The Best Practices for Selling Via Social Media Come across as engaging and genuine all while converting browsers into buyers -- without being pushy, one-sided or solely focused on gains.
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
The Internet is a stage where you get to share your products, messaging and services with a world full of customers.
The challenge in that? Thousands of other business owners are sharing their products and services online, too. And unless your customers see their needs reflected in the solutions and stories your business is sharing via social channels, they will start to tune it out.
So how do you effectively sell products on social media? How does a business owner come across as engaging and genuine all while converting browsers into buyers without being pushy, one-sided or solely focused on gains?
Here are some dos and don'ts you need to know about storytelling, strategy and calls to action when selling online using social media:
Do develop a campaign in-house before you use social media to get the word out. Identify the story you will tell, whether you will highlight a specific product, promotion or an overall theme for your customers to participate in and get behind.
Don't assume the benefits and features that you value in your products and services are the same as what potential and existing customers desire. Say you offer consulting services and blog and tweet about all the technical aspects in industry lingo to showcase your expertise and know-how. Sure, your customers are hiring you for your skills but they also want to know how your knowledge will save them time and money or bring them value.
Do pay attention to consumer posts on social-media channels. Look for trends, stories and clues about why people like (and need) your business. Take notes and ideate your content from there. Research (not assumptions) is key. To convert social-media users into buyers, speak your customers' language.
Don't assume that you have to manipulate people or solely speak to customers' pain to get them to buy from you.
Do create content that addresses a challenge or problem that your current and prospective customers may be experiencing, then show them three to five ways your critical thinking and products or services provide a needed solution. Remember you are the bridge that helps customers get from stuck to success. It's not about ignoring their pain or honing in on it but instead focusing on the solution.
Don't auto-schedule tweets and posts that push out the same redundant, stagnant messaging. While some auto-scheduling of posts is OK, don't do this all the time. Set things up so that some content will be shared in real time and acknowledge those who share or engage with your company's social-media profiles. People like to know an actual person is on the other side of an online profile.
Do explore ways to share and promote your products and services while also curating content from your online audience. One of the best ways to do this is to ask people questions and retweet or feature their answers on your company's Facebook page or blog or Instagram account.
Don't tag potential customers or reach out to promotional partners via social media with only your promotion and products in mind, especially if you haven't discussed these with them previously (offline or through email).
Do identify customers and super fans who have mentioned or engaged with your business on social media before. Find a way to feature or acknowledge them, perhaps even reward them with an offer for themselves, their friends and family. Also ask promotional partners what they need help with and see if there are cross-promotion opportunities. Lead with what you are willing to give before you request that they share your post on social media.
Don't assume that social media platforms are where the conversion of an online user into a buyer will take place.
Do remember that social media is a place to connect with others and build trust. Make sure that you have a strategy to keep relationships with your customers growing as they click through to your website and other social-media channels, opt to join your email list and start to receive notifications from you.
Don't run the same promotion, over and over, month after month.
Do give your promotions an end date so you can measure, review and tweak them and repeat the campaign as necessary.
Don't forget to check your analytics to see where traffic to your website and social-media platforms is coming from.
Do follow up with customers who buy from you. Drop them an electronic thank-you note, share a discount code for their next purchase or send them a tweet or post of appreciation. They will then be more likely to share how they're using your product or service with their social-media followers. You can invite them to do this sharing, too.
Selling on social media starts by showing you're there and that you care and providing an invitation for customers to connect with you at a deeper level -- whether they're ready to buy your product today or in a year. When they purchase the product isn't up to you. That's up to them. Regardless, you need to show up just the same.
Have a do or don't for selling on social media of your own to share? Add to the comments below.