Mark Zuckerberg announced on May 19 that his company will soon be rolling out Facebook Shops as a way for small stores to market to consumers through Facebook and Instagram.  With the restrictions that we’re facing in the ways we are able do business during the pandemic, this is welcome news even to those of us not currently involved in what is called social selling. 

I wanted to know more about social selling in light of Zuckerberg’s news, so I reached out to Crystal Vilkaitis, a dynamic young woman who is an expert in this field. Crystal has been in the social media industry for over a decade and has provided educational seminars for retailers across the globe, including several GHTA conventions and gift shows that I have attended. Her company, Crystal Media, is devoted to helping small businesses grow through social media, local listings and Shopify websites. Crystal has generously shared the following information with readers of this blog.

‘What it is: Social selling is the process of developing relationships as part of the sales process. Today this often takes place via social networks such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest and Tiktok but can take place either online or offline. Examples of social selling techniques include sharing relevant content, interacting directly with potential buyers and customers, personal branding, and social listening.

What the benefits are: High level: exposure and awareness, direct interaction with customers, larger and engaged audiences, and sales. To go a little further: Consumers are using social media every single day, multiple times a day. And since COVID-19 shutdowns, social media usage has increased even further. For any business, you want to show up where your customers are spending their time, and that’s on apps like Facebook, Instagram and Tiktok. What I teach is make sure you show up your Perfect Customer Groups (your PCGs) spend their time. For most local retailers, Facebook and Instagram is the best place to be. In addition to staying connected and top of mind by consistently using these tools, with social media retailers can interact with their customers, creating a conversation and building the relationship. 

For example, a retailer can do a Facebook Live showcasing their merchandise, and consumers can tune in from the comfort of their home. If they have a question about a product or need to see how it’s used, they can ask in a comment and in realtime the retailer can answer, and demonstrate the product. If the consumer likes it, they can buy it right from that video (there are a few ways to do this, both manually and automatically which I teach in my Social Selling course listed below).  Our Insider members have seen lots of success (sales!) with doing Facebook Live videos, with one retailer doing over $6,000 during a 90 minute Instagram Live video. My retailers have also told me how nice it is to do Lives because they get to interact with their customers which they miss so much, and their customers miss them too, telling the retailer how much they love the Live streams and can’t wait for the next one.

What to consider before starting: Show up where your perfect customers are (typically Facebook and Instagram), leverage your email list if you have one, and commit to showing up and being you. Consistency and authenticity is key to social media success. And don’t take too much time to start, just start! Your community misses you, wants to hear from you, and we’re all in this together, social media can unity retailers with their communities. 

A resource to find out more to start: I created a 3-hour training course called The Social Selling Course: A Step-by-Step Guide to Selling on Social Media, Even Without an eCommerce Website. This course teaches retailers all the ways to sell through social media, what type of content to post, when to post for peak engagement, the gear needed to do live streams, how to sell products manually and how to automate the process, how to grow your audience and more. Many retailers have completed the course, some of their testimonials are on this page (which is where you can learn more and purchase the course). We’re getting a lot of success stories from retailers who attend this course, I just want as many retailers as possible to go through it so it’s just $47 until June 1.”

I am grateful to Crystal for sharing these insights, and recommend that you go to Crystal Media Co.’s page on Facebook to listen to Crystal’s May 20th Facebook Live “Social Media Marketing During a Pandemic” update.  While you’re at it, be sure to like her page so that you can benefit from her expertise over the coming months.  We need all the help we can get – and Crystal’s upbeat attitude is inspiring!

Happy Retailing, 

Carol “Orange” Schroeder

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