Social media has changed the landscape of business creating a new crop of millionaires and billionaires. With all the money floating around the opportunity is intoxicating but many businesses seem to be wondering where the time and effort spent will get them.
Is there really a business case for Social Media?
The opportunity for Social Media to generate sales for your business is very real but social media is different from the normal sales process. Social Media includes LinkedIn, Twitter, FaceBook, Pinsterest, Blogs, YouTube, Google + and hundreds of other opportunities to connect, on a digital level, with your customer.
Initially, you’re talking to everyone and so you will need to define and create your own audience!
The Social Media environment is resistant to overt advertising [people own their social media space - you're in their living rooms and respect is essential ] and so to get results businesses need to engage with followers and provide compelling messages to move the relationships closer. Make certain that your content is interesting [ideally to your reader] and varied!
If you don’t have a social media plan and sales strategy you will waste your time! Define who you want to talk to and what you want to tell them but first listen to your target audience to determine what they want to hear!
Brand Awareness is one of the clear benefits of social media. Using Twitter to follow people and businesses that fall within our target group is a starting point but unless we are able to spark engagement then the potential for business remains very low. Be careful about simply pumping messages out on your social media feeds – this may do more harm than good – engage!
Google Ranking is a clear benefit to having a strong social media presence. Google ranking is becoming increasingly more sophisticated and increasingly difficult to manipulate. Google wants to reward businesses that authentically engage across a wide selection of platforms with better search results. The reward to a high Google ranking is very clear.
Brand intelligence is important in business. Are your customers talking about you or your competitors? Use SocialMention to track your brand! Using # hash marks on posts is a good tool to make your messages searchable to others who may have an interest [ #sales, #accounting, #fashion ]. Search [ @WynDaviesTweets ] your brands regularly.
Customer connections. Social media is viral! We see what interests our connections and then perhaps we will follow too – we catch the virus! If you want to spread your cold I would guess that getting on the Central Line of London’s Tube at 5:50PM on a weekday would be a pretty good place to start. Do the same with your brand! Connect and follow as many people as possible! The more connections the better chance you have of spreading your particular virus.
Customer engagement is the biggest opportunity with Social Media. Look at Top Shop’s Facebook Page to understand how really connecting with prospects is about talking about what your prospects want to hear NOT what you want to talk about. TopShop has 2,380,481 followers on Facebook! What really interests your customers? Most business delegate social media to interns, junior staff and outside agencies and wonder why they don’t get results. Get involved directly and build real connections. By focusing just on pushing messages out the opportunity to listen and engagement is lost! Engage!
Be mobile! More than half of all social media is accessed on SmartPhones so get the most by going mobile!
Generating real leads is the part where most brands fail because social media is managed out of the sales process. Social Media is NOT a traditional selling environment and a hard sell or push of any kind will turn people off. When someone follows you on Twitter don’t ask him or her to follow you on Facebook or push direct messages on them – engage – suggest that a new post on your Facebook may interest him or her. Instead of trying to sell, simply provide lots of compelling messages and powerful content to maintain attention. Never push! Always look to provide a compelling message to follow! Think temptation! What do your prospects find irresistible?
Managing your sales pipeline and include social media in that pipeline. Connections on social media need to be managed differently then traditional business leads. Imagine you’re giving a presentation on your business at a trade show to an audience of five hundred people. The audience will be there for different reasons – some will be serious buyers, some will be interested, some will be competitors, some will just like listening to presentations, some will be there just to get out of the rain. This is Social Media! When you don’t know what the motives your audience you need to manage your message so that those who are interested have options but those who are not yet interested are not turned off. Your blog and YouTube night offer white papers or free seminars or webinars. Seminars could lead to telephone or in person meetings. Social media extends your pipeline by engaging prospects earlier in the buying cycle and so a softer sell is essential.
Converting leads into sales is always the same it is about using compelling messages to trial close and to eventually close. If your blog offers valuable content and contains a call to action you will get results!
In the end the successful Social Media process is:
1) Identify your target
2) Create an audience
5) Maintain engagement
6) Mange the pipeline
7) Close the sale
Creating a business using social media is really the same as all other selling – the key is to adjust your approach and expectations to fit the environment.
Wyn N. Davies is Managing Director of Davies International, The Sales Development Company, based in London. Davies can work with your business to develop a business strategy and plan that include the powerful value of Social Media.