Social media for distributors can be a powerful addition to conventional ways of contacting prospects and customers, marketing, and selling. However, like any other tool or resource, the thinking behind the use needs to be clear and constructive.
The trap is to think that “social” automatically means “success”. It doesn’t. The key is to think about what you want to accomplish and what your audience expects – and factor in one or two changes that have happened since the old days of one-way advertising and hard selling.
1. Remember Your Audience is in Control
This is one of the biggest differences about online social media compared to other ways of doing business. Cold-calling forces itself on your audience, but may alienate resellers or end-customers for that very reason. With social media for distributors, whether Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest or LinkedIn, customers decide what, when, and how much of your company they want to see. You can’t dictate any of that, but you can give them excellent reasons to want to get closer.
2. Let People See You Before You See Them
Business relationships are increasingly being defined before a Los Angeles distributor even speaks to retail companies or customers. People go to a distributor’s website for initial information and search social media to see what other people have to say (good or bad) about that distributor. That accounts for up to 70% of any final sale. However, with a little patience and application, you can make that 70% work for you, not against you.
3. Make It (Almost) Face-to-Face
Skip the stuffy corporate text. Use social media to talk to your audience as though you were seeking to be helpful to a friend you respect. Your social media content should bring value to your audience for their businesses and activities
4. Inform and Build Trust before Selling
Expect your social media efforts to take a little time before being fruitful. Successful use of social media to build awareness, brand image and sales is often a longer-haul activity. It should be used in parallel with your current sales initiatives – not instead of them.
5. Use the Right Channel for Each Type of Communication
Use the right social media channel for the type of message you’re trying to convey.
- Facebook. For conversational, yet professional quality content, and potential for getting readers to share their opinion of you (make sure it’s good!) with others.
- Twitter. For immediate, brief communications, limited to 140 characters, i.e. about the total length of the whole of this bullet point.
- YouTube. For posting videos that let people see who you are and/or help them by explaining or demonstrating products and solutions.
- Pinterest. For posting items of strong visual interest. An opportunity for construction materials to be shown in finished buildings, food in restaurant settings, and furniture in home or office environments and so on.
- LinkedIn. Focuses on professional audiences and therefore helps for targeting other businesses and their representatives.
6. Nurture Your Social Media Content
Plan your content in terms of subjects of interest and frequency of release. Your aim is to be a go-to resource where from time to time you can offer products and services that appear as a natural extension of the helpful information you offer.
These tips deal with the sales and marketing advantages of social media for distributors. Further uses include managing your reputation, crisis communication (product recalls, for instance) and boosting internal ideas and productivity, but each one would merit a blog post of its own.
What’s your favorite social network for communicating with your market, and why? Tell us about your choice and how it works for you in the Comments section below.
To follow up on the tips in this article, download your free guide, How COOs at Los Angeles Distributors and Manufacturers Get More Done: A Guide to Productivity, Data, Staffing, Delegation, and Making It Home for Dinner Most Nights.