It is now official. As companies, world over, rushed to embrace social media, sceptics have wondered if all that posting, tweeting and retweeting, was worth anything in sales. Though marketers in companies had a hunch all along that social media was an effective tool, in the end it was a guess. But recent research supports what social media selling enthusiasts have always promised.
An MIT Sloan Management expert post of July 2015 website cites research by Juanjuan Zhang, Associate Professor of Marketing to show that posts on social media do have a positive impact on sales.
Five ways to use social media to sell more:
1. Advantage Twitter – when tweets are regular
Entry barriers are low on Twitter. It is an egalitarian marketplace. It is not so expensive. One can easily add pictures, videos and graphics to enhance engagement. Additionally, when you tweet to followers who are already predisposed to you, you avoid coming across as intrusive. To make these advantages work for you, your tweets should be regular.
2. Simple is effective when it is informative
Twitter’s 140-character limit drives simplicity. Brevity is different from being informative. Both are at a premium on Twitter. Adding a link to your message encourages the receiver to engage even more.
3. Use “Influencicals” to reinforce messaging
“Influencials” are not celebrities. They are Twitter users who have large followings, tweet regularly and whose followers tend to retweet them. Influencials should be ideally individuals, without any biases, with sizeable following. Zhang and her colleagues found that, when an opinion leader who particularly “had a big following that did not overlap with the audience of the media company reposted the company’s message, customer engagement in the form of television viewership increased by 33 percent”.
4. Simplicity and candour drive reposts
It is not about being clever or funny. Reposts said simple and straightforward things like: “This looks interesting; you should check it out”. Of course, the message should provide the link to the particular piece of information. This kind of message targets the expanded audience that may not be familiar with your product and brand. Given the rising percentage of internet driven sales, these links could be valuable in contributing to topline growth.
5. Avoid third party advertisements wherever possible
Third party advertisements are typically those which appear on customer’s timelines and homepages and look similar to other ordinary tweets or posts. They are targeted through algorithms based on a person’s web activity and browsing history. Parsing through a persons’ data, the advertiser determines that the person is likely to be receptive to the message in the ad.
However, the problem with third-party advertisements, as Zhang points out, is that many consumers view them skeptically. She says: “Not only are these posts forced upon them (consumers), but their content is so unnervingly accurate that it often comes across as a creepy ad campaign designed by Big Brother. Our study casts doubt on whether companies even need third party advertisements”. If a company’s basic posts and reposts bring the desired impact, the need for third party advertisements may not arise. Intelligent use of social media like Twitter can result in tangible improvements to the bottom line.
Mercuri International’s Sales Excellence Survey 2017 found that top performers reported significantly higher levels of leveraging social media for Customer communication. And, the importance of leveraging social media is seen to increase substantially in the future, by all respondents regardless of industry across the performance spectrum.
The survey found that this preference for social media was more pronounced in Banking, Financial Services, and Insurance, where companies rated social media influence on Customer communication among their Top 3 drivers of Sales Excellence. As Customer touchpoints go increasingly digital, it becomes important to adopt social media among preferred tools for Customer communication.