You may ask, what does social selling have to do with eLearning?
Simple! Social selling is all about connecting with your prospective clients in a place they’re already spending time, actively listening to their needs, and providing information that is meaningful and doesn’t ask for anything in return.
Learning to establish your personal brand through authentic relationships with your followers can be the X-factor that transforms your business from meh to yeah.
Your personal brand is important. How active, relevant and liked are you in your field of expertise? Being regarded as an authority figure adds credibility to your brand and increases both your reach and…your sales!
If you’re using social media to fuel discussions more than to push your products, to understand the needs of your existing and potential buyers more than to flood the social media channels with spammy messages, you’re most likely a skilled social seller—even if you don’t realize it.
When on a mission to purchase new products or services, people take all their questions online. According to IBM, 55% of all buyers do their research by using social networks. You may be unaware of this, but your prospective clients may already be tracking your activities online, gauging more of the soft information that would be hard to obtain in real life.
Just take a moment to reflect on this piece of intel. Can you afford to disregard 55% of your potential clients?
According to research data, 72.6% of salespeople who actively engage with their target audience through social media tend to outperform their colleagues.
You may not regard yourself as a salesperson—in fact, you might hate to work in sales—but social selling is not the annoying ambush that we all dislike. It’s a healthy mix of social media networking and branding.
The perks of social selling
We love to buy from people who are genuinely interested in us, who give us valuable advice without working too hard to make us buy. There’s a click—a connection—and then we look forward to speaking to that person in the future just because we like them.
Using social media to connect with potential learners on a more personal level is indispensable to business success in the current climate, as most of the key decisions are made online.
Corporate Executive Board reports that over half (57%) of the selling process is completed for consumers before a company even has a chance to interact with them. The link between your online image and your sales is ever-growing and it’s a pretty scary number if your social media efforts are being wasted on one-way communication.
There’s also the hidden power of incidental similarities. The more you talk to your potential customers, the higher are the chances of discovering incidental similarities, such as a shared first name, birthplace or passion.
Researchers from the University of British Columbia have demonstrated that incidental similarities between a seller and buyer can be enough to establish a bond and increase the likelihood of a sales transaction.
In basic terms, you’re more likely to sell if you bond with your buyers over a love for sports, Irish coffee, or lasagne rather than your special offers. But it’s hard to get that kind of information if all you do is social yelling.
So, why should eLearning professionals care about social selling?
Evidently, there are more and more students signing up for online courses. So it would be a little hypocritical to think they look for information about these learning opportunities somewhere else than the Internet.
It doesn’t really matter whether you work for an eLearning company or have your own website with a selection of online courses – these students will conduct a thorough research on you, your colleagues and your brand. Because it’s easy and it’s become second nature to them. So what will they discover when they start snooping around?
The science of social selling is simple: always be connecting. Good deeds pay off (especially for brands).
How can you get better at social selling?
Here are a few simple tactics to increase your social selling power.
- First of all, social selling looks good… Everything from profile pictures to header images should be high-quality, eye-catching visuals that complement the brand.
- Your company’s social pages look brilliant, but what about your personal accounts? To establish human to human connections, you need to put a face to a brand—that’s why your profile picture matters. It’s the first thing potential buyers notice about you. Like in the real world, you should always make an effort to look your best: friendly, approachable and professional.
- Like, share, comment. Social networks such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and SlideShare give you access to real-time data. What’s troubling your customers? What kind of answers are they seeking? It’s important to go the extra mile to show them that you have a robust understanding of the industry, follow trends, and have valuable insights that could help transform their work. See what they’re discussing on social platforms, offer your unbiased recommendations, and build trust. When they recognize the value you can create for their business, they’ll regard your occasional salesy messages as unexplored opportunities rather than spam.
- Use industry-specific hashtags to get a quick overview of trending topics. It’s a great way to see what your potential customers are talking about, what they’re struggling with and also, an easy way to strike up conversations. Talk about what they’re interested in and you will make a lot of friends.
- Create Twitter lists to stay organized. There’s a lot happening on Twitter at any given time, so getting lost in your own feed is not unheard of. Create separate private or public lists with your top prospects, current customers, competitors and influencers to be able to tune in and scan the tweets quickly. Adding people or brands to your personal lists is also a great way to get noticed – being added to a special list is almost like being shortlisted for an award, so they will be seriously tempted to check your bio.
- Be there and be visible. Disappearing for weeks at a time is not a good idea. You will be forgotten and replaced. Social media requires commitment and constant work. If you are able to feed your target audience with meaningful insights, they’ll share your advice with others – and that’s how you build trust with your followers. Interact with industry influencers and remember to throw in something silly from time to time just to remind your social media friends that there’s a human being on the other side.
- Get busy on LinkedIn. LinkedIn has done a wonderful job turning social selling into something fun and completely appropriate. Connect with your prospects, join professional discussion groups and actively engage with LinkedIn members through comments, Likes and shares. Don’t just lurk around observing other people’s actions – get busy connecting.
- Don’t be afraid of the camera. The power of video is hard to ignore. Use this tool to add an extra layer of personality to your brand—nothing beats a real smile. Webinars and how-to tutorials are some of the best tactics known to marketers, as they’re not overly difficult to create and can significantly reinforce your authority. If you feel like your brand lacks the human factor, share videos of team activities or snapshots from your working life – make it easy for those who are snooping around to stumble on something that will put a smile on their face.
- Behind the scenes. Some of the most interesting video use cases in social selling include student testimonials and making-of videos that portray your work ethics and company culture. Yes, it’s definitely bordering on content marketing strategies, as it highly depends on who is sharing the videos: if you’re flooding the social media channels with testimonial videos through the main brand’s accounts, it’s shouting; if the videos are being shared through personal accounts, it’s social selling. Just think about it this way: if you’re buying beauty products from a friend who’s a distributor, the brand becomes more reliable, friendlier and closer to your heart. Because you’re buying from someone you like.
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Juste is a serious life passionista with a flair for learning new things. She’s an author of hundreds of unfinished works and a lover of all things curious. Juste works @vzaar, the video hosting platform for business, and practices word-crafting daily. You can ping her at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet @JusteSem