All industries and disciplines the world over have their very own sets of jargon that simply aren’t used anywhere else. Before I started writing blogs for a living, I earned my wage slugging it out in restaurant kitchens, and so of course I could tell you the differences between mirepoix, julienne, brunoise, paysanne, macedoine, chiffonade and jardinere when it comes to preparing your vegetables. In the world of poetry (in which I do also occasionally dabble), it’s important to know your caesuras from your enjambment, your sonnets from your villanelles, and your iambic pentameter from your anapaestic tetrameter.
All of these things, of course, mean little and hold even less interest to those who have no use for them. But here you are with your marketer’s cap on, and all of sudden you’ve discovered that there’s a whole set of terminology that’s completely esoteric to the content marketing world, and the call to educate yourself before you become completely overwhelmed is strong.
Keywords, SEO, SEM, CMSs, leads, internal links and anchor text – there’s a lot to get your head around.
But this post isn’t a jargon buster (though here’s a good one from Matthew Woodward for your reference). However, I am writing today to unearth the differences between two often-confused though crucially distinct marketing terms – “social leads” and “social selling”.
What Are the Differences Between Social Leads and Social Selling?
Let’s start by understanding a fundamental difference between these two terms from a simple grammatical perspective, as I think it will make things easier as we continue.
A “social lead” is a noun, and “social selling” is a verb. That is to say that a “social lead” is a thing, and “social selling” is something that you do (to the thing in question, as it happens).
With me so far? Good – let’s elaborate.
What Are Social Leads?
In marketing terms, a “lead” is a person who has expressed some sort of interest in a business. Therefore, a “social lead” is a person who has expressed some sort of interest in a business via a social network.
What matters for you as a marketer is the process of “social lead generation”.
Social lead generation (and we’re into verb territory now) is the practice of vying for consumer attention on social media. Marketers go about this in many ways – from sharing blog posts to creating exclusive competitions, from engaging in Twitter chats, LinkedIn Group discussions and subreddits to creating how-to videos on YouTube, and from using targeting tools like Facebook Custom Audiences to answering consumer questions as they are raised across the various networks.
All of this (and more) is the process generating consumer interest in the business, and raising awareness about the associated brand. This is social lead generation, and the interested consumers are what’s known as social leads.
So What’s Social Selling?
Social selling is what the sales team attempts to do to the social leads – i.e. sell them a product or a subscription to a service via social media.
It’s important in the modern world of the empowered consumer that social leads are generated before any hard efforts at social selling take place. The reason for this can be attributed to the evolution of social media itself. In the past, there was only a very limited amount of product or service information that a potential buyer had access to. Marketers created newspaper ads and TV commercials, conducted cold-calling marathons and email blasts, all with the purpose of dazzling consumers with inherently biased product information that painted the brand in a favorable light.
However, today, inbound marketing reigns supreme, for potential customers research product details via Google, and, importantly, use social media to consult their peers about the quality of what’s on offer and the customer service they can expect. Put simply, the modern consumer doesn’t want to hear a sales pitch any longer – if they want to buy something, they’ll do the research themselves.
It is for this reason that social lead generation has evolved like it has. With so many conversations taking place on social media, with brand names being mentioned and products being muddied and praised on a minute-by-minute basis, the marketer now has a wealth of data that can be utilised to target specific social leads and prep them for a sale.
The Worlds of Sales and Marketing Combined
Social selling is an effective strategy that modern businesses need to embrace. Indeed, a study by Liz Gelb-O’Connor, VP of Inside Sales Strategy and Growth at ADP, finds that companies who embrace social selling have a 50% higher chance of reaching their sales targets. Furthermore, a separate study from LinkedIn about the State of Sales in 2016 reveals that 63.4% of social sellers experience an increase in company revenue.
Understanding the differences between social leads and social selling is the first step, and I hope that this blog post has revealed these to you. But, in order to start putting social lead generation and social selling into practice, you need first of all embrace the knowledge that, although the terms represent two different things, they each in fact make up one half of the same coin.
Generating social leads is all about customer engagement. You create interesting content (like this blog post right here!) and share it on social. From there you monitor which of your following engages with it, and then you reach out to them. You start a conversation, and nurture this lead into a sales-ready lead, and from there you strive to make the sale through the very social network that the customer discovered you on. Indeed, the name of the game in social selling is about developing meaningful trust in the lead generation stage, and then sealing the deal seamlessly.
Together, marketing (i.e. the social lead generators) and sales (i.e. the social sellers) should be cooperating to construct meticulously planned social media campaigns that guide leads down the sales funnel towards an ultimate conversion. It starts with the creation of great, informative and useful content, progresses to the formation of a solid fan base, and ends with a big boost in social sales.
Do you want to drive more social sales with better, more accurate lead generation? Take a look at the LeadSeed sales and marketing platform. Our service delivers better qualified new business leads and strengthens customer relationships. Get in touch to find out more.