Businesses around the world have been hit hard by COVID-19.
For many, the last few weeks have been some of the most testing on record, but as the UK eases out of lockdown, the focus now turns to getting back on track – and that means injecting life back into the sales pipeline.
So how can social media help?
Social media should have already been an essential part of your marketing strategy, but with business being conducted almost entirely online for the last two months, now is the time to take full advantage of the shift to digital and use it to translate leads into sales.
Here, we share seven key tips to using social media to drive sales in the wake of the pandemic.
1. Choose the platform that’s best for your business
Research by GlobalWebIndex found 71 per cent of company decision-makers say social media is influential when researching a new product or service for their business, while more than a third use it to discover new products and services.
It’s easy to create a company account on most social media platforms. But do you really need a presence on all of them?
If your target audience tends to be men aged 40-plus, Pinterest might not be worth your time. Similarly, Snapchat might seem like a good idea but will you be regularly creating ad-hoc video content to share with users?
Analyse your current customers – their age, gender and location – and think of the channels where they are most likely to be found. Scrutinise how your competitors do social too – what platforms do they use? Do they get many engagements or is it a wasted effort? What type of posts are most successful on each channel?
For B2B companies, LinkedIn tends to be the key platform, as well as Twitter and YouTube. But that doesn’t mean you should rule out Facebook, Instagram and other platforms. There needs to be a balance between being visible and not spreading yourself too thin.
2. Provide engaging content
While you want your social media strategy to generate sales, being too overtly promotional will have the opposite effect.
No one wants to follow a company that constantly puts out sales messages – it can be regarded as irritating, boring and rarely offers any real value to consumers. It can also risk driving customers and prospects into the arms of competitors.
What’s more, it can impact the reach of your posts. If no one is engaging with your posts due to them being too salesy, social media algorithms – the way posts are sorted on a user’s timeline based on relevancy – simply won’t prioritise your content in a user’s feed. Fundamentally, the more engagement your posts get, the more likely they are to be seen.
So how do you get your content in front of potential leads?
Brands should look to follow the 80:20 rule – 80 per cent original content (such as advice features, infographics and videos) and relevant third-party content (such as news stories and blogs), and 20 per cent promotional content.
By creating your own advice-led content, it also helps position your company as an expert in its field, offering customers and prospects insightful information on the subjects they are interested in.
If you want to use your content for lead generation, consider making a proportion of it gated. That is, ask prospects to provide valuable data, such as their name, email address and company in exchange for viewing marketing assets, such as whitepapers.
3. Show your personality
Many B2B companies fall into the trap of just posting ‘business-only’ content on their social channels, but ultimately everyone is human and ‘personal’ content will invariably achieve higher engagement rates.
People want to know who they are dealing with, so involve staff in your social media postings. Share mini ‘meet the team’ videos or a Q&A with your MD to demonstrate to prospects that you aren’t a faceless brand with no personality, but rather a knowledgeable group of individuals that they can trust.
Shout about your award wins, new appointments and contract wins – but at the same time, share images that reveal your company’s culture such as your office pet or your participation in charitable events.
Let your followers get to know you.
4. Share customer stories and testimonials
As an unbiased, trustworthy voice, customer case studies and testimonials can be a powerful weapon in the battle to convert leads to sales.
Third-party endorsement helps to prove the value and success of your company’s products and services, strengthening the reputation of your brand.
Share posts linking to your website case studies page, post customer quotes with attractive visuals and retweet or share positive feedback received via your social platforms.
Short video testimonials can also act as a social media magnet. A real person associating their name and brand with your company helps to build brand trust and authenticity, as well as providing your sales team with content to share when pitching to a potential customer.
5. Employee advocacy
Employees are your company’s greatest advocates. By encouraging staff to promote company news and content, you are not only expanding your brand reach, but also helping build trust among your target audience. Indeed, research has revealed consumers are more likely to trust posts from individuals rather than from organisations.
A sales team that is active on social media can also have a direct bottom line impact. Research has found 73 per cent of sales professionals that use social media as part of their sales process outperform their peers, with 23 per cent more likely to exceed their quota. Moreover, the top-performing sales reps who close 51 per cent more deals than their peers say social media platforms are ‘very important’ to their success.
An investment in LinkedIn Sales Navigator is also worth considering, enabling your sales team to reach out to prospects outside of their LinkedIn network and opening the door to opportunities based on previous search history, profile views and saved leads. Sales Navigator can also integrate with your CRM to help better manage your sales pipeline.
6. Run paid ads
More than 27 million people use LinkedIn across the UK – that’s more than 27 million business professionals you could be engaging with every day.
Not every one of those users will be interested in your products and services, but the network can empower you to reach out to a highly relevant audience. Its advertising solution offers refined targeting, reaching professionals by job title, company industry, company size, user age, job function and more.
When compared to Twitter and Facebook, LinkedIn advertising is more expensive, but it typically delivers the best results for B2B companies.
7. Monitor social interactions and engage
Social listening is a frequently underused tool in generating sales from social media.
There are times when social media users will voice their need for a particular product or service, asking their followers or connections for recommendations. This calls for a swift response.
Some might not be asking for product advice, instead posting about a topic relevant to your business. It is still important to engage and get involved in these conversations.