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.

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