Apr 4, 2011

Making Social Media Sales

I've seen many sales attempts over social media and many different techniques used.  About 99% of these techniques can be called spam.  You've probably seen these a lot too in the forms of automated direct messages and mentions on twitter.  If you're a legitimate business with a reputation to consider, social media spam is not for you.  Many businesses get on social media thinking there is money to be made.  If you're the social media manager, make it clear to your business that ROI and sales are not good metrics for determining social media success and should not drive your social media strategy.

This article is title making social media sales, but sales can be substituted for any organization's goal that requires consumer or public action including joining a mailing list, signing a petition, donating to a cause, etc.  Not including spam, most businesses you find on social media are taking a passive approach to gaining customers.  Their strategy is to build up a good number of followers and post about their business with links to products or services on their websites.  The idea is that you will see the tweet about a product, click the link to the site, and buy the product.  Now ask yourself, how likely are you to buy a product because you saw tweet or Facebook message?

Businesses that use this kind of strategy do not realize that in the world of social media, consumers are in control.  They expect businesses to cater to them more personally in both sales and service.  When they complain about a business, they expect the business to respond.  When they are looking to buy a product, they likewise expect businesses to respond.  Say you own a website (123printers.com) that sells printers.  If a social media savvy customer has a problem with your company, she will tweet "@123printers sucks, don't buy from them" and expect 123printsers.com to see her tweet and fix her problem.  How does this relate to sales?  The social media savvy customer will also expect businesses to respond to them when they are looking to buy.

Rather than searching Twitter and Facebook to see what businesses are saying about themselves, the customer may tweet out "Looking for a new printer. Anyone know of a good place?" or "My printer just broke last night."  These are the opportunities 123printers.com should be looking for if they want to make sales over social media.  It could send a response like "Maybe we can help.  Here are some models with rush delivery we can have at your house in 24 hours. 123printers.com/rush."

If you want your sales pitches to be taken seriously, do not automate.  Anyone who's been on Twitter long enough has received an automated message.  They are obvious and are much less likely to be considered by the receiver.  Make sure your messages don't look automated by showing you have actually read the person's tweet you are responding too.  Besides how they come off to the receiver, if someone goes to your Twitter page, she will see all the same automated message filling up your entire feed.  This will leave no doubt that you are a spammer.


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