Use Social Media to increase your sales

As a small business owner, there are many ways to promote your product or brand. One of these ways is free and can have a huge reach: social media. Unfortunately, a lot of the entrepreneurs I have spoken to recently feel that the effect isn’t worth the effort. We also see that in our consultancy, by the way. It doesn’t matter if we review a photographer’s website or the site of an IT agency, most seem to invest little time in social media efforts or campaigns.

If you want to learn more about using social media and other essential SEO skills, you should check out our All-Around SEO training! It doesn’t just tell you about SEO: it’ll help you put these skills into practice!

It’s hard to determine the ROI of a social media campaign. The tools that help in that determination are paid, most of the time. A small business owner that isn’t convinced about any ROI at all, won’t make that investment. Of course ROI is heavily depending on a number of factors. How do you convince the customer to buy in a tweet, for instance? Nigel’s comment on a previous post of mine about social media got me thinking:

I also like social media but how do you target the “ready to buy” segment instead of people “Browsing”.
Nigel Abery,

You don’t buy a hammer to drive a nail in a piece of wood, but to build a bench. Growing an audience using social media, like I mentioned in this previous post, is a means to an end. The ultimate goal of all your social media efforts is of course to sell your product or service and make money. It can even be the first step in a multistep process: get more newsletter subscriptions via Twitter to sell your eBook, for instance.

Now how will you be able to trigger that social audience to purchase your products or services? I did some digging on the interwebs. There is a lot to be found on the subject, but no user manual that works for everybody. Unfortunately, but not unexpected. It’s not an exact science, of course. But I’ve come up with some insights nevertheless :)

The obvious social media sales

Larger companies with a huge social media audience tweet or post their way to money. We have this new product, buy it. This will make your life easier, buy it. If you already have this product of us, you’ll want this product. Buy it.

It’s a direct trigger, that works due to the large audience. If you tell 1.000 people to buy something, you’ll get sales. That seems obvious. Just make sure you also pay attention to accessibility, so everyone will be able to read your post.

Twitter Buy Button
As seen on Mashable, for instance

In most cases, social media efforts lead to long term wins, like someone that remembers that you are selling Lego t-shirts and finds you back on his Facebook timeline.

Obviously large brands with a huge following can become social entities of their own; small business almost never can. Just the other day I was talking to a local business owner about social media (Twitter). I asked him, if his personal profile had more visitors than his business profile. It did. In most small business cases, social media isn’t a business, but always the person behind it.

Small business

Where should you start, right? I think the social media efforts should be designed around your website, to be honest. If you consider social media a serious opportunity, you should make it work with your website, not next to it. If you come up with a nice idea to promote a product on social media, Twitter is limiting your message by 140 characters. Your optimized landing page on your website doesn’t have these limitations. If the landing page is for that Twitter campaign only, you could even measure the effect of the Twitter campaign without tagging your Twitter campaign in Google Analytics (or knowing what tagging an URL is in general).

Come to think of it, social media is a lead to a sale, not the sales effort itself in most small business cases. I have no scientific numbers to prove it, but it seems to make sense. Sure, you can set up a shop app on your Facebook page, but that would be the same as a great website. You are lowering barriers as visitors can become customers without leaving the social network site.

Besides Facebook, other social media are also catching up with this trend of immediate selling. Pinterest introduced buyable pins: when you spot a Pin with a blue price, that means you can buy it. Twitter added the possibility to add a “Buy now” button in 2015 as well, and even Instagram made their platform easy to sell from via ads. And let’s not forget YouTube, where you can post links in the description and directly onto the screen using cards.

The question remains how small business owners can use social media for immediate or future profits.

Leading them to the sale

Social media is buzz for companies and people. Social media is people talking one to many. Social media is narrowing your business communication down to a niche. People just like to browse for things they might like. Unbounce did an article on cart abandonment a year ago, stating that “56% of shoppers aren’t ready to purchase but want to save their selection for later”, in their cart. I think it is safe to say that this behavior has not changed. So what we should use social media for in this case, is to introduce that product to the customer.

Sales appear less ad hoc when it’s a new product to the customer. When there’s some kind of buzz around your product, people might start to want your product unconsciously. It will become more and more top-of-mind, and an eventual sale will be deliberate. Even though it might seem ad hoc to the buyer at that point. This might be a long-term effect of your social media efforts.

At Yoast, our main focus is SEO / UX, analytics, and WordPress. Most tweets of our team are about those subjects. Creating a niche like that will give you the social following that is already interested in (one of) your products. It did for us.

It is nice to just tweet about beautiful cars when you are selling bread, but those tweets won’t make you money. Tweeting about that new paleo bread you are selling online starting today could get you (immediate) sales, though.

Start early in the process of a new product or offer; “We are releasing a brand new plugin early next week!” or “Only on sale next week, get yours!” and create scarcity; “We’ll start with a test audience of 250 people.” All the basics of sales go for social media as well. You can easily create series, repeat your offer. I tend to use Hootsuite for that. I dislike the GUI of the browser version, but like the functionality. Buffer is another great tool you could try.

Create the need or wish for your product or services. And guide the potential buyer via your preferred social media outlets to your website to close the deal.

