Social media is a powerful tool for any business’ strategic plan. Just a few years ago, social media was barely part of the equation and now it’s an essential aspect of any game plan. Best practices dictate some particular things about social media, and how to best use it. Social media can be great for building your brand, but you have to find a voice and stick with it. Use social media to display the best parts of your brand, whether that’s your product, your customers, or your staff and office culture. Your brand is on social media already, it’s up to you whether you want to be the one who controls it. Social media can also be a great customer service tool. Your customers are on social media. Listen to them, interact with them, especially if they interact with you. This way, you’re reaching your customers more effectively, in an arena they might be more comfortable in.

Those are your social media best practices, but sometimes you might wonder about your return on investment. Well, I’m here to tell you all those things you thought you knew about social media, rip them up and throw them out the window! Okay, don’t actually do that, they’re still very important aspects of a social media business strategy. But, what I’m saying right now is that it’s also okay to use social media to sell and market!

Here’s where you need to be careful. There is a large segment of the population that becomes uncomfortable and/or defensive when they sense somebody is trying to sell them something. This applies especially to social media. Consider why people are on social media. While it varies from platform to platform, essentially people are on social media as a safe space to interact with their friends and connections. This is where those first social media best practices come in. By building your brand on social media, you also build trust between your business and your potential consumer. So if you actually threw those practices out the window when I told you to, go outside, pick them up, and put them back together.

Once that brand trust is established, people will be more amenable to seeing your sales pitch come at them through their social media. This is where value becomes important. People don’t like feeling like they’re losing on a deal. They ideally would like to see a greater perceived return for their perceived loss. However, if everybody operated with complete mental clarity, no business would ever turn a profit. Lucky for you, human psychology is much more complicated than a strict win/lose calculation.

Consider apps like Game of War and Clash of Clans. You might know them from their massive ad campaigns, one of which was notorious for starring a certain Sports Illustrated swimsuit model. You might have wondered why there are such massive ad campaigns devoted to free apps. The reason is, they want to draw people in and they start them off with a small reward, resources they use to start the game out. As they invest more time in the game, time that is extended by having to wait for things to develop, people are less willing to abandon the game, not because they are necessarily feeling like they’re still deriving value out of the game, but because they don’t feel like they completely lost the time they already sunk into it. Thus, inertia. The technical term for this is the sunk cost fallacy, and admittedly, it does seem a bit underhanded and cynical. However, the negative vibes of this example are reflective of the way these companies utilize these strategies. Let’s brighten these up a little bit for your business’ strategy.

What you want to be doing is taking the basic principles of sunk cost. Provide value, even if it’s for free, and get people invested into your brand. People who are invested in you and the success of your brand are more likely to be loyal and supportive customers. It’s fine to use social media for sales, but make sure you’re always providing additional value. What kinds of things can you offer your customers that doesn’t require them to necessarily give up anything.

In the same way selling can work on social media, social media works for this kind of selling. Social media helps you capture an audience much better than a phone call and email. After all, once you’ve got the like, the follow, or the connection, they’re connected to you and inertia will keep the vast majority around, in a way that calls and emails don’t hold on to contacts. From there, keep using social media to nurture away, and before you know it, your social media sales pitches are taking hold!


 

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