A key component of digital marketing has to do with harnessing the power of social media to make connections and sell products and services. Whatever goods or services you sell, there’s an audience for them waiting on different social media sites.
The thing to remember is that you do have to work for a sale. Just like the ones you’ve earned in the past, it takes time, patience, the right approach, and the ability to close effectively.
All those aspects apply when you engage in social selling.
Even so, professionals with solid track records in B2C and B2B sales often treat their social media efforts as afterthoughts. Given that social and digital selling are here to stay, it’s time to look at what you’re doing.
If any of these negative habits have crept into your approach, banish them immediately. There are better ways to make the most of what’s proving to be a lucrative sales arena.
Here are 10 common mistakes salespeople make in social media:
1. Assuming All Social Media Platforms Are Alike
One of the first mistakes sales professionals make is assuming that all social media platforms are alike. It’s true they do share some common ground in terms of allowing people to connect. However, no two social media platforms work exactly the same way.
Your job is to get to know how to work within the unique culture of each social media platform. That means exploring the tools you can use to generate interest in you and what you have to sell.
It also means learning how to use them responsibly.
For instance, adding keywords with hashtags may work fine on one site, but do next to nothing on a different one.
Some sites allow you to use a combination of graphics, text, videos, and images. Others may limit how much you can use of each.
Knowing what you can do with each platform sets the stage for knowing how to attract positive attention.
2. Not Knowing Which Platforms Your Target Audience Uses
Most good salespeople identify a primary and secondary audience for their sales efforts. So why would you leave this out of your strategy when selling in a social media environment?
Take the time to understand which sites attract the type of people who are most likely to be interested in what you have to sell.
Understand that there may be some overlap. You may find that companies operating within a certain industry tend to favor two specific social media platforms.
A number of those companies may have a presence on both platforms rather than sticking with just one. That’s fine. Feel free to set up a presence on both of them.
3. Crafting Your Profile Like You’re a Job Seeker
Now that you know where to establish accounts, it’s time to talk about your profile. One of the most common mistakes that salespeople make is treating their profiles as if they’re abridged versions of their resumes.
It’s great that you won salesperson of the year five times in a row or that you broke your company’s annual sales goals for the last two years running, but is that really relevant to put in your profile description?
If you’re using social media for personal reasons, have at it. When you’re seeking to attract qualified connections, there’s a better way.
Turn things around a bit and fill your profile with information that’s likely to capture the attention of your intended audience. Tell a bit about the value your products bring to customers just like them.
You don’t have to go into great detail but do provide enough information to capture the eye. There will be time later on to get into the details of each of your product offerings.
4. Not Setting Goals for Social Media Outreach
Think of every other aspect of your sales strategy. Do you have specific goals set for every approach you use? Of course you do!
Whether you’re doing inside sales or outside sales, you have daily and weekly goals that probably includes talking with leads and prospects. You want to convert so many leads to prospects and also close some of the hotter prospects on a regular basis.
Approach your social media effort in the same manner. Set aside specific amounts of time each day and devote them to posting items that are likely to attract positive attention.
Have a goal for how many posts you’ll make on each platform per week, how many connections you’ll seek to create, and how many private messages you’ll use to engage qualified leads or prospects.
At the end of the week, review the effort just as you do with every other part of your sales strategy.
Where did you exceed your goals and where did you fall short? What can you do in the next week to tighten your approach and reach those goals?
Remember, social media is not an afterthought in your sales strategy; it’s an integral part of the entire process.
5. Seeking Connections Without Doing Research First
What about making connections? How do you do it?
For one thing, you don’t check out job titles and develop cursory opinions based on a quick scan of a profile. Just as you do when qualifying leads, conduct some research.
That includes reading profiles from beginning to end, making a note of the type of posts the potential connection makes, and even checking out personal information such as where the individual went to college or what companies he or she worked for previously.
Why does this matter?
The more information you have at your fingertips, the easier it is to find common ground and use it as a basis for reaching out.
You already know that building rapport is key to establishing relationships. That’s how you’ve earned sales in the past.
That same strategy is essential if you want to make connections on social media that are more than superficial.
6. Asking to Connect Too Soon
You learned years ago that timing is essential when it comes to selling. Asking for a meeting too soon or trying to close a sale when the prospect is obviously not there yet can ruin everything.
The same holds true with attempting to connect too soon on social media.
Do interact, but go about it in ways that allow the two of you to get to know one another better. Use the Like feature on some of their posts and maybe follow up with a reply if possible.
Once you get to know one another better, it’s fine to ask to connect.
7. Forgetting the Social Part of Social Selling
Even after the connection is there, remember to keep up the social aspect of the connection. Comment on posts, Like, and maybe Share some of them if they’re a good fit for your timeline.
Even if the time is not quite right to move from prospect to customer, keep building the rapport. As in offline connections, this relationship could lead to the prospect introducing you to other interested parties.
8. Posting Content That Turns Off Your Target Audience
One word about the posts on your accounts: refrain from posting things that might have a negative effect on the relationships you’re cultivating.
What you post can be funny, informational, or otherwise helpful, but it should never include elements that could offend in some way.
Remember that it’s great to post things from time to time that have nothing to do with business but keep it light.
9. Taking a One-Size-Fits-All Approach to Messaging
Just about every social media platform allows users to send others private messages. Don’t treat that private messaging feature like a direct mail piece.
Blasting out the same message to a larger group doesn’t fit well in this setting. This is especially true if you’re on more than one social media platform and some of your connections are following you on all those platforms.
Who wants to get the same message from two or more sources?
Take a personal approach with the messaging. Make it about the recipient and how what you’re sharing can benefit them.
The gist of the message may be the same, but a more personalized approach will increase the odds of getting a positive reply.
If you’re not sure how to use messaging to your benefit, be open to taking a course that helps you understand how to make the most of social and digital sales efforts.
Learning the best practices for this and other aspects of selling on social media will allow you to make the most of every tool each site provides.
10. Using the Same Posts Across Several Social Media Platforms
Another common mistake is to post the same message on multiple social media platforms. The issue is the same as with blasting the same private message out to all of your connections: wherever they go, they see the same thing.
It gets boring.
By all means, use the same subject matter, but present it in a different way on each site.
Something in the way you word it on one platform may connect with someone but your post on a different site might not do the job.
The Bottom Line
Get used to making the most of social selling. In the years to come, you can expect it to be more prominent in your sales effort.
Break those bad habits now and replace them with good ones. In the long run, you’ll be poised to increase your sales, make more qualified connections, and build a positive online reputation that also enhances your offline sales efforts.