What Is Social Selling? Definition, Top Platforms, and Best Practices

Social selling boosts engagement and drives sales. But what is social selling exactly, and how can you use it to nurture prospects and get more sales?

In this post, we discuss the best social media platforms for sales reps to use, how to build a professional brand, and how to target the right audience for social selling. 

It’s important to note that social selling is an ongoing process, and it requires patience and persistence. Building a strong presence and creating valuable content takes time, but it pays off in the end with more engagement, repeat customers, and improved ROI.

Key Takeaways

  • Social selling is the practice of using social media channels to find prospects, build connections, and engage with potential leads by sharing valuable insights and ideas.
  • To effectively leverage social sites, salespeople must research their target market’s online presence, establish meaningful connections on social networks, collaborate with other internal teams, and personalize communications.
  • Social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Threads, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, Pinterest, and Reddit offer unique opportunities for sellers to reach their audience.
  • Various tools and techniques can help modern salespeople improve their strategies, such as LinkedIn Sales Navigator and encouraging user-generated content (UGC).
what is social selling

Social Selling Definition

Social selling refers to the practice of using social media channels to find prospects, build connections, and engage with potential leads.

Social networks like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter offer a wealth of opportunities for sales professionals to reach out to prospects and build relationships with them. By developing meaningful connections with prospects on social media, sales teams can establish trust and create a strong brand image.

How Social Selling Works

Social selling is a technique that involves the use of social media platforms to establish and maintain relationships with potential customers. The primary goal is to generate leads and achieve sales objectives, all while avoiding the hard-sell approach.

Instead, the focus remains on connecting with prospects and providing them with valuable content that can aid their decision-making process.

Identify Target Audience

To effectively leverage social sites, salespeople must first identify their target market and research their online presence. This may include monitoring and engaging with prospective customers on platforms such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok.

By understanding an individual’s needs, problems, and interests, sales reps can tailor their communication to provide relevant information and solutions.

Interact With Prospects

Once a connection has been established, salespeople can interact with their prospects through various social interactions, like commenting on, liking, and sharing their posts. These interactions should be genuine and show an understanding of the prospect’s interests, needs, and aspirations. This helps in building trust and fostering a positive relationship with potential leads.

Consistency is key when it comes to social selling. Sales professionals should remain active on the chosen social media platforms, continuously engage with their prospects, and keep track of their interactions. By doing so, they can stay on top of any new developments, opportunities, and potential leads within their target market.

Collaborate With Internal Teams

The social selling process also benefits from collaboration with other team members, such as marketing and customer support. By working together, these teams can create a seamless journey for the customer, from the initial connection on social media to completing a sale or resolving a support issue.

In essence, successful selling requires a coordinated effort across various departments to provide an outstanding customer experience while maximizing sales opportunities.

Social Selling vs. Traditional Selling

Not sure what the difference is between social selling efforts and traditional selling? Here’s a look at how they differ:

  • Social selling refers to the practice of using social platforms to identify, connect, and nurture relationships with potential clients. By engaging in this tactic, salespeople can establish long-lasting, meaningful relationships with potential customers, positioning themselves as experts in their field and driving sales through their online presence.
  • Traditional sales techniques, on the other hand, often rely on cold calling, direct mail, trade shows, and various other methods to find new prospects. These tactics focus primarily on short-term sales results, aggressively pushing products or services onto the customers without considering the long-term relationship.

Selling Approach

The first major difference between social selling and traditional sales techniques is the approach toward potential customers. Social selling allows salespeople to identify, engage, and interact with prospects in a more natural and meaningful way. They can create a genuine connection by sharing valuable content, answering questions, and offering expert advice.

In contrast, traditional selling tends to be more invasive, with salespeople trying to persuade clients to buy their product or service through relentless and often unwanted phone calls.


Furthermore, social selling is highly data-driven, leveraging insights gained from the customers’ behavior online to provide a more personalized sales experience. Sales representatives can analyze the preferences, needs, and pain points of their prospects, tailoring their messages and solutions accordingly.

