Social Selling vs Social Marketing: Knowing the Differences

Posted by Doug Wilber on April 11, 2018


Just like sales and marketing need alignment, social marketing and social selling must work towards similar goals — but that doesn’t mean you should confuse them for one another.

The terms “social marketing” and “social selling” are often tossed around in conversation together, but they’re far from being the same thing. Any company’s sales and marketing departments need alignment to consistently generate and foster new leads. Similarly, social selling and social marketing are distinct practices with distinct goals, and both of them must work in tandem before social media can be a truly effective channel for banks and financial institutions.

Social selling hasn’t always been a critical ingredient to marketing success in social media, but as paid social efforts begin to lose effectiveness, social selling is going where marketing can’t, putting a human face to the brand in order to optimize its organic reach. Here’s how each approach is different, and how the two disciplines can be combined to maximize results for your bank.

Social Marketing

Social marketing simply refers to the traditional practice of pushing out branded content through a company account and using paid campaigns to draw in new followers and customers. The goals of the practice are to foster good customer relationships, educate prospects and buyers, and measure ROI.

Social marketing is especially useful in reaching large audiences, and that reach is only getting larger — the number of total social media users is expected to surpass 2.6 billion this year. It’s effective, too: studies show that social marketing leads to higher conversion rates and is especially important in establishing brand loyalty.

But social marketing has limitations when it isn’t augmented by other strategies. Paid campaigns on many platforms are being used by practically everyone, leaving brands to pay a higher price for ever-smaller shares of the consumer’s attention. Users, especially millennials, don’t trust branded messaging as much as they do input from their peers. All this creates a huge opportunity that social selling can help banking and financial organizations to seize.

Social Selling

Social selling takes aim at the same targets that social marketing focuses on, but comes from an entirely different angle. It works by leveraging the personal social networks of a brand’s employees, training your salespeople to push out the brand’s messaging, interact with buyers directly, and gather information about customers. Through social selling, employees can build personal relationships with customers, answer buyer inquiries, and educate their audience by posting and engaging with user content.

Social selling not only has the advantage of putting a recognizable name and face behind an otherwise featureless company, but it more reliably puts your message in front of users. As other companies try to outbid each other on paid campaigns that many users are actively trying to ignore, social sellers are seamlessly blending your brand’s message into the feed of user-generated content that users are actually interested in browsing.

Social selling also equips brands to outwit policy and algorithm changes from platforms like Facebook that now prioritize user-generated content over brand- or publisher-generated content in news feeds. And it doesn’t hurt that those who use social in the sales process are 40% more likely to hit their revenue goals.

A Happy (And Effective) Medium

Through social selling, both salespeople and other people in your organization (like tellers, for instance) can convey your brand’s messages directly, build your customer base, and glean valuable consumer data. But of course, that doesn’t render social marketing obsolete. Social marketing can still provide valuable opportunities for conversion, SEO growth, and website traffic.

Banks and financial institutions who blend these two approaches together will see maximized results, but doing so requires diligence and effort to keep social sellers on message while ensuring all content being posted is both effective and compliant. Luckily, there are tools that can automate these processes, allowing banks and financial institutions to dive headfirst into social selling without worrying about lost productivity or potential regulatory violations.

To make the connection easier, banks and financial institutions can trust Gremlin Social, the only social marketing management platform endorsed by the ABA. While common social marketing tools are limited in their capacities and often inhibit social selling, our platform is designed to align your sales and marketing goals. Plug both your social sellers and your branded account to the same platform to ensure a consistent message and brand identity — all while achieving full compliance with the regulations that apply to your firm.

Topics: Social Media Marketing

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