Judging from the influx in content based around the gradual growth in social selling last year, it would be unsurprising if you considered 2015 to be the year that this trend really took off. With numerous articles emerging throughout the year, from a report by SocialMediaExaminer.com on the various studies charting the positive and growing trend in social selling, to Business2Community.com dubbing 2015 as ‘the year of B2B social selling’, it would be folly indeed for SMEs not to start the new year with a focus on strategies that can help them get the most out of this opportunity in 2016.
With a recent report on Hootsuite calling social selling ‘one of the rising stars in the sales industry’ its more important than ever to tailor your approach to the forecasted trends of the year. Here are a few top tips to help you up your social selling game in 2016:
1. Tell a story
The rise of social selling has changed the face of the sales industry. The modern social consumer is less interested in your products or services, rather they are won round by the story behind the brand. In a world where building a relationship and making connections is the name of the game, charging in guns blazing simply isn’t going to win you any fans. Or conversions. SMEs looking to up their social selling game need to work on their storytelling skills and use a variety of creative techniques (such as video, images, interactive content) to get it across.
2. User-generated content should become part of your marketing scheme
Set to become even more in demand in 2016, user-generated content can boost your brand no end. SMEs can make the most of this development by utilising social influencers and brand advocates to share your message whilst encouraging consumers to contribute content using hashtags that feed to your website, as well as promoting reviews.
3. Video streaming
If #DrummondPuddleWatch, where viewers were gripped to the live feed of a giant puddle, taught us anything it’s that real-time video updates have certainly got legs. Why not consider giving consumers a peek into what is happening in your business or utilising live video for giveaways? Take a look at some of the Periscope campaigns, such as GE’s #droneweek or Doritos live giveaways – video streaming is tipped to be the next step in the evolution of social video in 2016.
4. Maintain visibility with hashtags and keywords
With more consumers than ever searching for products and services directly from social channels such as Pinterest and Facebook, SMEs need to pay close attention to their use of hashtags and keywords in order to remain visible.
5. Provide targeted content for each stage of the buyer’s journey
An oldie but more relevant in 2016 than ever, considering the huge amounts of content that are out there. Quality must trump quantity this year so be sure to not only know your audience inside out but to publish content that matches up with different stages of the buyer’s journey. This counts for the B2B community too – a recent DemandGen study found that 82% of B2B buyers viewed five or more pieces of content during the decision-making process.
6. Be customer service superstars
A report published by management consulting firm bain.com revealed that customers who engage with companies over social media are more loyal and spend up to 40% more than other customers. To really up your social selling game it goes to follow that you must ensure your social accounts are managed efficiently to enable you to respond to queries and complaints in a timely fashion. Ensure you have a response process in place and that your profile clearly states the response time consumers can expect.
So, 2016 is set to be an exciting year in the world of social selling. Is your business ready to take advantage? Do you have any top tips to share?Ben Hollom
January 21, 2016