When you go on social media for your business, what do you usually do? For most people, the answer would be post about your business and its products or services to let people know you can help them. While that seems like a good way to leverage social media, it’s actually hurting your business in the long run because people don’t want to follow accounts that have nothing to offer. Instead, they want to follow accounts who share helpful content, coupons, or graphics that have immediate value. This value builds trust in a company’s brand and encourages people to remain followers. If you’re guilty of selling too much, it’s time to hit refresh on your business social media and help you put this very tool into action.

The correct approach to business social media

Remember, business social media is a tactic of inbound marketing strategy. That means you should still be drawing people in with helpful content rather than throwing your product or service in your followers’ faces every chance you get. While selling on social media is important, it isn’t the only thing you should be doing.

Think of your business social media as a dinner plate. Selling your product or service is a helping of only one thing your plate. You wouldn’t eat only mashed potatoes or only peas. Instead, you’d want some chicken, mashed potatoes, peas, and dessert for a complete meal. That’s the same concept you need to keep in mind with business social media. You should be leveraging social listening, social influencing, social networking, and social selling in that order to build trust in your brand and nurse people through the sales funnel.

  • Social listening – regardless of what your business does, there will always be people commenting on your posts. Whether the comments are negative, positive, or neutral, you need to promptly respond to them as soon as possible to show your audience you’re listening, and you care about their opinions. Negative comments require the quickest attention, because depending on the reason for the negative comment, letting them fester will only make matters worse. You want to move the conversation to a direct message as soon as possible to minimize how much of it is visible to others. Social media is a chat line that is always open and available, so your job to make sure you maintain a positive perception of your company. As you build a bigger audience, they will help you troubleshoot aspects of your business, let you know broken things that need to be fixed, and help you make your company the best it can be. Part of social listening is also keeping tabs on your competitors to see what people are saying about their company. You can implement the things people like and avoid the things they don’t to keep your business ahead of the conversation.

  • Social influencing – if you’ve been successfully practicing social listening, you should know what you’re audience wants as well as the industry hot topics being discussed. Then, you can use this knowledge to be a thought leader and influence how people perceive certain topics. Social influencing means starting conversations around industry topics and jumping on conversations that are already happening to secure your place as a thought leader. The more conversation and interaction you participate in, the more engagement and followers you will see. This increase in chatter on your business social media will subtly raise awareness about your brand and products or services as well as boost traffic to your website. The best part is you’re avoiding seeming like a sleazy car salesman who is constantly trying to push your product, but you’re still seeing some of the same results. When you’re a social influencer, you become an account people turn to when they have questions or engage with because they trust what you have to say.

  • Social networking – just like you would network with people at business events and mixers, social networking involves making connections like like-minded people, potential customers, and industry influencers to further extend your professional network. While this can be done by simply following individuals or businesses, that isn’t the best way to do it. You’re not demonstrating any value. Instead, you want to publish social media around any blogs, videos, or other content your business is producing and follow the people who interact with it. In conjunction with that, you should also be interacting with and sharing content from other accounts who are producing content that fills in the gaps your content is lacking. Believe it or not, that means people in the same industry as your business. Start a relationship with those who are similar to your business and demonstrate you are paying attention to what they are posting. Over time, you’ll develop a relationship with them and their audience, which is great for developing future business opportunities.

  • Social selling – notice social selling is the final step of having a successful business social media strategy, not the first. At this point, you should be listening to and answering your audience, establishing your company as an industry thought leader, and creating a strong network of followers. Only then can you start putting your products and services out there because instead of coming across like a salesman, you have built a trustworthy foundation that makes people want to know how you may be able to help them. You want to convert people by posting links to special offers, linking to in-depth information about your products and services, and using retargeting ads. Social selling is most effective when you are creating content specifically designed for a particular persona with very clear calls to action and a way to collect emails and names for your database. You also want to couple this content with opportunities to upsell them on a separate offering. Selling on business social media account shouldn’t just be throwing up links to your shop page. It should be strategic and only put in place once you’ve built your status as a thought leader.

Even though these are the steps in the order you must complete them, everything doesn’t stop once you reach the final step. Instead, you should be doing these four things every day to hit people at all different stages of the funnel. It is fluid and always moving, and you need to be doing each step to ensure you don’t fall behind and start from square one. Want to know more about business social media? Let us know, and we will answer any questions you have or feature your question in an upcoming blog.