Social media has emerged as a fertile ground for driving business-aligned sales. Sales professionals are increasingly using social media to boost sales and outperform their peers. On the other hand, businesses deploy social selling strategies to achieve their revenue goals more effectively and strategically while building an emotional connection with their target audience.
For businesses, leveraging social media platforms has emerged as a must-have; it is no longer a ‘nice-to-have’ option. This in-depth guide will look at useful tips, hacks, and strategies to boost customer engagement and increase the bottom line. Let’s jump right in.
What’s a sales funnel and what are its five stages?
Before we deep dive to understand impactful social media strategies, it is important to understand what a sales funnel is and what its five stages encapsulate.
A sales funnel refers to customers’ potential journey while purchasing something from your brand. It helps understand where your customers are at each stage of their buying journey, what they might be doing, and most importantly, what they think. By leveraging these actionable customer insights, businesses can help drive a more customized marketing campaign and target customers in a segmented fashion.
A sales funnel is typically categorized into three sections — top, middle, and bottom — and comprised of the following five stages:
Stage 1: Awareness
The awareness stage is all about demonstrating the brand’s ethos and values to gain your customer’s attention from the get-go. Marketers often use educational or informative content to help potential customers understand their brand better.
Here’s an example of content marketing done right in the Awareness stage by Zara, where it is creating awareness about the new platforms available for consumers to shop:
Stage 2: Consideration
As the name suggests, this stage is about getting people to ‘consider’ using your product/service. Brands typically drive more promotional content at this stage to connect deeper with customers.
Here’s an example of video content marketing for the ‘Consideration’ stage by SalesForce:
Video Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=djOeE24UnGY
Stage 3: Conversion
This stage entails convincing customers to buy the product/service by demonstrating the key USPs, benefits, and features. The end goal in the conversion stage is to gently ‘nudge’ potential leads to push the purchase button and convert into customers.
IBM does it effectively through the following Twitter post by highlighting how it values user privacy:
Stage 4: Loyalty
The loyalty stage aims at rewarding — and retaining — the existing customers by providing them with enticing offers and discounts, promoting targeted marketing, and elevating the quality of customer service support operations.
For inspiration, take a look at Max Fashions’ example which encourages existing users to share their favorite Max Moments and leverage exciting offers:
Stage 5: Advocacy
The final stage is the advocacy stage, in which loyal customers turn into confessed brand advocates. They actively (and voluntarily) promote the brand among friends and family. Here’s an excellent example to consider from Starbucks where customers voluntarily talk about what they love the most about the brand’s offerings (in this case, the oat milk):
In this stage, marketers drive personalized information to foster long-term customer relationships and build a rock-solid (and happier) user base.
With a good understanding of what a sales funnel is, let’s move on to understanding how brands can boost sales using social media as the primary fuel.
Top 7 Strategies to Boost Sales on Social Media
1. Focus On the Brand’s Message
Your brand’s content is the gateway to creating a positive impression in your customer’s mind. This is why creating value-driven and meaningful content should be a priority. Take, for example, Nike’s Instagram page, which is peppered with useful product content and motivational user-centric content to build a rapport with the customers:
Instead of aggressively promoting products/services, brands need to think about adding character and a ‘voice’ to their messaging. The more a brand demonstrates its personality, the more it will connect with the target audience and boost sales in the process.
When curating powerful content for your social media channels, revisit your brand’s messaging and consider whether it aligns with your brand’s intrinsic personality. Consistent and user-centric branding can boost sales as more customers can relate to the brand emotionally (and not purely transactional).
2. When It Comes to Content, Think Outside the Box.
Creating off-beat content is not easy, as generic and preachy as this may sound. Maintaining a balance between the right messaging and the business’ branding guidelines often requires marketers to walk a tightrope. For example, brands may unconsciously cross the line and annoy customers to be humorous.
To get started, take a cue from Pop-Tart’s clever Twitter post, which leverages ‘wit’ to connect with its younger target base while promoting the brand using humor:
Here are a few handy tips to keep in mind when posting unique content on social media:
- Pair content with real-life images to catch the onlooker’s attention.
- Drive more visual and video-driven content that includes practical tips related to your product (think: how-to videos, for example) and offers meaningful content free of cost.
- When it comes to driving sales-friendly content, brands mustn’t end up looking ‘pushy’ or ‘spammy.’ It is possible to persuade customers to buy the product by boosting audience engagement instead of blindly posting run-of-the-mill posts that cater to everyone and, by extension, no one.
3. Create a Strategic Marketing Plan.
If you want to drive sales on social media, it requires in-depth research and homework. Brands should start by understanding where their target audience lies. You cannot hope to target B2C customers on a B2B platform like LinkedIn.
To understand your customer base inside out, brands should focus on creating a comprehensive buyer persona that reflects what the brand’s ideal buyer looks like. A buyer persona worth it’s salt should include the user’s pain points, motivations, aspirations and goals, demographics, needs and expectations, personality traits, and so on. Here’s a handy buyer persona for reference:
Running social media posts without understanding the core target audience is similar to shooting in the dark. It is pointless. Once the buyer persona is in place, brands can create a strategic marketing plan that includes opportunities for paid ads ( such as Instagram or Facebook ads) and Using SEO keywords to boost brand reach and visibility.
