Where Social Selling & Social Marketing Overlap (And Where They Don’t)

Take a closer look at the similarities and differences between social selling and social media marketing.

June 21, 2016

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If you’ve been reading this blog or other leading sources on sales strategies, you probably have a good sense of social selling already: what it is, who owns it, and why it’s vital for your sales efforts.

What may be less clear, however, is how social selling relates to social media marketing—the similarities, differences, and overlapping components. Nimble sales and marketing teams understand and exploit the gray area between these two strategies, but also have a firm grasp on how they’re fundamentally distinct initiatives.

Deepen your understanding of these ideas to improve as a social seller—and ultimately create a better buying experience for your customers, from research, to onboarding, to closing the sale.

Similarities Between Social Selling & Social Media Marketing

Both social selling and social media marketing look for a return on investment (ROI) through relationship building and buyer education. By acting as a resource to your prospects, you establish your expertise and gain their trust.

Both strategies aim to disseminate quality, educational content (both original and third-party) to potential buyers—buyers who are increasingly educating themselves online well before they engage with a brand’s sales rep. Social selling and social media marketing efforts require a great deal of listening to what customers have to say—their challenges, goals, and needs—in order to address them with precision and clarity.

Ultimately, of course, both initiatives are driven by the goal of increasing revenue.

This one may seem obvious, but while the tools are not the same, the social media platforms are: both marketing and sales need social to succeed.

Where the Strategies Diverge

While revenue is, of course, a main goal of marketing teams, the path to hitting this objective is very different for social sales teams. Social media marketing is engineered to address a larger audience (even if that audience is narrow and highly targeted). Social marketing excels at building brand awareness and trust on a larger scale.

Social selling, however, can do much of the same on a very personal level. As a social seller, you’re not only building the company’s credibility, but your own. While great marketing has a keen eye on the needs of the marketplace, it’s the personal touch of social selling that differentiates it. Social sales is fundamentally about real relationships with people.

Content distributed via social media marketing can reach a large group, but it’s the social sellers who can target specific individuals with curated research, delivering exactly the content they need when they need it most. A social seller’s zeroes in on the personal needs of the prospect, personalizing their messaging accordingly. It’s more intimate and allows for a greater dialogue and exchange—not between a brand and an individual, but between two individuals.

The relationship between sales and marketing teams isn’t always perfectly symbiotic. But as the lines continue to blur, understanding the differences between their efforts and objectives will help teams support each other’s initiatives—and know when to get out of the way.  

The world’s leading sales professionals know this and you should, too. Find out what worked best for them in our latest eBook: Proven Strategies from the World’s Top Sales Performers