Selling in the digital age is both easier and harder than it was before the internet came along. It’s easier in the sense that connecting with prospects no longer requires making laborious journeys throughout the country, and harder because the online world has so many possibilities that it’s tricky to figure out the best way to approach them.

Take social selling, for instance, which consists of reaching out to prospects and making your case through social media — a process that can even produce conversions directly, especially given the rise of mobile buying. It’s immensely valuable, but it can be tough to know how to deal with it, particularly if you’re not an ardent user of social media networks.

It’s all about building a solid strategy, though: everything after that is simply execution. And it shouldn’t take too long. In fact, it’s perfectly possible to put together a successful social selling strategy in less than a month. Here’s how you can do it:

Research your competitors

Working from scratch is rarely a good idea in the digital marketing world, and it’s particularly ill-advised when you’re working to a tight deadline. By looking closely at what your main competitors are doing with their social activity, you can glean a lot of useful information about what you should (and shouldn’t) be doing.

Start by heading to their websites and seeing what social links they have, then follow them. Look through the posts. See how they frame their products, how blatant they are, how extensively they mention other brands or products. Do they riff on current events? Stick to industry news? You can also use social research tools like SproutSocial for this step.

This is so useful because there will be a lot of overlap between their audiences and the audience you’re trying to reach, and if a successful company keeps doing something on social media, there’s an excellent likelihood that it works. Take the best parts and adopt them for your strategy to create something new.

Pick two or three relevant social networks

Using just one social network for social selling is a waste of time, but using too many is a recipe for burnout and diminishing returns (at least, for anything but a massive business with enough money for a full social media department). Accordingly, I recommend concentrating on two or three of the most relevant.

As for how you should choose them, it depends on your intended audience, as well as how comfortable you are with their format requirements. Depending on your circumstances, you may want to stick to the platforms with the most users (Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, etc.), or you might want to consider something different like LinkedIn or even Reddit.

If you can’t decide, then I suggest going with Facebook and Twitter — that way, you’ll get strong overall coverage. Choose carefully, though. While you can switch focus down the line, much of social media success is about building up momentum over a long time, and switching to other platforms would lose any momentum you’d built up.

Chart the path to conversion

It isn’t a social marketing strategy, it’s a social selling strategy, so it needs to lead to actual sales — and you need to figure out how that process is going to work. Suppose that you get someone’s attention and convince them that your product is worth considering: what comes next? Do you send them directly to your product page? Link them to a landing page with more information? Arrange a consultation to make the most of the lead?

If you use an ecommerce CMS with strong social selling functionality — something that can integrate with Instagram and Facebook selling — then you can let people place orders directly through the platforms you’re using to reach them. The costs of ecommerce have come way down in recent years, and by now even free platforms like WooCommerce have free plugins that you can use to get the job done.

If not, or you don’t want to sell through social channels, then ensure that your website is incredibly polished to impress people when they arrive. The last thing you want to do is spend so much time marketing your products but fail to convert those precious leads into sales. Make it as easy as possible for prospective buyers to act.

Commit to a unique brand style

Social media channels get extremely frantic, making it hard to pick up any attention. If you’re going to stand out, you need to do something distinct. Think about how you could present your brand, and what could delight your audience. Could you be flippant? Dramatic? Theatrical?

This is crucial because consistency is a core concern. Your social media followers need to have certain expectations about the content you provide. If a brand gets into the habit of creating high-quality content one day and barely-legible mediocrity the next, you likely stop following it.

You don’t need every last element planned out at this point. Just decide roughly how you’re going to approach your social media posts: which topics are fair game, how formal you’ll be, whether you’ll mention other brands, how familiar you’ll be with your followers, etc. You also need to think about your social impact, because it’s something that people really care about: demonstrating ethical business practices will really get people on your side.

Prepare some suitable visuals

Visual content is highly potent online, and getting noticed in crowded social media feeds is much more challenging without it. You can wing it, and try to source (or create) suitable content when the need arises, but that will slow things down. Instead, I suggest getting some visuals ready ahead of time, creating a visual resource pack for your brand.

What visuals should you include? Well, you should have high-quality photos of your products, all versions of your logo, banners, team photos, and even some behind-the-scenes shots from the office. In addition, you should set out some generic backgrounds to use with tools like Fotor when creating featured images for the articles you share.

You’ll want to freshen things up on a semi-regular basis, of course, but for the most part you can keep using the same images without people objecting. With the content style figured out and the visuals lined up, you should be able to implement your strategy without too many issues.

30 days amounts to around 20 working days, or roughly four days for each of the five steps we’ve looked at. That’s plenty of time. You’ll likely be done well ahead of that point, allowing you to get started early or simply spend more time polishing your ideas.

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