5 Mistakes Brands Make Trying to Sell on Social

Social media may be full of sales opportunities, but tapping them takes more than a branded Facebook page. You need a team of town criers, each trained and ready to talk you up.

Where Social Sellers Go Wrong

Too many companies sic their salespeople or influencers on social media without setting them up for success. The following are sure ways to fail with social selling:

1. Not establishing brand standards

Whether you tap your own team members or rely on external influencers, you can’t expect them to know exactly how you should be mentioned online. Although social platforms do differ in terms of content format and audience, standards should apply no matter where a conversation occurs.

Structure your standards in terms of actions, particularly if your sellers aren’t part of your core team. Nu Skin’s social media guidelines provide its independent consultants with specific dos and don’ts around its product and earnings claims. For visual learners, the beauty and wellness brand includes screenshots to show what brand-appropriate and (-inappropriate) posts look like online.

2. Leaving multimedia out of the mix

Low-effort content doesn’t catch eyeballs on social media. Although text posts have their place, consumers want to see proof: How does the product work? Where does it fit into their life? Are their friends using it? Data-driven video tactics help social sellers answer those questions and in audience-specific ways.

Visual content doesn’t need to be an enormous production, either. If you don’t have the budget to hire a agency, think about alternatives. Beauty brand VerveGirl gained 1,400 user-submitted videos in two weeks simply by holding a makeup tutorial competition. For infographics, consider contest sites like 99designs, which lets you choose a winner among hundreds of entries.

3. Putting quantity over quality

Social selling might sound like a matter of breadth, but there’s a reason should choose micro-influencers over their mega-influencing peers: Nearly two-thirds of consumers prefer small-scale interactions online.

Although you might have enough marketers and salespeople on your team to cover your core social media platforms, ask yourself whether they’re too close to your company. For some campaigns, such as selling B2B services on LinkedIn, you might need the internal knowledge and credibility. In consumer spaces like fashion, that distance is desirable because it creates a sense of authenticity.

4. Taking an all-platform approach

Instagram and YouTube may be the top two platforms in terms of influencer marketing investment, but that doesn’t mean they’re the right choice for every brand. Both platforms attract young audiences, for one, making them poor places to reach middle-aged adults or seniors.

Before sending out your social army, consider who uses each social media platform. Pick a primary and, if the budget allows, a secondary site. If you can only afford one and have a general audience, Facebook has the broadest appeal in terms of age, race, and gender.

5. Neglecting nurturing

What happens after a user spots your content on social media? If you’re lucky and you’ve established a clear click path, you might score a sale. More likely, you’ll have generated awareness. What you do with it dictates whether that initial interest becomes something more.

Include a link to your site in each social post. At that link’s destination, use a lead capture tool. Although whitepaper content works best in the B2B space, B2C companies can also pair social posts with on-site assets. REI’s #ForceOfNature campaign maps nicely to its blog and infographic content. To comment or sign up for REI’s newsletter, visitors have to share their email address, giving the outdoor brand a chance to close a sale.

Turning attention online into actual revenue is easier said than done. You might make a few new friends with those artful Facebook posts, but there’s more to the story if you want to sell. In both yesterday’s town squares and on today’s social platforms, the secret is the setup. Reaching the right people on the right platforms with the right messaging is how social selling works.

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