July 7


Building a Social Selling Strategy: Steps to Success

By Hanson Cheng

July 7, 2023

  • minute read
  • Last Updated on July 7, 2023 by Hanson Cheng

    This article offers an in-depth look into social selling, key strategy businesses today use to connect with their customers, build relationships, and foster brand loyalty. Through an exploration of what social selling is, explicit examples of social media platforms businesses can leverage, and practical advice on developing, implementing, and maintaining a successful social selling strategy, this article arms readers with a comprehensive guide on maneuvering today’s social selling landscape.

    Practical advice on understanding your audience, setting up effective profiles, creating engaging content, analyzing performance, and refining strategies based on gathered data are discussed. The piece concludes with real-world examples of successful social selling strategies to inspire your own approach.

    Understanding Social Selling

    Definition of Social Selling

    Social selling is an innovative approach to sales that places emphasis on social networks and the use of digital tools to identify, engage and develop relationships with potential customers. This takes it beyond traditional sales methods to leverage online connections, communities, and platforms to enhance sales visibility.

    Unlike traditional sales, social selling is about building lasting relationships, engaging authentically with customers and addressing their needs directly. This isn’t a tactic about closing quick deals, but establishing credible relationships that could lead to sales.

    On a level, it is sales re-imagined for the digital era. A strategy well executed could bring great benefits to businesses such as reaching a broader audience, better relationship management, increased sales and fostering of brand loyalty.

    The Importance of Social Selling in Modern Business

    In today’s digital age, social selling has become an integral marketing strategy for businesses large and small.

    Building Relationships
    Building relationships is at the heart of social selling. By interacting with customers on social networks, businesses have the opportunity to establish and nurture relationships. This not only builds trust but also fosters customer loyalty which can lead to long-term business gains.

    Consumer Engagement
    With the advent of social media, the consumer engagement landscape has greatly evolved. Customers now have direct access to businesses, there is a shift towards two-way interactions. This means through social selling, businesses can actively engage with their audience, understand their needs and preferences, and provide tailored solutions.

    Brand promotion
    Great benefit of social selling lies in promoting brand visibility and awareness. Through consistent interactions and providing value online, businesses enhance their visibility within the customer’s network, often resulting in peer-to-peer recommendations and word-of-mouth marketing.

    Platforms for Social Selling

    Varying social media platforms serve as avenues for social selling. Different platforms provide different opportunities for customer engagement based on their unique features and user demographics.

    Generally touted as the go-to platform for B2B social selling, LinkedIn provides a professional atmosphere where businesses can connect and network with relevant audiences.

    Facebook is a vital platform for businesses due to its massive user base. Companies can leverage Facebook’s range of tools such as instant messaging service “Messenger”, business pages, groups, and ads service to engage customers.

    Twitter’s short and frequent posting style makes it ideal for sharing news, updates and participating in real-time conversations relevant to your industry or brand.

    A visual platform, Instagram is great for businesses selling products that could be showcased visually. It’s feature “Instagram Shopping” enables businesses to tag products in posts making it easier for customers to purchase direct from the platform.

    In understanding social selling, it’s important to recognize it is an evolving area of sales leveraging digital spaces to foster relationships, engage customers and increase brand visibility through various platforms.

    Designing Your Social Selling Strategy

    In the next section, understand what goes into designing an effective social selling strategy. Drafting your strategy involves understanding your audience, setting up your social media profiles and devising your content creation strategy.

    Understanding Your Audience

    To design an effective social selling strategy, you must understand your audience.

    Identifying Your Target Market
    This step involves determining who your ideal customers are. This can include things like job titles, company sizes, industries, and geographical locations.

    Understanding Consumer Behavior
    Understanding how your target market behaves online, what platforms they utilize, and how they engage with content, can assist you in tailoring your approach to suit their preferences and needs.

    Setting Up Your Social Media Profiles

    Having assessed your audience’s behavior, setting up your social media profiles is time.

    Creating an Effective LinkedIn Profile
    Leverage LinkedIn’s ability to showcase your company’s expertise, achievements, and services in a professional setting that’s ideal for B2B marketing.

    Optimising Your Facebook Business Page
    Ensure your page contains all the pertinent information about your company. Utilize Facebook’s features such as Messenger and Insights to communicate with customers and track performance.

