The Pew Research Center released the results of a survey on social media use in the United States, and the results are salient for anyone who uses social media for prospecting purposes. Here are some of the findings:
- Approximately 81 percent of adults use YouTube, an 8 percent increase from the previous year.
- Gender matters! – 46 percent of women use Pinterest but only 16 percent of men are on it.
- Age matters! – 50 percent of Americans over the age of 65 are on Facebook. Meanwhile, Snapchat, Instagram and TikTok are most heavily used by the 18-to-29 demographic.
- Education matters! – 51 percent of adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher use LinkedIn, while not even 10 percent of those with a high school diploma or less use it.
- Instagram and WhatsApp are more popular with Hispanic users than people of other races/ethnicities.
Social media are a very useful tool for prospectors, but they are not the end-all-be-all solution to all your prospecting problems. While social media are indeed powerful, they simultaneously present a potential pitfall. Many sales professionals expect more from social media than social media are capable of delivering. That usually happens because sales pros area afraid of picking up the phone, so they hope and pray that clients will simply come to them because their social media presence is so captivating.
Well, unless you’re a celebrity, that simply does not happen. As the popular saying goes, “You can’t deposit clicks and likes in your bank account.” When using social media to augment and complement your prospecting efforts, remember that fundamentals still apply.
The medium used to communicate with your target audience is just that – a medium. Whether you are using the phone, direct mail, email-based marketing, social media engagement or door-to-door sales, the product or service must stand on its own merit.
Fundamentals matter. If your product has a viable market, it will sell. If it doesn’t, it won’t.
Just because you purchase LinkedIn ads, have countless likes on Facebook and capture clients’ imaginations with your creative presence online doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed success.
Regardless of the medium and where we might be at any given point in technological history, human beings are essentially the same. They make purchases based on what they value and do business with individuals and organizations they trust.
Sales pros sometimes ask what benefit they get out of social media in their selling efforts. That answer to that question is pretty straightforward: branding, credibility, lead generation and accessibility to prospective clients.
What do each of those four things mean?
- Branding – I use social media to put my name and expertise in front of as many people as possible. It’s essentially an interactive form of advertising. I like it when someone thinks, “I’ve heard of him!” when I call them on the phone.
- Credibility – If I’m portrayed as a subject matter expert and thought leader on social media, prospective clients will be more excited to talk to me and will more likely listen to what I say.
- Lead generation – your social media contacts are among the best target lists that exist.
- Accessibility – When someone needs the products or services you provide, you want to rise to the top and be super easy to find. When someone specifically is looking for your contact information, you want to be extra, triple, super-duper easy to find!
You want to know one thing I don’t use social media for in my prospecting efforts (at least not very often)? Direct message prospecting. For most sales professionals, contacting cold prospects via social media DMs does not generate a positive response terribly often. It comes across as invasive, disingenuous and non-value-centric.
Instead, let’s use social media to build a large and loyal tribe of fans. From that tribe, you can launch your traditional prospecting efforts that are built on client value and compelling language.