Using Social Selling to Reach a Niche Market - dummies

By Shannon Belew, Joel Elad

By its very definition, a niche market refers to a smaller, specialized subset of a larger market. Developing an e-commerce business around a niche market can be lucrative, but finding and engaging that highly targeted audience of prospective buyers can be challenging. Social selling is an ideal strategy for reaching a small audience of qualified buyers.

What is social selling? Social selling is a strategy that relies on social media sites to help not only identify and find prospective customers but also build relationships and sales. With billions of people actively using social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Pinterest, finding those ideal customers and making a meaningful connection may seem like an overwhelming task. However, by using search functionality and hashtags (such as #doglovers), finding clusters of users with common interests is relatively simple.

Hashtags consist of a pound symbol (#) followed by a specific word or phrase that helps publicly categorize the relevancy of a social media post or comment. Individual social media sites, along with other easy-to-use (and sometimes free) social media tools, make it easy to search for people or trends identified by hashtags. You can also perform searches without depending on hashtags, similar to the way you might search on traditional search engines such as Google.

One of the biggest benefits of social selling is that you have the opportunity to interact with your prospective customers and build mutually beneficial relationships with them. Mutually beneficial means you get the benefit of developing social media users into loyal customers, and those prospective customers gain something, too, such as quality information and useful tips, access to special discounts, or advance notice of new products or services.

At the heart of social selling is the idea that you are building genuine, meaningful relationships that turn buyers into loyal brand advocates for your niche business.

When using social media to build customer relationships, you should follow these three basic rules:

  • Be aware. Listen for conversations on social media sites that are relevant to your brand or product. In social media, listening is simply a matter of finding and paying attention to niche-related comments posted on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other sites. It’s hard to join a conversation if you don’t even realize it’s occurring!

  • Be responsive. Instead of only watching the conversations that are occurring on social media, you need to engage and be part of those conversations. Make relevant contributions to the comments. Should you find potential or existing customers talking about your brand, or talking directly to your business through social media, respond to those comments or conversations, especially if they involve a customer complaint.

  • Be authoritative. Connecting with your prospective customers on social media works best when you can provide value and be genuinely helpful. You want to be recognized as an authority in your niche market, but that doesn’t mean that you talk only about your business or the products or services you offer. Share information that your audience of prospective and existing customers will find useful so that they think of you as a knowledgeable, trusted resource.

Social selling takes time because it requires that you stay active and consistent in your interactions, but it’s worth the investment. Having the ability to not only identify prospective customers for a specialized business but also build lasting relationships with loyal customers is priceless.