Can you sell on social networks? 9 tricks and strategies to master social selling

Can you sell on social networks? Are Facebook, Instagram, and the like places where you just show off your goods or can you actually make real money?
In this post we are going to analyze all of the possible strategies, which products can be sold, and we’ll show you 9 tricks to sell more on social networks.
Welcome to social selling!

Can you actually sell on your social networks?

That’s the million-dollar question that almost every brand asks itself.
Apart from working on branding, getting followers, or any other social media marketing strategy… is there any other possible way on Earth to turn all that hard work into direct conversions?
Even if it’s a spoiler, we’ll say it: yes—there is—but…
After that “but” there is the whole lot of reality.
You can sell on social networks, but there are a lot of “buts”. As for cold call sales, the conversion rate is ridiculous, and thinking of turning Facebook or Twitter into a cash-generating machine is living in a fantasy world.
Don’t assume that you are going to make a killing. Think about it as an extra resource that can bring you some nice returns.

Never base your whole sales strategy on social networks —use them as an extra for your business.

So now let’s see what Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest can do for your business with a social selling strategy.

What is social selling?

Social selling is about finding users that meet your buyer persona profile, turning them into potential clients, and then into conversions in the least amount of time possible.
This idea is more closely aligned with reality, though it hasn’t always been like this.
In the spring of 2018, Twitter updated its algorithm and made it more difficult to use a somewhat “dirty” sales technique that had been working for years.
The idea was to follow huge amounts of users, regardless of their likes or interests, and send them a direct message with an offer to be applied if they followed you back.
That is essentially cold calling on social networks. Despite not being as easy to do mass follows anymore, it is still possible.
This strategy is similar to techniques like the so-called “black hat”, which we don’t recommend at all. However, it could bring good results when used properly both on Twitter and Instagram.
We’ll take a look at some hacks for that later.
However, bear in mind that social selling goes beyond direct or immediate conversions. It’s more about those first few steps to accelerate the process as much as possible.

Which social networks can I sell on?

Technically, the only social network that allows selling without taking users out of the platform is Facebook, but only in the United States so far, where F-commerce can be linked to PayPal and Stripe.
We are going to analyze, one by one, the way each social network eases the business strategy of different brands and we’ll show you different articles dedicated exclusively to each of them.

1. Facebook

Even though they tried hard, their marketplace hasn’t really taken off. Users are used to using Facebook to gossip, to chat with friends, and to follow their favorite brands.
If you have a fan page and you define your business as an online shop, you will have a lot of options to upload your catalogue and to publish offers.
You don’t need to upload every single item in your stock, but it is advisable to have some products published because of these two reasons:

  1. To create Facebook Ads campaigns with one-time offers: Of you have one product on sale, you can create a specific ad.
  2. To tag your products on Instagram: We’ll talk about this later, but remember that you need to mark your products on Facebook before you can use them on Instagram.

Facebook seems to be on the path toward becoming a marketplace. Other social networks are now taking more and more of the social market where Facebook reined king until quite recently. Many experts now think that it’s interested in positioning itself as a platform to buy and sell. Time will tell if that’s the case.
Related post: How to create a Facebook store and give a boost to the sales of your e-commerce – The Full Guide.

2. Instagram

If your ideal clients are between 15 and 35, you have no choice but to improve your presence on Instagram.
If you have a business account there, there is an almost mandatory option for e-commerce owners: tagging your products in your pictures.
When people see your pics, they can see a white dot on top of the tagged products and a message reading: “Tap to view products”. When you tap, you can see the name and price of the product.

After a second click, a landing type screen appears where you can see all the pictures in which the product has been tagged and a button to “View on Website”.
Easy, fast, and a great way to turn your picture into sales. Let’s see how it’s done.

A. How to tag your products

As you may know, Facebook and Instagram share the same owner and advertising platform, among other things. In order to upload your products, you have to do it from the Facebook shop. That’s where you choose the price, upload the picture, and provide the URL to the product card.
Then, on Instagram, you just need to tag your products when you upload a picture. However, you won’t be able to tag both people and products at the same time.
What we love about this option is that tagging is a very natural process, and the only thing that shows up after tapping is the price. However, don’t overuse it—think of it as a resource.

B. Selling with links in your stories

This is an option for accounts with more than 10,000 followers. If that’s your case, use it—because Stories are all the craze at the moment.
If you are one of the lucky ones, you can add a direct link to any story. Your followers will be able go to your website just by swiping up.
This option is perfect for offers or launching new products since you send users directly to the product card.

C. Ads in stories

Are you far from those 10,000 followers? You can always use a paid option.
When creating a Facebook Ads campaign, select Instagram Stories as the location and your ad will be shown among your segmented audience stories.
Even if you already have freedom with your links, these ads can help new users get to know you. But don’t expect direct conversions from people who just met you.

D. Link in your bio

The only exiting link allowed by Instagram is the one in your profile.
Have a look at this post about how to sell on Instagram in order to find out how to get the most out of the link and other tricks.

