2021 was a significant growth year for social selling. With fewer in-person events and conferences, sales reps continued to use social media to engage new customers. According to the 2021 LinkedIn State of Sales report, nearly three-quarters of sales reps stated that they planned to grow their LinkedIn followers.
I expect that 2022 will be no different. In a time when sales processes have become automated and impersonal, buyers are more attracted to personalized experiences. Social media is a differentiator because it gives buyers confidence that they’re having an authentic experience with a real person.
If you’re looking to build your personal brand in 2022, there are several ways you can use social media to gain trust with your prospects.
Find your audience
LinkedIn is home to nearly 800 million users. These users span countless industries, roles, and regions. In order to engage your audience, start by finding your sales territory. Look up your key accounts and interact with their corporate content to identify influencers who want to engage. By liking and commenting on their posts, you can begin conversations that can eventually grow into relationships.
You should also get to know the thought leaders in your industry – these can be analysts, journalists, bloggers, or podcasters. It’s an opportunity to learn about your space and discover the audiences engaged in those conversations. Analysts from Forrester and Gartner garner large audiences from the industries they cover. LinkedIn users who engage with their content present great opportunities for you to discuss an analyst’s latest content and begin to develop your point of view within your market.
Don’t over-emphasize your own content
When you use social media it can be tempting to think in terms of the content you want to share. But social media is a channel for two-way conversations. It’s about contributing valuable engagements that drive conversation and potentially move from social media to the real world.
Developing an authentic social media presence starts with sharing the content you find interesting. If you have a point of view that you can share, you’ll begin to build your voice and personal brand.
Be authentic to who you are in-person
There’s a common misconception that you need to post 10 times a day to be successful on social media. In reality, it’s important for your social media presence to match the way you behave in real life.
If you’re in sales, your social media engagements should align with your in-person activities. For example, if a LinkedIn user asks a question, as a salesperson, you would typically reach out and make a personable introduction. What works in person also applies to social media engagement.
It’s also important to remember to be your authentic self. If you’re not outspoken, you don’t have to pretend to be on social media. It’s perfectly fine to be reserved and not post constantly. In fact, it would be odd to meet someone who posts 10 times a day online but is shy and quiet in person. The most important thing is to be consistent in your activity.
Use social media to strengthen your in-person activities
As we slowly return to in-person events, conferences, and trade shows, social media can play a helpful role. Interacting with fellow attendees in advance of an in-person event holds the added benefit of establishing your resume and credibility in advance. When users share common connections, they’re more inclined to engage because you share something in common.
If you can attend a conference where you’ve connected with fellow attendees, you can show up with some familiarity. Rather than relying on randomly meeting a few people at the networking session, intentionally meet the people that will make a difference in your success. The conversations will be so much more meaningful because you both have context already. This relationship equity is invaluable in creating and maintaining a strong network that will make a difference in sales.
Enablement should own social selling
Of the 74% of sales reps who plan to increase their LinkedIn following, most will rely on content to engage their audience. Sales reps who leverage social media often take their cues from their marketing department, but enablement teams have an important role to play.
In order to ensure that your sales reps find success on social media, enablement leadership should own and manage social selling programs. By overseeing social selling programs, enablement leadership can ensure that reps understand how to leverage social media as a sales rep. That includes developing skills to engage prospective buyers, build a personal brand, and strike the right balance between third-party and company-sponsored content.
This gives sales reps the best opportunity to meet and exceed their quota. If your sales reps are nervous about hitting their numbers, ensuring that they’re enabled to build their personal brand will empower them to build trust and relationships with their prospects.
Social media will continue to influence sales in 2022. There’s no better time than now to fine-tune your presence, enhance your personal brand, and start to build new relationships that turn into your next deal.
If you’d like to learn more about how you can harness the power of social media, check out our social selling hub.