Want to boost sales on social media? Here are four questions every business should ask.

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Social media provides vast opportunity for sellers to connect with potential customers, build a global audience, and increase revenue. But it can also be overwhelming, with seemingly endless new platforms and sales tactics popping up.

Without a smart, targeted approach, it’s all too easy for brands to get lost in the noise. Roshan Jhunja, general manager of Square for Retail, says “authentic conversations” with your current—and potential—customers are the foundation of any successful social-selling strategy. But before diving in, business leaders should ask themselves four questions to master the art of social selling.

1. What are we trying to achieve with social?
With so many options, it can be tempting to dive into multiple buzzy channels at once. But it’s crucial to take a beat and codify the purpose of your social strategy. “Don’t go in saying, ‘I’m going to embrace social’ and just create accounts everywhere,” Jhunja warns. “First and foremost, figure out: What is the most important thing for me to do here?”

That means assessing your business goals and how social fits in. Are you trying to expand your existing business or start a new one? Is the core objective to increase sales or to build your community first? Clarify your intentions and put them to paper.

2. Who specifically are we trying to reach?
Considering your objectives leads naturally into discussion of your target audience: Who am I trying to reach? This in turn leads to the appropriate social platforms to test. “Whether these are existing [customers] or you’re trying to expand, you need to understand: Where are they going? Where are they getting their information from? And who are they trusting?” Jhunja says.

Consider the entire buyer journey, he adds. Twitter, for example, is a popular place for people to research purchases. On visual platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest, shoppers like to check out product shots and buy what piques their interest. Major retailers and small businesses alike have also had success building a loyal community with livestream shopping events on platforms like TikTok and Facebook, for example. Livestreaming fueled an estimated $5.6 billion in sales last year, according to analytics firm Coresight Research, which predicts that figure will nearly double to $11 billion in 2021 and leap to $26 billion by 2023.

Consistency and persistence is key with live sales, notes Square Product Marketing Manager Katie Miller, speaking during a recent panel discussion hosted by Square at the 2021 Fast Company Innovation Festival. “People build community off this,” she says. “The people who are attending are interacting with each other in the comments. You’re building this whole community just from you being excited to sell something on a livestream.”

3. Which channels feel authentic to our brand?
Social selling is designed to be easy, but that can be a double-edged sword when determining which platforms are right for your business. It’s unlikely all of them are—and it’s even more unlikely you’ll be able to keep up with quality content on several channels. “Don’t fall into the trap of just putting a lot of stuff out there,” Jhunja says. “Take time to be thoughtful, to really dial into your key segments’ interests and what they’re engaging with.”

Curating different content across platforms is crucial, says Victoria Roedel, cofounder of Ice Cream Social, a full-service digital agency and ice cream truck business. “Our Instagram content is very family friendly,” she says. “We share a lot of beauty shots of our truck. We post a lot of photos of us and our customers. It really entices people to reach out to us via Instagram and book us.

“Our TikTok content is designed more for a younger age group…it’s funny and comedic,” Roedel adds. “We tap into a lot of TikTok trends and popular TikTok songs that kids really love. And then for our agency business, [it’s a totally different audience; we really focus on LinkedIn as our primary platform.”

4. Which metrics are most valuable?
Successful social sellers know their analytics and tweak their approaches accordingly. While metrics of success will vary depending on your goals—sales vs. community-building, for example—engagement is the core factor that’s important for everyone, Jhunja emphasizes.

Analyze that data to determine who’s connecting with you and what they’re enjoying most. You can use that to evolve how you spend and what you post, Jhunja says, with engagement data continually feeding back into your strategy.

Beyond hard data, Jhunja says customer feedback can also be a rich source of insight: “The next time you have a personal interaction with a return customer, ask: ‘What do you think of what I’m doing? Have my latest posts appeared in your feed?’ Get that real-time feedback on your strategy and create a feedback loop—because that’s what social is about: It all goes back to having that authentic conversation.”



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