How to Use Social Media for Sales

Social media and their associated sites can be great platforms for generating sales. Depending on your product, this new business medium may serve well as your primary market resource in terms of finding potential buyers and bringing them the information they need to make their decision to purchase. Here are some tips on how to use social media for sales:

Actively Participate in the Discussion

Rushing in and telling someone that buying your product or service will solve all their problems is a common and ineffective tactic used by agencies and individuals that don’t have a firm grasp on the social atmosphere they’re selling to.

Instead of using this rush tactic, take time out and participate in the community. Find out who your potential buyers are and how your product or service really can help improve their current situation. Knowing this will greatly improve your chances of making the sale.

Share your insight from time to time and give people a reason to trust that you know what you’re talking about. I hear pitches from people all the time that jump to the conclusion that they know exactly what can help me and my business when they haven’t even taken the time to get to know what I do. If you take this extra step, you can leverage a sale much easier.

Seek Out and Respond to Problems

Any product or service worth buying has value in solving a particular problem someone has. Boredom, financial well-being, a dirty house, bad IT infrastructure, and any number of problems exist between members of online communities. By reaching out and offering (at no charge) a solution to smaller problems members of the community express, you can build the trust you need to convince them to go with your larger, and potentially more expensive solution.

It’s important when doing this not to violate a code of ethics. Creating a problem, badmouthing your competition, or just plain being seedy in your business practices is never excusable and will crush any chance you have of being successful in the long-term. The goal here is to be a positive part of any online community, and a major component of that is upholding ethical practices.

Find Prospects in Communities

Potential prospects are everywhere, and social mediums give you the opportunity to identify and connect with them. Use tools such as search.Twitter.com to identify potential prospects and begin building a relationship with them using the previous steps.

Create Content in Communities as a Promotion for Your Product

Creating useful content and making it available to online communities is a very good way to promote a product or service. Useful blog posts (such as this one), helpful videos, and quick how-to guides are generally very well received by a community, especially when the content addresses a common interest.

Giving out a sample of a larger product is a proven method of promotion with a long history of success across a wide range of products and services.

Leverage Word of Mouth Advertising

Has someone blogged positively about your product? Share that post through your social channels and express appreciation for the positive write-up. A quick tweet thanking someone for a positive tweet of their own goes a long way towards showing that you are keeping an active interest in what’s being said in relation to your product as well as encouraging others to speak up and give their feedback, be it positive or negative.

Buy Targeted Campaigns on Popular Platforms

Targeted advertising campaigns are available from several major social networking sites. The right campaign can generate interest and promote brand recognition. Facebook is currently the largest and most well-known sites capable of providing targeted campaigns to businesses and individuals with something to promote. Google+ will no doubt join in soon as this network gets off the ground. After all, that’s where Google gets the majority of its income.

Targeted campaigns on social media works differently than traditional advertising. If you buy space on a billboard in a major city, your brand and basic message may be seen by a lot of people, but only a fraction of them will be interested in what you’re selling. Of them, only a fraction (roughly 5-10%) of those that are interested will take steps to check out what you’re selling. Imagine being able to target only specific individuals that have demonstrated interest in the area your product or service can help with. This allows you to concentrate your financial resources in the most effective way possible, and by coupling it with the influence inherent in social media platforms, you stand a much better chance of seeing a return on your investment.

Seed Product or Service Review Copies to Leaders

Sending out review units to key influencers is a great way to get the word out about your product. By doing so, you’re killing two birds with one stone. Not only are you getting more links out there on the web from any written and/or video reviews, but you’re also advertising indirectly to their entire community. If you want to take an extra step, allow them to give away the review unit to their community. This will draw in even more potential customers and seed a genuine want and desire for your product.

Offer Value-Add on a Purchase if the Person Reshares Trackable Link(s)

Adding an extra to someone’s purchase based on an activity they take in the social realm is cheap and effective advertising. They’re willing to share a purchase decision they’ve made with a circle of people that has some noted interest in their opinion. This can be enough to influence some of them to take a look at the product for themselves and gauge whether or not it is something they would be interested in. The value-add could be anything from an extra component to a discount. In the case of subscription services, extra time is often offered in exchange for referrals.

Build Shareable Content with Your Brand Indelibly Linked

Infographics are incredibly popular right now. They typically express a set of information in a way that is easy to understand and impresses the viewer with the scale of the subject presented. The best thing about them is how easy they are to pass around social networks and blogs. Add your logo or name somewhere in the graphic that links it to the content, but don’t go overboard. This can not only help people identify a problem that needs solving, but demonstrate how your product can help them.

Humorous content is also extremely shareable. A photo or video that makes people laugh is more likely to get shared than messages that carry no real emotional involvement whatsoever. Some of the most effective ads out there are either funny or scary.

Don’t be too eager to protect it. Derivatives and parodies are a great way to continue the momentum the original piece created and accelerate brand recognition.

A YouTube Video Goes a Long Way for the Sales Process

YouTube is a powerful platform for getting the message out about your brand or product. In addition, YouTube videos can be embedded on sites and social networks all over the Internet. The right video at the right time can become a widespread hit and go “viral” as long as you make it freely available for people to share. As with other content intended to spread the word about your product, allow the community to create parody and share the video in their own way. Nothing kills an advertising meme faster than overzealous copyright claims on advertisements.

Social media is a great platform for sales. Knowing your community and how your product can help them is a big part of any successful sales campaign made through social spaces. In the end, the less like a car salesman you are, the more likely people will respond positively to what you have to say.

This post is part of a series of social media “How To” articles. Links to other parts of this series are below:
How to Use Social Media for Business
How to Use Social Media for Marketing
How to Use Social Media for Advertising
How to Use Social Media for Sales
How to Use Social Media for Recruiting
How to Use Social Media for Recruitment
How to Use Social Media for Learning
How to Use Social Media for Job Search
How to Use Social Media for Health and Wellness
How to Use Social Media for Businesses

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