If you sell physical or digital products online, you know there are a variety of tactics you can use to drive sales. Email, PPC ads, and SEO are all classic digital marketing strategies, but there are still many to be explored.
With over 1.5 billion social media users worldwide, selling on social media is a golden ticket to increasing your revenue and growing your customer base. Social media is the perfect vehicle to express your brand's story in creative and personal ways, engage directly with your audience, and foster the kind of loyalty that leads to lifetime customers.
A savvy digital marketer will utilize a variety of social selling tactics to turn potential leads into customers that will come back to you again and again.
Follow these tips for selling on social media and watch your sales soar. Here’s how to use social media to boost your sales funnel.
Awareness: Using social media to get their attention
Before you can effectively begin social selling to your target audience, they have to first know that you exist. The best way to build your audience and keep their attention is through creative, educational, and most importantly, shareable content that speaks directly to your customer's interests or pain points.
Social media and video are a match made in heaven for this area, especially if the social platform auto-plays your video ads. Catch your customer's eye with bold visuals and clear descriptions that immediately communicate your product and its value to them.
A few examples of awareness-generating social posts include:
- Educational or how-to content
- Paid ads
- Newsworthy or current event coverage
- Trending topics
- Viral videos
Viral content, whether through video or otherwise, is the most effective (and elusive) tactic for raising brand awareness and selling on social media. It requires peak creativity, deep social awareness, and perfect timing. Make sure you create a phrase or hashtag that people can use to share your content. You might consider reaching out to a handful of mini influencers (5k followers or fewer) to help get your video some good initial exposure.
If you're lucky enough to create something that catches fire, you'll gain immense exposure with relatively little investment—your audience will do the work for you.
Take the notorious Ice Bucket Challenge. This included millions of people worldwide dump vessels of frigid water over their heads, recording their reactions to the delight of their friends and followers. But the challenge was actually a campaign begun by the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Association to raise awareness and funds for the degenerative disease. The creativity and accessibility of the challenge made ALS a household buzzword and increased funding for research and treatment by 187 percent.
A viral video has the potential to not only reach your target audience, but also tap into new customer bases. You’re essentially getting free advertising from influencers and popular profiles. Their followers may not be a group you’d thought about but still could find your product useful. Don’t doubt the power of viral video - even Bill Gates got in on the ice bucket action!
A piece of content doesn't have to go viral to be effective in getting people to remember who you are. Thoughtful, educational blog posts that speak directly to your audience or how-to posts on your product and related topics can also get people talking and, most importantly, sharing.
Paid campaigns are also excellent strategies for ensuring your target demographic sees your product. A paid social campaign would fall under the category of social media advertising but fits into a social selling strategy because of its ability to generate awareness.
Social media advertising tactics, like promoted posts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, are great ways to get members of your target audience into your sales funnel. Once the customer is aware of your brand and product, you can use organic social selling strategies (as outlined below) to encourage them towards purchase.
You also want to make sure the message people are spreading about you is positive. Social listening is an excellent tool for receiving and reacting to feedback about your brand. Social listening is the act of monitoring your various social media networks for mentions of your company or your competitors. It allows you to put together a picture of how the public feels about you. You can use these insights to create targeted strategies for selling on social media and take specific actions that further your brand's positive social sentiment.
Interest: Build the relationship with community management
Creating and maintaining trust is a lifelong journey, no matter the type of relationship. Building a meaningful rapport with your customers is the most time-consuming but also the most crucial stage of selling on social media.
You need a community management strategy to build the strongest relationships. Do you have time and/or team members dedicated to conversing with your social media followers? Do whatever you can to join and facilitate the conversation around your brand.
You should be ready to provide a response when people comment on your page or posts. Even a simple “Thanks!” or “We hear you!” goes a long way. Consider creating a Facebook Group where your community of customers can interact with you and each other to ask questions and have discussions.
Community management will help you get to know your customers on a deeper level. In exchange, you can help your customers get to know your brand better through social posts that cover topics like:
- Company origin stories
- Behind-the-scenes content
- Company values
- Brand community
Your branding speaks directly to who you are and what you believe in. From your logo to your mission statement, it's important to be intentional and remember that your customers are not only buying your product—they're also buying your story.
You can utilize your brand story in your social selling by offering emotionally compelling content that shows how well you identify with your audience's needs. Tell the origin story of your company through a series of posts, or host an Instagram or Facebook Live to answer questions and let your audience see the faces behind the brand.
Similarly, "behind-the-scenes" videos of both your team and your product are excellent tools to help customers feel connected to a real entity. This is especially true if you're also able to promote a shared value.
Outdoor apparel company Patagonia often links its activism with its social selling strategy. Here’s an example of it highlighting the company's recycled clothing line:
Social listening plays an important part in this stage, too, as it allows you to engage with your customers and manage your community. Addressing your customers directly will show that there are real people behind your brand who are willing to listen to and acknowledge them.
Consideration: Prove you're the best option
Now that you've caught your audience's eye and gained their trust, you need to convince them why you deserve their hard-earned money. Fly-by-night businesses have flourished and sunk with rapid speed in the era of social selling, making it crucial that you establish your brand as an industry expert with staying power.
