Article 14 min read

Social selling: Definition, benefits, strategies, and best practices

Strengthen brand credibility and customer relationships online through social selling.

โดย Donny Kelwig, Contributing Writer

อัปเดตล่าสุด March 23, 2024

Instead of cold calling prospects, give social selling a try. Social selling is the process of finding and connecting with interested customers through social media rather than bothering those who may not even know your company exists.

Consumers are increasingly influenced by what they see on social media and are more likely to make a purchase when someone they follow and trust promotes your product or service. This influence will continue to grow if your company regularly interacts with followers in a down-to-earth way. That’s why businesses that prioritize social selling are 45 percent more likely to reach their sales quotas.

Below, we’ll discuss what social selling is, why it’s important, and best practices on mainstream social media sites:

What is social selling?

Social selling is a sales methodology that uses company social media channels to interact with potential customers and generate leads.

Most brand-based social selling occurs through messaging on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp, LINE, and WeChat. But it can also occur through chat features on a company website or via influencer partnerships.

This type of selling is not about closing deals fast—it’s about playing the long game. By commenting, liking, and sharing customer posts, companies can build natural social credibility and generate “free” advertising to influence buyers down the line.

It’s ethical selling sans cold calls.

Social selling examples

Check out the following examples to see how brands use social selling to connect with social media users IRL.

Example #1: Justice for Moose

An Australian Shepherd named Moose got his back-to-school-themed BarkBox with the words “Moose smells” scrawled across the illustrated locker. Followers jokingly shared their outrage, and BarkBox replied with an equally humorous duet showing the package designer in detention.


Source: BarkBox on TikTok

Example #2: Sometimes, it’s better to celebrate than sell

Take the time to celebrate with your fans when they share their excitement about your products or a life event—this is the perfect opportunity to connect with no strings attached.

Glossier on Twitter

Glossier on Twitter

Example #3: Empathize with the public over the loss of beloved fictional characters

Emotions boiled over when This Is Us fans learned that their favorite fictional dad Jack died after a faulty Crockpot caused a house fire. Of course, it wasn’t a real fire, but fans were upset nonetheless. That’s why it was an excellent move for the Crockpot social media team to take to the internet and sympathize with fans while educating the public about the safety of the kitchen appliance.

Crockpot on Twitter

Crockpot on Twitter

What is the Social Selling Index (SSI)?

What is the Social Selling Index (SSI)?

If you want to know how your company is doing in terms of social selling impact, you’ll want to consult the Social Selling Index (SSI). LinkedIn first developed the SSI in 2014 to measure a company’s social selling strategy.

The scoring system is based on four elements, which LinkedIn measures every day:

  1. Establish a professional brand: Optimize your online profile and publish meaningful content while keeping the needs and interests of your ideal customers in mind.
  2. Find the right people: Connect with people who may realistically buy from you in the future by leveraging the research tools available on your preferred social media channels.
  3. Engage with insights: Share your thoughts on industry trends and current events to establish yourself as a thought leader and build credibility.
  4. Build relationships: Strengthen your relationships with people in your network through ongoing positive interactions.

LinkedIn typically utilizes the following factors to determine your score in each category:

  • Profile completeness

  • Endorsements

  • Published articles

  • Connection request acceptance rates

  • Post shares, likes, and reshares

  • Message response rates

  • Profile views

The individual scores from each area are combined to create the total SSI score. The average score varies widely based on your industry and network, as it’s ultimately a comparison that visualizes how well you’re social selling compared to your peers. Regardless, strive to reach an SSI score of 75 or above.

Humanize your online interactions

Check out our State of Sales report to learn how to use conversational sales to keep customers engaged.

Benefits of social selling

Benefits of social selling

There are several sales psychology tactics businesses can use to increase revenue and grow their customer base. Social selling, however, could be the most influential of them all.

That may sound like a grand statement. But research over the past few years suggests that social media has a 100 percent higher lead-to-close rate than outbound marketing.

Let’s take a look at the specifics of how social selling can benefit you.

Social selling statistics

Social selling statistics

We’ve already covered many benefits and social selling statistics, but here are some additional key stats from our 2022 State of Sales report:

  • 71 percent of companies agree that sales teams must be data-driven and capable of personalizing sales conversations across digital channels.
  • 25 percent of sales leaders believe adding conversational sales capabilities to their teams would be beneficial.
  • 78 percent of respondents say that conversational sales will be crucial to their companies in the coming year.
  • 72 percent of sales leaders have noticed that reps who are tech and social-savvy tend to outperform those who aren’t.

