As someone with responsibility for sales within your organisation you are probably wondering whether to divert some of your time and resources into social media. Is it a passing fad or can it deliver qualified sales leads?

In the first instance, social media can be an effective way to present a more human face to your organisation and thus increase your trustworthiness. As public relations firm Edelman highlights in its 2010 Trust Barometer, we are far more likely to trust what employees within an organisation tell us than the messages delivered to us in company advertisements.
Leveraging social media to increase trust and confidence in your company is valid end in itself. However, social networking can also deliver on the bottom line by;
  1. Increasing your findability online
    Recent research by marketing agency HubSpot, among over one thousand small and medium-sized companies, indicated that there is a direct correlation between the number of keywords a company ranks for in Google and the number of leads generated each month. Creating a blog can be a very effective way of increasing the number of keywords your company ranks for in Google.
  2. Helping to build relationships with customers and establish your expertise
    Social media can help to build relationships with existing and prospective customers and establish your expertise in your field. Twitter has proven to be a particularly effective tool for achieving this and in enabling businesses to remain in consumers’ consciousness. Because of the succinct nature of Twitter messages, or “tweets”, many people are finding Twitter to be a very easy means of engaging with lots of people on a regular basis.
  3. Providing a platform for managing your reputation online
    Many organisations are wary of engaging with social media applications, concerned that it will open the floodgates of negative feedback in a very public way. The corollary to this is that the conversations customers are having about your products and your brand are taking place anyway and that you are better off being involved in those conversations. Not only will you demonstrate your responsiveness to your customers’ frustrations, but you will also be in a position to correct any damaging inaccuracies being perpetuated.
  4. Supporting your word of mouth referral activities
    All sales people are familiar with the power of word of mouth in developing highly qualified leads, and it is useful to consider social media projects as an extension of the activity of generating word of mouth referrals for your brand. By providing your followers with interesting, valuable or entertaining content that they can easily share, you maximise the potential that many others, outside of your direct sphere of influence, will discover it.

This is an extract from an article published recently in the Sales Institute‘s magazine to their members. Click here to download the complete article.