Social media, with its ability to instantly connect you with hundreds, thousands, even millions of people, is a ready-made marketplace. But with so many businesses selling their products on social media, how do you stand out and get recognized? Here are 6 essential steps to take when you’re selling via social media.
1. Find the right channels
There are a lot of different social networks out there, and they can each be used in a different way to help grab attention and drive more traffic to your store. Facebook and Twitter are obviously huge networks, but Pinterest, Instagram, and LinkedIn can all help you spread awareness of your brand, attract more people to your store, and even sell products directly. Since each network has a different audience, you’ll have to do some research to determine which ones are best for your company.
There are plenty of tools to help make the process of selling on social media easier. Facebook Marketplace is a great way to find buyers in your immediate geographic location. This can be fantastic for people who sell homemade goods, such as baked items or crafts, since it targets buyers who live in your immediate vicinity. For businesses that already have an online store, Shopial is a site that connects your store with Facebook or Pinterest, and lets you advertise on those platforms. It’s perfect for people who are too busy to tailor their shops for each social media platform: Shopial will do those for you.
Action Step: Do a twenty-minute research session and figure out which social media channels are most compatible with your brand and product. Make a list of the top three and focus your attention on those.
2) Build your network
Half the struggle of succeeding at social media sales is finding the people who will want to buy what you have to offer. Rather than waiting for customers to come to you, you have to get out there, find where they spend their time, and catch their attention there. Then you have to engage with them and build a relationship. If those people have a good experience with your brand, or like the product you sell them, they’ll likely recommend you to their friends, and studies show that these days people are much more likely to buy something online when it was recommended by someone they know.
Part of building your network is making sure that anytime someone comments on an article you post, or mentions your brand name in a tweet, or sends you a DM, you respond as quickly as possible. This may mean turning on push notifications on your phone or enabling email notifications, to make sure that you don’t miss a notification while surfing your various social networks. Replying to and engaging with customers can be time-consuming, but it is definitely worth it. And don’t just wait for people to search you out—be proactive and spend some time searching various social media sites for keywords that have to do with what you’re selling. If you find a post or a tweet that you can respond to—for example, a question that you know the answer to, do it! You might be talking to your next customer.
Action step: Begin searching keywords related to your brand on the three social media sites most relevant to you and engage with people using those keywords.
3) Sell Your Expertise
The product you’re selling doesn’t have to be a tangible, physical object. If you’re an expert in your field, you can provide online classes or seminars, e-books, or video courses that teach others what you know. Sharing knowledge online is all the rage right now, and if you can demonstrate expertise in a certain area, there will be people who are willing to pay for it.
Amazon’s free Kindle Direct publishing program allows you to publish your own PDFs or ebooks, making them available worldwide. Kajabi also makes it easy to turn ideas and content into digital products.
Action step: Think about whether you have a special area of knowledge or expertise that could translate into a marketable product.
4) Be Courageous
You miss 100% of the shots you don’t takDon’t be afraid to reach out to people online. Remember, you have something great to offer them. However, don’t jump into a conversation with the attitude “I have something to sell you”—nothing turns people off more than the door-to-door salesman vibe. Instead, leave a thoughtful comment on one of their posts, retweet one of their tweets every now and then. Start building a relationship and becoming familiar to them first. But never avoid reaching out because you’re scared of how they’ll respond.
Action step: Reach out and start a conversation with someone on social media. You never know where a simple connection might take you.
5) Curate Your Content
In order to win people to your business, rather than your competitors, you have to make sure that you’re offering top-notch content and products. This can mean anything from making sure that you’re offering high-quality goods, to choosing the perfect picture to represent those goods, to designing an eye-catching and creative logo.
The social media sales scene is a competitive one, and you’ll want to put your best foot forward in order to differentiate yourself from others in your field. Another important way to make sure you’re offering the best content is by listening to your customers—do they have complaints? Questions? Suggestions for improvements? Showing that you listen to and care about your customers helps them be confident that you’re giving them quality goods.
Action step: Ask yourself the question “How can I improve the product I’m offering?" Write down three concrete answers.
6) Stand out from the crowd
In the past, it was enough to have a working website and checkout feature—businesses didn’t have to spend as much time creating a strategy for social media sales. But today, there are so many different companies online competing for the attention of customers, you have to do more than wait for the crowds to come to you. Luckily, taking the action steps above will help you stand out from your competitors.
By focusing your social media energies on the networks most relevant to your business, building a network of relationships with potential customers, offering your expertise to the world, boldly reaching out, and offering quality content, you will be well equipped to take advantage of the sales opportunities social media provides.