Whatever business or market you operate in and whatever social platforms you are using, there is one rule that applies to all social selling interactions, The Rule of Value Exchange, and it is one that you ignore at your peril.
Value exchange is one of the fundamental principles behind any marketing or sales campaign and social selling is no different. A mutual exchange of views and ideas is easy face-to-face but whilst social selling interactions are not ‘actual meetings’ they can be just as meaningful if conducted correctly. Here are a few useful tips:
1. Collect and use customer and market information in ways that always enrich your interactions and allow you to connect at a deeper and more intimate level. Use social media to look for change signals, such as organisational, leadership, market or products changes. These can provide you with opportunities for well-timed, well-informed and well-received conversations.
2. Make sure your posts and tweets are proactive, customer-centred, productive and smart in order to enhance the customer experience at every touch point. Share knowledge you have gathered that might be of interest to your customers, re-tweet interesting items from others, post updates and give sneak peeks into what is happening in your business, but try not to self-promote too aggressively, if all your posts read like an advert or sales pitch you could turn followers off
3. Before sending or accepting a request, establish common ground and how your connection can add value to one another and your wider network. For instance, when you send a LinkedIn connection request don’t just use the default setting, but instead draft a well-informed invitation that reminds them of how they know you or why they should connect with you.
4. Demonstrate how you are in service to your customers and prospects, how you can learn from each other and why you are someone they should trust and value in return for their business. You could perhaps start a customer forum on your profile to enhance customer service, share ideas and best practice and demonstrate that you are responsive to their needs.
5. Don’t just go big; engage in smaller, closed conversations too. For example, if a customer, prospect, analyst or thought leader makes a comment that resonates with you in an open forum start comparing notes on a one to one basis or set up a closed group.
As with any form of interaction we choose to spend our time and invest our efforts in those that are interested in the same things, have shared goals and similar values. Online interaction is no different. If your customers and prospects cannot relate to you or work out why it is of benefit to connect with you, then not only will they not follow you but you could even find yourself blocked, something we have all done in our time.
Remember the Rule of the Value Exchange, and not only will you grow your network but you will build deeper connections and lasting relationships that move well beyond the virtual.