How to Use Social Media Marketing to Drive Sales

Nov 18, 2014

Social media is primarily a communications tool that serves to enhance the sales function, and does not drive sales by itself in most cases. Treating social media as just another medium for pushing out aggressive sales messages is a little bit like using a pair of pliers to pound a nail – it’s simply the wrong tool for the job.

According to a study conducted by Forrester Research, social media on average has less than a one percent impact on sales. Coca-Cola, with more than 62 million ‘likes’ on Facebook, is the most popular brand on the largest social platform on the planet – yet admits that it’s social media buzz has no statistically significant effect on short-term sales.

does social media lead to sales

Why Even Bother with Social Media?
Why should Coke, or your company for that matter, commit time and resources to a marketing strategy that seemingly offers so little return on investment? Because social media, like public relations, helps create the awareness, trust, and affinity needed at the top end of the product sales funnel in order for a sale to be completed at the bottom end.

To help put things in their proper perspective, just because a business activity cannot be connected directly to bottom line profits doesn’t necessarily mean that it has no value to a company. If that were the case, an awful lot of receptionists, secretaries, and accounting personnel would be out of a job.

The Correct Way to Use Social Media in Your Business
Just because social media is not designed to close prospects and deliver actual sales doesn’t mean that it can’t play a vital role in building your business.

  • Social media can drive sales – if you follow the rules. Social media is all about conversations and most social media users aren’t looking to be sold something. You have to be careful not to be overly aggressive in your approach. The safest method of promoting your products and services in the social media environment is to balance your content by following the 70-20-10 rule. In essence, 70 percent of your content should consist of helpful and relevant information of your own creation, 20 percent should come from other sources, and the final 10 percent should consist of your promotional messages. When you do offer products for sale, make it a special event by offering discounts or limited-time deals.
  • Build relationships that establish your company as the trusted authority in your industry or niche. When your fans and followers are in the market for your type of product or service, chances are that your company will be the one they turn to if you’ve already established a sense of rapport with them. The way to establish that rapport is with great content that informs and entertains your audience. Focus your efforts on providing useful tips and advice as well as links to additional resources.
  • Use social media to provide customer service. Consumers expect to be able to have their questions and concerns about your products addressed through social media channels rather than waiting on ‘hold’ for a customer service rep. Obviously, you’ll have to provide adequate staffing for monitoring your social channels and responding to customer service issues in a timely manner.