We all know that social media is used for digital marketing and branding, but many people seem puzzled when we tell them you can use social media as a cold calling sales tool. It’s important for small businesses to see social media as a tool to leverage whatever plan you have in place; whether it’s to get more clients or drive new business or product sales, or gain new partnerships. Your social media accounts are tools to reach the goals of your overall marketing plan.
Why, you say? Because you have an audience on social media. And no, we aren’t talking about the audience you blast your ads to. We’re talking about a real, engaged audience that you’ve hopefully built through an authentic, engaging content and social media strategy. The audience you get from talking to your followers, sharing relevant posts, liking, and responding to. Yes, it’s a space to advertise and build your brand, but it’s also a space to simply talk to people and start the conversation.
Think of social media like a networking event
You walk into a room full of people and you’re looking to meet new customers, or maybe gain a new strategic partnership for your business. What do you do? Well, I believe there’s a right way and a 'better' way.
The wrong way: Imagine you walk in, toss your stack of business cards into the air at everyone and then walk out, hoping people will call you. Maybe, just maybe, one picks up your card and gives you call because it happened to hit them in the face or stick to their shoe. But, chances are you won’t be hearing from anyone. That’s the same as social media: you can’t just post and post your stuff and hope that people will engage and call. People want to engage with brands that engage with them, they want trust and they want to build a relationship.
The better way: Picture instead that you walk into that room with a friendly smile, and start talking to people. You meet a few people that fit your target audience, so you exchange cards. You talk about sports, or your kids, or maybe you bond over your cats. You talk to some people who aren’t the right fit, but you also meet a handful of people that are. You connect, you engage, and you build a relationship. Social media done right is just like this. Yes, you post, but you also like comments, comment on your follower’s photos, post like-minded content to your target audience, and build trust.
Now you have built your brand identity and attracted the right people to your brand. You’ve done it by posting a mix of entertaining, educational, and sales content. You have an engaged, trusting audience, and you have a platform to leverage for cold calling.
Instagram is the best cold calling tool
Why? You can direct message people. You don’t need to be following them in order to be able to send them a message on Instagram, therefore you can message anyone. You can send messages to anyone you think might be a potential customer or partner, and it’s a tool that’s not used as often as say, LinkedIn, to cold call, which is why the Creative Solutions' team loves leveraging Instagram.
Remember, you don’t want to just try and sell random people something random. You want to use geotags to find customers in your area, you want to find people who fit within your target market, and those who are likely to engage or have already engaged with your brand. Now that you have found these people through hashtags, geotags, competitors' follower lists, and using your own follower list – go talk to them! Like their posts, comment on their posts, and be authentic. Start a conversation, and then send them a DM with something relevant – not directly sales, but something natural. Be authentic. Humanize social media.
Example: Let’s say you’re a pet grooming business. You have a great social media networking strategy. Now, you want to start “cold calling using social media platforms”. You’ve been commenting on peoples pet photos, specifically using the ones that have tagged “Newmarket” because that’s your hood.
You might even feature some of them on your feed or stories! Great. Now, send them a message and say “We love Golden Doodles! Max looks like a great one :) Is he really friendly?” and leave it at that. Once they engage, you might send them a message saying something like: “He might need some of the hair cut on his face so he can play with his favorite red ball easier. We’re happy to do this for free, pop on over to our shop!” Next thing you know, Max is coming in for his complimentary facial and your amazing team can start to sell.
Approach people online as you would in real life
It’s that simple. If you engage people like you would a stranger in a café, or someone at a networking event, then you can build a social media sales tool that can be as powerful as paid ads. The beauty of it? It’s free. It just takes some time and effort.
Aim to spend even 30 minutes a day engaging with your audience, and have a goal of sending 5 to 10 messages a day. Find what works well for your product, service, and audience and build on that. I would rather send these messages on Instagram than pick up a phone and actually make a cold call. No thanks! Now go give it a try!