It’s simple: social selling is the use of social media to make sales, especially in a B2B context. Social sellers are using social posts, comments and private messages to directly communicate their offering to leads – and the stats would suggest they’re scoring great results.

According to Sales for Life’s The State of Social Selling in 2016 survey, 61% of businesses using social selling are reporting a positive impact on revenue growth, whilst 74.9% of companies said would be increasing their use of social selling over the course of the year. The most popular platform for social selling was found to be LinkedIn, which was used by 84.1% of the social sellers surveyed. Twitter, used by 48.6%, came in at #2.
Why is social selling so popular with B2B sellers?

LinkedIn’s status as the leading platform for social selling is a strong indicator of how far the practice is skewed towards B2B. LinkedIn has a critical advantage over Facebook and other competitors in this regard: here, a direct sales pitch in a message to a private profile is not considered to be spam; it’s just business as usual.

Social selling in a B2B context has flourished in recent years, thanks largely to the increasing acceptance of social by sellers and leads alike as a reputable sales channel. This is great news for fastidious B2B sellers, as social media offers far more opportunity to support your pitch than a classic cold call – you can impress your leads with the immaculate personal branding of your social profile, you can ramp up to your pitch with ice-breaker comments and messages, and perhaps most importantly of all, you can message your lead directly – no need to navigate your way past reception and into someone’s crowded schedule.

How are people using social media for B2C selling?

Whilst social selling is most widely used to sell B2B services and products, a significant amount of companies and marketers are also social selling – closely mingled with social marketing – to sell their B2C wares.

Where B2B social selling will generally involve an active sales pitch in the form of a private message or similar, B2C social selling tends to be passive in nature – the seller presents their product and associated messaging through public posts, and invites the customer to take the active role by responding to an invitation to get in touch. We should still consider this as social selling rather than social marketing, as the entire transaction is effectively carried out on the social channel.

Social selling screenshot

This screenshot shows an example of a Facebook post used to market a juice diet product. The post forms part of series of communications published on the marketer’s personal Facebook profile, designed to glamorise weight loss and present a juice diet as the solution. It’s something akin to the Tupperware social sales strategy which flourished throughout the second half of the 20th Century, updated for the digital age.