What’s the main reason you joined Facebook? Or Twitter? Or LinkedIn?
Initially it may have been to track down old school friends, find a job or stalk celebrities, but it can also be a very effective way to increase sales.
If done right.
Take the Big Green Bookshop in London. With months to go until it expected to close down due to mounting debts, the owner of the shop took to Twitter, posting a tweet that appealed to local people to save their bookshop.
The tweet went viral, began trending in the UK, and within two weeks the business had made enough money to pay off its debts.
Pretty powerful stuff.
So how can you capture some of that digital passion and turn it into sales for your business?
1. Tell a story through Facebook
The Facebook timeline layout became compulsory for all business pages in March 2012 – with mixed feedback – but its new look offers loads of space to tell your audience about your business.
With the ‘timeline’ feature, you can show how the company has grown over time, whether that’s employing your first member of staff, launching a new product, or securing a new contract with a major client.
You can see below (right of the screengrab) how Coca Cola has used the new feature to include significant events in the company’s history over the last 200 years.
As well as building your credibility as a business, the timeline feature is also a great place to share promotions or special offers.
How about adding a product to the timeline and selling it at 1995 prices?
Make sure you use your other social networking accounts to spread the word of your promotion.
2. Be yourself with Twitter
People don’t buy from companies – they buy from people. Twitter is the perfect platform to really show your personality, build rapport with your audience and be human, so resist posting tweets that just sell sell SELL or you’ll get a reputation as creepy salesman.
Instead, try getting to know your connections through genuine conversation – we all like to buy from someone we know, so ask questions, respond to tweets, share insights and useful links.
Be interesting and sales will follow.
3. Take an interest in Pinterest
The phenomenal growth of the latest social network makes it one of the fastest growing websites ever.
Over 4 million people visit Pinterest every single day, sharing collections of images from anywhere on the web to create their own online noticeboards; perfect for designers, artists, architects, restaurants.
Research published earlier this year suggests that visitors referred from Pinterest are 10% more likely to buy something than visitors who arrive from another social network, so it’s well worth a look if your audience is already there.
Try creating a noticeboard that shows off your latest product range, or a mood board of images that inspired your latest designs. Link through to the product on your website and get publicising the link to your board via your other social networks and marketing communications.
4. Teach first, sell later
This is one of the most under-utilised yet effective ways to sell through social media, and it’s a great way to demonstrate your knowledge on a subject and build your reputation as an expert.
My dad is a regular reader of the local vet’s blog – she writes about cleaning dogs’ teeth, getting their weight down, which walks are best in the local area.
When my dad’s dog wasn’t well, who did he call? An anonymous vet who appeared in the Google search results or the one whose advice he’d been reading for the past month?
Try sharing some helpful advice with your readers and see how your reputation grows. When they’re ready to buy, you know who they’ll call.
5. Don’t be afraid to sell
Once you’ve connected with a person online, they are interested in what you’re posting, what you’re sharing, what you’re saying, so it’s okay to do a bit of selling.
Your business solves problems and provides solutions, whether you are a book-keeper, jewellery designer, gardener or food producer, and if you don’t mention your products to your online audience then you’re probably doing yourself (and them) an injustice.
Remember: people want to buy what your business offers (otherwise you should probably get your coat now). It’s only fair that you make sure they know what that is so the occasional product mention is critical to your social media success.
90% useful content, tips, advice, resources, and 10% selling is a good balance.
So what do you think? How do you use social media to sell? If you’ve got a success story or a piece of advice to share, let us know in the comments below.
Today’s Micro Action
Check your social media content to ensure you have your ratio right. That’s 90% useful content, tips, advice, resources, and 10% selling. If not, redress the balance and identify new ways to engage your audience.