Social Selling and Your F&B Brand – What You Need to Know
Food and Beverage Brands are competing in a market that is constantly changing. Whether it’s due to new technologies, new product ideas, or changes in customer opinion and expectation – there is always constant movement. If your brand isn’t ready to get involved and make an impact, your product could end up falling aside in favour of a better-promoted brand.
Social Selling is one technique that your brand can use to reach people who are going to be interested in your product and make those all-important connections.
What Actually is Social Selling?
Social Selling for food and beverage brands is a valuable process that allows you to make use of your social media channels to connect and interact with audiences who meet your customer profile, and who are interested in your products.
You may be asking yourself, what is social selling? Is it a meaningful process that will actually help your brand? Simply defined, if you’re interacting with your customers on social media, you’re engaging in social selling.
It lets you cultivate and expand your relationship with your audience, turning them from interested visitors into paying customers.
It’s different from Social Media Marketing in that the point of the plan is to specifically garner sales. Social Media Management looks at your company image, expanding your brand identity and awareness. Social Media Management focuses on customers, Social Selling focuses on getting sales from those customers.
You need both marketing streams to be optimised and working together to really get ahead of your competition.
What Are the Benefits of Social Selling to Your Brand?
Many Food and Beverage brands market their products on two fronts – directly to paying customers, and to other businesses who are interested in stocking and reselling your goods. Social Selling allows you to target both these groups. You need to have different strategies in place for dealing directly with customers and with other businesses to effectively market your brand and products.
Social Media connects you with an immense pool of potential contacts, both direct customers and other businesses – narrowing your focus to ensure you are connecting with significant ones with optimal Social Media Marketing, which will then allow Social Selling techniques to truly shine and increase your sales.
How to Make Social Selling Work for Your Brand Needs
Social selling isn’t about wasting time sending unfocused tweets and messages or attempting to connect with everyone regardless of their interest in your products. It’s about establishing who your target audience are, knowing where to find them – and then getting involved with them in the most effective manner.
Understanding your audience has become a lot easier with Social Media giving you access to their likes, dislikes, hobbies, interests, habits and general demographic. The social platforms you use will largely depend on who you’re targeting, and what channels they frequent.
What You Need to Know to Execute Your Social Selling Strategy
To be successful with social selling, it is essential that your brand is honest and genuine – potential customers are put off by people and organisations that appear to be fake or are caught lying; by not putting time and effort into building up connections and affinity with your visitors, you can do your business lasting damage. Reputation is not as easy to build or repair as it is to destroy.
It is important that you remember the ‘social’ part of social media – a brand that doesn’t connect or seem to care about their friends and followers will lose them. Supporting your contacts and having a dynamic presence is at the heart of Social Selling, and most social media strategies in general.
This does mean that you need to invest time, effort and a budget into your social channels. It’s not enough to be seen promoting products, you need to be interacting with your customers, answering their questions and being available for direct customer service queries.
We’ve all seen or heard stories of social media posts becoming a web sensation and going viral when a staff member or business owner has behaved poorly – and whilst this might see an increase in brand awareness, and the possibility of more sales – it’s short term at best, and likely to cause long term damage once the curiosity wears off. It’s vital to remember that context gets lost over time and you don’t want future customers to remember only associated negatives.
You need to train your staff or hire a team that can speak for your brand, using (or creating) an established brand voice to communicate and market your brand at its best. Putting resources into Social Selling will increase your brand awareness and sales, but to achieve any sort of industry authority, leadership and a lasting, sustainable reputation you need to make sure it’s done properly.
Your branding and products are going to change as your business evolves but keeping a consistent tone and specific voice for your brand will help ensure your customers can still relate to you. Finding and maintaining a balance between ‘expert’ and ‘approachable’ isn’t always easy but it will help you stand out in an already crowded market.
When you have an optimised Social Selling strategy in place, you must maintain it to keep reaping the benefits. You can’t expect your customers to keep coming back to you if you’re not giving them reasons to do so. Your social posts need to be regular, and comments answered as quickly as possible. If you don’t have this minimum level of consistency, the time, effort and budget you’ve invested into developing networks, cultivating followers and friends, and establishing business connections is going to be wasted.
Taking the time to properly utilise your social media networks, or hiring experts to do it for you, will give your brand a better standing, increased visibility, a wider range of customers and more product sales.
If you invest in connecting with your customers, they’ll invest in you.