Stephen Jagger believes you can use social media to sell almost anything, with the right approach. He's sold his book Sociable: How Social Media is Turning Sales and Marketing Upside Down, booked speaking engagements and made sales for his other entrepreneurial ventures all through his social media interactions. PROFIT asked Jagger for his top tips on how to reel in potential customers using the most popular social media outlets:
Search out potential customers: "We've all noticed that people go to social media to complain," says Jagger, which gives you the chance to strike up a conversation. Use Twitter's advanced search function to find users talking about your industry, product or even your competition. Narrow your search by a specific geographic region to find local customers, or search only for tweets containing questions to find people you can help. Access the advanced search by entering your keyword into Twitter's main search box in the top menu bar. Once your results load, click the cog icon in the upper right corner to access the advanced functions. Facebook's search doesn't offer as much versatility, but you can filter your results to include friends, groups or public posts by users outside of your network.
Avoid the hard sell: Once you've found an ideal customer, stay social. "People are smart enough to see your response, click on your profile and see what your company does," says Jagger. He suggests that instead of launching into your sales pitch, ask open-ended questions to find out what the poster is looking for in a product like yours or what they don't like about their current provider.
Be ready to sell when the time comes: When the conversation does move toward questions about your product, be ready to offer the information they need. "You want to be able to send someone a quick link that goes to a very specific page about that specific item, rather than letting them dig through your website to find it."
Help users buy from someone else: "If you don't have the product a customer needs, or yours is not exactly what they are looking for, point them in the direction of someone who does," says Jagger. "You want to be seen as a resource, not just someone selling a product."
Share your expertise: Jagger's followers know from his posts that he's an avid traveller and often ask his advice on non-business topics, like which smartphone works best outside of Canada. "I have no problem trying to answer those questions and being as helpful as I can because somewhere down the line they usually come back to me, either buying or referring someone to me," he says.