Posts with images are the most heavily shared on social media, they say – so waste no time in converting your text updates into images. People love quick videos in their streams too – so try your hand at animation every now and then. And don’t you forget branding – customize all your social media pages to stand out from the crowd.
All of this is great advice, but it ignores one key aspect of social media: Sales.
As many experts have shown, this lacuna is more a problem of misattribution, than an inability of social media to bring results. Because a number of businesses have been successful at a goal that many consider impossible – extracting sales out of social media. Let’s take a look at some of the biggest success stories and figure out what they did right.
ModCloth’s Product Cards on Twitter
We’ve all seen, loved and pinned the vibrant rich pins feature that Pinterest implemented a little while ago. But did you know that good ol’ Twitter can actually do the same thing? No, you don’t have to worry about squeezing your labor of love into a 140 character tweet anymore. Twitter product cards are an easy and extremely eye-catching way to get your products into the conversation on social media without even lifting a single finger.
You see, nearly every ecommerce site on the planet by now has implemented social sharing buttons on their product pages. However, online apparel retailer par excellenceModCloth went one step further. They implemented Twitter’s product cards right in the source code of their product pages. This means, every time someone shares a product link on Twitter, a rich snippet of the product appears right below the tweet, like this:
It’s got nearly all the essentials right there for the fan’s entire network to see, want and buy. There’s a clear product title, pricing, availability status, a short description of the item and most importantly, a link back to the original product page to enable an immediate purchase.
Clearly, this is another step towards a happy marriage of social media and ecommerce on ModCloth. After all, ModCloth’s “Be the Buyer” social commerce feature is an industry benchmark. According to Co-Founder Susan Gregg Koger, “Historically, Be the Buyer items sell up to twice as much as others, and designs have received more than 20 million votes.”
Dell’s Dousing of “Dell Hell” Fire
Probably around the time Facebook was cutting its teeth on Ivy League campuses, Jeff Jarvis bought a lemon of a computer from Dell and consequently began “Dell Hell.” Jarvis, a popular blogger wrote a series of blog posts describing in detail his terrible experience with the Dell machine he’d bought and Dell’s callous customer care service. The conversation snowballed in the blogosphere to eventually be covered by traditional media, eventually leading to a crash in Dell’s stock prices and market share. All this while, Dell remained silent.
However, the Dell of today seems to have finally learnt a lesson or two from the Dell of 2005. For starters, they began to listen to their audience. And respond to them in real time.
With dedicated Twitter handles for different geographical regions, they took their own “Think Global, Act Local” tagline to heart. The @DellOutlet handle was set up exclusively to communicate offers and promotions for refurbished Dell merchandise on Twitter. In 2009, Dell earned $6.5 million from Twitter sales alone.
In 2007, Dell set up their Idea Storm portal, a website that invited users to share their innovative ideas with Dell and engage with the brand one on one. By 2013, Idea Storm had over 60,000 users, 18000+ new ideas generated. Of these, 520 ideas were even implemented by Dell.
While you probably don’t have Dell’s resources and clout to warrant building a standalone website or app to marshal your users’ opinions and viewpoints, soliciting user feedback from your social followers can be as simple as setting up a Facebook contact form.
Jetsetter’s Social Referral Program
Social commerce is not just about the actions that a business takes to get more business via social media. It also includes actions that fans and followers perform on social media that lead to incremental sales. To be more specific, these actions that we speak of here are customer referrals from existing fans and followers.
Travel website Jetsetter adopted a unique method of winning over more referrals. At the end of every holiday purchased on their website, they encouraged users to share the details of their trip with friends on social media. To make the process of sharing the purchase attractive to users, Jetsetter rewarded each user with a special gift voucher.
Users got a choice of sharing on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and email.
The results were surprising. 60% of all shared purchases led to incremental sales via the users’ social networks. “To see such a high conversion rate on shared purchases demonstrates how powerful word-of-mouth can be when it comes to travel” says Sean Murphy, Editor-in-Chief of Jetsetter.
InContact’s Experiment with LinkedIn
LinkedIn gets top marks from B2B businesses as the most relevant and productive social network. However, most sales teams use LinkedIn more as a stalking tool than a sales enablement platform.
InContact, a company that sells on-demand call center software decided to combine LinkedIn with social selling in 2013. For their maiden venture in the social selling space, they opted to go with a simple A/B test – a scientific way to check if this much touted process actually works. They split their sales team into two groups. The first group got trained in selling on social media. They were also provided with content that they could use to build a personal brand to influence potential buyers. Additionally, they were instructed to use marketing automation tools to further raise their selling potential. The second group continued to use their existing sales techniques, with no diversion into social commerce.
The results were fascinating to say the least. Within a period of just six months, the group of sales reps that used LinkedIn to reach out, connect with and eventually sell to clients, saw a 122% increase in revenue than the non-social group. Those that combined social media with marketing automation tools (Eloqua, in this case) fared even better. Their revenues soared 157% over the non-social group.
Data from Nielsen clearly demonstrates the grip that the opinions of others has on the buying behavior of the average consumer. While 90% consumers trust recommendations from friends and family, 70% trust reviews posted by other users online. Or, in social recommendations they trust. Clearly, there could not be a better time to venture into social selling!