, partners, and other vendors you work with.

Alyx added that to develop those relationships, you have to engage with your audience regularly. When you do that, they’ll automatically recognize you, become familiar with you and what you offer, which then leads to building trust and gaining their friendship.

Q2. What are the main differences between social selling and social marketing?

Social marketing is about engaging with your broad audience on social media and helping them move along the buying journey. Social selling, however, goes a step further—you don’t just help out a customer on Twitter, but you actively maintain a personal relationship with them.

Have you ever had a customer or partner contact your support/sales team and ask for a specific representative? That’s the personal relationship that comes from social selling. As our guest explained, you develop these deep relationships with a select set of people like your suppliers, strategic partners, top customers, and highly valuable prospects.

Nick even did a cool sketch to illustrate how social sellers are an intersection of salespeople and marketers.

Marianne also gave us a good example of how social marketing is different from social selling. While the former is a way to execute your social media strategy, the latter is focused on selling and communicating the value of your sale. Take a moment and think about all the different salespeople you’ve dealt with—you likely forged a relationship with a majority of them before you made a purchase. That’s social selling.

Q3. Which social networks are best for social selling?

Twitter and LinkedIn have always been the top choices for networking and getting to know people. While LinkedIn is more professional, Twitter is ideal for learning new things, identifying people with similar interests, and meeting people from everyday walks of life.

Carla also told us about how video marketing is giving her a lot of good results nowadays—especially across all three platforms, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube.

All that said, though, as Justin reminded us, don’t spread yourself too thin. Go where your audience is and where you know you can make the most impact.

Q4. How can social selling help you reach your sales goals?

If done right, social selling will give you a large group of loyal customers who’ll choose to do business with you over and over again. When you have a solid relationship with them, they won’t even consider your competition.

Nick also shared a good social selling tactic: As soon as you finish a sales call or have a conversation with someone you met at an event, connect with them on LinkedIn right away. That way, you can keep the conversation going, even if you move from one platform to another.

Smita also shared a couple of other great points. People you’ve connected with through social selling will also endorse you openly, bringing in more leads and business for you. What’s more, when something doesn’t work as expected, they’ll tell you right away. Prompt and constructive feedback is invaluable, and when you act on such feedback, you show that you’re capable of growing.

Q5. What social selling tactics should you keep in mind when engaging on social media?

The first step is to optimize your social media profiles so that your audience knows who you are, what you offer, and where to find you. Make sure you have a clear call to action that leads them to your sales page and/or your LinkedIn profile.

Once you’ve amped up your profile, focus on connecting with your prospects and audience on LinkedIn. As we mentioned earlier, being connected on LinkedIn is a great way to establish longer-term conversations.

The success of your social selling activities depends a lot on how you personally interact with your audience. For example, as our guest mentioned, be nice and engage with their content. Check-in regularly to see how they’re going with your product/service and how you can help. These seemingly small gestures can become the reason they choose to stay with your business.

One thing people often tend to forget about social selling is that relationships are two-way. As Rachel from Express Writers reminded us, while it’s important that you get to know your audience and their lives, it’s equally important to let them know you and your personal life. Don’t be afraid to show your real side.

Q6. Where do people typically go wrong with social selling?

One of the biggest and mistakes of social selling is thinking that you have to make a hard, cold sale. You don’t. Relationship building online is as casual as talking to someone at the bus stop—keep it casual and you might become friends for life.

So instead of pushing the sale or the deal on someone you barely know, take the time to understand who they are and what’s happening in their life. You might be selling 5-star rated hair straighteners, but that person you randomly messaged may be going through chemotherapy. That’s why social selling is crucial—it adds context to conversations.

Christine shared an interesting version of the hard sell we often fail to recognize. Ever seen people you only just met on social media inviting you to join their elite groups or invite-only events? It’s nice that they want you there, but it’s not too nice that they’re only trying to collect you—in many cases, these invitations are lead generation exercises where an audience shares their email addresses and sales messages pour into their emails. Don’t be that salesperson.

Q7. What is your best advice for social selling?

Nick had one simple piece of advice: be human. Nothing’s more important than showing compassion and empathy towards your audience. Sure, you want to sell to them and earn money. But none of that matters if people don’t like you and resonate with you.

Masooma shared another good piece of advice: don’t expect too much. Even though, as a salesperson, you have certain goals and targets, set them aside when you talk to someone. Look at them as an individual and treat them as a being with a real life. When you don’t walk into a discussion expecting a million-dollar sale, you might enjoy the nature of the conversation and even make a friend. That’s what we want as a social seller.

Q8. What trends do you see emerging in social selling?

Periodic check-ins are a major part of a social seller’s life. With the pandemic and the resulting lockdowns encouraging remote working, Nick told us video check-ins are probably the next big thing. A lot of social sellers are already doing video calls to follow up with customers, conduct demos and presentations, and host after-work parties.

Similarly, thanks to the rise of audio platforms like Twitter Spaces and Clubhouse, live audio is also becoming a big trend in social selling. So many people build longer-lasting relationships through these channels. As Jennifer pointed out, aside from audio, short-form videos like Reels and TikTok are also rapidly gaining popularity—mainly because they require less commitment and effort than full-blown video production.

Well folks, that’s all from me this week. Thank you for reading through, and for more insights from our chat with Nick, have a look at this Twitter Moment our chat member Joana put together. If you have some time to spare next Thursday, we’d love for you to join us on #TwitterSmarter at 1pm ET. Hope to see you then!


About me, Narmadhaa:

I write all the things—technical and marketing copy to fill the pocket; haiku and short stories to fill the soul. A social media enthusiast, I’m a member of the #TwitterSmarter chat crew, and always happy to take on writing gigs.

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