By: Brianna Moriarty, Partner Development Manager at Star Micronics
ISVs that are looking for a new way to connect with customers and sell software applications should explore social media. Everyone is online now, so you should be, too. In fact, anyone can use social media to sell their product or service. This effective selling strategy starts with sharing interesting content and interacting with target audiences. Interacting with customers online is a commitment, so be prepared to monitor different social platforms and spend time every day responding to comments, questions and reviews.
Determine the best platform
The platforms on which you choose to engage depend on what sort of businesses you’d like to reach. ISVs that want to target mom-and-pop shops or local restaurant owners should give Facebook or Instagram a try. Store owners may already be familiar with these platforms because they use them in their personal life, so it’s easy for ISVs to connect with merchants.
LinkedIn and Twitter are popular for engaging enterprise businesses, banks, public sector agencies, and healthcare professionals. LinkedIn is known as a professional network, which makes it the right choice when trying to reach executives and decision-makers of large companies. Twitter is becoming a resource for news and other business trends. Many decision-makers and influencers turn to Twitter to read about trending topics, updates, and tweet or retweet industry professionals.
Best practices to build a social media following
Social selling is an investment of time, and building an audience takes work. Start by consistently sharing relevant content – and not just content that promotes your product or service, but information that is useful to the audience you want to attract. For example, if your goal is to attract retailers, share content that helps them improve their business or tips on what to look for in a software solution.
The key to building an audience for social selling is to be consistent. After you start sharing content from partners or prospects, engage by sharing, liking and commenting to build a following. Connect with prospective customers and send them relevant, personalized messages. Join LinkedIn Groups that focus around what you do, or topics of interest for your target audiences and share your insight.
Identify and connect with prospects
Joining LinkedIn Groups that focus on an industry or topic is a great way to make new connections and identify prospects. Tools such as LinkedIn Sales Navigator are a worthwhile investment if you are serious about making social media a central part of your sales strategy.
It’s also important to have a specific target in mind, which will help you optimize searches for prospects. Know what job title you are looking for, industry, who else they might be connecting with, where they live/where their business is located, etc.
Social selling vs. traditional channels
It’s estimated that 2.77 billion people worldwide will be using social media this year, and they want to hear first-hand about their friends’ and influencers’ experiences with products and services. Consumers aren’t satisfied with reading magazines and newspapers for product reviews—they want to hear recommendations from people they trust about which products and services work for them. Prospective clients are turning to online reviews and research before making their purchases, because they’re most comfortable with the digital medium.
What is the difference between social selling and using traditional channels? Social media is a 24/7 tool for selling! Smartphones have given us constant access to the internet and social media. In fact, 60% of time spent on social media is on a mobile device. How much time is that? Research shows that people are now checking their social media more often and more frequently than their email.
Social selling also allows for warm introductions whereas cold calling or sending an email requires you to go in with limited prior information. When nurturing relationships through social selling, you can share information and interact with a prospect without constantly feeling like you’re pushing a hard sell. This builds trust in the relationship and makes potential clients feel like you’re genuinely interested in them and not just your commission check. Social selling allows you to measure your success and engagement immediately, compared to cold calling or emailing, which could leave you waiting weeks for a response.
Tips for ISVs starting out on social media
For those who are new to social media and want to use it to build their business, it is important to remember that consistency is key. It’s impossible to build a brand overnight, and gaining quality followers (not purchased followers) takes time and a lot of trial and error. Try different topics to find out what resonates and how it should be delivered. For example, some content may work better on a specific platform, or you may discover that your target audience prefers video content over blog content. Even when it seems like you’re losing traction, stick with it. Daily dedication to building your social media presence and measuring results will eventually lead to success. Start by spending 15 minutes a day working on social selling and build from there. Eventually, it may be productive for you to hire a person or team to help you generate new content, track and respond to comments online, and engage potential clients.
Don’t forget to do your research! Social media trends and algorithms are constantly changing. Make sure you understand how each social platform works before using it to build your brand or for social selling.