What is social selling? A guide for today’s small businesses

Brands can use their social media channels to connect with customers and keep them engaged. We give you a guide so you can ace social selling.

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Social media has become an axis for marketing and customer relations, offering a world of opportunities to enhance your sales strategy. This is where social selling enters the stage. Representing a personalised way of engaging with customers, consider social selling to be cold calling’s friendlier and more charismatic little sister.

Whether it’s engaging with prospective customer’s social content in a genuine and thoughtful way, or tracking the pain points that clients rant about online, social selling is a more human and more targeted conduit to help your buyers form a relationship with your brand. It’s also a reliable way to foster trust and customer loyalty.

However, getting it right requires patience and taking the right steps at the right time. In this guide, we’ll walk you through what social selling is all about, its benefits, and how to approach it on different social media platforms. By the end, you should have a strong sense of how to become a social selling guru.

What is social selling?

Social selling is a lead generation strategy that uses social media to approach prospective customers through existing connections with laser-target focus. Through the use of social listening, you can understand the pain points and needs of your customers by interacting with them on social media, allowing you to get in touch with a personalised sales pitch.

Social selling flips the traditional transactional experience with customers on its head. The information you gather from social listening helps you connect with customers authentically, and in a way that doesn’t feel invasive or like spam. This results in more natural relationships that can translate into higher quality leads

How is social selling different from ecommerce?

The goal of ecommerce is to sell a product or service on a website or a branded app – sites built on ecommerce platforms (like Shopify) that consumers can access from devices with internet access. Social selling takes place on social media and its goal isn’t necessarily to sell something straight away. Instead, it aims to build an organic relationship with the customer by appealing to their pain points and needs, bolstering interest and increasing loyalty.

How is social selling different from social commerce?

Contrary to what the term would suggest, social selling doesn’t involve making a sale. Rather, social selling is about using social media to tell your customers compelling stories about your products, convince them your brand is the better choice, and create awareness about your business. You could think of social selling as the first marketing baby steps towards enticing someone to click on the ‘purchase’ button.

On the other side, social commerce involves the sale of goods and services and the target audience are people who are interested in purchasing goods or services. Therefore, social commerce is the process that happens slightly further down the sales funnel, where you’re speaking to people that are already set on buying something. Therefore, social commerce is both about creating awareness and generating sales.

4 Reasons to care about social selling

✔️ Generates leads and drives revenue → to drive sustainable revenue, you need to connect with your audience on a deeper level. Social media selling makes it easy to find and specifically target the type of customers who are most likely to engage with your brand. The added benefit is that you can drive additional revenue without expanding your sales team or ad budget. This is because all social selling takes is sending out personalised messages and being strategic about how you engage with customers.

✔️ Personalises sales pitches and provides added value → social selling done right requires you to take your time to understand what added value every client could derive from your company. Although this might sound tedious and time-consuming, in the long run, customers appreciate the personalisation. In exchange, they give you their loyalty and trust.

✔️ Creates authentic relationships with prospects → rather than sending out generic messages to potential leads, social selling empowers you to construct authentic relationships with your prospects. You can like and comment on the content they share as well as share helpful posts with them. As long as you focus on thoughtful, authentic engagement, you should have a winning social selling strategy that will help you build a strong rapport over time.

✔️ Expands your network → social selling is one of the fastest, most organic ways to get your name and your company’s name in neon writing on social media. You’ll have the chance of appearing on hundreds of people’s feeds by commenting, liking, and sharing content. Even if your original target doesn’t engage, a new prospect may surface in the comment box.

Did you know?

Sales professionals who use social selling close 40-50% more new business than those who don’t.

Social selling best practices

Although social selling is more of a slow burn when it comes to making sales, it is replete with benefits that can help establish your profile as a reliable brand. Here’s how you can do it right:

  • Establish your brand by providing value → although jumping head first into a sales pitch can be tempting, to do social selling right you need to first establish your position as an expert in the industry. You can do this by sharing interesting, valuable, and shareable content on social media. For instance, if your business provides marketing solutions, you might want to publish a blogpost about the future of AI marketing and how it’s changing the industry. This will give you an air of expertise and authority in your industry. In short, you should aim to show your prospects that you’re not just out to get their money, but that you have something to offer as well.
  • Listen strategically → do your due diligence when you’re reaching out to prospects by nailing your social listening game. Watch out carefully for pain points and requests voiced by your target audience so that you can swoop in and offer the best solutions through your products and services.
  • Take your time → to resonate with your target audience, strategically justify your motivation for reaching out. Acknowledge mutual professional contacts, refer to a piece of content you both shared or reacted to, and highlight your shared interests. This will make your brand look authentic and genuine, establishing a foundation of trust.
  • Be consistent → in addition to the initial message, ensure to stay connected and follow up if the conversation sinks into radio silence. This will show you’re genuinely interested in forming a professional relationship and that you’re not just randomly sending messages to see what lands upright.

