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Master the art of selling online

ENTERPRISE
By Jacqueline Mahugu | May 12th 2021
Focused young African American businesswoman looking at a laptop while holding a book learning [Courtesy]

Selling online isn’t rocket science, but increasing your market share through social media takes some skill.

Simon Maingi, a digital creator, has mastered the art of getting people’s attention online. He runs the YouTube channel Simon Says which has thousands of subscribers. He also teaches digital marketing to business people, with clients from all over the world. He shares the little tweaks you could make to your online marketing strategy and increase sales.

1. Stop selling, start building brand
Some people just post pictures of their wares, the prices, tell people where to get the items and maybe use a bunch of hashtags and leave it at that. That does not work well. Business people should realise that people consume social media based on their interests.

People follow what they value for themselves.  You follow, for example, a certain blogger because you feel they add value to you. This could be education value or entertainment value. The content that you make should not necessarily be about the product itself. If you are selling hair products, for instance, what you should post is something that answers the questions, ‘What value does this product add to your hair?’ ‘What does it do to your hair?’ Or ‘I use this product because of this’ - answering the questions that the clientele would ask themselves if they picked your product off the shelf at the store.

Giving the audience more than just content asking them to buy your product is how you get people to buy into your idea online.

2. Add entertainment value
Remember that social media is supposed to be fun and it isn’t a mass media platform like a newspaper or TV. Sombre content will get them scrolling to other more fun stuff.  I have seen many corporations make this mistake. 

If you want people to see what your business does, showcase it in a fun way; make it entertaining. You can let your funny sales guy be the one that talks about the products. That will reel people in and they will get hooked. Remember Peter Marangi with the paint advertisements?

Everyone knew about the paint; even those who don’t care about homes and decor. Also, wonder why meme posters are so popular? It is because they evoke happiness in the audience. You want to evoke an emotion with your marketing.

Mature businessman writing his strategy on notebook while using laptop in a modern office [Courtesy]

3. It isn’t always about the aesthetics
People think that to be successful online they have to have a perfect logo, have perfect colour coordination on their sites and an overall flawless image. That is all hogwash. No one comes to your sites because of your logo.

They come to you because of what you offer. Having a certain aesthetic or having your Instagram look a certain way can work to your advantage but no one cares about your aesthetic as much as you do. That is all makeup, a façade.  Your page might attract followers but do you have actual customers on there? That should be your ultimate aim, what you want to focus more on. 

4. Use the right platforms
TikTok is king right now and Instagram is great for certain products. But if you absolutely had to pick two out of all the platforms to actively engage, I would advise that you focus on TikTok and LinkedIn.

Those have great reach and any followers you get can easily be converted into customers. In my research, I have seen that in order of popularity with converting audience to sales, Tik Tok comes first, then LinkedIn, YouTube, and finally Instagram. 

5. Don’t chase likes
As a business person building a brand, stop chasing ‘likes’. Chase depth of content and engagement beyond a ‘like’. Listen to what your customers say they like and want. Note the comments. Answer questions your audience has and explore the queries further by creating content around them that that person has and go in-depth.

Do polls on Instagram and directly message those who participate to get more insight into their answers. This will lead to deeper conversations and your audience feel valued. 

6. Use algorithms to your advantage
There are many platforms out there, so you may be feeling like you have been stretched too thin by being on all these platforms. There are ways you can repurpose content that you already have because what may work for Instagram reels may not work for TikTok and what works on TikTok may not work on LinkedIn.

Making contextual content is important. The way you have worded your video can be based on the audience that sees it, so be aware of who your audience is. If you’re targeting women, which platform are they mostly on? You can use your analytics to find that out. The good thing is that when it comes to social media platforms, you have the freedom to choose who you want to talk to.

Beating algorithms will require you to learn a bit about how they work but what always beats algorithms is consistency. The algorithm will note who likes your content and suggest your content to them more. That’s the game of social media. Every app is fighting for your attention. The app’s goal is to make sure you stay on that app longer. I’ve got some of my clients because they saw me multiple times on their timeline and decided to just call me and find out what I could offer them. 

7. Use micro-influencers rather than the big influencers
Using influencers is effective but you have to be smart. If you have just started your business, pick about five influencers who each have between 10,000 to 30,000 followers. It is way more effective than employing one person.

It also works better because you will have more and diverse content from each of them, which you can then also incorporate onto your own platform. Also, the more people talking about your product, the better for your business. 

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