Show your audience precisely why you are better than your competitors through posts with:
- Demonstrations of product highlights
- Live Q&A sessions on Instagram or Facebook
- Vetted case studies
- Competitor comparisons
- Customer testimonials
Customer testimonials are continually one of the most effective methods of social proof to communicate your brand's value. A testimonial allows potential buyers to identify with someone they directly relate to, a shopper "just like them." They can hear how your product enhanced others’ experience or solved their problem.
Fitness company Peloton utilizes their Instagram account to showcase member journeys, celebrate their milestones, and highlight how the classes and equipment together deliver an experience that no other competitor can rival.
There’s also low-hanging fruit you can use to supplement your social selling strategy: re-post product reviews and take advantage of user-generated content that mentions your brand or hashtag (social listening at work again!).
Perhaps the hardest part of the funnel when selling on social media is turning an audience into actual paying customers. There are plenty of people who are happy to follow your account and enjoy your content—but getting to them to make the purchase can be a steep hill to climb.
Try to address any obstacles that may prevent people from converting by creating posts with:
- Product tutorials
- Limited-time promotions or discounts
If you've followed the selling on social media tips thus far, you're in a very good position to make the sale. Importantly, ensure that your posts have clear calls to action (CTAs) so that your customer knows exactly how to purchase. You can also run targeted remarketing ads that will follow your user across social platforms, which is especially easy with connected networks such as Instagram and Facebook. Offer discounts to users who have interacted with your posts but haven’t yet made a purchase to sweeten the deal.
It's also important to make sure your landing page naturally matches the look and feel of your social accounts, so that your users feel like they've arrived in the right place. And if you're using mobile-enabled social accounts (of course you are!), your sales funnel should be mobile-friendly, too.
Shoe brand TOMS is an excellent example of a mobile-friendly Instagram sales funnel that includes a clear CTA in its post caption, plus the extra enhancement of being able to add products to your cart without ever leaving the app.
For those customers not quite yet comfortable buying through a social channel, make sure you offer a robust set of FAQs. You can even link to them from your account bio or create a dedicated post or saved video highlight addressing some of the main blockers people may have to making a purchase.
You should also create tutorials so potential buyers have a clear idea of how your product will solve their problems. You can encourage your social leads to convert by eliminating any potential questions or fears they may have.
Finally, invite your social followers to join your email list for special deals, discounts, early announcements, and exclusive products. Email and social media integration can turn standalone strategies into a cohesive, powerful marketing unit that offers two effective conversion pipelines.
Retention & advocacy: Show appreciation for their loyalty
Selling on social media goes beyond netting that initial purchase. You want to create repeat customers for the long haul. This will only happen if your customers feel their business is appreciated, rather than feeling like just another sales number. Customers are more likely to be brand advocates and ambassadors when you acknowledge their loyalty to your product.
Here are some post ideas you can test for creating retention and advocacy amongst your social followers:
- “Thank you” videos
- Exclusive content
- Fun, brand-focused content
Loyalty rewards come in all shapes and sizes, from free birthday products to referral code discounts. You can also use fun, brand-forward videos to create a sense of community and exclusivity for those who have bought your product. Customers feel like they’re a part of something cool and interesting, and will want to show off that experience to others on social.
Starbucks is excellent at creating brand-focused content that is continually interesting. They give customers a reason to engage with the brand even outside of their cafes. Their fall campaign includes a dedicated "Fall Hotline" to call to listen to a variety of autumnal scenes, from a crackling fireplace to a frolicking hayride.
Giveaways are also great social selling tools for retaining customer loyalty because people love free stuff. Coffee behemoth Starbucks has turned the giveaway into an art form with its annual Starbucks for Life game (and its seasonal mini-game cousins). Customers can earn cash prizes, free drinks, even vacations for purchasing Starbucks goods—with the ultimate prize being free Starbucks coffee forever.
Not all giveaways need to be mass-solicited, and some of the best ones are both thoughtful and personal. Take The Honest Company, maker of natural, environmentally friendly household and beauty products:
The Honest Company surprises customers in need with product bundles and extra gifts as a mark of the brand's appreciation and in return for such gestures, they are likely to be customers for life. Follow these selling on social media tips and best practices, and yours are sure to be, too.
Use social selling to take your business to the next level
Now that you know the ins and outs of selling on social media, you can start attracting and retaining new customers. As you build your campaign, remember that social is one of the best marketing tools for creating lasting relationships. Converse with your followers and show them what your brand is all about at every stage of the buyer’s journey:
- Awareness: Social posts that get your target audience’s attention.
- Interest: Community management and social content that build relationships and tell people more about your brand.
- Consideration: Content that proves to your social followers that your product is the best for their needs.
- Action: Use content like FAQs and tutorials to eliminate any roadblocks to purchase your leads could have.
- Retention and advocacy: Show your customers you appreciate their business and give them a reason to show off their loyalty to your brand.
Kajabi Hero Frida recently used Instagram to help sell online courses about yoga. She posted yoga videos to build up her audience and credibility. Once her courses were ready, she promoted it through her social media channels. Leaning on social media helped Frida sell more than $30,000 in her launch month.