Social selling on LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a powerful tool to use in social selling. You can easily build a network of professional contacts and reach out to users who are already looking for business opportunities and solutions. Here’s how to do LinkedIn right:

  • Build credibility → ask for endorsements and recommendations. As a brand, you can highlight expertise that is relevant to a potential customer by showing how you’ve helped previous customers achieve their goals.
  • Multiply your network → reach out to mutual connections with existing contacts as, chances are, they might be looking for something similar. You can also join LinkedIn Groups relevant to your industry, allowing you to network with peers and others in your target industry.
  • Use LinkedIn Sales Navigator → this professional social selling tool helps target the right prospects with personalised communications and better understand performance with in-depth analytics. It’ll make your social selling strategy on LinkedIn more robust.

Social selling on Twitter

The magic of Twitter for social selling comes from creating Twitter lists. This is a way of doing social listening on your existing customers, prospects, and competitors. It will also be a great way of keeping up on top of emerging digital marketing trends you can replicate to your advantage.

  • Existing customers → this allows you to keep close tabs on existing customers and watch out for opportunities to engage, reply, and like their tweets. Ensure that your interactions sound genuine because customers can be good at identifying when they’re not.
  • Prospects → you can add potential customers to a private list. Before engaging with them, rather wait until they voice a request or a grievance. This is your chance to step in with your business solutions.
  • Competitors → by analysing how your competitors conduct their social selling strategy, you can better examine your own to identify gaps in your performance. This could also give you ideas to improve your approach.

Social selling on Facebook

  • Create valuable content → create thoughtful and valuable content that other businesses are likely to share to increase your brand’s reach. This will also help show your target audience that you’re not just out there to get their money, but that you also genuinely want to help them. For example, you might want to link to a blogpost published on your website that shows your expertise and authority on a topic that is central to your industry.
  • Engage with followers → always respond to your follower’s comments and mentions of your brand. In posts, include questions to spark conversations with a Facebook audience. This will help foster a stronger sense of community and establish your brand’s identity.


Social selling is all about selling yourself without necessarily going as far as the selling stage. It’s all about establishing trust and convincing customers you’re in the best position to help them solve their pain points and needs. The trick is to avoid being pushy and rather be agile about when it’s time to enter the stage (or DMs of your target audience).

Although the results of social selling are not as immediate or direct as ecommerce or other selling strategies, in the long term it will create a stronger foundation of customer loyalty. Therefore, if you’re willing to be patient and strategic about contacting prospective clients, social selling can be your winning move.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • What is the benefit of social selling?
    Social selling is an economical selling strategy that allows you to build trusted relationships, boost credibility, and create foundations for customer loyalty.
  • Does social selling really work?
    If you do it right, it definitely can. As long as you invest the time to build relationships with your prospects and customers by engaging with their content, you’ll be able to generate high-quality leads that are keen to interact with your brand.
  • What is an example of social selling?
    Social selling includes messaging someone you’ve previously interacted with on LinkedIn, someone you know has an issue or need that your business can provide for.
Written by:
Fernanda is a Mexican-born Startups Writer. Specialising in the Marketing & Finding Customers pillar, she’s always on the lookout for how startups can leverage tools, software, and insights to help solidify their brand, retain clients, and find new areas for growth. Having grown up in Mexico City and Abu Dhabi, Fernanda is passionate about how businesses can adapt to new challenges in different economic environments to grow and find creative ways to engage with new and existing customers. With a background in journalism, politics, and international relations, Fernanda has written for a multitude of online magazines about topics ranging from Latin American politics to how businesses can retain staff during a recession. She is currently strengthening her journalistic muscle by studying for a part-time multimedia journalism degree from the National Council of Training for Journalists (NCTJ).

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