How Social Media has Changed the Way Brands Reach Customers
The social media revolution has hit refresh on the world of sales. It began in 2004, when Facebook burst onto the scene, quickly followed by Twitter in 2006. Instagram and Snapchat joined the fun – in 2010 and 2011 respectively – and now the framework of sales has been turned on its head by the emergence of social media.
Modern tech-savvy consumers respect selling tactics that are smart, timely and personalised to them - and loathe traditional, impersonal sales tactics like cold calling and spray-and-pray marketing. They want to forge an emotional connection with a brand before opening their wallets. As a result, businesses are investing heavily in social media to win their attention and trust.
Social media has become more than just a marketing tool. Across platforms, secret salespeople are interacting with people in ways that help them sell products, brands and ideologies. Is this something more businesses need to look at? And is social media going to become part of future sales training strategies?
Discover how brands are engaging with this new generation of consumers – and kick start your own sales on social media.
Post attention-grabbing content
In what felt like an overnight transformation, social media platforms created a space where consumers and brands could interact directly. At first, posting options were limited to wordy updates, but soon images and videos could be uploaded too. The latest development, pioneered by Snapchat, is the ‘stories’ phenomenon – the time-limited update which disappears after 24 hours.
Businesses use all of these posting features to interact with audiences – much the same as normal users. Ultimately, the aim is to create content that interests and engages these potential customers, so they press that all-important “follow” button. When this happens, you’ve secured a direct line into your consumers’ daily digital consumption where you can promote your brand, plug your products and ultimately close in on conversion.
This type of attention-grabbing content is harnessed expertly by sustainability tech company GE Reports. It bucks the trend of traditional B2B marketing by using its Facebook presence to push out inspirational infographics, photos and videos that promote its ideology and products to engage its core target market.
To build a relationship with consumers, you need to interact with them – and social media gives you a way to do this. Going above and beyond the standard social media posts, which can now be scheduled ahead of time, more brands are actively engaging with social media users by liking photos and replying to comments.
Smoothie brand Innocent is particularly adept at this, replying to users with witty remarks to enhance their reputation as a friendly, human brand. According to our recent research on social sellers, author JK Rowling and former boxer-turned grill expert George Foreman also use social engagement as their primary method of online promotion.
Similarly, tech giant Samsung ran a campaign to enhance its B2B market in 2017, where it sought to engage with SMEs in Manchester through use of the hashtag #MoreGoodDaysAtWork. It encouraged small businesses in the city to engage with the brand to win promotion of their company through display ads across the city, worth £4,630.
As well as signalling to potential customers that a brand is interested in what they have to say, social engagement makes them feel valued. All of this feeds into creating the more personal experience digital consumers are looking for online.
Targeted online ads
In 2007, Facebook Ads were introduced, giving brands the opportunity to make their posts more visible by paying for sponsored content to reach beyond their existing social media following. As of April 2017, more than five million businesses across the world were using Facebook Ads every month – and 42,000 of those are in the UK1.
The fact social engagement is significantly lower on ads than organic brand posts perhaps isn’t surprising, given that 84% of millennials don’t trust traditional advertising, according to Forbes. However, targeted ads still present the opportunity to get in front of the right person with the right message at the right time.
Targeting gives brands the tools to reach specific audiences, based on age, gender, location, interests and a whole range of factors. Social media ads have made personalisation accessible for even the smallest of brands, with advertising budgets starting in single figures.
Using the right influencers
The rise of social selling has created a new profession - the influencer. These public figures post status updates, photos and videos to engage followers in their lives online. There are thousands of professional influencers in the UK alone, ranging from fashion icons to parents, globe trotters to environmentalists.
The significance of this for brands is product placement. Many influencers will promote brands and products to their followers as sponsored posts in exchange for a fee – rumoured to be as high as $1 million per post for Kylie Jenner2 . Influencers offer brands exclusive advertising space in front of their huge numbers of fans and followers – and their seal of approval gives it that personal touch digital consumers crave.
The most successful online brands use all of these social media techniques to build up their online persona and make potential customers feel like they really know them. From humorous to knowledgeable, the first step is deciding what – or indeed who – your social media persona is going to be. From there, you can develop a social media sales training plan to help bring these skills into your workplace.
As the stakes involved in building your brand becomes higher than ever before, a thorough understanding of the digital landscape is now a key aspect of any salesperson’s skill set.
As a specialist graduate sales recruitment agency, we pride ourselves on identifying the top 20% of graduate talent, presenting digital natives who possess all the skills and drive to impact and improve your sales team.
Call us on 0333 011 0721 or find out more.