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How to Sell on Social Media

Learn how to sell on social media via social media outreach and turning direct messages into sales.

Author: Chaz Van de Motter - Chief Executive Officer

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There are many factors that go into crafting a direct message that leads to sales. Social media direct messages have been exploited using automation tools and have been given a bad reputation. Because users across all major social media platforms get bombarded with non personalized and transactional messages daily, we, as sellers, must rethink how to leverage social media as an effective sales channel. 


It is important to understand that while it may seem counterintuitive, you must cast your sales agenda aside in order to be an effective seller on social media. In this article we will break down how to sell on social media by utilizing engagement and direct messages. 


Main highlights:

  1. elements of a great direct message
  2. personalization, not automation
  3. sell on social media with the right tools

Elements of a great direct message

Rule #1: Direct messages should not be sent prior to leaving meaningful engagement on a prospects page


When you meet someone in person you don’t instantly tell them to go to your website and buy your T-shirt, so why is that the first interaction we make on social media? Linguistic patterns in society translate to social media. If you want to generate customers, you have to earn it by showing them that you care about what is going on in their life. 


Much like Gary Vaynerchuk discusses, your social media engagement should soften your prospect so you can craft a well received message. JAB (follow/connect)….. JAB (Like a post)….. JAB (leave a personalized comment on a post)…. RIGHT HOOK (direct message). 


Rule #2: Keep it short and specific


Sending long direct messages on social media will have prospects running for the hills. You want to know how to sell on social media? Don’t send a novel in the dm’s. Try crafting something punchy and specific that relates to the person you are reaching out to. 


Much like Twitter limits the characters in a tweet, you should limit the characters in your direct message outreach. Look to your prospects profile bio, recent posts and descriptions for context on a way to start a conversation and build rapport. An effective method for getting a response is to ask a quick question that prompts a response. 

When running a campaign for Arthur Andrew Medical Group geared towards bodybuilders, we simply asked qualified exercise professionals this question: Do you take protein before or after you work out? This prompted an over 65% response rate and led to many opportunities for collaboration. 


Rule #3: LUV your prospects


As sales engagement strategist Becc Holland of Flip the Script says, LUV’ing your prospects or leaving unsolicited validation is the quickest way to build a relationship. Whether that is on a cold call, in an email or in a social media direct message this principle applies. Similar to telling the person behind you in line at the store that you “love their dress”, edifying your prospects leads to more conversation and eventually a call to action. 


This shouldn’t come off as flirtatious or disingenuous so be intentional about the validation that you leave. The key point here is that people post on social media to seek validation on what they care about. You can quench the thirst of your prospects intentions by simply engaging in a personalized and thoughtful way. 


Whatever you do, though, do not ask for something from your prospect in the initial direct message. Turning social media direct messages into sales does not happen by asking for the sale right away. Learning how to sell on social media takes experimentation and genuine, agendaless engagements over time. 

sell on social media

LUV’ing your prospects or leaving unsolicited validation is the quickest way to build a relationship.

Personalization That Works

Rule #1: Do your Homework


Oftentimes (especially on Linkedin) we treat selling on social media like door knocking. 


If I send enough direct messages someone will eventually answer, Right?




All too often sellers attempt to automate correspondence or paste a generalized DM into the chat to send 100x a day. These messages sound like this…


“Hi {Fname}, I wanted to reach out and connect as I think we could benefit from each other’s network.”




“Hey {Fname}, what brings you to platform x, y, z?”


The problem with correspondence like this is that you haven’t done your homework. Oftentimes the sender of these messages wants to schedule a 30 minute call to pitch, but they haven’t put in more than 5 seconds to earn that time. Messages must be compelling and specific to the person you send them to if you want them to be effective. 


Do your mandatory homework before firing high heat in the DM’s:

  • Read the prospect’s bio
  • Look at their last 2-3 posts
  • Identify common connections
  • View your prospects story
  • Visit the prospects bio link


Rule #2: Follow the bread crumbs


In the spirit of LUV’ing your customers it is important to identify quality ways to personalize engagement. The best way to personalize engagement is to reference a piece of self authored or shared content. 


Because your prospect has shown their hand in the form of posting something that they care about, sink your teeth in and utilize this as a means to manufacture genuine engagement. If you want to sell on social media, it starts with identifying self authored content your prospects have posted. 


Rule #3: Drive FORDS


Turning social media direct messages into sales requires some recon. If your prospect is running low of fresh, self authored content, read between the lines on social media to find one of the FORDS to play off of: 


  1. Family
  2. Occupation
  3. Recreation
  4. Dreams 
  5. Sports


Social media isn’t traditionally a place where business is done, so don’t focus on that when building rapport. Identifying if someone has a child the same age as yours, goes Skiing twice a year in Tahoe, or loves the New York Giants is arguably more important than your business value proposition when developing a relationship from scratch with anyone on social media. 


Remember, if someone likes you they are subconsciously thinking “I am like you.” If they like you, it means that they can relate to you. Use this to your advantage and find overlap between you and your prospect’s FORDS. 

get the playbook for social selling success

social cycle is more than just a tool – connect with your ideal audience and get valuable social selling insights.

Use the Tools that are Provided

Rule 1: Stand out


Whether you use Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook or Instagram to sell on social media, this advice applies to you. Use the native tools the platform provides to you! The direct message inboxes allow for audio and video messages to be sent. 


When everyone is doing something one way, that is usually a sign to do something different or blend in with everyone else. In terms of social selling, the disruption is sending audio or video direct messages compared to the pasted or automated generalized message most people send. 


By using the aforementioned personalization and elements of a quality DM, you can create meaningful interaction through something deeper than a cold, transactional text message. Don’t forget to keep it short and smile! 

Rule 2: Follow up


Most people don’t have a problem sending the first message, but those same people forget to send the follow up. 80% of sales require 5 follow-up calls after the meeting. 44% of sales reps give up after 1 follow-up. This follow up, or AGOGE message, shows that you are serious about building a relationship. It also shows that you cared enough to connect with your prospect, that you are manually reaching back out. 

social media follow up

Many people will not answer the first cold message because they assume it is just an automated sales pitch. If you can convince your prospect otherwise by replying to your message and staying in touch, you can earn time to have a conversation that can lead to something more. 


If you don’t believe this works, ask our Enterprise Sales Advisor, Andrew Smith-Garzón. It wasn’t until the follow up that he agreed to have a conversation which has now led to the acquisition of a valuable board member. 


Rule 3: Manage your efforts


We build Social Cycle to help people learn How to sell on social media. Social Cycle helps people across the world to train themselves into sourcing leads and personalizing engagement via social media to build relationships. The software functions in 3 parts:


  1. Source Leads. This can be done through the social search engine, by uploading a CSV lead list, or by manually prospecting for leads on the social media platform of your choice.
  2. Build Cycles. Once you have sourced leads and organized them into lists based on context and platform (i.e. Podcast Guests_ Instagram, VP of Sales_ Linkedin) you can build a Cycle of engagement tailored to the social media platform your list pertains to. These Cycles are similar to email cadences and dictate time-based social media engagements that you can perform for members of your list(s).  Here is an example of a Cycle for _________:
  3. Complete Workflow: Once your Cycle has been created and applied to a list, a workflow of the social media engagements you need to make is curated for you. This workflow is meant to save you time aimlessly engaging as well as track your actions and lead sentiment across multiple social media platforms from one dashboard. 


Try Social Cycle for free today if it sounds like something that would help enhance your sales efforts on social media.

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