    Utilizing Instagram for Business
    With a business profile, you can advertise products, highlight company culture in visual ways and gain insights on your followers.

    Content Creation Strategy

    A critical part of social selling lies in providing value via content. Craft your strategy with your audience in mind.

    Engaging Content
    Content must be interesting, relevant and add value. Leading with a sales pitch will not yield engagement. Instead, providing useful information nurtures relationships and can generate leads.

    Consistency in Posting
    Consistency is key to engagement. Post regularly to maintain visibility in your audience’s feeds and keep your brand top of mind.

    Incorporating Visuals
    Leverage the power of visual content. Images, infographics or videos can increase engagement by capturing attention and effectively conveying your message.

    Designing your social selling strategy is a methodical process. It’s about understanding your audience, crafting appropriate social media profiles and creating engaging, consistent and visually appealing content.

    Designing Your Social Selling Strategy

    In order to navigate the world of social selling effectively, it is paramount to have a well-strategized plan that caters uniquely to your audience and business model. The design phase of your social selling strategy involves gaining a deep understanding of your audience, setting up your social media profiles for success, and developing a content creation strategy that draws attention to your brand.

    Understanding Your Audience

    Identifying Your Target Market

    Knowing who you’re selling to is the foundation of any successful social selling strategy. Your target market consists of the individuals or companies that are most likely to benefit from your product or service. When identifying your target market, conducting extensive customer persona analysis, demographic research, and competitor analysis is crucial. This will help you gain insight into the needs, preferences, and behavior of your potential customers, enabling you to tailor your strategy accordingly.

    Understanding Consumer Behavior

    A clear understanding of your target market’s behavior is key to planning an effective social selling strategy. Consumer behavior involves everything from how customers use social media and how they interact with brands online to the factors that influence their purchasing decisions. In-depth consumer behavior analysis can help you predict customer trends, enhance customer engagement, and drive better business outcomes.

    Setting Up Your Social Media Profiles

    Creating an Effective LinkedIn Profile

    LinkedIn is a powerful platform for social selling, particularly in the B2B market. An effective LinkedIn profile consists of a professional photo, a compelling headline, and a descriptive summary that clearly communicates your value proposition. It’s also important to regularly update your LinkedIn profile with relevant content that your network finds useful and insightful.

    Optimising Your Facebook Business Page

    Optimising your Facebook Business Page is essential for reaching a wider audience and driving engagement. This entails adding all essential information such as your contact details, website URL, and business hours; ensuring that your profile and cover photos are impactful and relevant; regularly posting engaging content; and using Facebook’s features such as the shop section or Facebook ads to your advantage.

    Utilizing Instagram for Business

    Instagram is an ideal platform for businesses aiming to showcase their products visually and reach a younger demographic. Establishing a business account, mastering the art of aesthetic visuals, using relevant hashtags, and interacting with your followers can significantly boost your brand’s visibility and customer engagement.

    Content Creation Strategy

    Engaging Content

    Content is the backbone of social selling. Engaging content not only captures your audience’s attention but also encourages them to act. Your content strategy should focus on providing value to your audience, telling your brand’s story, and promoting your products or services in a way that resonates with your target market.

    Consistency in Posting

    Having a consistent posting schedule is important in maintaining and growing your online presence. Regularly sharing insightful, relevant content allows you to stay top of mind with your audience whilst also improving your SEO ranking.

    Incorporating Visuals

    Visual content plays a critical role in enhancing audience engagement. High-quality images, infographics, videos, and other visual elements can make your content more appealing and shareable, leading to increased brand awareness.

    To summarize, designing your social selling strategy requires a deep comprehension of your audience and behavior, optimising your social media profiles to appeal to your audience, and creating engaging, consistent content supplemented with visuals. This forms a strong foundation for social selling success.

    Executing Your Social Selling Strategy

    Having set the groundwork with an understanding of social selling and designing your strategy, the next crucial step is executing your social selling strategy. This requires three main avenues to focus on: building relationships, selling on social media, and using analytics and reporting.

    Building Relationships

    The first aspect of building your social selling strategy is networking and connecting with your audience. This requires time investment, as you need to genuinely interact with your prospective and existing customers to garner trust and loyalty. For instance, LinkedIn is a handy platform for connecting with professionals from diverse industries acorss the world. Engaging in meaningful conversations, posting valuable insights and forming alliances can help nurture professional relationships and enhance your network.

