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Reality Check: 5 Common Misconceptions About Selling on Social Media

Business.com / Social Media / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Social media is a noisy place, making it hard to stand out. In this article, we discuss the reality of selling on social media.

If used correctly, social media can be a lucrative platform.

After all, there are approx. 2.307 billion active social media users out in the world today. That's a lot of potential customers.

But of course, only a very small percentage of those people are going to land on your brand's social pages.

Social media is a noisy place. It's hard to stand out. And it's even more challenging to sell on social media once you finally have the attention of those prospects.

One of the main problems seems to be that there are a lot of myths and misconceptions when it comes to selling on social media.

So, here at Spark Pay, we thought we'd clear the air. In this article, we're calling out five of the most common misconceptions about selling on social media, and giving you the reality.

Related Article:On the Horizon: The Social CRM Market Is Expanding—Are You Onboard?

Misconception 1: Everyone Is Doing It

Reality: Actually, the percentage of B2C companies leveraging social selling is relatively small, and the number of B2Bs doing it is even less. The graph below, from HubSpot's State of Inbound 2015-2016, lists the top sales priorities of participating companies. Note the rank of social selling: 

hubspot-state-of-inbound-graphHowever, just because a lot of companies aren't yet leveraging social media for sales it doesn't mean it's not an effective strategy. In fact, companies are reaping great rewards from social selling:

"Seventy-eight percent of salespeople using social media perform better than their peers."

Related Article:How To Create Facebook Ads That Drive Sales

Misconception 2: Selling on Social Means Exactly That

Reality: Selling on social media is more about building strong relationships with customers than it is about directly selling. It's tough enough to stand out on social media as it is there are 50 million small business pages on Facebook so if all your posts are hard sales attempts, you'll get nowhere.

There's a great quote on social selling:

"Selling through social channels (social selling) is the closest thing to being a fly on the wall in your customers, prospects, and competitor's world."

Social media allows you to learn so much more about your target market it's important to take advantage of it. Customers share their lives on social media, and as a brand, you can use this to help you sell. Here's an example from UK supermarket chain, Tesco:

Tesco supermarket Tweet 

By reaching out to this customer and showing interest in their day-to-day life, Tesco has put down the foundations for a good relationship which could result in extra sales. Building positive relationships is at the heart of social media and also at the heart of selling, allowing you to create loyal fans of your brand.

Misconception 3: It's Easy

Realitiy: It's not. Think about other forms of selling; cold calling for example. Although it's a terrible sales strategy, to make cold calls all you need to do is buy a database and call the people on the list. My point being: it's easy.

Selling on social media is not easy. It takes months of continuous effort to get your social channels in a position of authority. You have to share great content, upload awesome photos and videos, gain followers, gather likes, retweets, and all that other important social media street cred before you can even think about selling.

Keeping your social media channels up to par while you're selling is an everlasting task. But, if you put in the hard work, you'll reap the rewards:

"Forty-six percent of social sellers hit quota compared to 38 percent of sales reps who don't."

Misconception 4: It's the Only Sales Strategy You Need

Reality: Why, when there are so many channels of communication out there, would you limit yourself to just one?

Social media is a great way to increase your interactivity with prospects, but it can't replace the personal and professional touch of a phone call or an email. Simply put, whatever methods of communication your customers are using, you should be using, too. Paul McCord from Top Sales World said it best:

"It isn't our prospect's responsibility to respond to us in the way we want to connect with them; it is our responsibility to connect with our prospects in the way they will accept."

Misconception 5: It's Free

Reality: Come on. We've all heard the saying: Nothing in life is free. I mean, okay, social media is technically free, but if you want to see a monetary return from social, then you have to put money in first, which brings to mind another popular saying that's applicable to selling on social media:

"It takes money to make money."

It's no secret that social media sites, particularly Facebook, are making it increasingly difficult for brands to pop up on their followers' news feeds without paying to boost their posts. In fact, a study from 2014 discovered that brand posts on Facebook are typically seen by about six percent of a page's fans, a figure that has no doubt reduced even further since then.

Related Article:30 Crazy Stats We Heard at Social Media Marketing World #SMMW15

Closing Thoughts

There are a lot of myths and misconceptions when it comes to social selling. But, as we've hopefully proved to you in this article, the reality of selling on social media, although it may take a lot of hard work, isn't all that bad. In fact, the results are great.

Want to find out more about selling on social media? Take a look at this Buccaneer's Business Guide to Social Media [Infographic].

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