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Sep 01, 2016

Approx. 6 min. read

3 Biggest Social Selling Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Social media is a must for brands today. Why? Well, 78% of Americans have at least one online social media profile. Beyond that, 71% of social media...

Social media is a must for brands today. Why? Well, 78% of Americans have at least one online social media profile. Beyond that, 71% of social media users are more willing to purchase a product from a business they follow online.


But how do you navigate this new realm of social selling? This is the question because social media platforms have created a new environment that requires a specific approach. A good place to start is by understanding the 3 biggest social selling mistakes and how to avoid them. Here we will cover why each of these 3 actions are mistakes and what you should do instead. Keep these in mind and you will be on the right track to growing your business in no time.


Mistake #1: Trying to Close Sales Rather than Build Relationships

Why it’s a Mistake

Imagine you host a party and many of your friends and family attend. Everyone is having a great time, enjoying drinks, appetizers, and conversations. Then, you look over and see a friend setting up a table with a Tupperware display. You notice your guests are gravitating toward the opposite side of the room.

Next, your Tupperware friend begins carrying the Tupperware over to other people at the party and trying to sell it to them. “What is she doing!?” you wonder. This is a social get-together, not a tradeshow! “I wish she would just leave!” murmurs one of your guests.

This is what it’s like when a business joins social media and gets straight to trying to close the sale. It’s not pretty. It doesn’t work because social media is a place for people to connect with each other and engage in a personal way.

It is important to always remember the philosophy behind social media; connecting and engaging. If you don’t act accordingly, you will be like the obtrusive Tupperware lady and people will want you to leave.

What to do instead

Focus on the social not the selling.

You want to show up, create a great presence, share things that are interesting, ask questions, join conversations, and mention your products and services where appropriate. Here are some ideas for how to engage your audience in a non-obtrusive way:

  • Post content related to your business that is informative, relative, interesting, thought-provoking, helpful, etc. Keep a regular stream of posts coming so people know what to expect from you and so they stay engaged.
  • Have a sense of humor in your content.
  • Chime in on current events and important industry changes.
  • Share important news.
  • Share live videos to show an authentic, behind-the-scenes view of your company.
  • Share interesting stats, facts, and data.
  • Join related groups and forums and contribute to conversations, sharing your industry knowledge.
  • Always respond quickly and thoroughly.
  • Hold contests where the winner wins something from your company.
  • Hold Q and A sessions.
  • Provide customer service.

Focus on the community and offer something of value through your presence. Then you will build meaningful relationships where customers like having you around, and they are more likely to buy from you when the time comes. Check out what these social selling thought leaders have to say about this.


Mistake #2: Vague Audience Targeting

Why it’s a Mistake

Another common mistake in social selling is vague audience targeting. Social media is a competitive place, where businesses are up against paid advertisements, other companies, and personal connections for attention. That being so, you need a specific message to a specific audience in order to be effective. If you send a message to everyone, it’s not likely to be effective on anyone.

What to do instead

First and foremost, identify your target audience. Where do most of your sales come from? Are they your top-of-line products, are they your mid-grade options? Identify what characteristics and psychographics your primary buyers have. Are they mostly men? Mostly women? Are they between 18-25 or 40-50? Are they parents, business professionals, or sports enthusiasts? What social media platforms do they use?




To generate more traffic, you will need to delve into your customer’s mind and try to think like them. What are their needs, wants, and concerns? What do they want to know and what will they share? You can hold surveys, search forums, research your competitors, etc.

Once you have gathered your information, create personas which summarize who your typical buyer is. You may have one, or you may have several. Then plan your content for these personas.

You’ll also want to track your results to find what messaging performs best. You should continuously tailor your messaging to better serve and engage your audience.


Mistake #3: Viewing Social Media as an Island

Why it’s a Mistake

Businesses often hear: “You need to be on social media, you need to post regularly, and you need to build a following.” However, the challenge comes in tying the efforts and investments to sales. Social media ROI is hard to measure because it is used mostly to increase brand awareness and attract strangers. See the chart below and notice how social publishing is used to turn strangers into visitors, which is still two steps away from customers.


Strangers don’t typically jump to being customers. So if your business is treating social media like an island, you are making a detrimental mistake.

What to do instead

Here are a few ways to connect social media with other channels:

Blogging: A blog is a way to educate, inform and entertain your target audience. Similar to social media, it is a form where you want to be building the relationship with subtle marketing messages. For example, if you sell makeup, you may write a blog about tips on applying eyeshadow for the fall season. You can embed email opt in’s, links to products, or links to other pages to engage readers further. Then share this blog on your social media platform as a post; this will direct followers to your blog.

Email Marketing: One of your main goals should be to grow your email marketing list from your social media base. This gives you another channel to engage them and helps to move them through the buying cycle. Instead of asking for a sale, you can use softer tactics which ask for an email address and permission to send them messages. You can do this by offering an incentive such as a free course, guide, eBook, or whitepaper which only requires an email address in exchange. You can also run a contest which requires an email to sign up. Another idea is telling followers they can sign up for weekly deals via email.

Social Media Buttons: Be sure to optimize your social media profile pages for engagement. Do this by linking to your website or landing pages. For example, on Facebook each business page can add a call-to-action button with a link to your desired location. You can add “learn more” so followers are directed to a landing page. On Instagram you can add your website’s link in your bio. Each platform has a unique way to direct followers.

As you can see, connecting social media to other parts of your online marketing strategy is how you actually convert your leads into sales.  



Now you know the 3 biggest mistakes and how to avoid them.

  • Keep it social
  • Target your audience
  • Connect social media with other channels

These are the basics to success when social selling. The best of luck and stay tuned for more tips on how to make the most of the opportunities you have through social media platforms.

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