Traditional selling, however, often lacks such personalization, making it difficult for salespeople to establish credibility and trust among their prospects.

Relationship Building

Lastly, the importance of relationship-building cannot be overstated. Social selling allows businesses to strengthen their relationships over time and become trusted, go-to sources for their customers. With the increased efficiency of social media, salespeople can nurture leads at scale and engage in meaningful conversations with their audience.

On the other hand, traditional selling methods mostly focus on quick, transactional results that fail to foster long-term connections.

Social Media Platforms for Social Selling

While there are many social media platforms available, it is important to choose one that suits your business and audience.

Here are some of the best sites for your social media selling strategy:

  • LinkedIn: Professional networking platform for B2B selling that fosters relationships and sales. Use Sales Navigator to find prospects and decision-makers.
  • Twitter: Engage with the target market through conversations and content, and leverage hashtags and trending topics for increased visibility.
  • Facebook: Use personal profiles and business pages for selling, join industry-specific groups, and leverage targeted ads.
  • Instagram: Showcase products creatively using visual content and engage prospects through stories, videos, polls, and replies.
  • YouTube: Reach the audience with educational videos, and showcase expertise through product demos, how-to videos, and webinars.
  • TikTok: Capitalize on trends and challenges to create engaging short-form videos that attract attention and encourage exploration.
  • Pinterest: Use visual boards to showcase products/services, tell stories, and attract the right audience with relevant keywords and high-quality images.
  • Reddit: Participate in diverse online communities, engage potential customers, and contribute valuable insights while avoiding overt self-promotion.
  • Threads: While this is the newest social site on the list, sales reps will want to keep an eye on it to see if it attracts their target market and then start conversation threads that will engage them.

Building a Professional Brand for Selling Success

social selling: building a brand

In social selling, building a professional brand is crucial to your success.

Creating a Personal Brand

A personal brand is essential for building a professional reputation in today’s digital age. It makes an individual more distinctive, recognizable, and credible. To create a personal brand, consider crafting a consistent online presence that showcases expertise and experience. This can include maintaining an updated LinkedIn profile, sharing relevant content on social media sites, and even writing a blog focused on your area of expertise.

Developing a Personal Connection

Establishing meaningful connections through social selling requires a personal touch. Salespeople should interact with prospects and customers on social media networks and engage with their content by liking, commenting, and sharing posts. This approach allows them to establish rapport, build trust, and gain valuable insights into prospects’ needs and preferences.

Salespeople can go the extra mile by participating in industry events, and group discussions and providing value to their network through insightful posts and recommendations.

Establishing Credibility

In social selling, credibility is key to establishing trust and gaining recommendations from prospects and clients.

Salespeople can accomplish this by:

  • Showcasing their expertise through thought leadership content and sharing industry news
  • Connecting with influential figures in their field and engaging in meaningful conversations
  • Investing time in staying current on industry trends and best practices
  • Displaying customer testimonials and incorporating past experiences into conversations with prospects

Developing credibility helps in building a professional brand that distinguishes representatives from their competitors, bolsters their reputation, and ultimately improves their overall sales process.

Targeting the Right Audience

Social media platforms provide immense opportunities to segment and target your audience.

Identifying Your Ideal Customer

To succeed in social selling, it is crucial to identify the right audience for your product or service. Start by defining your target market by considering factors such as age, job title, income level, education, location, and behavior. Keep in mind that your target market should consist of those potential customers most likely to be interested in your offering.

Using customer personas is a helpful way to create a detailed picture of your ideal prospect. These personas allow for a better understanding of your audience and enable your marketing efforts to effectively cater to the needs and preferences of each group.

Researching Prospects

Once you have defined your audience, conduct thorough research to learn more about their needs, pain points, and interests. This information will guide your social selling strategy and ensure you offer value to your prospects. Some methods to gather relevant data include:

  • Reviewing social media profiles and interactions
  • Analyzing customer reviews and feedback
  • Following industry trends and news

By staying informed on what matters to your audience, you can tailor your social selling approach to resonate with prospects and foster lasting relationships.