E. Influencers

You can always invest some money so that somebody with lots of followers can take a picture with one of your products and tag you in the picture.
However, be careful about this because it’s becoming more controlled and you can get fined for surreptitious advertising.

3. Pinterest

The Rich Pins option that we already mentioned in this post allows you to tag products in the posts similarly to how you do it on Instagram.
Now that we’ve finished analyzing the networks one by one, we are going to see some ideas and tricks that you can use for almost all of them.

9 tricks to sell more on social networks

Do you want to increase your sales numbers thanks to social media? Have a look at these tips and hacks.

1. Use ads

Developing a strategy for Social Media selling without ads can be very difficult, especially with Facebook.
A small investment to create good publicity with Facebook Ads and Twitter Ads (amongst others) will help you reach your target audience and get your first group of followers and sales.

2. Get recommendations

It’s easier for one of your customers to generate a sale than for you yourself to do it. Compensate anyone who makes a purchase and then shares it on Social Media. 
Something as simple as offering a 5% discount off their next purchase could generate hundreds of tweets and updates that could reach thousands of new potential customers. That 5% will be recovered with the increase in sales produced by this free social diffusion.

3. Follow the 80/20 rule

80% of your Social Media content should be non-promotional.
In fact, of that 80% a good percentage should be articles from other web pages, blogs and users. 
Why? Because many will express gratitude for this simple gesture with a retweet, a share, or future interaction with your brand.
At very least, they will go to your shop’s page to see who you are and why you have shared their content. And if they share, you will be getting your store out to all of their followers, and whether they are 50 or 50,000, you are increasing your influence on Social Media.

4. Redirect to landing pages and specific products

When diverting traffic from a social network, don’t send the user to the home page, except on some rare occasions. Send them directly to the product card of the product itself or a landing page with the published offer. And remember, this product card should be very carefully written or the traffic won’t be very useful.

5. Get involved in the conversation

With tools like Hootsuite or Social Mention you can see when somebody mentions your brand and, more importantly, when somebody is talking about topics related to your e-commerce shop.
Hashtags are also a great way to find conversations pertaining to your field.
If you had a handcrafted tie shop, for example, the logical thing to do would be to search for an Instagram hashtag used by people who like made-to-measure clothing. Consequently, you would only have to comment their photos, like them, and interact a bit.

6. Offer exclusive discounts

Differentiate your followers on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.
Each social network has its own users, as you can see by installing Google Analytics in your shop, and some products will be more visited than others in each of them.
Create personalized offers for each social network taking advantage of the power of the analytics and offer your audience exactly what they want. Your users will feel rewarded and they will think that not only do they enjoy following you on Social Media, but also that its monetarily worthwhile.

7. Incite urgency

We all tend to think too much about things on the Internet.
We search for a lot of information, we compare 10 more products, then we ask a friend and, only on a few occasions, we actually make a purchase.
How can we sidestep this process?

Adding a sense of urgency.

Post a 2 hour, limited time only offer, create a campaign directed at the next 100 people who follow you on twitter, or a discount only for those who leave a comment on an Instagram photo in the next 10 minutes.
This way, you will encourage Social Media interaction at a much faster rate and eliminate that time users have to think about buying your product or not. 

8. Use chatbots

Bit by bit, technology is allowing a robot to have “real” conversations with users. A Facebook chatbot interacts with users to provide answers to common questions and can be set up to be proactive when promoting certain products.
Facebook Messenger is becoming more widely used and we are all used to using these messages.
Don’t try to use it instead of a sales team, but it can help. It is most commonly used as customer service, but with some pre-established sentences, the conversations can end up turning into sales.

9. Follow unfollow

You probably wanted to know more about this strategy when we talked about it before, so we are going to analyze it deeper. In this case, when using Instagram.

First of all, bear in mind that using this technique can lead to being banned and losing your account—but it’s good for you to know it.

Maybe now you will understand why some of your competitors get so many followers so much quicker than you do. In addition to the chatbots, we can use other bots to work for us on Instagram.
After some simple configuration, software such as Bootsgram or Ploxia can:

  • Like: people who use certain hashtags or your competitors’ followers, for example.
  • Follow-Unfollow: also according to your own criteria, the bot follows and unfollows people automatically to get their attention and so they follow you back. It’s a really old trick that still works.
  • Direct messages: the bot sends your followers an automated DM with the text you want. It can be a discount or any other commercial offer, although it’s advisable to avoid being too pushy.

The dynamic is always the same: trying to get their attention with likes and follows to lead them to your shop.
The risk is that this is not allowed on Instagram or Twitter.
If you keep it below the risk radar, you won’t have any problems. However, there is always some risk of losing your account.

Summary and conclusions about social selling

These 8 tricks are not magic, but they will help you increase your selling through Social Media. Nobody is giving out handouts, especially in a place with as much competition to get users attention as social networks.
Be aware of how difficult it is to turn cold traffic into sales, but know that using these tips can speed up the funnel process.
Combine them with a good community manager you will be able to convert your social networks into a little sales generating machine for your online shop