Facebook, twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Quora, MySpace and more – in today’s world, it seems like there are ever-expanding numbers of social networks.
For sales professionals it means there are entirely new channels to utilize, it’s an exciting frontier! Unfortunately, it’s not fully understood and one-way communication tactics are often used in the two-way world of social.
The problem? Social is different. Pushing sales message to your prospects requires a completely different communication strategy when interacting with them on their social networks.
Make no mistake about it, this is their turf, not yours.
We’re often extremely protective of our social experience, as we should be since in the world of the social, the user (that’s you as well) is at the center of the experience.
We see this all the time at Honeypot, so we’ve decided to compile a list of our best practices, tips and tricks to maximize social media for the sales professional out there.
- You want to speak with consumers and fans. Not at them. Always reply to your connection by first name; greet them directly. It creates a positive and personal tone. Remember, social media is a two-way channel. It’s all about asking and listening as opposed to pushing a message.
- DO YOU LIKE WHAT YOU ARE READING RIGHT NOW? Probably not, a message in all-caps implies that I am shouting at you with rage. On social networks, speaking to people in all caps is intrusive.
- If elementary school taught me anything, it was that shouting won’t help get your point across. Be subtle. Use your indoor voices
Now that we’ve covered how to talk, let’s look into what you are saying. We want to avoid communicating in a typical one-way sales and marketing tone. The world of social is vastly different. Jumping into social venues using tried and true one-way messaging styles is oil to the water of a two-way marketing venue. So let’s dive into some of the things we’ve learned here from the social media trenches:
- If you talk to people like they are a demographic instead of a real person, they’ll tune out fast.
- Social media is not nine-to-five. It’s twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Not that you have to be present at all times but you may want to consider jumping into conversations and discussions during “down times” such as evenings and weekends. It shows your personal network that you’re truly engaged.
- Keep the conversation going all the time – people don’t like to feel ignored. Answer and react to questions in a reasonable and timely manner. When responding to an individual directly, always reference yourself by first name as a signature to the reply comment.
- Never hide or delete negative comments or posts. Address them directly, while attempting to take the conversation offline to a direct contact by either an e-mail address and/or telephone number. Admit when you’ve made an error, thank them and offer an alternative.
- Food for thought, a humorous but all-too-true quote to keep top of mind is: “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas; what happens on Twitter stays on Google forever!” – Jure Klepic
- You cannot eliminate a complaint or bad review. There are however alternatives, show your networks that you care about the issues, as well as them, solve the problem, direct it publicly and take it offline. These actions resonate with individuals, giving you the chance to turn an upset individual into a passionate advocate.
- Statements such as “that’s not right, we’ll fix that” or “thanks so much for pointing that out” are excellent responses that will help ease the tension and frustration of the person on the other end of your message. Accept that an engaged fan (consumer, lead, prospect or person!), even if they are angry, is an extremely valuable one. The worst case scenario is complete silence.
- Engagement is your friend, responses, attention, comments, likes, shares, +1’s, input, feedback. These are the core metrics by which you should operate, if you’re shouting into the Grand Canyon without a reply or any other engagement then you know there’s a problem and it’s time for a change.
- Bring diversity to your page – don’t make it all about you and your product,. Reinforce that you are an expert in your field, true experts rarely talk about themselves, they discuss their area of expertise. Remember, don’t just shout your message, lead your networks to realize it through your actions and statements.
- Utilize user images over professional images and leverage parallel and relevant content as opposed to featuring your product line. When you do feature your products, speak to the benefits of the products rather than the feature of the product. Don’t sell directly, sell by taking a thought leadership and one-to-one approach. In these venues more “traditional” approaches are not effective.
- Most importantly, build relationships with individuals and engage with them conversationally. The goal is to grow a community.
Bat your eyelashes, you’re sexy and they know it 😉
It could be argued that the most effective business and sales people using social media today are not using social to actually sell their product. They’re building their network in many of the same ways you might have traditionally in your business network.
Some closing thoughts, be consistent. This is earned “marketing”, there are no shortcuts and there are certainly no silver bullets. Be aware and careful in social media outlets, these are your real life contacts by abusing the language and tone you take online, you could be jeopardizing your real life personal and business relationships.