Social networks aren’t exactly undiscovered country when it comes to your business. When you first encountered Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, you sent in those brave explorers on your marketing team. The flash and bang of their campaigns scored you droves of new customers. Yet great marketing opportunities often come with unforeseen consequences, and soon those millions of new customers began using the power of social media for their own benefit.
In your effort to ride out this tidal surge of customer input, you sent in the clear heads and thoughtful minds of your customer service department. Surfing the waves of your newfound online community is great, but don’t let those rewards you’ve already won lull you into a false sense of calm. There’s still new social networking territory to discover if you’re brave enough to once again embark for the unknown.
Forward-thinking companies out there are already setting sail (sale?) in this new endeavor, introducing their sales forces to social media. If you’re thinking of joining the search for social media sales, here are a few tips to help keep you afloat.
Your reach is greater than you think. Just as trans-Atlantic shipping lanes opened up a new world for trade, social networks bring you customers from all over the globe. While you may be targeting your core audience, don’t be surprised if you’re contacted by interested customers from all across the globe. Having tools on hand (PDF) that properly decode languages and colloquialisms from all around the globe can be your treasure map to customer communities you never knew you had.
Not all social networks are created equal. Facebook isn’t LinkedIn and Twitter isn’t Imgur. If you’re going to be casting a wide social net, be aware of the ways in which different social networks communicate, as well as how they respond to marketing. What wins the hearts and minds of the Pinterest crowd just might offend the pros on LinkedIn, for instance. The better customer service you provide each of these groups, the more they’ll be knocking down your door when it’s time to buy.
Watch for the signs of a potential sale. Not every potential customer runs up to you screaming shut up and take my money. Often as not, when someone is thinking of making a new purchase, the first place they go for advice is the community. By setting alerts that help you track these potential customers, you’ll know what they want as quickly as possible–maybe even before they do.
Be aware of what the competition is doing, as soon as they do it. You and your customers aren’t the only ones having conversations on social networks. Keeping abreast of what the competition is saying can net you unexpected rewards. Whether your rivals are pirating your agenda or trading in goods you haven’t discovered yet, a timely response from your team can silence the competition’s cannons in no time.
Start charting the course for your own social networking sales expedition today by reading up on some of the tools you’ll need here (PDF).