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Updated Apr 18, 2024

How Social Selling Can Improve Your Sales Process

Connect and engage with potential customers via your social platforms.

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Julie Thompson, Senior Writer & Expert on Business Operations
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Brands of all sizes and in all industries are turning to social selling strategies to boost sales and connect and engage with customers. In fact, according to LinkedIn, 88 percent of sellers are active on LinkedIn for selling purposes – and WhatsApp and X (formerly Twitter) aren’t far behind as frequently used social selling platforms. Additionally, traditionally consumer-oriented platforms like Instagram and Facebook are increasingly used for social media marketing and outreach.

If you aren’t using social media to increase sales, now is the time to start. With over 5 billion people projected to be active social media users by 2025, you can’t afford to miss out. We’ll explain more about social selling and share tips on building and measuring social selling efforts.

What is social selling?

Social selling is a selling strategy that uses your brand’s social media channels to connect and engage with potential customers. An active social media presence allows you to develop customer and prospect relationships organically by meeting them where they are. Forging relationships via social platforms means you avoid the traditional marketing costs involved in getting customers to visit your website, e-commerce store, blog and other destinations. Plus, you can potentially be the first brand consumers see and interact with when they’re ready to purchase.

FYIDid you know
Social selling is about growing customer relationships, not creating hard-hitting sales campaigns.

The social selling framework

To create a successful social selling framework, you must focus on five areas. Use the following tips to adjust your sales process to build deeper buyer relationships and better understand their purchasing behavior.

  1. People: Social selling can help sales teams find the right decision-makers and strengthen their networks. For example, LinkedIn allows you to search for people by job title, seniority level and job function. Network as much as possible to increase your chances of referrals and genuine connections.
  2. Channel: It’s crucial to use the correct channel to contact people. Many social media platforms and channels exist, but some will be more appropriate than others for your social selling efforts. For example, contacting individuals over Instagram using direct messages might be relevant if you’re seeking clients for your personal training business. However, if you’re trying to sell B2B software services, it’s better to network on LinkedIn to connect with the right professionals. 
  3. Message: Your social selling messages should be exciting and relevant to build relationships with prospects. Before sharing content, ask yourself: 
    • Who can I reference in my network sphere that the lead would know and recognize?
    • What content types are my prospects likely to be interested in?
    • What might get the attention of prospective buyers? 
    • What can I share with my prospects to prove my credibility?
  4. Timing: The timing of your social selling messaging is also crucial. You want to contact people when they have a reason to be interested in your products. Gathering the right data can improve your social media marketing by informing you of the best times and frequencies for your sales efforts.
  5. Ask: Finally, there is the ask. While social media is a great place to prospect and build relationships, it’s important not to inundate potential clients with information. You are less likely to succeed if you constantly send people calls to action or sales pitches. Instead, build your relationships and sell after establishing a rapport. Encourage sales and marketing teams to work together to monitor buyer behaviors and competitor keywords. By doing so, you can personalize the shopping experience and hone in on your social selling skills.

How social selling can improve your sales process

After setting up an effective social selling framework, your brand can reap the benefits of an improved sales process, such as increasing sales. According to LinkedIn, 78 percent of social sellers outsell professionals who don’t use social media. 

Beyond improving sales, consider the following ways social selling can improve your sales process: 

  • Social selling boosts brand visibility and loyalty. When social profiles are optimized and content is consistently shared, networks appear engaged and your online brand awareness increases. Consumers will see a united campaign and engage with a brand they may not have seen or noticed before. With the traffic contagion, companies will begin seeing higher-quality leads and increased customer loyalty and trust.
  • Social selling increases web traffic. Once your brand has gained traction on social media, you’ll see a rise in traffic to your website. This traffic boost helps your website rank higher in search results and allows it to gain authority online.
  • Social selling brings more power. With brand recognition and increased web traffic, you will gain a higher-caliber network that will increase sales, provide instant feedback and offer your company better business opportunities.

