Necessity is the core of any business. You have to prove value, to demonstrate why anyone would ever buy what you’re selling. That process starts with understanding what your audience wants. Without reflecting on the interests, wants, beliefs, and priorities of a given target market, brands end up producing a service the audience may not need—or even worse, doesn’t want. So, you identify those opportunities, develop a business plan, knock out some market research and then, voila, you go to market.
Why then, do we invest so much time into building customer-centric product strategies, and then forget who those people are the second we hop on to the company’s social media page? Brands tend to become self-centric, unnecessary, or redundant, and rarely stop to ask themselves the question that started it all—why?
Why would anyone follow this page? Why would my customer benefit from this message? Why does this meme perfectly represent our superior commitment to customer service? When brands start to ask why, they revisit the things that made them a success in the first place—they start to understand the customer. That’s why a customer-centric approach to social selling is critical for any brand’s digital presence. It’s easy to create and populate an account, but to do that in a way that’s relevant, engaging, and adds value to your customer; that’s a whole different challenge. Here are five tips to reignite your social selling strategy and put customers at the center of your online conversation.
- Prioritize your customer’s needs
Think of your audience like the people they are—living, breathing, human beings with bills, relationships, priorities, and beliefs. What issues does your audience face outside of the service you provide? What’s important to them? How can you better speak to those needs?
For example, say you run a regional textile shop. The difference between 100% cotton materials and a polyester blend may seem obvious to you, but many customers lack the product knowledge to know what fabric is best for a specific job. In this case, a social campaign built around promoting the right seasonal fabrics for common needs is an excellent way to speak to that customer need.
Think about the conversations you have with customers every day. What questions do people ask on a regular basis? Those questions are a great place to start shaping your social content to meet their needs.
- Pay attention to trends
The internet bandwagon moves fast. Memes, tools, and scandals rise and fall in the span of hours, but when brands can identify and harness those trends to support their social presence, they become more relevant and engaging.
This doesn’t necessarily mean leaning into pop culture. Current events from the local community to sports, to global events provide great platforms to engage your audience. Looking back to our regional textile store, an upcoming state fair would be an excellent opportunity to promote waterproof awnings. Likewise, Halloween presents a great reason to promote low-cost fabrics for costumes.
Awareness of trending topics comes with understanding your audience. If 30% of your customer base is jumping into the next video chat platform, you should probably look at joining the bandwagon. But, move too late and you’re buried in a sea of messages and content. Likewise, make sure you understand the origins and implications of those trends. There are few things the internet loves more than jumping on top of the misuse of a meme.
- Promote customer interactions
Social media is an excellent resource for frontline interactions with your customers. But, when messages and comments are left unanswered, it feeds that growing void between brand and audience. Authentic social media engagement is exciting, particularly when customers can hear back directly from their favorite brands. That community response makes the world feel a little smaller, and reminds the users on the other side of your messaging that you’re just as human as they are.
Being responsive in your social strategy also helps improve customer service by giving your audience another reliable avenue for having their issues addressed. Concerns can be raised and resolved in real time—and when done well, this provides a public forum where other potential customers can see how you respond under pressure.
This level of service provides customers with 24/7 access to your organization, rather than forcing them to travel to a service desk or call a 1-800 number, and establishes your brand as an engaging, customer-oriented presence.
- Be real and reliable
Social selling relies on that “social” element. Be comfortable, casual, and consistent. Far too often brands let their “business” voice—the tone and language they use in formal interactions, serve as their “social” voice—the tone and language they use on social media, and it’s about as out of place as a suit at the beach. The goal of social media is to make your brand accessible, and a buttoned-up brand voice doesn’t exactly say, “hey, let’s chat.”
With that said, the tone of your brand voice on a platform like LinkedIn can be drastically different from that on Twitter or Instagram. The goal with adopting that tone isn’t just to let your hair down and unwind, but to adapt to the environment your customers already thrive in. This brand transparency helps build trust with your audience by providing them with unique communications catered to the customer’s needs and the nature of the platform.
Social selling can be a great tool for discovering new markets, expanding your reach, and interacting with your customers, but, like any relationship, it takes time. Like the early stages of your company, building a reliable social strategy requires research, planning, and effort in order for it to succeed.
These tips are a great place to start, but solutions like LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator can help shape your strategy even further. Download our latest e-book today to learn more.