Social media: the virtual marketplace
The advent of social media has given marketing and sales new ways to connect to prospects and clients. Social platforms such as LinkedIn and Twitter give buyers the ability to self-educate, answer questions, and connect with the brands and solutions they find interesting or relevant to their needs. At the same time, social platforms enable sellers to provide thought leadership, build a social footprint and share the value and functionality of their services and solutions. This is a primer on the differences between social selling and social media marketing.
Social media has created a virtual marketplace where both buyers and sellers can meet, interact and engage. This marketplace simulates the environment at a tradeshow where a buyer can seek out solutions, dispel myths, get questions answered and understand market offerings. The difference is that there is no registration fee, information is available globally and social footprints are available 24 hours a day. Even when not online or working, your social footprint is playing a critical role.
For sales and marketing, social media is about generating revenue. It’s one of the fastest and most cost-effective growth hacking strategies. For this reason, companies are seeking to define, standardize and implement their social media strategies in the most effective way possible. To do this, we should first define the differences between social selling and social media marketing.
What is Social Selling?
Social selling is a strategy that enables individuals to:
♦ Grow their social network
♦ Inform prospects and clients about their solutions and services
♦ Become thought leaders in their industry
♦ Leverage their network to offer products and services.
An effective social selling practice is thought out, strategic and offers value. This means a social seller needs to share relevant content with their intended audience that educates and informs. This value-added content includes third-party content on trends and news surrounding the intended industry.
By using strategically selected content to educate and gather information through conversations with their network, then sharing that information, social sellers demonstrate value and competence, generating a strong social footprint that can be identified by prospects.
This content needs to include personal content that humanizes a social seller’s online personality, industry content that builds their SME status in their industry, and branded content that drives prospects and clients to the company website and content. Together, this content builds the social sellers’ personal brand alongside their company brand. For more information on this, check out this blog.
It’s not just about engagement
However, social selling is not just about serving up content all day. Even with an effective hashtag strategy, social sellers that wish to be effective have to engage with their prospects and existing network. This means using social connectors such as likes, comments, and messages to start the conversation and progress it down the pipe. Social sellers need to strive to create strong meaningful relationships with their prospects and to build trust in that relationship. Once that trust is established, social sellers can rely on their network to build their business.
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Social selling is also about social listening. Social sellers use social media to understand what is trending -or important – in their industry, what their prospects are sharing, what that means for their business and how they can provide value to the market. Tools like LinkedIn Sales Navigator are used to find the right people at the right companies with powerful search features that enable social sellers to see the company structure, deciphering roles down to decision makers and influencers. Combined with a good calling strategy, social prospecting can turn every contact into a warm contact.
What is social media marketing?
Social media marketing is a branding strategy that leverages social media platforms to grow a brands social footprint by promoting owned content as well as trending content in an industry to establish a brand as a thought leader in its industry.
Social media marketing enables your brand to:
♦ Increase Brand recognition
♦ Strengthen Brand loyalty
♦ Drive prospects from education to consideration stage in the buyer journey
♦ Interact with existing customers
♦ Increase inbound traffic to your website
♦ Increased SEO
♦ Humanize the customer experience
An effective social media marketing strategy is a channel of your overall marketing strategy, but can also be aligned with your organization’s sales goals.