5 Ways Social Media Can Generate Sales

Social media is good for a lot of things. But what about your bottom line?

Well, the truth is that social media and sales are strange bedfellows. When it comes to social media, on the one hand, relationships come before sales. On the other hand, people prefer to do business with those they trust.

So while you shouldn’t be using social media to sell your products, using social media in the right way can lead to an increase in sales in five different ways.

1. Customer Retention & Loyalty

The most immediate way that social media can help increase your sales is by making your existing customers repeat buyers. By offering your customers the ability to connect with you and each other, you can turn your target market into a community. And the sense of belonging they get from being part of that community can make them more loyal to your brand.

Examples of this include having social media profiles that are active and useful. This can be as simple as a Twitter account that addresses consumers’ comments about products. Or it can be as engaging as a Facebook group that solicits feedback from customers and fosters discussion between them.

The point is that by connecting with your customer base in a meaningful way, you remind them that their product and brand experiences matter to you. And when a consumer feels as though they have a voice and some influence, they are more likely to become repeat buyers because they feel that your products have been designed with their personal needs in mind.

2. Community & Acquisition

We all belong to different networks. Work networks, school networks, family networks, etc.  Many of those networks overlap through social media. For instance, you can find out a lot more about your colleague’s personal interests by friending them on Facebook.

Well, your customers are no different. And when you encourage them to form a community around your brand, the people in their personal network who know them and trust them will see that they are a loyal customer.

And when someone you trust trusts someone else, you’re more willing to trust them, too. So the next time someone in their network is looking for a product/service you sell, they’ll remember your brand and be more likely to buy from you.

3. Trust & User Generated Content

Developing powerful, compelling content can be costly and a huge pain. You have to hire writers, analyze content conversion rates, and constantly tweak your copy. And more often than not, your content will come out so branded and sterile that it doesn’t resonate with consumers anyway.

But what if you could outsource your content strategy to a trusted third-party for free? Well, social media can help you do that through user generated content (UGC).

You see when you develop content consumers know that you’re just trying to sell to them. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

But when you open up your products to user reviews, you send send a message that you have nothing to hide/fear, and that helps a consumer trust your brand more. By giving consumers access to independent third-party feedback, you’re helping them make a better purchasing decision, and when a consumer is more comfortable, they are more likely to buy.

Of course, all this being said, it’s your responsibility to make sure that your products and services (including customer service) don’t suck. So if you get bad reviews, address the issues and make it very clear in value proposition, call to action, and product descriptions that improvements have been made.

4. SEO & Acquisition

A convenient side-effect of opening up your products to community activity and UGC is that you increase your chance of rankings on all kinds of medium- to long-tail keywords. And that means that you increase your chances of reaching out to targeted users who have already made the decision to buy (i.e. are actively searching for products/services).

Google will only permit a single domain to appear twice on the same search engine results page (SERP). That means that you can have up to 8 competitors on a SERP.

But when you build a community around your brand through social media profiles and open up it up to UGC, you create another branded page that can rank in the SERPs. And that means another portal through which you can acquire and convert users.

5. Drive Foot Traffic

Believe it or not, social media can drive traffic to your brick & mortar point-of-sale (POS). You see, the web has gone mobile and so has social networking. More and more of what users are doing are location-based, and that means that you can reach out to potential customers who are, quite literally, just around the corner.

For instance, the social network Foursquare allows users to “check-in” to physical locations (such as a cafe) through their mobile phones. Their personal network is then updated about their physical location. And when we see that someone we trust frequents a certain POS, we’re curious to check it out, too.

Consider the partnership between Foursquare and the Canadian free daily newspaper franchise, Metro, to deliver restaurant reviews based on the location of a Foursquare user. This means that restaurants are driving foot traffic through third-party content.

But there are so many more possibilities. Social media and the mobile web also allow you to geo-target advertising to within a radius of only a few blocks. In fact, many retailers already offer time-sensitive deals to users who are in walking distance of a POS.

Being Social, Making Sales

Of course, what you have to remember about social media is that relationships come before sales. Social media is supposed to be social, not commercial.

Through social media you can build community, trust, and influence with your target marketing. You can get invaluable feedback that can be used to improve products and brand experiences. And you can find out more about what your customers want.

But never try to actually solicit a sale. Not only will the attempt fail, but it can backfire, and word can spread quickly about you’re just another marketing douchebag.

About CT Moore

A former Staff Editor here at Revenews.com, CT Moore is a recovering agency hack with over a decade experience leveraging search, social media, and content marketing to help brands meet their business goals online. He currently provides digital strategy consulting to start-ups, SMBs, enterprise level companies through his consultancy Socialed Inc.. CT is also an accomplished blogger and speaker who educates groups and companies on how they can better leverage different online channels.

3 Responses to 5 Ways Social Media Can Generate Sales

  1. Hi,

    I actually opened twitter and facebook for building social relations only. But recently after joining Commission Junction, i place ads on twitter.

    I share with facebook also but not as often as I do on twitter.

    So what is your suggestion?

    How can I increase my traffic?

    Your article has given me encouragement to do something else on social media other tha advertising.

  2. essentialfeeling says:

    Does anyone have any advice for a small regional business wanting to use bigger sites and pay them an affliate commission please?

  3. Luke V says:

    I agree with what CT has to say here.  Social Media has expanded at an extreme rate and its no wonder that it will find applications in other facets of life.  Point of Sale systems are now using social media as a loyalty reward program and a way to launch promotions, discounts, and deals.  Those three will drive foot traffic if they can see what is going on vai social media on their laptops and smartphones.  Own POS is one of the originators of this and is dubbed the “worlds first social point of sale.”  Social media will have a huge part to play in the future of a number of industries with features such as “checking in”, remote ordering, and customer loyalty programs. 

    Own POS, the world’s first social point of sale