Social media marketing and social selling operate as parts of a single mechanism for driving revenue, but only when sales and marketing work together effectively. Everybody wins when sales and marketing efforts align. In fact, 99 percent of sales teams hit quota in aligned high-performing companies, compared to 46 percent of teams that hit quota at traditional firms where sales and marketing work at cross purposes.
On the finance end of the equation, sales-marketing alignment comes with a dollar value. Market leaders see an average jump of 13 percent in year-over-year revenue, instead of the half a percent revenue decline that has been experienced by sales-marketing alignment laggards.
The point is that social media marketing and social selling — terms that are sometimes confused — should really be thought of as stages in building a stronger buyer relationship. Here's a closer look at each concept.
Defining the Terms of Engagement
Social media marketing — This term is one branch of a larger content marketing strategy. As buyers move along stages of their journey, from exploration to education to consideration to selection, smart companies deliver up the content needed to move the buyer to the next stage. One of the most memorable examples of a social media marketing win using a new channel is Lowe's Fix-in-Six series of Vines. In videos lasting just six seconds with no words, staff demonstrate how to fix common problems, such as driving off mosquitoes with outdoor planters filled with lemongrass. These videos are fun, sharable and useful, plus they show that solving problems simply is an on-brand message.
Social selling — Connecting through social networks such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram is only one aspect of social selling. The bigger picture here involves targeted content marketing, in-person or video meetings with prospects, and personal branding using tactics like webinars and social listening tech. Social selling is truly a dynamic field where the definition is enlarged by each new successful drive to boost revenue and crush quota. A great example of a social selling success story is how Eloqua deployed LinkedIn's Sales Navigator to turbo-boost their lead-to-opportunity conversion rate by 25 percent.
Similarities and Differences
What both terms share is a deep understanding of the importance of new technology. Traditional approaches like broadcasting ads, hard sales and cold calls are just not cost-effective anymore. Both branches seek to support buyers in educating themselves, and both use social media listening tech to guide their next moves.
One significant difference is that some traditional marketing departments are attempting to attach social media marketing to their existing strategy. They don't follow thorough on the social selling training to capture the revenue potential of their marketing efforts. The Content Marketing Institute reported this year that 80 percent of B2B marketers had a defined content marketing strategy, although only 32 percent had documented the approach. Yet 93 percent of those firms had a social media marketing strategy. Meanwhile, LinkedIn reported that 70 percent of sales professionals are using social selling tools. The disconnect results in lost market potential because both sides need the other for peak efficiency.
Bringing Them Together
Social media marketing can deliver the right content at the right time, but the potential customer will buy from competitors if there isn't an established relationship. Social selling builds trust and strong connections, but it relies on having a well of content that the social seller can deploy as needed. Social selling training covers the entire process, from original content generation to sales enablement technology to metrics for gauging the success of various strategies. That process can't happen, though, without a commitment from company leadership to bring sales and marketing into closer collaboration on improving buyer relationships.