How to measure your social selling success

It’s not enough to have social accounts for your business on every platform. You must understand which ones will maximize your digital marketing ROI. Here’s how to measure your social selling success: 

  • Set social selling goals. Before you start analyzing every social interaction, make a list of business goals and audience engagement goals. For example, your top business goal may be to use social media to increase product awareness, and your biggest audience engagement goal may be to increase audience likes and shares. 
  • Establish social selling metrics. Once you’ve established your goals, you must set up metrics and KPIs to track them. For example, if you aim to increase brand awareness, you must measure your reach in volume and exposure. Your audience engagement metrics may include pinpointing which market segments liked and shared specific posts.
  • Utilize social selling tools. When measuring social media metrics, you can use the platform’s built-in analytics tools, third-party tools or custom-built APIs. Before posting or publishing a social media campaign, set up at least one real-time social media monitoring tool to ensure you understand what’s working and what isn’t. 
  • Monitor and tweak your social selling efforts. Your social media stats might be disheartening, especially at the beginning. However, to continue improving, you must monitor your social selling efforts and analyze these stats accurately. Don’t be afraid to take risks or experiment with your social strategy. Post at various times of the day and week and see what works best for you. Relationships take time to mature, but if you put in the hours, you will find the patterns of your core audience and understand how they engage.
TipBottom line
To engage your audience on social media, identify the social platforms your business should focus on, create compelling content and encourage followers to share your posts.

How to build your presence on social media platforms 

Not every social platform will be suitable for your social selling efforts. It’s best to experiment with various platforms to discover the most beneficial ones for customer engagement. Here are a few popular options and how to get started building a presence.

X (formerly Twitter)

After creating an X profile, learning the lingo, following other accounts and applying for verification (to show that your account is authentic), you can begin using the platform to grow your business. Here are some tips:

  • Tweet carefully. The best practice is to think before you tweet. Unfortunately, X is full of accounts that ignored this advice. You want to garner positive attention, not negative, so take great care in what you share. 
  • Tweet consistently. Your voice must also be consistent on X – and any social media platform – to genuinely connect with your target audience. 
  • Experiment with live events. Once you get the hang of tweeting and amass a fair number of followers, X Spaces allows you to host live audio events. You can invite X users to join your chats by providing a clickable link in a tweet.
  • Experiment with X tools. Use X Analytics, Lists and its advanced search function to better understand your audience and niche market. Experiment with organic tweets, trending hashtags, visuals and the best time to post for your business.

Instagram

More and more companies are using Instagram for business. When you sign up for Instagram, you can choose a business or creator (influencers, content creators and public figures) account type. Instagram business profiles are free and allow extended content space for industry and contact information. 

Instagram has numerous advertising options and customer service messaging features. You can also schedule posts with a third-party application, access Instagram Insights for analytics and set up e-commerce functionality with Instagram Shops.

Instagram has the following formats, which can help you keep your presence engaging: 

  • Instagram Stories: Instagram Stories is an excellent brand storytelling tool. Accounts with over 10,000 followers can include links in their stories – a massive advantage over competitors. 
  • Instagram Live: Instagram Live lets you broadcast live content.
  • Instagram Carousels: Instagram Carousels lets you utilize all 10 photo spots in a single post.
  • Instagram Reels: Instagram Reels is similar to TikTok and is quickly growing in popularity.
  • Instagram Guide: Instagram Guides are a cross between carousels and blog posts. They include a main image, title, intro and optional descriptions.

Be aware of Instagram posting best practices to maximize your efforts: 

  • Use high-quality images. Instagram is all about getting the money shot. When your budget allows, use photo editors and hire photographers to give potential customers the best product shots possible. 
  • Post consistently. Post consistently on Instagram so your followers can count on seeing frequent content. 
  • Create an active presence. Respond quickly to comments on your posts and mentions of your brand on other accounts. An active account will quickly gain followers. 
  • Use hashtags. Use appropriate hashtags so leads can find your business. 
  • Collaborate with influencers. Collaborating with influencers is also a great way to build your presence, no matter your budget.
TipBottom line
Track your sales data with Instagram's platform analytics or the best CRM software to determine when your customers purchase for special events or holidays. Once you quantify the data, sync your content calendar to maximize sales.