    Similarly, engaging with your audience encapsulates recognizing their needs, addressing their queries, and providing them with insightful responses. A simple example could be Coca Cola’s social media engagement, responding to customer inquiries in real-time and creating engaging posts that resonate with their audience. This builds trust and fosters a sense of community, which can significantly improve your brand image and customer retention rate.

    Selling on Social Media

    Social listening forms an essential part of selling on social media. It involves monitoring different social media platforms for customer feedback, direct mentions of your brand, and discussions regarding specific keywords, topics or competitors. Spotify, for instance, is known to leverage social listening to discover trending music genres and generate playlists accordingly.

    Personalized outreach is another significant facet of selling on social media. It involves engaging with potential customers more personalized and directly, which can significantly increase your chances of converting them into paying customers. A classic example of this would be Amazon’s personalized product recommendations based on user’s browsing history and previous purchases.

    Analytics and Reporting

    Lastly, but most importantly, social selling incorporates utilizing built-in analytics tools to understand your audience better and enhance your marketing strategies. LinkedIn’s analytics, for instance, can provide detailed insights about your posts’ performance, followers’ demographics, and trending content in your network.

    Measuring success is key to understanding the effectiveness of your social selling strategy. This can particularly be done by tracking metrics such as conversion rate, customer engagement, brand awareness, and return on investment (ROI). Airbnb, for example, uses these performance indicators to gauge the success of its social selling strategy and pivot its marketing approach as needed.

    In summary, executing your social selling strategy is a dynamic process that involves a mindful mix of networking and connecting with your audience, active selling on social media, and informed decision-making based on data analytics. By investing in these three aspects, you’ll more likely build a robust social selling strategy that strengthens your customer relationships and boosts your sales and overall business growth.

    Maintaining and Improving Your Social Selling Strategy

    A social selling strategy is not a one-off project, but a long-term commitment. This means that after you have executed your strategy, the process doesn’t end. You have to maintain and improve it to ensure its ongoing success continuously. How do we ensure that our strategy remains relevant and effective? Here are some ways.

    Continuously Learning and Adapting

    Firstly, we must understand that the digital landscape is highly dynamic. Changes occur regularly and rapidly. In such a context, businesses need to be quick learners and ready adapters. For instance, social media platforms often roll out new features and algorithms. Microsoft’s introduction of LinkedIn Live and Instagram’s IGTV launch can significantly change how businesses engage with audiences. Understanding these new features and learning how to incorporate them into your strategy can help you stay competitive.

    Moreover, customer preferences and behaviors also vary over time. Based primarily on demographic aging, generational shifts and technology trends, these changes mean that what worked today might not work tomorrow. Continuously learning about your audience and adapting your strategies to meet their emerging needs is another critical aspect of maintaining your social selling strategy.

    By continuously learning and adapting, businesses can ensure that their strategies stay relevant in an ever-changing digital landscape. Being a keen learner and a swift adapter is crucial to ensuring that your strategy remains effective.

    Engaging with Industry Trends

    Engaging with industry trends can provide insights into emerging opportunities and threats. It gives you a pulse of what’s happening in your market and aids you in maintaining your competitive edge. For instance, if eco-friendliness becomes the new trend, businesses can highlight their sustainable practices or products.

    Furthermore, businesses can also utilize industry trends to keep their content fresh and relatable. For example, apparel companies can post content according to fashion trends, sharing how their products align with these trends, and hence attracting followers interested in fashion.

    However, trends can sometimes be faddish, so it’s crucial to distinguish the meaningful trends from the short-lived ones. Thus, to extract value from trends, businesses need to not just observe but also analyze and interpret them correctly.

    Refining Your Social Selling Tactics Based on Data

    Making decisions based on data represents another crucial approach to improving social selling strategy. Social media offers a wealth of data that can inform your decisions.

    Identifying Areas of Improvement
    By tracking key metrics such as engagement, click-through, and conversion rates, businesses can identify what’s working and what’s not. For example, if a particular type of post consistently achieves high engagement rates, it would be worthwhile to create similar posts. Conversely, if another type of post performs poorly, it would be wise to either improve it or pivot away from it.

