People often ask me how they should be using social media for selling. They see the astronomical numbers of Facebook and Twitter users and want to tap into this booming marketing channel.
Of course, social media works better for some strategies than others. Nurturing and lead generation strategies really do well. Hard selling, not so much. If you are interested in using social media to sell to the more than 2 billion active users on the top platforms, take these best practices to heart.
The numbers are staggering. There are more than 1.8 billion active monthly Facebook users and 330 million active monthly Twitter users worldwide. In the U.S. alone, Facebook and Twitter have 214 million and 69 million users, respectively. However, hard-selling these users is a very difficult and not always beneficial strategy.
One study found that conversion rates for sales coming through Facebook and Twitter promotions were only in the 1% range. That’s despite a huge potential audience, big ad spends, time and money investments, and a respectable number of clicks and shares.
Best Practices: So when it comes to selling directly through social media, do be aware that big audiences don’t alway translate to big sales, and don’t try to force a hard-sale strategy when something else may work better.
Speaking of something that works, social media engagement can make a difference in your success with a social media strategy. To be sure, comments, “likes,” and social shares are not closed sales, but these things make it possible to reach more prospects who are more likely to be qualified leads.
Engagement is also a fantastic metric for seeing right away whether a sales or marketing approach connects with your audience. You’ll, of course, need to create and post social content, like value-adding article links from your blog and graphics specially made for Facebook and Twitter. Does your blog post on the Affordable Care Act get more attention than your tip sheet on safe winter driving for auto customers?
Best Practices: Do pay attention to what connects with your audience and ask yourself why. These little things can help you improve your success rate over time. But ensure you don’t share low-value content or content that constantly asks for the sale. Woo your social media audience more subtly.
Of course, at some point, you want to move your social media followers and page fans beyond their role as blog readers and tip sheet-sharers. You want them to become your customer. For that to happen, you usually need to get them onto your website, ideally to your lead magnet or a request for quote submission form.
Social media is a great vehicle for getting potential lead traffic to your website. A high-value blog post or a particular timely call to action that takes them to your lead magnet can do wonders. Best of all, you can track your success here directly with metric analytics built right into most social media dashboards. Google Analytics also allows you to segment traffic sources for greater insights as well.
Best Practices: When it comes to bringing in traffic, do make sure there is continuity between your messaging and branding on your social media post and your website landing page. And don’t forget to track social media conversions on your site and in your CRMS.
Lead generation is probably where social media shines the most when it comes to selling. Even with the best aged leads strategy, there’s always more opportunity to grow your business with web lead generation. People use social media to interact with their friends and family, but also to interact with their favorite brands and to ask questions of experts.
Present yourself and your insurance business as an expert in the field, and you will soon receive many questions. Help out wherever you can with answers and advice, and it will pay off. You will grow a larger audience of social media followers that comes to you when they have questions about the latest insurance news and questions about coverage and plans. Over time, you may find your long-time clients pose questions on Facebook rather than send you an email. It’s just easier, and they saw you were already online.
Best Practices: Do make sure you spend some time on social media not only posting your content but also interacting with your followers and fans. Reply to comments and answer questions that come up (and make a note of these interactions in your CRMS for later reference). Don’t be afraid to take the conversation to a direct message or email or phone when it looks like the prospect is ready to talk about switching or buying.
Another underrated use of your social media accounts is lead nurturing. Now, whether you got your lead from your social media efforts, your aged lead pipeline, or from your current clients or their referrals, all such leads can benefit from nurturing via social media.
As many sales professionals know, it takes five, seven, or even more contacts to close a sale with a prospect today. Social media can play a vital role in getting these leads to a closed sale. Consider ways that you can address common sales objections in your social media content. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, if you have a blog post or an email drip campaign on the topic, that material can be repurposed for a social media audience. For platforms such as Facebook, you may even be able to use your business’s email list to promote your social posts directly to your warm leads.
Best Practices: Do use social media as part of an overall lead nurturing program. Don’t just ask for the sale here. Instead offer value to fans and followers, particularly by addressing sales objections or providing information about coverage options.
Social media is not just for kids anymore. Millions of American consumers log onto Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Instagram, Pinterest, and more, every single day. Folks don’t just use social media to talk to friends and family. They also interact with top brands, local businesses, and potentially your insurance business.
Take full advantage of your social media opportunity with your current clients, referrals, aged leads, prospects, and web-generated leads. Many sales professionals enjoy connecting directly with their followers and fans, helping to answer questions directly and providing information about insurance coverage and policy options.
When you use social media for selling in your business, make sure to follow current best practices. Resist the urge to sell too hard. Instead focus on engagement, traffic, lead generation, and lead nurturing. You’ll be glad you did.
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