As a sales expert and someone interested in improving lives and businesses in general I strive to ensure that I am doing the best that I can to be at the cutting-edge of what is going on with new selling ideas and strategies.
One area that I have some strong opinions about is social media and the uses and abuses of social media. I have shared some of these in previous blogs and will do in the future however for this post I sought out social media expert Chris Norton of Dead Dinosaur to get his opinion on a few widely asked questions.Q: How important is social media for sales in the real world right now? (i.e. not internet sales, internet businesses, not selling courses on how to make money online... but real honest to goodness bricks and mortar businesses).
A: Good question, personally I am pretty sick of the courses you see everywhere which are offering you a new and unique way to make money online. In my area of expertise they usually consist of 17 large books you have to buy to become a social media guru and the end the result is normally that you learn a lot about the first book and not so much about the other 16. In my experience if it sounds too good to be true it usually is.
To answer your question, social media is vitally important to sales at the moment for internet retailers as often it means the online business gets more traffic to its website and if it has a good conversion ratio on its site it's likely to see quite a lot of new sales. However, you were asking me about a business that doesn't sell online? My answer would again be Social Media is vitally important as it gives you the ability to find new people to engage with. These can be new potential customers, suppliers or even friends and all you need is your computer. Social media should be seen as blessing to those who hate making new business calls as you can do it all from your office or living room.
However, social networking is the same as real-life networking. When you go out and about and meet someone you usually tell them what you do. Why not do it 140 characters and show your community that you know your area of expertise?
If social media is used properly and the user does add real value to their community/followers/fans they will find that the sales will soon start to follow. However, like anything it doesn't happen overnight and if you start selling heavily it just won't work. You need to work at it and enjoy it - just like real networking or the gym.
Networking of any nature is about relationships and if you build up a relationship with people you are half way there to building up your sales pipeline. I am working with various high profile brands that use Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, blogs and the like, to simply keep their customers informed on what they are doing. If you look after your fans and followers they will notice this and you will be well on your way to building a better relationship with them. It is great for customer loyalty but even better for feedback. Your customers can now tweet you or leave a comment on your blog and you can use this information to make your products or services better. How useful is that? In fact, I often say the more critical the comments the more useful the feedback can be to product development.
Blogging is a great example of how social media is important for anyone no matter what industry. Let's take this/your blog as an example. You write your posts on here that shows your readers you know what you are talking about when it comes to sales. The articles you have written on here have set you up as an expert in your field. As you know any business can do this and blogs cost virtually nothing to get started. The best thing about blog articles is they stay online forever, which means your latest readers can find them in Google, and then decide to buy from you - it really is that simple.
Q: Who would you say are the movers and shakers in the industry?
A: This is a tough question as there are a lot of people I rate in this sector but the people I respect the most I know mainly through my online networking. If I was pushed to answer I think my top five social media specialists would be:
Brian Solis - author of Engage and Principal at Futureworks
Todd Defren - Principal at Shift Communication
David Brain - President & CEO Edelman Europe of Crowd Surfing
Neville Hobson - PR Podcaster and blogger
Drew Benvie - Managing director 33 Digital
Q: What should people be doing to get going?
A: I think every business should have a blog as this offers huge SEO and traffic benefits. I also think people should have a play with Twitter as that is where a lot of my new contacts come from. People like people, so don't be too corporate - just try to be yourself and show the world that you are an expert in your chosen field. If you are polite and friendly the new connections will come you can be sure of that.
Q: What's the biggest mistake that people make when getting into social media?
A: I have seen a lot of brands start a Facebook page, a twitter feed without any real cohesion or message. In other words people are trying to sell too hard and this is the wrong approach. If you are friendly, add value and give something unique (like a special offer) ever once in a while your numbers will start to grow and you will start to see some effect on your bottom line - I have no doubt about that.
Q: What would be your best tip that people could read in 20 seconds?
A: My quick tip for social media is add value and personality to your company. Your website is for showcasing, selling and your social media channels are for adding value and giving something back to your customers.