From Social Presence To Social Selling: 5 Tips For Making The Leap

Brands must strate­gi­cal­ly curate the right social ambiance and guide it for max­i­mum sell­ing effec­tive­ness. Here’s how.

Dana Olivas By Dana Olivas from LeadMD. Join the discussion » 0 comments

Con­sumers rarely first learn about your brand from your web­site. Instead they tend to hear about it from their friends, both offline and online, and the var­i­ous reviews, com­ments, and arti­cles they read online. And the first des­ti­na­tion they vis­it is often your social accounts.

These cus­tomers want a per­son­al­ized con­nec­tion with brands; they want to see how you deal with issues, what kind of com­pa­ny per­son­al­i­ty you have, and how much you engage with your cus­tomers. So they usu­al­ly head to your social pages because they know those will be more reveal­ing than your offi­cial web­site.

Build­ing a social media pres­ence is mar­ket­ing 101 these days. Busi­ness­es from star­tups to enter­pris­es under­stand the neces­si­ty of some type of social plat­form, even if it’s a sim­ple Face­book page.

The prob­lem? Too many brands stop there and think that post­ing con­tests, pho­tos, and blog posts is enough. In today’s dig­i­tal land­scape, turn­ing social engage­ment into sales requires a lit­tle more strat­e­gy.

Leads and prospects feel alien­at­ed when brands try to sell from behind a face­less, cor­po­rate wall.

Look at it this way; per­son­al refer­rals are often the lead­ing source of new cus­tomers. Peo­ple trust their friends’ and fam­i­lies’ opin­ions pre­cise­ly because of the per­son­al con­nec­tion involved; there’s an ele­ment of trust that no ad can com­pete with. That’s why social accounts are so valu­able. Brands can cul­ti­vate that same trust with that more per­son­al touch and then con­nect their sales efforts to that per­son­al­ized sphere.

Which brings us to the next prob­lem. While many brands rec­og­nize the sales poten­tial in social media, they often take a lais­sez-faire atti­tude and assume the con­ver­sions will hap­pen on their own. This is gen­er­al­ly an unwise idea.

If you let your social pres­ence dimin­ish, your cus­tomers will quick­ly man­age your online rep­u­ta­tion for you. It’s well doc­u­ment­ed that cus­tomers with com­plaints and neg­a­tive com­men­tary are often more moti­vat­ed to share their feel­ings online than hap­py cus­tomers. If that dynam­ic plays out on your social accounts, your brand will acquire a skewed image.

You must strate­gi­cal­ly curate the right social ambiance and guide it for max­i­mum sell­ing effec­tive­ness. Here’s how.

5 Social Selling Tips

1. Make Your Social Selling Strategy A Priority

Too often brands will say, “Oh, it’s just social media. We’ll have an intern do it.” Or they’ll kick it over to the most junior per­son in the office, usu­al­ly some­one right out of col­lege.

What they fail to grasp is that social media and social sell­ing are dif­fer­ent.

Post­ing par­ty pic­tures on Face­book and Insta­gram is a far cry from han­dling a company’s strat­e­gy, con­tent, and online rep­u­ta­tion. The per­son in charge needs to under­stand the per­sua­sion that’s at the heart of all social sell­ing.

For instance, there’s an art to han­dling neg­a­tive com­ments. Done well, a response can actu­al­ly dri­ve more busi­ness than a com­pli­men­ta­ry review. But you need some­one who under­stands the strat­e­gy behind it. That per­son also needs to make the right con­nec­tions and nur­ture them care­ful­ly.

Rather than sim­ply fol­low­ing or friend­ing a horde of new names, it’s smarter to set aside time every day to reach out to one new per­son, respond to men­tions, and slow­ly grow the rela­tion­ship. That approach will deliv­er 20 new per­son­al rela­tion­ships a month, rather than a blast of con­tacts who imme­di­ate­ly for­get you in their sea of oth­er con­tacts.

2. Cultivate The Right Tone

Authen­tic is a buzz­word for a good rea­son: cus­tomers know when they’re being told the truth and they like it. Once upon a time, sales peo­ple would attend sem­i­nars on slick sell­ing tac­tics. Now many of them will apply those prac­tices to the Inter­net and it always rings false.

Today’s con­sumers are dig­i­tal­ly savvy. They can rec­og­nize hype from a hun­dred yards off. It’s like choos­ing between a can­did pho­to and a stock pho­to; peo­ple can tell the dif­fer­ence and they’ll choose the real pho­to every time.

So if you’re tempt­ed to cre­ate a fake social media per­son­al­i­ty for your brand, don’t. Instead, share who your com­pa­ny real­ly is through your tone.