Strategy: 6 best practices for social selling success

Social selling best practices

  1. Create social listening alerts

  2. Connect with prospects

  3. Share content

  4. Reply to followers

  5. Track engagement

  6. Get your message across

The specific platforms and strategies that connect you with consumers will vary based on your offerings, values, and ideal customer. But there are a few best practices that apply across the board when social selling.

1. Figure out where your customers are

You can use surveys to determine which social media platforms your customers traffic the most. Or, if you know your key demographics, you can likely figure it out on your own.

Here are some of the most popular social media platforms and the demographics that use them most often:

2. Practice social listening

Social listening is a crucial part of social selling. Whether people are expressing their frustrations with your company online or showing off their newest purchase, you need to know about it.

This enables you to address issues early and engage with your customers, solidifying your relationship with them. Here are great ways to monitor your brand through social listening:

Google Alerts

Create an alert on any topic to receive email updates anytime it’s mentioned in the news or on a blog.

Search operators

Search operator example

Search operator: related:website.com “brand name”

Example: related:smb.com “smb”

Google your company name using [related:website.com “brand name”] to see when your business is mentioned online while excluding results from your own site.

Twitter advanced search

Use Twitter’s advanced search feature to find any mentions of your company’s name or related hashtags.

Instagram hashtags

Type in any branded or unbranded Insta hashtags and click “follow” on any you want to monitor.

3. Connect with prospects

Reach out to potential customers and start building rapport. You can do this by:

  • Commenting on a topical Twitter thread

  • Sharing an Instagram story

  • Initiating a conversation with promising connections on LinkedIn

The initial non-sales-related contact helps you form an authentic relationship with potential customers. You’re simply starting a friendly conversation with them, so they’re less likely to be on guard.

4. Share content

The best way to get your brand in front of consumers is to share content on your social media profiles. Get ahead of industry trends, share your thoughts on industry reports and news, or highlight some of your customers and their successes. The key here is to be relatable and avoid bombarding your followers with constant over-branded posts.

Some examples of content that’s currently popular on social media include:

  • Short videos with trending sound on Instagram and TikTok

  • Lengthy and informative videos on YouTube

  • User-generated content from everyday people rather than just influencers

  • Humorous comments and tweets

  • Kind and inclusive images and messaging

5. Get your message across

Strike the right tone with your target audience and vary your interactions. Show that you’re there to support your customers, hype them up, and provide support if they need it.

You don’t have to reply to every comment on your posts, but try to say something of value whenever possible and read what your customers are saying. Worst case scenario: you’ll better understand your customers’ opinions. Best case scenario: you’ll get the opportunity to make a meaningful connection or resolve an issue.

Just be sure to tread carefully when trying out viral challenges. Make sure the topic aligns with your brand, relates to readers, and has a unique spin. Always keep your messaging on brand and ensure you have preset tactics for dealing with angry customers or a publicity crisis.

6. Track engagement

Give the people what they want! Every social media platform offers some form of analytics for business profiles, and you can use this data to find out what your customers do and don’t like.

Businesses can track social media engagement by visiting the analytics dashboard on all of their active profiles, regardless of the platform. Make an effort to review this data regularly and plan out content that will grab the attention of your followers.

When you find something that works, lean into it.

What are the best networks for social selling?

The best network for social selling is the platform your customers use the most. That being said, the most popular platforms tend to be LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Learn more about how you can capture your audience’s attention on social media and begin to strengthen relationships.

Optimize your social selling toolset

Go the extra mile to perfect the customer experience, boost brand loyalty, and build a strong public image. Integrate your social media channels with Zendesk Sell to capitalize on social selling opportunities and deliver better experiences. By playing the long game and focusing on social selling, you can cultivate lasting relationships and make sales when it makes sense for the customer.


12 min read

Sales negotiation skills and strategies to win more deals

Sales negotiations can be delicate. Learn how to set your sales team up for success with key strategies and training.

9 min read

100+ catchy sales slogans and taglines that customers will love

Memorable sales slogans and taglines are the earworms of marketing. Learn what makes a great one and how to harness its power to accelerate sales.

8 min read

What is transactional selling, and how does this approach work?

Whether you're a sales expert or new to the industry, transactional selling is a classic negotiation strategy. Get tips on when and how to use it, and see examples of what it looks like in action.

13 min read

How to write a killer sales proposal (examples and best practices)

A successful sales proposal can make the difference between winning or losing a sale. Learn best practices for writing a proposal that helps you close more deals.