6278328485_22a07a4803_mFor the last two weeks we have talked about how marketing can truly help sales, not just in a philosophical way but with actual advice pertaining to advertisements and websites. This week, our topic is social media. This might make you cringe. There are many people out there preaching that marketers are ruining social media and that social media and selling cannot co-exist. The idea of marketing using social media to help sales may seem completely counter-intuitive. Bear with us and our five tips, however, and then let us know what you think.

1. Make sure people know the company you are representing online

Marketers these days are very caught up with the concept that social media should be all about “engagement and relationships.” That’s ok to some extent. Social Media definitely affords us the opportunity to talk about each others’ pets, children, new cars, and more. However, your sales team will probably call you just a fluffy marketer if all you do is talk about kittens and what you’re eating for lunch. Even if your interactions with people are more professionally skewed, if you don’t tell people who you work for and what you do, they may never make the connection that you’re offering them tips and tricks because you’re hoping to convince them to buy from your company. On Twitter, make sure your Twitter bio is succinct, clear, and make sure you mention your company’s name there at the very least. It’s interesting that you love running, but that will not help people understand that you work for XYZ company that makes XYZ stuff. Make your online work count and make sure people can connect you to your company.

2. Listen

Social Media offers you an amazing opportunity to eavesdrop on your customers and your competitors. Keep an eye out for position openings amongst your competitors on LinkedIn. Listen for people saying positive or negative things about your company or your competitors. Watch for people who may be interested in purchasing the kinds of products you make. Alert your sales team to all of these tidbits of data. Find a way to make your tips easy to understand and most importantly, actionable.

3. Drive traffic to special landing pages

If you want to get a handle on what your social media marketing is doing for your sales team, use special URLs only accessible by direct access (in other words, these pages are not reachable via a simple online search). This does not have to be done for everything you post. Blog posts can simply go to your blog, for example. However, if you are promoting a special sale or a new white paper, dedicate a special URL so that you can track how many people actually make it to that page. Work with your sales team to find out how many people who click end up sticking in the sales funnel, ultimately becoming paying customers. Work with your sales team to do testing for these scenarios. What seems to work and what does not?

4. Echo the kinds of sales pitches your sales people make on calls

Learn from your sales team how they conduct in-person calls and carry that kind of language to the online world. If you’re raising an eyebrow, consider that most of a sales call is not a sales person saying, “Buy buy buy.” There is conversation as the sales person tries to make a connection with the prospect. We call this part schmoozing. The sales person may ask specific questions that lead to understanding better what the potential customer may need or want. This can all be done on social media sites as well. Your company should speak with a singular voice no matter the medium. Someone meeting in person with someone from your company should not be shell-shocked when they go to follow your company on Twitter or Facebook.

5. Do not feel that you “own” social media for your company

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, do not assume that the marketers “own” social media. The best way to use social media to help your sales force is to integrate them into the process. Keep them abreast of what you’re doing, how you’re promoting different things, and the kinds of reactions you’re getting. Tagteam with a sales person and collaborate on your social media marketing efforts. The data that can be culled from social media is useful to everybody. There is no reason or need to squirrel those jewels away.

Now, how does your company handle social media? Is it perceived that one department “owns” your online presence? Do you think your own company’s sales and marketing personnel could work together to make social media a benefit for the company as a whole? We’d love to hear from you!

Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/brenderous/6278328485/ via Creative Commons