7 Social Selling Strategies To Transform Followers Into Customers

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For some marketers, social media marketing feels like an uphill battle more than anything else. For one thing, organic reach is steadily declining — it’s said that the average organic engagement rate you get from branded content is only about 0.31 percent as of 2019.


TrustInsights reports a steady decline in organic engagement rate for branded content after analyzing over 4,000 business profiles and 1 million posts in a single year.

Advertising costs on social media may have decreased, especially in 2020, but that number only tells us that more businesses and brands are relying on paid ads to reach consumers. Given the crowded space online, it’s not far-fetched to think that the average consumer will eventually grow tired of sponsored content and ads.

With a decline in organic engagement and an increase in competition over consumer attention, it’s tempting to throw in the towel and call it quits on social media. But how do you actually turn your social selling strategy around?

Read on to learn seven essential strategies that will help you convert social media followers into loyal paying customers.


1. Have a clear understanding of your buyer persona

When it comes to social selling, nothing is more important than having a clear understanding of your buyer. If needed, update your buyer persona to reflect your customer’s online habits. Which brands do they love following online and why? Which influencers or industry thought leaders are they following, and which ones truly “influence” them? Do they prefer seeing images over videos or carousels? 

You may also benefit from having a negative buyer persona. This tool, similar to the buyer persona you’re familiar with, is meant to help you identify which types of consumers or people on social media are the least likely to convert. 

Because not all your social media followers may be ideal customers for your products or service, having a negative buyer persona can help improve ad targeting and campaign efforts. 

People who fall into this negative buyer persona may include those who always seem close to purchasing but never do, customers that took too much money or resources to acquire, people who return their items or ask for refunds frequently, or people who just couldn’t likely afford your offer (such as students or interns).


A negative buyer persona should include even basic indicators that will help you determine which attributes to exclude from your ad campaigns.


2. Focus on engaging and building relationships 

Consumers have several different reasons for following brands on social media. A report by Sprout Social shows the top reasons a person chooses to follow the brands they follow online:


As you can see, 57 percent of consumers want to learn more about new products and services, and the next top two reasons include staying up to date on company news, and learning about promotions and discounts.

However, notice the next top reasons for following a brand: to be entertained and to be educated. These form the top five reasons a consumer might follow a brand on social media, so use it as a guide to create a healthy mix of social media content.

When you create content that not only promotes your offers but also educates or entertains consumers, it’s easier to get them engaged and feel connected to your brand. Take, for example, this blog post that shows readers different options for a Netflix VPN. This type of content educates users and provides solutions to a specific problem they may face.

Repurpose content on your blog into engaging social media graphics. The example blog post above can be turned into a carousel that highlights each option or may be turned into an infographic. Content like this can easily engage social media users and even stand a chance to get shares as people enjoy spreading information they find useful.

Screenshot taken from Instagram

Turn articles into engaging content like carousels or infographics that can build relationships with your followers.


3. Launch a contest 

Social media contests are some of the best ways to turn followers into customers because of the fun element of surprise and suspense. 

While many contests give away free products or prizes in exchange for simply follows and likes, you can instead weed out freebie hoarders by turning your contest into something only for truly interested followers and your target audience.

Include making a purchase from your brand as part of your contest mechanics, then offer an incredible prize. Your prize should be bigger in value than the purchase needed to enter, so think through your contest carefully.

This is an excellent way to turn social media followers into customers. Many followers might be new to your brand and need just this incentive to make their first purchase; this is an exciting addition to keep loyal and existing customers engaged and provide a recurring income.


4. Collaborate with influencers

Influencer marketing continues to grow year after year, and is estimated to be a $15 billion industry by 2022. In numerous surveys and reports, marketers agree that working with influencers and investing in sponsored content has had a positive ROI on their marketing campaigns. If you’re trying to turn social media users into paying customers, this tactic may be worth your time.

Of course, working with just any influencer doesn’t guarantee success. You still need to choose the right influencers for your business and campaign. With the right one, you’re able to reach a targeted audience that is more likely to be interested in your business. Collaborate with influencers who you’re sure can get your brand in front of your ideal customer, and create a compelling offer that rewards these influencers’ followers.

Consider giving an exclusive discount unique to the influencer, so users will feel more inclined to purchase.


5. Create a retargeting strategy

On social media, it’s not enough that a user sees your offer once. Sometimes they need reminding, so this is where a retargeting strategy can help turn social media users into paying customers. 

Consider the online browsing habits of most people. They may check social media to see activity from their favorite groups or their friends and family — if an ad catches their eye, they might not currently be in the stage to purchase. Many times, people go all the way to the cart checkout but end up abandoning their carts.

There are two simple ways you can put a retargeting strategy in place, depending on how far users get through your marketing funnel. The first option is sending an abandoned cart email that prompts users to complete the checkout. 


So if a buyer failed to make a purchase for any reason — they weren’t at home where their credit card is, they were busy at work, etc. — you’ve given them a friendly nudge not to miss out on their cart items.

With an abandoned cart strategy, you can go the extra step and offer a limited offer discount code if they checkout in, say, the next 48 hours. This can be all a user needs to complete checkout and turn into a customer.

The second option you have is retargeting via ads. Through cookies, you’re able to follow users across different platforms, even if they’ve left your store or site. These ads can appear in places like Facebook as a native ad that doesn’t disrupt their scrolling experience, and it’s a great way to remind people about items they may have been interested in.


Retargeting in action: boots that a user looks at on Cole Haan’s official store appear as a relevant ad on the Facebook newsfeed.


6. Schedule your posts at the right time

We mentioned getting to know your buyer through a buyer persona, and one thing you might want to include is your customers’ social media buying behaviors. For example, many users might not be inclined to make purchases during working hours, so they may not be receptive to offers and ad promotions while they’re at work.


There are some generally top-performing times to post on different social media platforms. Each platform may have differing windows, and the windows for turning users into customers may be even smaller.

Some users might prefer to make purchases after work when they’re comfortably able to think about what to buy. This may be a challenge in the current era of remote work and flexible working schedules, but use your previous transaction data to see exactly when you make the most sales from your site.

Of course, don’t hesitate to experiment on the best times to post, whether your content is promotional or not. You might be able to rack up midday sales with a limited-time offer with a short 3-hour window, or have a midnight sale that only happens from midnight to 1 a.m.

Don’t be afraid to test your users habits or even influence them a bit through these promo experiments. Over time, you’ll get to know exactly the best time to present customers with different messages — and you’ll be able to optimize your social selling strategy better each time. 


7. Track and monitor your results

Finally, you’ll want to stay on top of your results to see which tactics are working well or which ones can be better. With any marketing strategy, you need to have insights based on data, so it’s best to track a new campaign separately. Commit to testing different tactics completely before deciding to move on or tweak a campaign.

If your goal is to make more social sales, measure which tactics have led to the most sales. Of course, keep in mind any factors that might skew the results, including holiday sales or limited-time promos that usually lead to an increase in sales.


Key takeaways

Social selling is an ever-evolving strategy for digital marketing, so keep an open mind. Don’t be afraid to try new things and tactics, but keep your eye on your goals and your brand. 

When in doubt, choose to experiment slowly and pour in time and resources incrementally before you put in more. And if you’re not sure where to start, use this post as a reference for what to do first.

Kevin Payne is a content marketing consultant who helps software companies build marketing funnels and implement content marketing campaigns to increase their inbound leads.

  • Originally published March 24, 2021