In the world of marketing, there is always a tendency to over complicate things, especially in the newest disciplines such as social marketing or “social selling.” This post will give you basic advice and dispel some of the myths and clarify the truths of social selling.

Rarely does anyone make a sale purely using social media; it is an invaluable marketing tool but not a sales tool like paid search.

By selling, I don’t mean engaging your fans/followers, communicating with an audience, driving awareness, etc. I mean closing the old school way, driving traffic to your site and ultimately converting the online user to click and purchase giving you a return on your investment!

Myth: By racking up new social media leads, more users engage with your brand and simply make a purchase after seeing a tweet or Facebook post.

In reality, the prospective customer is likely to be relatively high up in the purchase funnel and is unlikely to covert so early on or in isolation to a wider strategy.

I make this point using both my digital marketing and personal experiences with brands and smaller businesses to come to this conclusion. As a user, if I take a look at the commercial accounts I follow on social media, they include restaurants, chefs, celebrities, and fashion designers — the majority of which haven’t received a single penny from me through their products or merchandise.

It’s not that I don’t intend to make a purchase eventually, but I haven’t really had a particular need or want to. Instead I am enjoying their contributions and inspiration to my daily feed through content such as images, videos, and more.

While I am engaged with these brands and businesses, I am not being driven to purchase, though I am having a different kind of valuable experience.

My point is that you don’t want your efforts to be in vain, so ensure that these users are pushed to the conversion stage by properly driving them to your site.

Myth: Anyone can do social media marketing.

Well, maybe, but not everyone does it well. You’d be hard pressed to find anyone who isn’t using social media to promote something or someone. But as a brand or a business owner, it is a cardinal sin not to monitor the results through the use of tools (see previous posts) and regularly dedicate some time to gauge the response to your efforts, ensuring that your audience doesn’t ignore – or worse – hates your content!

You need to know either way and then do something about it.

Truth: It goes against our nature as marketers, but do not turn users off with constant posts urging people to “buy me, buy me now.” If you do so, you are in danger of pushing users, and potential customers, away.

A good rule of thumb is to keep eight in every 10 posts more subtle and share content that doesn’t make people’s eyes glaze over from boredom. By all means, show off your product or USP, but do it in a fun way remembering that social selling isn’t enough to drive a purchase.

Myth: Prospects are easier to convert on social media as there is so much personal information accessible compared to other channels.

Lazy social media strategies are pointless. When we are trying to market and sell a product or service, we are aiming to achieve as many purchases for as little money as possible; this is the ROI.

You may have sent countless tweets, LinkedIn requests, etc., but you still need to talk to prospects at the right time. For example, scheduling tweets for a food brand or restaurant at key meal and drive times will help grab users’ attention, especially if there is some value in them reading your post.

I’m afraid that prospects on social media are just as hard to get through to as other media with the added extreme business of most people’s lifestyles, which results in them often being unresponsive and cold.

On a more positive note, interactions with users on social networks can get the ball rolling. Imagine if they are engaging with your brand, which is seen by the rest of their social network. In this case, they might be making direct recommendations.

I often see good examples of brands making content stand-out and easily shareable on the popular social network, Instagram.

Truth: Asking users to “tag” or “regram” (copy and repost) an image that has some value to users means you are on to a winner – especially if you can offer a “follow,” prize, or discount in return.

This is simple yet effective, as you are giving users a great experience and often something money can’t buy while laying off on the hard sell tactics.

If you have five minutes and want to see a good example of an entrepreneur who has used social media as a platform to grow a brand, check out The Body Coach in the United Kingdom, a professional nutrition fitness fanatic.

He has racked up the majority of his 75,000 followers this year. By creating his own hashtag, #LeanIn15, and by sharing clients’ testimonies and running regular competitions, the clear result is his sales and profits have increased parallel to his social media presence.

As a side note, The Body Coach is on the way to becoming a minor celebrity in the United Kingdom.

The truth is that, ultimately, traffic to your site drives sales/conversions. I meant to mention this at the start so thank you for reading this far!

To summarise, driving free online traffic can be achieved by understanding where social media interactions with users really sits in the purchase funnel and by ignoring the common myths told about social selling.

The use of blogs and social media can help you to rank highly in SEO, and research from Google states that, in the United Kingdom, 80% of hits are made up by the top three natural results. Getting in the top three is a no-brainer!

Good SEO results do not happen overnight. But if you remember that conversions are a fundamental principle of selling, driving traffic will get you off to a good start.