Social media can serve as a useful sales tool and a viable lead source, but only if used correctly.
Tech-savvy Millennials are fluent in the unspoken language of social media etiquette; growing up in the digital age means that one’s online persona needs to be on point to remain socially relevant.
The new generation of salespeople effectively extracts solid leads through social media channels. The key to sales success in social media is context. Certain social media channels are fine places to put out a few feelers for your brand or product, while others are not. While there are many options, let’s focus on the three most common.
The Business End Of Social
LinkedIn is designed to promote networking, and comes with the implicit understanding that people on the site are there to do business. Groups on LinkedIn offer forums for users to foster discussions and make new connections. It is not uncommon to ask for a warm introduction via a shared connection to a prospect outside of your network, and search tools allow you to find prospects that are best fits.
For a salesperson, LinkedIn is the primary social media platform in your sales strategy. Twitter can also be useful, but your audience and your character count are limited.
Facebook Face Off
The only other social media platform as ubiquitous in the business world as LinkedIn is Facebook, but I strongly discourage anyone from using Facebook as a sales tool. Perhaps there are a few industries in which Facebook might be a useful way of identifying and contacting prospects, but for the most part, the Social Network should remain just that – a “social” network.
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B2B sales pitches are no more than a slight annoyance when they come up in the News Feed and are even worse when sent as personal messages.
Take, for example, a post that reads, “Is doing the payroll for your small business taking up too much of your time? I can help! Call me at Speedy’s Payroll (555) 555-5555 for a free consultation.”
A post like this would be appropriate on LinkedIn, either in a relevant group (one for small business owners, perhaps) or as a status update for business connections to see. That same post as a status update on Facebook would be much less appropriate, and frankly falling on deaf ears.
B2B…Or Baby Monkey?
Sandwiched between personal updates like your cousin’s pictures from his housewarming party last weekend and a video shared by that girl who went to your high school of a baby monkey riding on a pig, a B2B sales pitch like this would be out of place and a shot in the dark at best in terms of an effective way to gain business.
One exception is Facebook Groups – like LinkedIn, Facebook offers groups where people can gather based on a mutual industry or interest. A post like the one above could be appropriate given the context, but some moderators don’t look kindly upon solicitation.
Social media can be an effective lead source, but only when used properly. LinkedIn is a great way to discover new prospects and gain referrals, and Twitter can serve as an effective way to reach new potential clients. If you choose to add Facebook to your sales strategy as well, be careful that you aren’t wasting your time and effort only to annoy your nieces and nephews when your pitch pops up on their newsfeeds.
Depending on your business type and audience, you may also find social outlets like Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, and Google+ effective for sales communications, but as a rule, get familiar with the etiquette of each channel before jumping in.