Are consumers ready for social sales?

We meet many different brand representatives seeking to learn more about how their social media strategy can be enhanced. Often brands arrive with the understanding that they are already taking advantage of social media as an organisation. But are they really?

In the course of the coming weeks we will look at the different departments within your business where social media has particular relevance, and how smart social media strategy can enhance these departments by giving them a modern make-over from the traditional way of doing business.

We shall begin by focussing on ‘social sales’ – that is, using social media to sell products and services –  a topic that has perhaps been put on the backburner or simply overlooked by many organisations. This could be due to businesses being focussed on coming up to speed with social media itself, working hard at integrating social media strategies, and focussing on online community management, marketing and PR. The question on the mind of many sales executives is:  are consumers actually ready for social sales? We often have to introduce social sales to meeting agendas, as this topic usually does not form part of the average social media discussion, or is not an area that brands are focussing on.

So… are consumers ready for social sales?

Our world-leading solution allows us to track and monitor the exact content our clients specify, and allows us to also track, monitor and analyse their competitors as well. This may relate to products or services of the competition, or customer experiences, product launches and advertising campaigns.  In doing so, the magnitude of the commercial opportunity becomes obvious and appears considerable. If businesses already do everything in their power to target the customers of competitors through special offers and intelligent marketing, why would a business not turn to social media monitoring and engagement to do exactly the same?  Tracking what is being said in social media, and developing a strategy around this, is the answer.

Using social media monitoring to target dissatisfied customers of competitors is an effective and elegant means to drive expansion of your customer base. Even now, a competitor may be using this strategy to target and acquire your dissatisfied customers, in addition to using social media to engage with and retain its own ‘at risk’ customers. By the time your social sales strategy is developed, you may have already missed many opportunities for sales. The key is to be proactive and to move faster than your competitor.

A targeted approach is clearly the best strategy to adopt, but the manner of the approach is key. Consumers may feel put off, or feel as though their privacy may have been ‘invaded’ if the wrong approach is adopted. However, with a carefully targeted social sales strategy, consumers can feel as though they alone are being considered for a particular offer and this inferred ‘exclusivity’ is a powerful sales approach. In our view, a subtle approach works best so as to not come across to the consumer as aggressively being targeted.  The secret further lies in building a relationship with that customer, before offering the customer the benefit of moving over to your brand.  We know this approach works in practice.

Will consumers be scared off altogether if every brand jumps on the social sales bandwagon and start targeting customers at random with offers? Given that brands such GM have been reconsidering their Facebook advertising strategy in light of poor results, our view is that designing an intelligent strategy – following careful analysis on when customers may be ripe to be offered a product or service – may be the wiser approach.

We want to hear your views. Are you active in social sales, and if so what approach do you adopt? Do you feel the consumer is really ready for their beloved social media to be bombarded with sales strategies? Let us know what you think.


A new era has started tha…


A new era has started that will change the way businesses view the social web and how they communicate with customers. Social media should therefore be a vital part of any customer engagement strategy. Today will be a big milestone in the growth of social media and tomorrow will be even bigger.

Peru Fourie, Head of Business Development, CCA International UK

Are you taking full advantage of social media?

With more and more brands realising the critical importance of social media, the last two years have seen many changes, with what can only be referred to as “the rise of social media leaders”. We’d consider a ‘social media leader’ to be a company that has a comprehensive social media strategy across all departments, that maximises the management of their online community across all online channels, and one that really takes full advantage of social media through active and proactive outbound reach strategies.

A recent announcement by Brand Republic listed the top 100 social companies for 2012. This is the second year the Top 100 has been published, and one can certainly draw vital conclusions by comparing the two lists. What we found particularly interesting were some of the ranking position changes, and the entries of new brands into the top 100. This can only mean organizations are moving fast to establish themselves as social media leaders by taking full advantage of this fundamental area affecting their business.

The CCA DGC regularly conducts social media footprint analysis across the social web and in particular we look at areas where brands fall short in their social media effort. It is our finding that many organizations believe they are indeed ‘active’ enough in the area of social media, and perhaps deem themselves to be social media leaders, but the perception often proves to be far from reality. Very few organizations really take full advantage of social media and the support that is available to monitor and track what is being said on the social web. Nor do they have a solid engagement strategy to take advantage of such conversations. Interactions or content directed at your community Twitter, Facebook fan page or corporate blog, for example, can not be leveraged without a robust engagement strategy.

Social media spans across all departments of an organization. Using social media only for PR and marketing activities is, in effect, ignoring the vast potential presented by technology and experts that allow an organization to take advantage of a much larger chunk of the opportunities presented by social media.

Companies can often only engage with customers actually engaging with the brand directly on Twitter or Facebook; thereby losing out on the ability to pick up mentions relating to the brand or its product across the whole social media spectrum. This results in missed opportunities to engage with customers and the public. This may be related to customer loyalty (where you could encourage a brand champion further), customer complaints not picked up on Twitter or Facebook, potential crises developing, knowing what customers say about the brand and products of your direct competitors, and potential lead generation opportunities to support your sales process. The list goes on.

We would be interested in hearing your views on the above and what your challenges are in regard to your social media strategy. Is your organization taking full advantage of social media, or does your social media strategy only include online community management through Twitter or Facebook? Do you only use social media for marketing and PR?

How do you anticipate becoming a social media leader?