If you’re fam­i­ly-ori­ent­ed, show it in your blog posts. Share your client phi­los­o­phy. Devel­op a rela­tion­ship, just as you would a cus­tomer in the store.

This is a good time, inci­den­tal­ly, to think about your brand image. Are you play­ful? Author­i­ta­tive? Inject that feel­ing into your social con­tent.

Don’t be afraid to pull back the cur­tain – buy­ers like to see the per­son­al ele­ment. What hap­pens behind the scenes? Who are the lead­ers and what are they like?

3. Go Where Your Market Is

For the longest time, if you did­n’t have a prod­uct that was some kind of cut­ting-edge cell phone or big new game sys­tem, mar­keters believed they didn’t have a seat at the social table. But that just isn’t true.

No mat­ter what kind of busi­ness you run, you can be suc­cess­ful at social sell­ing. It’s just the plat­forms that dif­fer.

Mar­keters tar­get­ing moms or con­sumers inter­est­ed in fash­ion will prob­a­bly find their buy­ers on Face­book, Pin­ter­est, or Insta­gram, as those plat­forms offer a win­dow into the customer’s soul and fos­ter the deep loy­al­ty B2C brands want to cre­ate.

Less “sexy” prod­ucts, on the oth­er hand, usu­al­ly have a longer buy­ing process involved, which makes col­lab­o­ra­tion, edu­ca­tion, and net­work­ing top pri­or­i­ties. If you’re sell­ing insur­ance, clean­ing prod­ucts, cloud tech­nol­o­gy or oth­er, less flashy prod­ucts, you’re going to have more suc­cess posi­tion­ing your­self as some­one who can edu­cate the mar­ket.

LinkedIn is an obvi­ous choice for build­ing those con­nec­tions and post­ing strate­gic con­tent, but don’t for­get about Google+. Plen­ty of mar­keters who are sell­ing prod­ucts you aren’t like­ly to impulse-buy in the gro­cery store check­out line are adver­tis­ing their val­ue and expand­ing their net­works by hold­ing Hang­outs and post­ing blog posts.

4. Saying No Is As Important As Saying Yes

When it comes to social sell­ing, there’s an immense – you might even say end­less – num­ber of activ­i­ties and ini­tia­tives you can launch. While that might seem promis­ing, chas­ing too many options can sab­o­tage your pro­gram.

Plen­ty of dig­i­tal sales teams will become over­whelmed and exe­cute weak­ly in a high num­ber of areas, rather than per­form­ing strong­ly in a few.

The solu­tion here: enlist­ing the help of good tools that can map out your activ­i­ties. Pro­grams like Hoot­Suites can help make social cura­tion and sell­ing more man­age­able. They can also set bound­aries and cur­tail your impuls­es to do too much or not enough; for every per­son who for­gets to update their social accounts, some­one else will dive in and lose too many hours post­ing, shar­ing, and read­ing con­tent.

5. Measure And Adapt

Anoth­er social sell­ing myth is that social suc­cess can’t be mea­sured. It can. This is anoth­er instance where the right tools can be a big help.

For instance, look­ing at ana­lyt­ics can tell you if the demo­graph­ics are actu­al­ly match­ing up with your cus­tomer per­sonas. You can also treat social as a free focus group, try­ing out prod­ucts and mea­sur­ing response.

At the same time, it’s impor­tant to remem­ber that social suc­cess can take dif­fer­ent forms. For instance, if a piece of con­tent went viral, that’s a suc­cess. The ROI in terms of expo­sure might be hard to quan­ti­fy but the val­ue is still unde­ni­able.

The best approach is to have an inten­tion for every post and cam­paign you share and mon­i­tor your results – then adjust based on response.


Sell­ing is about rela­tion­ships – and social media is all about build­ing rela­tion­ships. To trans­form super­fi­cial engage­ment into pur­chas­es, teams must employ the same efforts, such as buy­er per­sonas, nur­ture cam­paigns and edu­ca­tion, that they would in any sales ini­tia­tive. By fus­ing those strate­gies with the per­son­al authen­tic­i­ty of social plat­forms, brands can inspire the kind of con­nec­tions that dri­ve con­ver­sions, and ampli­fy their sales pow­er.

Dana Olivas

Written by Dana Olivas

Marketing Director, LeadMD

Dana Olivas is marketing director at LeadMD. Dana has over a decade of experience in marketing, ranging from small businesses to multi-billion dollar companies. She has worked in social selling since 2010 for B2B and B2C brands. More of Dana's expertise can be found on LeadMD's blog

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