To some, the benefits of social media marketing may seem passé or even yesterday’s news. Hasn’t everyone adopted social media strategies for building their business?
No, says technology strategist and futurist Crystal Washington. Before an audience Monday at the 2022 Annual Meeting of the Million Dollar Round Table in Boston, Washington said salespeople, marketers, and companies have only scratched the surface when it comes to selling over social networks. Moreover, she said, they need to prepare for the next generation of social media marketing.
Client behaviors, she said, are changing rapidly and with it comes opportunity.
“Any time in history when there have been massive amounts of change, there have been individuals who have benefited greatly and grown as a result,” she said. “So, there's tons of opportunities at the same time. It also means that your brain is likely overreacting because our biology has not caught up to our reality. We're not used to having to go through this much change.”
Pandemic spurred change
The great instigator of this change, of course, she said, was the COVID-19 pandemic. Clients are overwhelmed and attached to their devices more than ever and social commerce is still expanding.
“What that means is that your clients, their children, the next generation of your clients, are being conditioned to buy through social networks themselves, not even going someplace else,” Washington said.
“They're getting used to making purchasing decisions through social media,” she said, adding, “Think about what that might mean for you. In addition to that, consumers are being trained to participate in something called ‘drops’ via social media. What that means is companies like Nike are basically coming on and saying, ‘Hey, we have a special edition shoe. We've never told you about.’ This is shifting behavior so that we're purchasing things almost like Pavlovian dogs without even thinking first.”
Audio social networks also are continuing to expand, bringing potential new opportunities, she said.
They're getting used to making purchasing decisions through social media. — Crystal Washington, technology strategist and futurist
“We saw a social network called Clubhouse, come up in popularity during the epidemic,” she said. “And so it's social networks where people go to listen to experts. It's almost like lectures, just to gain information. And who are experts? You are. So be aware that that might be a good place to farm for new clientele.”
Washington emphasized she wasn’t necessarily saying companies and individuals should adopt all the emerging and evolving social media networks. But, she said, it is imperative that companies stay aware of the trends.
“Being aware of trends doesn't mean you immediately do something,” she said. “It means you keep your eye on something to see when it makes sense for your business, when you're most likely to get a return.”
Washington advises companies to tweak their social media strategies at least once a month. And to “supercharge” views on social media by asking questions or posting “how-to” or explainer videos on YouTube so more people can comment on the postings.
“The more comments there are on, say, LinkedIn, the more LinkedIn shows it to more people,” she said. “You can apply that to any social media network.”
The key, Washington said, is that no one wants to buy from salespeople.
People want to 'buy from experts'
“Everyone wants to buy from experts that they feel that they have a relationship with whether they actually interact with them online or not,” she said. “I guarantee you, there are people that are watching what your organization or you post online, just waiting to interact.”
Encouraging comments gets more response, which in turn, gets more views.
“When people are commenting on your posts, their connections, see that they commented on your post and so some of their own connections come and see what they commented on,” she said. “And these are your potential referrals. These are the best warm leads you could ever have.”
She also mentioned the burgeoning Metaverse, the virtual world where people may hang out, meet, and network. Admittedly, she said, it might sound far-fetched as a commercial potential.
”But understand that next generation of clients might be there.” Washington said. “And they're building relationships. They're living an alternate life in this space. So again, I'm not saying you should get on it now. It may not make sense for you to develop part of your marketing strategy with these things until a year or two from now. But the whole point is to get you ahead of the curve and ask yourself how you might be able to use this network or resource to grow your business.”
Doug Bailey is a journalist and freelance writer who lives outside of Boston. He can be reached at [email protected].