How to Use Social Selling to Drive Ecommerce

  •    Freelance journalist covering women, business, policy and social good.

What's the best way to use social media to sell your products and services? The key is to be in the right place at the right time when a customer identifies a need and starts looking for solutions. This idea is known as social selling, and it can be a powerful tool to grow your business.

Social media has changed the buying process, reports Steve Fusco, vice president and general manager of North American Distribution at PayPal. Customers are now more likely than ever to discover solutions within social networks that are built around their interests.

“In a nutshell, intent and discovery are woven more closely together," Fusco said. “The challenge is to be there with those customers when it counts."

Here are three tips for how to use social selling to drive more eCommerce to your small business or website.

1. Identify The Right Platform

Different social platforms tend to attract different types of customers. Start by identifying your audience. Before you can make a relationship-based sale, you need to take some time to understand the interests of your target customer or group.

If your target customer is a professional, LinkedIn may be your ideal platform, while a technology thought leader may be more likely to use Twitter, Fusco said. Or, if your target group is parents looking for craft ideas, Pinterest may be the best match. Australian DJ duo Bonka focuses social campaigns on the five platforms that work best for their unique style and target audience, use both broad reach networks like Facebook and Instagram to more specific music-focused communities like Soundcloud.

Once you choose the best platform, spend some time learning about the social media community you've chosen, and identifying their biggest needs.

2. Create Meaningful Content

Be authentic by finding some common ground with your target group. Use social media as a way to establish connections, noted Monica Zent, founder and CEO of Foxwordy, a social network for lawyers.

You can start meaningful conversations by responding to the content that your target audience shares before creating your own posts, she wrote. Once you have a relationship established, you can offer your own pitch.

When you're ready, make sure the content you post is both original and relevant to your social media community. And be sure not to over post content, which can actually drive customers away. In other words, don't be a conversation hog, or you'll miss out on valuable insights your community is sharing.

3. Connect Your Content To Your Site

While it's important to offer engaging content, you also need to eventually connect that content back to your site in order to drive future sales.

An effective way to make those connections is through personal interactions with your target base. Host a chat where you offer to troubleshoot your product or service in order to improve customers' experiences, reports Entrepreneur. Or ask questions about your customers' preferences. You can also post a survey or poll about a topic that is relevant to your business and share the results with your community.

Another tip is to include members of your staff or friends to help answer questions and offer expert advice, the magazine reports. You can also share your customers' comments that they post in response to your questions. Last but not least, pay attention to which conversations engage the most customers so you know what works.

Social selling is an important tool for driving eCommerce to your small business or site. Create strong relationships with your social media community by choosing the right platforms, creating engaging and meaningful content, and connecting that content back to your site for future sales success.