Using Social Networks

Social networks play a vital role in reaching your audience. Leverage platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to establish your brand presence, engage with potential customers, and build trust. It’s essential to:

  • Share valuable content that addresses your prospects’ needs and pain points
  • Use appropriate hashtags to increase visibility
  • Join relevant groups and communities to contribute to conversations
  • Actively participate in discussions and demonstrate your expertise

By consistently engaging with your audience on social networks, you significantly increase the chances of converting prospects into customers and nurturing lasting business relationships.

Social Selling Content and Engagement Strategies

To build a successful social selling strategy, you will need to create valuable and relevant content that resonates with your audience.

Sharing Relevant Content

One of the crucial aspects of social selling is sharing relevant content with prospects and customers. This involves posting and sharing informative articles, blog posts, and other resources that add value to the audience.

When sharing content, it’s important to ensure it’s informative, engaging, and related to your industry and audience’s interests. By sharing valuable content, sellers can establish themselves as thought leaders and generate interest among potential prospects.

Establishing a Presence

Establishing a strong and consistent presence on social media sites is vital. This includes creating a solid profile that showcases your expertise, interests, and professional achievements. Additionally, actively participating in online conversations, joining industry groups, and connecting with potential prospects can help build credibility and trust.

It’s essential to be genuine in your interactions and provide helpful insights, as this helps to create a positive image for yourself and your company.

Encouraging User-Generated Content

Another effective strategy in social selling is encouraging user-generated content (UGC). UGC can come in various forms, such as customer reviews, testimonials, or social media posts featuring your product or service. Leveraging this content not only showcases the trust and satisfaction of your existing customers but also provides prospective clients with authentic, unbiased insights into your offerings.

To encourage UGC, sellers can create social media contests, offer incentives for reviews, or simply engage with customers openly and genuinely on social platforms.

Social Selling Tools and Techniques

Social selling involves researching, connecting, and interacting with prospects and customers on social media networks to generate leads and increase sales.

Below, we discuss some popular social selling tools and techniques that can help modern sales representatives improve their strategies.

  • LinkedIn Sales Navigator: Powerful LinkedIn tool for finding and engaging prospects with advanced search filters and lead recommendations.
  • Google Alerts: Free tool for social listening, providing relevant updates and industry-specific news to identify potential prospects.
  • Seismic: Comprehensive social selling tool for content suggestions, sales content management, buyer engagement, and more.
  • Hootsuite: Manage and schedule social posts for a variety of sites like Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, Instagram, and more.

Measuring Social Selling Success

social selling definition

Measuring the success of social selling is crucial for continuous improvement and achieving desired outcomes.

Social Selling Index

The Social Selling Index (SSI) is a valuable metric used to track and assess the effectiveness of salespeople in utilizing social media.

This index is calculated based on four dimensions:

  • Professional branding
  • Focusing on the right prospects
  • Engaging with insights
  • Building trusted relationships

A high SSI correlates with increased sales opportunities, and salespeople with a high SSI are more likely to hit their quota. Regularly tracking the SSI helps companies understand their sales team’s performance and identify areas for improvement.

Analyzing Revenue Impact

Another essential aspect of measuring social selling success is assessing the revenue impact it generates. Tracking metrics, such as the number of leads generated, conversion rate, and the overall sales process efficiency, helps businesses gauge the effectiveness of their social selling strategies.

Some crucial points to analyze include:

  • Leads: Monitor the number of leads generated from social selling efforts and assess their quality.
  • Conversion rate: Track the percentage of leads that progress through the sales process and eventually turn into paying customers.
  • Sales process efficiency: Evaluate how quickly and effectively leads move through the sales funnel, identifying possible bottlenecks and areas for improvement.

