Since the appearance of social networks, the world of marketing has undergone a 180 degree turn. Information flows, buying cycles and old sales techniques become obsolete. And it is that social networks have taken personal relationships to the point of converting sales into social selling .
Commercial art is no longer in a kind of art or gift of sales, but rather it would be about generating the art of purchase. The protagonist is not the product, but the customer. His needs, his aspirations and his desires. And, more importantly, his interests and the way brands share them with him.
What is 'social selling'?
That the public finds a piece of news that is shared on a company's social networks and retweets it. Commenting on the blog or giving a recommendation to the position that the company has just published on LinkedIn is sometimes even more important than other indicators for the customer to trust the brand and decide to complete the purchase cycle.
This is precisely what social selling is about, selling without selling. To create relationships and to prescribe . To turn brands into opinion leaders, into sources of reliable information for potential customers. And this goes far beyond the degree of specialization to connect with values and emotions.
In this way, the main objective of social selling is the management of social networks around the brand with the aim of establishing a climate of trust in the community and earning the recognition of each of the potential users. This contribution of value will make the followers advance more safely in the funnel or conversion funnel .
Inspire the purchase, not provoke the sale
The mailing, the radio spots with the fake voice or the old television advertisements announcing the benefits of miracle products sound stale today. So the key is not to use a list of adjectives, but to recommend, filter and offer quality content.
In the (digital) information age, users are more informed than ever, and when they search for commercial information they do so to confirm or deny the knowledge they already have about the brand. In other words, more formally or informally, potential clients have already done their little home market research.
Keep in mind that, on occasions, the public may have even more information than the company's own commercials. This makes it necessary to also review the work and the arguments of the workers in the sales department.
The 'community manager' is the master key
In short, the picture is as follows: customers may know more than the workers themselves, customers give their opinion on the brands' products on social networks without even mentioning their social profiles and rate them on review platforms, affecting the purchase decisions of other potential customers without companies being able to control it.
The only one who can save the situation is the community manager. He is the master key that can help CMOs out of the maze.
His figure is always halfway between the company and the community. As if it were a mediator, the community manager will defend the brand in front of the audience, but will also raise his spear after the users in front of the product or after-sales department if the community is dissatisfied.
However, this is not disloyalty, but a position that, properly understood, is essential for the social selling strategy to work like the gears of a Swiss watch.
The community manager is the one who has the real temperature of the public, the one who knows where most of the complaints and problems occur and the one who moves as well through each social network as a fish in water.
Listening to him, taking into account his sensations, his measurements and recommendations is the first step when designing a sales strategy supported by social networks . He knows how to speak to the public, at what times and above all what to talk to them about; what topics move and interest them, and where to find those sources of information that nourish the company with its own content and personality.
The community manager is also a person. Statistics, monitoring programs and big data can offer trend lines, but only he can capture the subtleties of language or collective emotions.
And he is also human because he speaks like a human. The public identifies that behind the image of a building or a logo there is a person who speaks to them, answers them and asks them questions. That attends to direct messages and tries to help them resolve doubts.
Steps to develop a 'social selling' strategy
Once we have an expert community manager, these are the necessary steps to develop a social selling strategy:
- Analyze the current audience : what is the current audience of my networks? What do you think of the brand? As they are? What moves them, what interests them, what hooks them? For this, it is necessary to analyze in each social network in which we are present which are the contents that generate more engagement ( likes and shares). In addition, we will try to understand who these followers are, where they connect from, what type of device they use, how much time they spend reading and other social characteristics such as how old they are.
- Analyze the current audience and see if it matches the buyer personas defined by the Marketing Department. If they are not coincident or the social networks of a brand have not yet been created, it is necessary to study in which social networks this public moves and what their interests are.
- Decide which social networks to use for each type of public and product : an online clothing store for teenagers is not the same as an insurance company. Different potential audiences relate to each other and search for information on different networks. Choosing which social networks to be present on and what is the right tone to do so is more efficient than opening profiles on all networks.
- Define brand territories, information sources and publication frequency: the balance should not exceed 70% own content (blogs, videos, web news…) and 30% external content (related news from sources reliable). At the same time, commercial information should be as little as possible, since this would not be part of a social selling strategy, but rather online marketing. In addition, an appropriate number of weekly posts should be established for each social network.
- Design a calendar : creating an editorial calendar with the publications and messages that must be made throughout the week or month will allow us to have a global vision of the content strategy and the attraction of a quality audience. It is also easier to monitor the effectiveness of messages and to be able to anticipate future actions.
- Define and activate active listening mechanisms : it is not enough just to pay attention to the tweets in which a brand is mentioned or to the comments that the followers write on the Facebook page. Active listening implies that the community manager must have mechanisms to detect what users of the brand are saying throughout the network, what their needs are and, without being invasive, try to interact with them so that the conversation continues on the networks of the community. business.
Peculiarities of 'social selling' depending on each social network
- Twitter : You need to activate alerts and continuously look for how the company's products or services are mentioned when customers talk about them without mentioning them. Without being invasive, it is recommended to reply to tweets to propose solutions when dealing with problems or offer prizes and thanks when they speak well of us. Lists are a very useful tool to keep references and key clients under control.
- LinkedIn – Promotional messages are often not well received by the public. It is more advisable to establish direct relationships with clients who are really from the sector and may be interested in the services. As Linkedin is very focused on sales, this social network has an index to calculate if it is well positioned or if some adjustments should be made. It's called the Social Selling Index (SSI) and it measures personal branding, linking with the right contacts, how you interact with them and what your position is within your sector.
- On Facebook , it is recommended to be very subtle when recommending self-promotional content, since the public considers it a place for leisure.
- Instagram has become one of the great showcases for the sale of brands, especially fashion, thanks to the influencers and the large mass of young audiences. Taking care of the brand at an aesthetic and content level is essential.
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