Facebook

Creating a Facebook business page is a great start to establishing your presence on this venerable social platform and taking advantage of all of Facebook’s marketing strategies. Here are a few ways to connect with your audience on Facebook:

  • Create a Facebook status post. Create a Facebook status post to engage with your audience by asking questions, requesting feedback, answering simple queries or offering further explanations about a current promotion.
  • Create a Facebook link post. Link posts are great for promotions, such as promoting your business blog. You can also link industry articles or news stories. Always include a line or two to add context to what you’re sharing.
  • Pin a Facebook post. If you have a limited-time sale, upcoming event or company achievement, a pinned post can keep your pertinent information at the top of your feed for a specific time. Once you create a post, select the three dots in the right-hand corner to make a pinned post.
  • Create a photo post. Photos are a great way to get your audience’s attention. A relevant photo, illustration or infographic of your products can stop a serial scroller.
  • Create a video post. Are you interested in sharing how your products are made or shipped or showing how your company gives back? A video can help illustrate your company culture. Plus, your followers can easily share the video with friends, extending your word-of-mouth reach.
  • Create a live video post and watch party. Is customer service repeatedly receiving the same phone call? If your product needs extra explanation or your customers are begging for your company to be more authentic, streaming a live video can be an excellent way to engage with thousands of people at once.
  • Create a Facebook story. Facebook stories are a perfect way to share sneak peeks of your product or brand. The short videos or photos last just 24 hours and aren’t subject to the Facebook algorithm.

Several other tools, such as Facebook Business Manager, Facebook Groups and Facebook Messenger, can help you manage your Facebook business pages. You can also use Facebook’s powerful ad platform to boost your best posts while segmenting your audience. 

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a powerful way to connect with decision-makers and potential customers alike. Here’s how to get the most out of the platform: 

  • Create a LinkedIn business profile. You’ll start by creating a LinkedIn business profile. Make sure it’s complete, current and accurate, and includes attention-grabbing images and content. For example, you can attach multimedia files to add white papers, case studies and other materials highlighting your company.
  • Keep your target audience in mind. While completing your profile, keep your audience in mind. What do you think they want to know about your company? Audit your page periodically to ensure the information remains relevant and current.
  • Use the LinkedIn Social Selling Index. LinkedIn has a built-in tool called the LinkedIn Social Selling Index (SSI) that everyone can use to become a more effective social seller. It reveals an SSI score to help businesses see how well optimized their profile is for social selling. 

Your SSI score is based on how well you do these four things:

  1. Establish your personal brand. This component is based on how well you’ve designed your profile. Your profile sections should be filled with detailed information, including your profile picture, headline, summary and experience. Establishing your personal brand also includes posting content and interacting with content uploaded by others with likes and comments.
  2. Find the right people. Use LinkedIn’s advanced search features, including its Sales Navigator platform, to ensure you find decision-makers. Also, connect to second-degree connections (people you aren’t associated with but who are related to one of your connections). LinkedIn also tells you who has viewed your profile page. Use this to your advantage by connecting with these people.
  3. Engage with insights. This metric is based on the content you share and engage with. An easy way to boost this number is to share relevant resources on your feed to promote yourself as a reliable source of information. Next, leverage LinkedIn Pulse to find pertinent articles and posts, and use Sales Navigator to follow news about your prospects so you can comment on their posts. Finally, always customize messages based on the prospect’s profile.
  4. Build relationships. This component is possibly the most important, and it’s also one of the easiest to improve. Focus on building connections with senior-level professionals who make purchasing decisions. Connecting with your colleagues internally will also help improve this score because of LinkedIn’s TeamLink. This feature allows you to see if any of your colleagues are connected with your leads so you can gain an introduction. Last, don’t forget about people once you’ve established a connection. Contact them with relevant information at appropriate times to develop the relationship. A simple “congrats” or “How are things going?” helps them remember you’re there.

Although LinkedIn’s SSI Score is helpful, a great score won’t necessarily make you a great social seller. Likes, connection requests, comments and messages can artificially boost some score components. In social selling, it’s best to focus on quality over quantity. Focus on providing quality content, making connections and building quality relationships.

Keegan Connolly contributed to this article. 

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Julie Thompson, Senior Writer & Expert on Business Operations
With nearly two decades of experience under her belt, Julie Thompson is a seasoned B2B professional dedicated to enhancing business performance through strategic sales, marketing and operational initiatives. Her extensive portfolio boasts achievements in crafting brand standards, devising innovative marketing strategies, driving successful email campaigns and orchestrating impactful media outreach. Thompson's proficiency extends to Salesforce administration, database management and lead generation, reflecting her versatile skill set and hands-on approach to business enhancement. Through easily digestible guides, she demystifies complex topics such as SaaS technology, finance trends, HR practices and effective marketing and branding strategies. Moreover, Thompson's commitment to fostering global entrepreneurship is evident through her contributions to Kiva, an organization dedicated to supporting small businesses in underserved communities worldwide.
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