Business to consumer e-commerce sales are expected to be nearly $1.7 trillion in 2015 and continue to grow at double digit rates for several more years. However, sales directly attributable to social media are just a small sliver of that overall number now. It is my opinion that social media will serve as an engine to much of that growth in the future.
What I am telling you is that if you want a piece of a multi-TRILLION dollar pie, learn to sell using social media!
Why can social media be such a critical component to dominating the world of e-commerce now and in the future? I am going to tell you why authenticity is the secret sauce to selling in social media.
People buy from people they know, like and trust!
I know, right? It is Marketing 101 and the first thing you learn in sales training, one of the "golden rules".
Like never before, social media allows you to reach and develop relationships, real and strong relationships, with a massive number of like-minded, engaged prospects and future customers one Facebook status update or tweet at a time.
How do I know this and what makes me an expert? In addition to being one of the leading social media experts in the world (ranked by Forbes as the #18 Social Media Power Influencer), I have a combined social media community of almost 600,000 people and I sell my products and services in high numbers to this community using social media exclusively.
Social selling IS simple, but almost nobody does it right.
So where do people get lost? Why is everybody making it so hard? I am going to tell you the answer, but I caution you, this is going to sound a lot like "tough love" for a minute.
People and businesses fail because they are frauds, fakes and phonies on social media. They come across as they cannot be trusted and they only have their interests in mind (which usually all involve money). They do not know what I like, what I care about, what I value and they have no interest in being useful to me. They are inconsistent and all over the place. I only hear from them when they want something from me. It's all about them, them, them!
In short, they are not authentic! I do not know, like and trust them because I do not know who they really are.
I feel so strongly about this that I wrote a best-selling book on the subject. It's called "Will the Real You Please Stand Up - Show Up, Be Authentic and Prosper in Social Media".
Being authentic is THE difference-maker when selling online.
Everybody has online selling tips that do not matter one iota without authenticity. For instance, I recently wrote a blog post 5 BIG Social Selling Ideas for Small Business.
It is a great blog post but has one caveat. They do not work if you are not authentic.
So, hopefully by now I have convinced you that you want to be authentic online.
So what is "authenticity"?
Dictonary.com defines authenticity as "undisputed credibility". Popular writer and hugely successful marketer Seth Godin describes it as "doing what you promise" rather than the vague idea of "being who you are". "Doing" something is clearly obvious while just "being" on the other hand is difficult to evaluate because it takes long-term observation and complex processing. In short, especially online, actions speak louder than words. Do not just tell me that you are sincerely interested in helping me. Why not create an e-book about something I care or want to know about and give it to me for free? Then, I will believe that you really want to help me. Make sense?
So, I know I am reaching deep here, but I really do love this saying and I think it defines authenticity, at least the way I see authenticity, very succinctly. Forget that Dolly Parton was the one who said it.
You see, there is a component of not only understanding what makes you who you are, but actually manifesting that through actions, to not only tell, but show people your authentic self.
The future of sales is online...PERIOD!
Okay, I know what I am saying may sound a little "touchy feely" for many of you, so let me take this from another angle. This year 52% of all US retail sales will be influenced by, or occur online.
You say "That is great. My pie is getting bigger". Wrong! Your pie is getting smaller, much smaller. You see, in the old days (like 10 years ago!) you just had to compete against other websites and blogs for Google's affection. Now, 2.5 BILLION people are on social media and millions of them are selling their stuff, or at least trying to. Facebook recently reported that over 1.5 MILLION people now use Facebook ads, mostly to sell stuff!
Search goes social and bad news goes viral.
Another sad fact: all of the major search engines now give increasing weight to social media. Why? Well for one, they own or have vested interests in the major social media sites. More importantly, social media has become the place where consumers go to tell anybody who will listen, good or bad, how they really feel about a product or a service. They control the message. Plus, have you heard the old saying, "Good news travels fast. Bad news travels faster"? That saying is true, but on steroids with social media.
Hopefully you are now seeing how important authenticity, and the ability to consistently deliver it, is online.
Let me help get you started.
Now, let me see if I can help you get started having authentic conversations and begin the process of turning lurkers into community members, community members into engaged advocates and engaged advocates into brand apostles.
I am going to try to oversimplify and give you a "plain English" answer. Start by caring. I mean really caring about the people and the subject matter you are creating content around. Then create jaw-dropping original content that has value to them on a consistent basis. Once you have that, engage, engage, engage and have meaningful conversations, not just short, emoticon-driven bursts. Be creative and make your content as appealing as you can and deliver it in a format that is easiest for your community to consume. Have the solutions for what they need and want. It is way okay if those solutions are, from time-to-time, things you also happen to sell. You see, now you are not selling useless junk to people who do not know and trust you. You are selling solutions to your friends!
For more on the subject see the full article "The 12 C's of Building Authentic Conversations on Social Media."