    Implementing Changes Based on Data
    After identifying areas of improvement, businesses need to implement the necessary changes. For example, if data shows that your posts perform best at a specific time, adjust your posting schedule accordingly. Implementing changes based on data ensures that the refinement of your social selling tactics is fact-based, deliberate, and effective.

    In summary, maintaining and improving your social selling strategy require continuous learning and adapting, engagement with industry trends, and data-informed refinement of your tactics. These measures will ensure your social selling strategy remains relevant and effective in the long run.

    Real World Examples of Successful Social Selling Strategies

    Exploring real world examples can better illustrate the power and efficacy of social selling strategies.

    Case Study 1: IBM’s Social Selling

    IBM is a great example of an enterprise that has successfully adopted social selling strategies. In 2012, IBM launched a program encouraging employees to engage in conversations online to help build relationships and influence sales.

    The team first started by educating 1000 employees about social selling. The aim was not only to sell but also to attract prospects through high-valued engagements and to convert these engagements into relationships. Their process involved:
    Training: Employees underwent extensive training about social media ethics, digital branding, content sharing, and prospect engagement.
    Digital Reputation Building: Employees were encouraged to build their unique digital identity rather than sticking to scripted messaging. This aided in the authenticity of the conversations.
    Prospecting: Profiling and engaging with potential prospects were critical. These engagements go beyond just selling, providing valuable content to the prospects which helped in building relationships.

    This approach resulted in success for IBM. According to research conducted by IDC, IBM’s social selling program was 5 times more effective than other methods. The initiative also resulted in a significant rise in their sales, marking it as one of the most successful examples of social selling.

    Case Study 2: SAP’s Social Selling

    Following on the footsteps of IBM, SAP is another corporate giant that has effectively leveraged social selling. SAP understood that B2B customers today are highly informed and prefer researching online before making a purchase decision. Hence, the brand set out to meet their prospects where they were – online.

    Steps SAP took for their social selling campaign include:
    Employee Training: Just like IBM, SAP also invested heavily in training its employees to leverage social media for selling.
    Consistent Brand Messaging: SAP ensured that their brand message was consistent across all employees’ social media profiles.
    Value Provision: Employees didn’t focus solely on selling. Instead, they aimed to provide value to their prospects by sharing relevant content.

    Through their social selling strategy, SAP was able to generate a higher quality of sales leads, shortened their sales cycle, and created a sales process that’s more aligned with its buyer’s journey. Their initiative resulted in 600% higher deal sizes and 60% higher sales of new software licenses.

    To encapsulate the learning from these examples- both IBM and SAP crafted a social selling strategy that focused on providing value and fostering relationships with prospects and clients rather than simply pushing sales messages. Their strategies are emblematic of the paradigm shift in selling that emphasizes relationship-building over transactional selling, truly reflecting the power of social selling.

    Social Selling Strategies – FAQs

    1. What is the significance of a social selling strategy in modern business?

    A social selling strategy leverages social media platforms to locate and engage with prospects. Such a strategy allows businesses to build relationships with potential customers, boosting lead generation and sales.

    2. What are the essential elements for building a successful social selling strategy?

    The essential elements include identifying target clients, understanding where they socialize online, crafting personalized messages, and measuring sales performance. Additionally, continuous learning and adapting to changes in the market are paramount.

    3. How can one identify the right social media platform for implementing a social selling strategy?

    Identifying the appropriate social media platform requires understanding where potential customers spend their time online. Businesses can leverage customer data and analytics tools to determine the most effective platform.

    4. How can a company measure the success of a social selling strategy?

    A company can measure the success of a social selling strategy through key metrics such as engagement rate, number of leads generated, and conversion rates. Churn rate and customer lifetime value can also provide valuable insights.

    5. What role does content play in a social selling strategy?

    Content is a vital component in a social selling strategy. It attracts potential clients and provides valuable information, thereby establishing the company as a trusted resource in its industry.

    6. What is the role of customer service in social selling?

    Customer service plays a significant role in social selling as it builds and maintains customer relationships. Excellent customer service encourages customer retention and fosters customer loyalty.

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    Hanson Cheng

    About the author

    Living in Portugal with my wife and puppies.
    Scaling online businesses and sharing lessons learned on this website and in our email newsletter.

    Always happy to hear from you, so find me on Instagram if you want to say hi!

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