Selling on Social Media

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You already know that social media is a great way to grow your audience and build a community that likes and trusts you. Eventually, you’d expect these people to purchase from you. However, you can also use social media to actively sell your products or services. You could do this through ads, referrals, direct messages, and so much more. To learn more about selling on social media, we invited small business expert, Melinda Emerson to #TwitterSmarter. Here’s a summary of our chat.

Guest: Melinda Emerson
Topic: Selling on social media
Format: Eight questions directed at the guest. Everyone’s welcome to share.

Q1: What is the difference between social media marketing and social media selling?

With social media marketing, you’re trying to attract people to follow you and engage with your content. With social media selling, however, your goal is to close deals.

As our guest explained, you can do both social media marketing and selling at the same time, but one has to take precedence over the other at some point. Even if you don’t talk about it explicitly, your primary goal will influence your decisions.

All that said, it’s also worth remembering that the most successful way to sell on social media is to first gain people’s trust and favor. If people know and like you, they will buy from you more willingly. That’s why social media marketing is usually a good first step to social media selling.

As our friends from GiveWP emphasized, social media selling is a way to complement your other sales efforts such as cold calling, following up on event leads, or converting website visitors.

Q2: What type of businesses should engage in social media selling?

Any business can use social media to sell—regardless of your business model.

What’s more important, though, is knowing where your audience spends most of their time. For instance, Facebook’s audience is drastically different from TikTok’s or Clubhouse’s or Twitter’s audiences. Find out where your target audience is and invest your time and effort in that platform.

Social media marketing is a slow way to generate sales. You first build your community, spread the word, and convert your referrals. Sales is an effect of your marketing, not a cause. With social media selling, however, it’s the opposite. You’d expect people to directly click through and purchase. To achieve this, you can use sponsored posts and advertisements.

As Christine added, one of the most important things to remember when engaging in social media selling is your language and calls to action. Make them powerful and direct to elicit an immediate response from your audience.

Q3: Do you need to have a large following on social media to start selling?

Certainly not. What you need, however, is to know who your audience is, what they want, and what they need. What are their biggest problems and how can your product or service help overcome those challenges? Knowing where and how to position your brand is crucial in social media selling.

Instead of focussing on the size of your following, try and focus on building a highly-engaged following. Even if you only have 1000 followers, as long as they’re actively engaging with your content, you can succeed.

The key to growing an engaged audience, as Laura said, is to consistently provide valuable content.

Q4: How do you choose the best social media channels to sell?

As we mentioned already, know where your audience likes to hang out. Identify what topics they like to discuss and which content forms they like.

Once you’ve identified the platform, use hashtags and keywords to find people who fit your target audience criteria and start engaging with them.

As Lance pointed out, each social media platform has a different purpose and, therefore, attracts a certain type of audience. For instance, though LinkedIn is perfect to connect with professionals in your target industry, Instagram is a better option to sell visually-appealing products. Facebook is similar with a higher click-through to purchase rate. So before you dive in, think about where your people are, what you’re selling, and find the best place and manner to take your product to them.

Q5: How do you get started with social media selling?

Funnily enough, start with social media marketing. To sell successfully on social media, you need to be a trusted brand. Spend time nurturing your customers and building that trust.

As our guest succinctly put it, lead people to your offer instead of leading with your offer.

Madalyn explained it well: Don’t shy away from conversations. Take the time to interact with others, engage with their content, and show that you care about your audience.

Keep a customer service mindset, and you’ll automatically give your customers such a great experience that they’ll want to come back to buy from you.

Q6: What are the biggest mistakes people make with social media selling?

Failing to extensively test their ads. Creating an ad and a suitable image or artwork takes a lot of time. But just because you put in a lot of effort doesn’t automatically make it great. Test, test, and test again. The more you test your creatives, the less you’ll spend on that ad.

It’s a big mistake to hire people who don’t work well with your business. Instead, when you have a team that understands your business and your values, they will be natural salespeople—and your customers will love working with them.

Another big mistake is underestimating the cost of a campaign. Thoroughly research social media budgets. Start small and always have a buffer in case you run over your budget. Plan ahead and be prepared to take some unexpected hits.

Mark made another good point. Don’t focus too much on price and fail to talk about the value you create. Even though people will consider affordability when making purchasing decisions, they care more about the value a product gives them.

Q7: Share some tips for creating compelling social ads.

Twitter ads are great because you only pay for the performance of your ads. You can set a goal or marketing objective upfront, and you will only be charged when you achieve that goal.

Make sure that your ad copy is short, snappy, and to the point. It’s not easy writing the best or most successful ad copy, so take the time to work out a few versions, brainstorm, and test different versions.

As with tweets, don’t use hashtags and emojis in your ads unless you know they add value. It’s easy to go overboard with things like emojis because they seem so small, but it’s hard to identify what works and what doesn’t if you add too many variables to the mix.

As we mentioned earlier, your call to action is crucial. Ensure that you give your audience clear next steps.

Get feedback from your audience. If they’re already highly engaged with your content, share your ad as an organic tweet to see how they respond to it. They’re well placed to give you valuable signals on your copy and creatives.

Our friends from VirtuDesk added a few more tips, including having a relevant message in your ad and communicating your brand’s unique selling proposition (USP) clearly.

Q8: What are some new developments in social media selling?

Unsurprisingly, TikTok. It’s growing faster than we can afford to wait. Leverage video ads and their live-streaming capabilities to get your brand out there.

We also heard from our guest that organic growth is stagnating across social channels, making ads almost inevitable. However, there is still a lot of demand for small, highly-specialized communities—both as closed groups and as public networks like Twitter chats. Influencer marketing seems to be making a comeback, too.

Of course, as Madalyn pointed out, we all know how much audio has grown over the last year or so. It’s going from strength to strength and will only become even more relevant in sales.

Well folks, that’s all from me this week. Thanks for reading through and for more great insights from our chat with Melinda have a look at this Twitter Moment that Joana put together for us. If you like this summary, you’ll love the real-time chat. Join us next Thursday at 1 pm ET for #TwitterSmarter. We also have an after-chat on Twitter Spaces at 5 pm ET. See you there!

profile pictureAbout me, Narmadhaa:

I write all the things—marketing stuff to pay the bills; haiku and short stories so I feel wholesome. A social media enthusiast, I hang out with the #TwitterSmarter chat crew, and am always happy to take on writing gigs.

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