How can you sell on social networks? (1)

  • We start with a series of posts designed to help you sell more on the social channel. Do you know how to sell on social networks? Let us help you!!

  • Within digital environment, it is very common to ask ourselves this question at some point: How can I sell on social networks? It is clear that they are very important in a company´s strategy at communication level, branding and customer service, but how can I turn them into a sales channel? 

  • How not to sell on social networks

  • I understand it seems contradictory but the best way to start on the right foot is by knowing what do not have to do (too many companies make the same mistakes). 

    The first concept that must be avoided at all times is SPAM.Excessive or unwanted communications are a very serious problem that take place on other channels like email marketing. This term is also used on channels like that of SEO, although in reality it refers to the attempt of manipulating rankings (the so-called Black Hat). 

    SPAM on social networking is very similar to that of email address. In both cases, an explicit consent is given by the user (follow or subscribe) but that does not mean that they are permissive to be impacted non-stop. 

    Social networks have a broad but clear function. They are spaces where to share, add value and establish links. When, in our profiles, we just publish "buy, buy, buy" on most of the publications, we are forcing a situation, that if it went on, it would lead the user stops following us. 

    There are other two very important issues: timing and tone. Making a mistake in these two issues supposes not choosing the right moment and way of interacting with the audience. Do not try to sell on social networks at times when your potential customers are not active or when there are other events that may distract his attention. You must also be aware of the tone of communication, adapt it to your audience and be consistent across all channels (it does not make sense you are too colloquial or serious on networks). 

    Finally, I would say that the best way of not selling on social networks is to join a segmentation error together with those factors above discussed. Each network has its own aim, and it gets to a kind of audience. If we make the mistake of posting the same on all platforms in which we are present (do not do it), we will see that some are more effective than others and it is not magic, it is simply that users are there. 

  • Now it is time: how you can sell on social networks

  • It is said that there is some common place where social networks are not useful to sell. It is something that has been repeated from the beginning of their growth and, although it was never true at all, in the initial versions it made more sense because monetization possibilities were not explored yet. 

    As time went by, the main platforms have been incorporating options so that marketing responsible could use them to sell in more efficiently. In fact, the current scenario according to some surveys this year about the benefits that the use of social media marketing provides, would be as detailed below: 

  • We clearly see that the vast majority of the survey respondents speak of brand exhibition and traffic increase referring to their websites (which already implies indirectly sales) but immediately after we see that 64% responded that they use them to generate leads. This is prelude to sale that is in sixth position for more than half of the respondents to this survey, specifically for 53%.

  • How do they do that?

  • Here we start the strategic part of this subject. Each one clearly does so in a way and take advantage of networks one way or another according to their needs and what they can provide. Let's analyse  different variables to consider. 

  • #1- Segmentation and the mix of networks

  • Several conclusions can be drawn from what we have said so far. We have to choose wisely where we should be present (basically where our audience is) and which networks must be exploded.

    . With the boom caused by the emergence of social media, a certain madness from companies arrived too: it seemed that it had to be present on all of them. This resulted in many profiles and accounts created with little value and no strategy. Time has proved that it is worth being more selective, allowing us to rationalize efforts and manage our resources more efficiently. 

    According to volume of use criteria, and taking into account that the level of penetration of social networks within is 42 per cent among global Internet users, we have: 

    • Facebook continues keeping the biggest critical mass. We can talk about 80% of users. 
    • Instagram is very well consolidated in second position, giving Facebook indirectly the networks control. It is true that, concerning users, YouTube or Whatsapp (also owned by Zuckelberg) are above, but this would open another debate: are they canonical social networks? 
    • The third place is disputed heavily depending of the market, in United States people get insane by Pinterest (I recommend you to take a look at our beginner's guide if you have not done it yet), but other countries prefer the emerging Snapchat. 
    • Twitter, which is a pioneer among social networks, is almost always behind in terms of active users (not so much in number of users). 
  • #2 - Time of use

  • That said, we know where users are. Now, we need to understand the use networks make. If we look at a metric as simple as the time of use, the result is as follows (according to a study conducted at that time by Comescore): 

  • If we were to draw an obvious pattern as possible, is that Facebook dominates all around the world. It also seems obvious that Instagram is the second preference and finally, there is some fight between Snapchat and Twitter where it seems to win the first of them. 

  • #3 - The user´s profile

  • Without going into geographical nuances yet, we can see that each network has a kind of user´s profile. While in Facebook the majority of the users and their profiles are more diverse, in Snapchat the public tends to be younger, and on networks like Instagram and, especially, Pinterest tends to have a greater number of female users. 

  • #4 - Geolocation

  • All the time we have talked about the impact the place from which the user is connected has when we choose the social networks we are going to use to sell. This is largely as a simple matter of usage trends, but there are other aspects that we must bear in mind. 

    If our target audience is not within the western profile we will have to find other alternative networks. In China, for example, where is the use of these platforms is so restricted, you will have to go to networks such as WeChat or Sina Weibo

  • #5 - Use and interest profile

  • Each network serves for one thing, we have already discussed about it several times. While Facebook is a more general-purpose, Pinterest or Instagram are great to transmit life style and be inspired. 

    If we are going to aim to a professional audience, our network will be undoubtedly LinkedIn. Although it has not the largest volume of users, we do know it is the best place to sell on B2B social networks. 

    And then we find all vertical networks hyperspecialized in a specific content type and which tell us much of their users on the mere fact of having active profiles on them. There are social networks for bikers or doctors, and this offers you many possibilities when it comes to segmenting your product offer. 

  • That is all... so far. Stay tuned to our blog because we are going to keep answering this question: How can you sell on social networks?

  • Images | Fotolia and sites linked. 

Miguel Nicolás

Miguel Nicolás O'Shea is a life-long copywriter (more than 15 years working in agencies) and a specialist in Search Marketing (SEO and PPC). From now on, he will contribute with his online marketing experience to Oleoshop, publishing regularly.

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