Social selling – What you need to know about the development of social commerce
Social media is only for writing, liking and subscribing, right? Well, probably not much longer. Tomorrow’s virtual shopping malls will be social platforms like Instagram, TikTok or Facebook. Marketers call this development “social commerce” – a merger of social media and e-commerce. In 2021, one in five consumers in Germany bought a product on social media. And the trend is rising (YouGov, 2021). Social shopping is changing the customer journey; while many companies are already aware of this, there is often a lack of clear guidelines for how to master the transition.
What are the elements of social selling? What are the risks? And what is social selling in B2B like?
- In social selling, companies win customers via social media platforms. The key factor is to build strong, sustainable customer relationships.
- Companies must set up social selling strategically. Key elements for successful implementations are influencer marketing and modified customer relationship management.
- Social selling, an element of implementing social commerce, should be considered more than a trend. First and foremost, companies should think of it as a future marketing strategy.
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How does social selling work?
Social selling focuses on lead generation on various social media channels. Unlike traditional selling, social selling does not involve direct marketing or cold selling but the development of long-term customer relationships in indirect sales. Several success factors have emerged:
- Expertise: B2B companies must take an expert position. Using strategic content marketing, you can use valuable, industry-relevant content and play it on your channels.
- Uniqueness: Successful companies are recognizable. Brand uniqueness is an essential factor for your brand presence on social media.
- Authenticity: Companies must live up to what they put forward. Customer trust and credibility are closely associated.
Influencer marketing holds a particularly important position in social selling: 69% of brand marketers rely on influencer marketing to generate new leads (Onalytica, 2020). Why? Because people trust people. Influencers give your brand the transparency and credibility you need to generate leads.
Studies confirm that it is not only the number of followers or the marketing budget that is critical. Equally important is the content-related fit between influencer and brand (Onalytica, 2020).
We should not underestimate the challenges involved. Social selling is not merely a sales and marketing task but must be communicated throughout the entire company. It takes a holistic strategy, in-depth social media knowledge and a comprehensive understanding of your target audience and the influencer culture if you want to gain their trust. What does your buyer persona look like on social media? What appeals to the persona, and what are its needs? As a social seller, you cannot ignore such questions.
Then again, the benefits social selling generates in B2B and B2C are extremely versatile:
- Social selling empowers you to increase your reach and boost your company’s brand awareness.
- You obtain better access to your target group and can be more targeted in managing their purchasing decision-making processes.
- Stronger customer loyalty promotes your reputation and, ultimately, the generation of leads. For example, around a third of consumers share a product on social media after purchasing it. Without a doubt, this benefits you as well (YouGov, 2021).
Influencer marketing is effective: Almost 68% of respondents have already purchased a product that an influencer has advertised on TikTok (SocialPubli, 2021).
Strategic tips for implementing social selling
Carefully planning the introduction of novel approaches to sales is important to ensure that companies are ready for the future. Yet the effort is worth it: By 2025, social commerce will account for as much as 17% of total e-commerce sales (Accenture, 2022)! There is not a single argument against social selling – you just have to go about it the right way.
The following aspects will help you plan and implement it:
- Communicate on all levels: Social selling goes beyond marketing. Many cross-departmental decisions have to be made.
- Use a customer-oriented approach: Look at your activities from your target group’s perspective.
- Select the right social media channels: Do not go by which channel is the most popular, but which one suits your company best.
- Focus on engaging content: Produce content that encourages interaction – conversation, questions, and expert discussions in the B2B sector.
- Tools for marketing automation: Simplify your social selling processes by intelligently linking them to CRM systems and automation tools.
- Influencer marketing and influencer management: Use influencers and bloggers to boost your revenue. There is no other marketing strategy that will help you build strong customer loyalty as effectively as this one. Influencer managers handle the acquisition of suitable cooperation partners and planning of the activities.
Conclusion: Social selling is not a trend but the future of commerce
Digital shopping is changing. The purchasing of products on social networks, called social shopping, is increasingly becoming standard and requires different ways of thinking than before. Therefore, it is critical that you consider social selling to be an indispensable, forward-looking commerce strategy for your company and not a temporary trend.
Are you curious about how social selling and customer experience management can best be interlinked? At BSI, we are here to assist you. We are experts in CRM, customer experience, and today’s and tomorrow’s retail trends and can provide the best possible support when it comes to integrating social selling into your sales activities. Arrange for your consultation with BSI now.