How to Select the Right Social Selling Strategy and Platform for Startups and Small Businesses

On our blog, we don’t talk a lot about marketing. However, considering the ever-growing link between sales and marketing, we wanted to discuss what to consider when focusing your social media efforts.

There’s a plethora of different social media networks out there, and each one demands resource investment – time, at the very least, and potentially money as well, if you’re engaging in advertising to assist your sales team. But not all networks are created equally for all businesses. And if you’re a startup or a small business, you ideally should be concentrating your efforts on 2-3 social media platforms at most. Which to choose depends on your business and its target market.

For B2C Businesses

If you’re in the B2C space, you’ll definitely want to hit up Facebook to generate leads and convert prospects. That includes posting once or twice a day (more than that, and you risk being considered spamming and lose followers) and focusing on building a follower base. The content should be relevant to your business – for example, restaurants and bakeries often post pictures of their food, and dentists will provide content about good hygiene practices or explanations of some of the procedures they offer.

Strengthen the relationship by responding to customer comments and posts on your page (when you get bigger, you may want to hire a social media specialist to deal exclusively with these types of interactions). Also consider setting up an auto-responder in Messenger – a short message that thanks the inbound lead for contacting you, and promising prompt follow-up. Then do respond quickly – Facebook tracks not only how responsive you are to messages, but the time frame it takes you to respond in.

Also consider your business persona – we’ve all seen the witty, funny posts that get reshared, and if that’s the image you want to and can project, go for it (Oconee Sheriff County’s Office (GA) is particularly famous as a law enforcement agency that uses humor on its Facebook page), but if that’s not your style or that of your customers, you’ll want to stick to other types of verbiage and messaging.

Whether you’re product or service-based, you’ll need to take control and maintain your businesses Yelp presence – especially if you’re brick and mortar. Cultivate positive customer testimonials and ratings to establish your credibility and visibility. Very important tip: Be wary of black hat companies who promise improved Yelp ratings. Many do so unethically by creating fake profiles and reviews, and those accounts are often flagged as untrustworthy reviews. You’ll also want to, much like Facebook, respond to customer reviews – both positive and negative – building on the relationship in the former case, learning how you can improve in the latter, and perhaps have a chance to salvage a lost customer.

Google MyBusiness is attached to Google+ and Google Maps and gives you a place to tell potential customers more about your offerings; your location; set your business hours; and monitor and respond to customer reviews. Think of it as Google’s answer to counter Yelp’s dominance of local, crowd-sourced reviews.

Those businesses who have tangible products to sell will want to showcase best-sellers and new offerings on Instagram to drive traffic to the location. And if the business is geared towards women, Pinterest will be a priority, given that 41% of American women use the platform. Keep in mind with both Instagram and Pinterest, picture quality is of the utmost importance – no blurry photos taken with your old flip phone here! If you’re in the teen market, Instagram is the second-most visited social media site for that demographic, with 69% as regular users.

For B2B Businesses

If you’re in the B2B sector, LinkedIn will be your first and foremost social media site. Your efforts here should be housed in sharing information and building relationships – not sales pitches. See our previous blog on LinkedIn messaging mistakes.

Post relevant content, such as your blog posts and white papers, and partake in the conversations going on both in your industry and in the verticals you serve. Connect with prospects and customers, and keep abreast of changes within not only your target industries, but in your leads and clients. It can provide you material to use as an opening for a discussion, email, or phone call, and will allow you to keep your CRM updated as people move up, in, and out of decision-making and influencer roles within the company.

Although Google+ was originally conceived as a challenger to Facebook, after an initial burst of enthusiasm, it became a ghost town, save for tech professionals and photographers.  That said, it still holds value in B2B terms for optimizing your keywords, SEO, and indexing. The attachment to Google make this a site you want to use as a repository for your content links to help your rankings. Just don’t expect to see an explosion of traffic directly from the site – that purpose has long since passed.

Twitter is one of the best websites to stay abreast of industry news, network with leads, scout prospects, and build relationships. In that way, it carries some similarities to LinkedIn. But it’s also limited to 280 characters, meaning best practices involve multiple daily posts and quick reactions to a fast-moving stream.

As you can see, there’s a lot of social media platforms out there, servicing a variety of markets and demographics. Depending on your business space and target market, following the above guidelines and selecting the right social media platform can do wonders for your sales goals.