5 Simple Ways To Sell Through Social Media

What’s the main reason you joined Facebook?  Or Twitter?  Or LinkedIn?

Initially it may have been to track down old school friends, find a job or stalk celebrities, but it can also be a very effective way to increase sales.

If done right.

Take the Big Green Bookshop in London.  With months to go until it expected to close down due to mounting debts, the owner of the shop took to Twitter, posting a tweet that appealed to local people to save their bookshop.

The tweet went viral, began trending in the UK, and within two weeks the business had made enough money to pay off its debts.

Pretty powerful stuff.

So how can you capture some of that digital passion and turn it into sales for your business?

1. Tell a story through Facebook

The Facebook timeline layout became compulsory for all business pages in March 2012 – with mixed feedback – but its new look offers loads of space to tell your audience about your business.

With the ‘timeline’ feature, you can show how the company has grown over time, whether that’s employing your first member of staff, launching a new product, or securing a new contract with a major client.

You can see below (right of the screengrab) how Coca Cola has used the new feature to include significant events in the company’s history over the last 200 years.

As well as building your credibility as a business, the timeline feature is also a great place to share promotions or special offers.

How about adding a product to the timeline and selling it at 1995 prices?

Make sure you use your other social networking accounts to spread the word of your promotion.

2. Be yourself with Twitter

People don’t buy from companies – they buy from people.  Twitter is the perfect platform to really show your personality, build rapport with your audience and be human, so resist posting tweets that just sell sell SELL or you’ll get a reputation as creepy salesman.

Instead, try getting to know your connections through genuine conversation – we all like to buy from someone we know, so ask questions, respond to tweets, share insights and useful links.

Be interesting and sales will follow.

3. Take an interest in Pinterest

The phenomenal growth of the latest social network makes it one of the fastest growing websites ever.

Over 4 million people visit Pinterest every single day, sharing collections of images from anywhere on the web to create their own online noticeboards; perfect for designers, artists, architects, restaurants.

Research published earlier this year suggests that visitors referred from Pinterest are 10% more likely to buy something than visitors who arrive from another social network, so it’s well worth a look if your audience is already there.

Try creating a noticeboard that shows off your latest product range, or a mood board of images that inspired your latest designs.  Link through to the product on your website and get publicising the link to your board via your other social networks and marketing communications.

4. Teach first, sell later

This is one of the most under-utilised yet effective ways to sell through social media, and it’s a great way to demonstrate your knowledge on a subject and build your reputation as an expert.

My dad is a regular reader of the local vet’s blog – she writes about cleaning dogs’ teeth, getting their weight down, which walks are best in the local area.

When my dad’s dog wasn’t well, who did he call?  An anonymous vet who appeared in the Google search results or the one whose advice he’d been reading for the past month?

Try sharing some helpful advice with your readers and see how your reputation grows.  When they’re ready to buy, you know who they’ll call.

5. Don’t be afraid to sell

Once you’ve connected with a person online, they are interested in what you’re posting, what you’re sharing, what you’re saying, so it’s okay to do a bit of selling.

Your business solves problems and provides solutions, whether you are a book-keeper, jewellery designer, gardener or food producer, and if you don’t mention your products to your online audience then you’re probably doing yourself (and them) an injustice.

Remember: people want to buy what your business offers (otherwise you should probably get your coat now).  It’s only fair that you make sure they know what that is so the occasional product mention is critical to your social media success.

90% useful content, tips, advice, resources, and 10% selling is a good balance.

So what do you think?  How do you use social media to sell?  If you’ve got a success story or a piece of advice to share, let us know in the comments below.

micro business actionToday’s Micro Action

Check your social media content to ensure you have your ratio right. That’s 90% useful content, tips, advice, resources, and 10% selling. If not, redress the balance and identify new ways to engage your audience.

Lucy Thornton

Lucy Thornton of Perfect Balance Marketing helps businesses of all sizes and sectors to plan, create and implement marketing and social media campaigns that deliver results. With eleven years experience Lucy has worked with businesses from a range of industries, including retail, hospitality, childcare, travel and education.

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  1. Hi Lucy,

    Great Article. It’s interesting to see how different industries use different Social Media platforms.

    For my IT consultancy I typically use Twitter to follow other people in the industry and also in the microbusiness world and use it more to access opinion and information rather than to sell.

    However I use Linkedin more to sell to prospective clients especially by using the “Groups” and “Answers” sections to offer my expertise. Without overtly selling myself but by offering assistance I’ve picked up clients in the US, Canada and New Zealand.

    As a Google enthusiast I would like to see more interaction using Google+ happening in the future.

    Being a B2B business I have steered away from using Facebook for my business and keep it purely for my personal life however for a consumer focused business it can work well though it’s worth mentioning that ‘click through’ stats for Facebook Ads are nowhere near the level for Google Adwords. It will be interesting to see how both Google and Facebook tackle the problem of engaging with the ever growing number of people who access social media via mobile/smartphone devices.

    Tanya-Jayne Park recently posted..The right IT solution – more than just functionalityMy Profile

    • Hi Tanya – thanks for your comments – sounds like social media works really well for you. I agree LinkedIn and Twitter are fab for B2B but I’m yet to fully see results from Google+… are you seeing any business from it?

      Thanks again, Lucy

  2. Hi Lucy,
    Fab article, thank you 🙂 I like the emphasis on building relationships and sharing resources, advice and articles on Twitter, rather than selling. When I started my business, I connected with local businesses in the hope that they’d follow me back and I could start engaging with them. It was a great strategy that has worked for me, and I continue to meet great people online. Indirectly, twitter has been responsible for my personal and professional network 🙂
    Susan Ritchie recently posted..Comment on Why A Confident Team Needs You to Hold Their Hand by coachsueMy Profile

  3. Hi Lucy, I just love social media but have realised that you really need to have a strategy to get results if you want to use if for business otherwise it can just turn into a time drain. I love the idea about teaching first and selling later. In fact, I think the time is definitely ripe for micro business owners to use Twitter and social media to grow their reputation and their expertise by sharing what they know. These days it seems influence is a critical factor in determining sales success and social media is clearly a tool that can make that happen.

    Great to see you on the Hub today and thanks for writing such a thought provoking article 🙂
    Georgina El Morshdy recently posted..How To Write A Killer Home PageMy Profile

    • As you say, a strategy is essential with any social media otherwise you can easily lose hours tweeting random people or watching hilarious videos on YouTube! It’s a great way to build influence though if you connect with the right people and join the right groups.

      Thanks for some great articles from other authors this week – looking forward to next week already, Lucy
      Lucy recently posted..Get in the mood for attending a business fairMy Profile

  4. Hi Lucy,
    Great article – I too am a massive fan of social media and if done right can only bring success. It is interesting to see how it has evolved and you are right, teach first sell later – it also doesn’t happen over night either, build the relationships and they will come.
    Thanks Janine

  5. Hi Janine – great point about the importance of patience with social media marketing. It’s not an overnight solution to sales but it’s important to invest time and effort over an extended period to really start seeing direct and sustainable results – thanks again, Lucy
    Lucy recently posted..Get in the mood for attending a business fairMy Profile

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