All in all, building a strategic social media plan is the stepping stone to sales success. If you have a diverse target base, you should create a different buyer persona for each customer type. Having a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach will not work.
If you find this all too overwhelming, you could also consider hiring a social media virtual assistant to help you with research and creating a strategy for your brand.
4. Laser-Focus on Driving Valuable, Bite-Sized Content.
To amplify your social sales, it is critical to building valuable, bite-sized content of varied formats — from GIFs and videos to memes and posts, the options are aplenty. As long as your social media team speaks your customer’s language and weaves a compelling narrative, you are good to go.
As an example, consider Betty Crocker’s Facebook page, which shares simple and easy-to-make recipes in video format from time to time:
Naturally, users find these videos helpful and will be encouraged to buy products from the brand as they try more recipes. Brands need to reconsider sharing small yet valuable content on their social media platforms that are of actual value to the end-user. This strategy can boost sales as more users find value in social media posts and are propelled to buy from the brand as the relationship deepens.
5. Leverage Existing Customers to Generate Leads and Build Brand Advocacy
Suppose you want to generate solid ROI via social media channels, generate new leads, and crush your sales quota. In that case, it is time to leverage your existing loyal customers to do the ‘selling.’ There are numerous ways to do this. You can encourage customers to provide their reviews on your social media platforms through video testimonials.
You can gather real-time feedback on the customer’s shopping experience and build content around the user’s feedback. Also, you can motivate customers to engage in contests, surveys, polls, etc., to capture their opinion and act on the same. And, it’s super easy to execute this with the help of no-code interactive tools.
Brands that listen to their customers and act on their feedback find their way into the customer’s good books. This simple act of listening helps customers to feel valued, special, and (literally) heard by the brand, as is the case with Starbucks’ Starbucks Cares page:
The brand took its social selling strategy to another level by creating a dedicated customer support page. This social customer service exemplifies the brand’s vision of a customer-first mindset. Your brand, too, can build a dedicated page where your social media team can respond to customer queries and resolve issues instantly. This can elevate the user experience and drive greater brand support (and sales).
Here’s another example of how Starbucks takes its social customer service seriously. The brand makes it a point to respond to customer feedback as quickly and satisfactorily as possible, making Starbucks a real ‘star’ in the customer’s eyes:
Social selling can double up as a viable option if your brand has a ready user base of loyal customers. Social media marketers need to team up with the sales team to brainstorm and understand how to encourage customers to drive more honest, empathetic, and engaging story-telling.
For example, you can provide freebies, discounts, and other special offers to get customers to promote your products. Doing so can add the much-needed ‘social proof’ that most brands need today to survive in a competitive landscape. Do a quick keyword and hashtag search of your brand to understand if your customers are already posting on social media. You can then reach out to them and see if they’d be interested in promoting your product/service for a series of future posts.
6. Drive User-Generated Content.
Customers read (and love) reviews, especially when the reviews and feedback come from other users. Whether you want to develop an eCommerce website or develop a social media page from scratch, inserting user-generated content is instrumental to sales success.
Brands can promote user-generated content across their social media profiles to encourage new users to try their products. An excellent example would be the following post by a client of the brand, Apartment 18. Brands can encourage customers to share their purchase reviews and experience on social media and get ‘social proof:
How does this advance your brand’s sales goals? It improves brand reach as more and more people engage with the post. The wider the post visibility, the greater the chances of improved sales. Long story short, user-generated content works wonders in garnering the trust of your user base. Furthermore, brands can establish themselves as thought-leaders and get a vote of confidence from the customers.
7. Leverage Social Media Influencers.
Did you know that, as per research, around 40% of Twitter users have purchased after seeing an influencer’s tweet? Further research suggests that influencer marketing can offer an ROI of 600%!
Social media is all about upping the influencer marketing game, particularly when reaching out to a smaller, more targeted set of customers. Brands that can tie up with the right social media influencers can build a trustworthy and credible brand image.
Take a look at the following influencer marketing example which features Calvin Young, a Deaf traveler who inspires people through his blog, “Seek the World.” For the following post, he partnered with travel and ticket booking company, Busbud to promote its offerings on YouTube:
Influencer marketing, when done right, can skyrocket user engagement, as we can see from the post above. This is because readers can relate to the influencer posts. After all, the content is viewed as authentic (according to the target audience’s perspective). Moreover, influencers can effectively interact with every lead as they have smaller communities of quality followers.
Leveraging social media influencers to promote their product/service can be a winning sales strategy for brands targeting a niche audience. After all, customers care about the value that your brand can provide them, and influencers can double up as the perfect vehicle for honest communication. If the product is legit and the influencer has a reliable reputation, your brand has just struck gold!
There are thousands of ways to boost sales via your social media platform. That said, the strategies you ultimately choose should depend on your sales targets, your brand’s social media strategy, and most importantly, the target audience you wish to cater to. To wrap up, leverage the seven tips on social selling mentioned above and see your sales skyrocket sustainably and successfully.