To sum things up

Direct selling via social media is becoming more important, and could be an opportunity for small businesses. After reading a number of articles about it, my conclusions are that:

  • I am looking forward to reading about new products on Twitter and hitting ‘Buy’.
  • With more and more social media making the buy button available, I’m curious what the effects will be on social media as a proper sales channel.
  • My gut feeling tells me too little small businesses are aware of shop apps for Facebook, like the Shopify app. Dig into that, especially when you have a local following on Facebook.

Current social media sales efforts should trigger a niche specific sale on your optimized landing page. We also wrote a post about these Landing Pages: be sure to check it and align that landing page with your social media efforts!

Read more: Social Media Strategy: where to begin »

Coming up next!

19 Responses to Use Social Media to increase your sales

  1. shailesh chaubey
    shailesh chaubey  • 8 years ago

    Thanks for sharing this article.

  2. souvik ghosh
    souvik ghosh  • 8 years ago

    Great post. I’m struggling to find 10 let alone 100 influencers in niche. My audience are management accounting students taking professional exams but they don’t really follow tutors or colleges on social media or read blogs on the topics they are learning.

  3. Be-Wide
    Be-Wide  • 8 years ago

    If you work hard enough, you can get great results from social networks. I believe.

  4. Doriv
    Doriv  • 8 years ago

    Facebook is reducing how many fans see the new posts…it’s not good for this purpose

  5. marketing amsterdam
    marketing amsterdam  • 8 years ago

    Social networking is still growing, however we see also a bit of irritant when you talk about webcare. The funny need for good reactions are sometimes irritating people, but still social media is a good one for sales!

  6. Madbrain
    Madbrain  • 8 years ago

    I appreciate you on writing this post ,I always like your articles and wordpress plugins.Thanks (Yoast

  7. Will
    Will  • 8 years ago

    I liked your article, social networks today are an indispensable tool for any website

  8. Maurizio Fumini
    Maurizio Fumini  • 9 years ago

    HI Michiel, I read many of your posts, about the usefulness of the social factor to make sales here in Italy works well for consumer products (cell phones, clothing, crafts), but for professional services (marketing, business services etc) i do not give a social help as you hope. And ‘you think an Italian phenomenon, or even in other states is the same thing?
    Thanks you in advance.

    • Michiel Heijmans

      I think social media is a) sharing and b) building a community. In the Netherlands, social networks seem to work very well, especially locally (b2b). We do have blazing fast internet almost everywhere – perhaps that is a factor?

  9. Nigel Abery
    Nigel Abery  • 9 years ago

    G’day Michiel,
    Firstly, thank you for honouring me by responding to my comments question with an entire post! Wow, I was not expecting that! I am a big fan and use your Yoast WP SEO plugin on my site to help optimise it for SEO.
    Secondly, thanks for the ‘Yoast optimise your WordPress site’ book! It is really packed full with great SEO advice. I am in the process of reading it and trying to put it into practice on my site.
    I am in a very competitive industry to get ranked online for, but I must say after implementing only some of the more basic advice in the book it is starting to make a difference.
    You guys rock SEO!

  10. paul
    paul  • 9 years ago

    how about marketing on mobile communication apps. I was always wondered if there is a effective way to do this job in mobile environments.

  11. shoeb
    shoeb  • 9 years ago

    Hi ,

  12. shoeb
    shoeb  • 9 years ago

    Hi ,
    I just cam to know that Yoast is the best SEO for wordpress and using isnce last week but still i was not able to post at facebook and google+.Please le t me know what i was doing wrong and correct me .

  13. Anil Agarwal
    Anil Agarwal  • 9 years ago

    I think social media can be really efective in selling those products that are in demand and we end up giving some form of discont or offer through social media networks.

    Another thing we could do is find people who are looking for solution that a particular product or service is solving. We can also send maximum traffic from social networks to our landing pages and there we will have more chances of converting.

    • Prashant Kumar
      Prashant Kumar  • 9 years ago

      Yes, I agree with Anil that social media can be used to send traffic to our landing page and thus maximize our revenue but for that we would need an highly targeted audience and also number does matter in this case.

  14. Valik Rudd
    Valik Rudd  • 9 years ago

    I love that, “You don’t buy a hammer to drive a nail in a piece of wood, but to build a bench.” Convincing my clients to invest in social media seems like I am trying to get them to spend money on the hammer when they need a bench. They do not see the value in it. This is why educating the clients first and then trying to get them to invest in a “hammer” is crucial. I find this part hard to do with my clients.

  15. Ali kazmi
    Ali kazmi  • 9 years ago

    I am truly glad to read this informative information in this post, there is we have a good opportunity to increase our sell with social media campaign is best strategy to built good relation among with our client. We rapidly engaged to our customers.Helpful post 4 me.

  16. saeed
    saeed  • 9 years ago

    And it seems that the growing social networking site in each country is the best place for free social marketing.

  17. Gorakhnath Sirsikar
    Gorakhnath Sirsikar  • 9 years ago

    “Come to think of it, social media is a lead to a sale, not the sales effort itself in most small business cases.” totally pinned the gist of the use of Social Media today.

    Would like to add that it helps build the “trust factor” as social media posts/sharing and the interaction in turn tends to involve many people who might be in the network of the target customer. If it’s a niche the chances are higher that a trusted individual/organisation in the network shows an infinitesimally small but equally inversely significant social signal to comfort the first time or doubtful buyers.