Refining Strategies

Measuring the success of social selling efforts enables businesses to identify weaknesses and refine their strategies to generate better results. Data from the Social Selling Index and revenue impact analysis can be used to identify areas where salespeople need to improve their skills, optimize their social media presence, or adjust the tactics they use to engage prospects.

By continuously analyzing performance and refining strategies, businesses can enhance their social selling approach to ultimately increase leads, boost conversion rates, and generate more revenue.

Best Practices for Effective Social Selling

To optimize your selling efforts, you need to implement the following social selling best practices that align with the needs of your audience.

Building Relationships

One of the most crucial aspects of social selling is relationship building. Sales reps should focus on establishing trust and credibility with their prospects and customers to build relationships. One way to do this is by engaging with people on social media sites and providing valuable content demonstrating their expertise.

This helps in nurturing leads, creating brand awareness, and developing customer loyalty, which can ultimately lead to successful sales outcomes. Remember that the key to effective social selling is approaching it as a long-term strategy rather than a short-term fix, especially if you want to build relationships.

Using Video Content

Using video content in your selling efforts can set you apart from competitors and create a more engaging experience for your audience. Include videos showcasing product demonstrations, customer testimonials, or educational content relevant to your industry.

Video content generates more views and higher click-through rates compared to text-based content. B2B professionals who leverage video in their social selling strategies can enhance their brand’s visibility and improve lead generation.

Leveraging Customer Insights

To become more competitive in the social selling landscape, it is essential for sales teams to leverage customer insights. This involves using social media marketing tools and techniques to monitor and analyze customers’ behavior, preferences, and pain points. By understanding their audience, sales teams can tailor their communication and content to address their prospects’ needs effectively.

Such insights can also serve as an opportunity to create personalized, engaging interactions, leading to stronger relationships and increased customer loyalty.

Overcoming Challenges in Social Selling

Social selling involves navigating several challenges. One of the most significant issues is identifying the right prospects to target, which requires an understanding of customer needs, pain points, and behaviors.

  • Identifying Prospects: Understanding customer needs and behaviors is crucial to target the right prospects in social selling.
  • Consistency in Engagement: Maintaining a consistent and skillful approach to online interaction is vital in B2B social selling, showcasing expertise without being too sales-focused.
  • Addressing Pain Points: Successful social selling requires understanding and addressing the specific challenges of the target market through relevant content like blog articles, explainer videos, and case studies.
  • Handling Competition: Stand out in the competitive social selling landscape by demonstrating unique value propositions, leveraging customer testimonials, and monitoring and adapting to changing dynamics on platforms like LinkedIn, YouTube, and TikTok.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Does Social Selling Benefit Businesses?

Social selling benefits businesses by cultivating relationships with prospective customers using social media sites. When done strategically, it can generate leads and build trust with potential clients. Through consistent engagement and sharing valuable content, businesses can position themselves as industry experts and thought leaders. As a result, social selling leads to increased brand awareness and eventually, increased sales numbers.

Can Social Selling Be Effective in B2B Sales?

Yes, social selling can be effective in B2B sales. By leveraging platforms like LinkedIn, businesses can engage with their target audience in a professional context. By sharing relevant industry news, tips, and insights, organizations can build credibility and trust with potential clients. This approach helps in nurturing relationships and driving sales with other businesses that see value in partnering with a knowledgeable and reliable provider.

What Is the Role of Social Selling Index?

The Social Selling Index (SSI) is a metric that measures the effectiveness of a business or individual’s selling efforts. It is calculated based on four fundamental pillars: establishing a professional brand, finding the right people, engaging with insights, and building relationships. A higher SSI score indicates better social selling performance, showcasing one’s ability to form meaningful connections and utilize social media sites for business development effectively. By monitoring and improving their SSI, professionals can optimize their social selling strategy and increase their chances of success in the competitive landscape.

Final Thoughts

Embracing social selling as a key sales strategy can significantly improve a company’s sales performance and build stronger client relationships.

With dedication, creativity, and a clear understanding of the customer journey, businesses can maximize the benefits of social selling and achieve greater success in today’s digital age.