Social selling refers to selling in a social, interactive way. Usually, this refers to selling items on social platforms such as Instagram and Facebook.
Social selling is becoming increasingly popular, as people use their social media audiences to sell their products. Live sales, story sales, and auction-style threads are common methods of social selling.
Have you ever thought about using your Instagram, Facebook, or Youtube to sell things? If you sell a broad category (like clothing), everyone is a potential customer.
In addition to social media, new platforms designed for interactive selling have emerged to offer live, social selling as opposed to the traditional listing-style used on most online marketplaces.
Here is what you need to know about how to sell on Instagram and other social selling opportunities.
What is Social Selling?
Social selling refers to selling things in a social manner, often live, in a way that promotes engagement and interaction with buyers.
Social selling provides many advantages: it is fun and interactive, and it allows you to connect and build long-lasting relationships with buyers. It also allows sellers to avoid much of the work associated with traditional reselling, such as photographing, drafting descriptions, executing listing fields, maintaining listings, and awaiting sales over time.
Social selling requires great planning and administration, however. It is very time consuming to have your items prepared and ready to feature, and to market them successfully. Without the built-in audience and searchability provided by online marketplaces, live selling requires planning and advertisement to attract prospective buyers. It also requires thorough accounting, to manage who purchased what, collect and process payments, receive buyer information, and complete shipment.
Social selling certainly is not for everyone, but if you have an outgoing personality and do no not enjoy the work associated with the traditional model of reselling, it can be a lot of fun and very lucrative!
How Do You Collect Payments?
When you sell socially you are responsible for accepting payments, and the accounting can be quite tedious. Most commonly, social sellers accept payments via Paypal or Zelle. It is advised that you do not conduct business via CashApp or Venmo (unless the account is a Venmo business account explicitly) as they do not offer protection.
Make sure that you are using a reputable service for your transactions.
If you use an unprotected forum, you have virtually no recourse in the event of fraud or scam.
Paypal has an easy to use interface that will allow you to send invoices to buyers via email. I highly recommend using PayPal for social selling as you can quickly send invoices, itemize the purchase, and charge appropriate sales taxes based on location. While you will incur Paypal fees for using Paypal, you also receive buyer and seller protection. Unlike some other payment apps, Paypal is a legitimate platform and among the simplest to use.
Often, buyers have a Paypal account so the checkout process is quick and their shipping information is easily accessible to you. In other instances, you will have to collect shipping information from buyers via message, which can get tedious and confusing.
How Do You Ship Orders?
When you sell on your own, you do not enjoy the simplicity of pre-paid labels. Instead, you must ship on your own. Shipping on your own is not difficult, but make sure you have an idea of the cost to charge appropriately.
Shipping can be expensive. If you decide to offer free shipping, remember to account for the same in your price. If you decide to charge shipping, make sure that your buyers have an idea of around what it might cost them, so they don’t back out last minute and leave you with unsold merchandise.
You Might Also Be Interested In: 9 Steps to Start a Reselling Business Online for Profit
Most social sellers use self-shipping discount services such as Pirate Ship, Shippo, and Sendle. Each of these offer competitive rates and different carrier options (USPS, FedEx, and UPS). In my experience, Pirate ship is almost always the most inexpensive option. However, Sendle provides for tiered shipping rates based on weight, allowing you to provide a more realistic estimate to your customers without having to package, measure, and weigh each garment to calculate a rate.
To learn more about self-shipping options, check out this comparison video I made showing how to use each service.
Make sure that you properly insure your parcels, provide tracking information to your buyers, and retain proof of shipment for your records.
As a social seller, you are responsible for your own customer support and service. If a package is lost or damaged, you are responsible for resolving the issue with the shipping carrier.
Where Do You Sell Things?
Social Selling on Instagram
Selling on Instagram is among the most popular types of social selling. This includes selling things in feed posts, “story sales,” and live sales.
Instagram feed posts are exactly that: a post in your instagram feed that features an item for sale. This is not referring to an Instagram business account, but instead simply using your Instagram account to feature items for sale.
Instagram feed posts are similar to the traditional listing model, as your post will likely include a carousel of photos with a description of the item. Feed posts are most successful if you have an established following, but the ability to use your public account and trending hashtags will help you to extend your reach.
Instagram Story Sales
Story sales are fun and interactive; they involve posting items for sale in your Instagram stories. Usually, the sale starts with a “banner” explaining your payment information and shipping procedures, and directions for viewers on how to claim items for sale. Often, people use graphics made on apps like Canva for story posts.
Then, you simply post images and information about your items on your Instagram story. Alternatively, if you have the items listed on various platforms, you may include a link button or swipe up directly to the listing.
Story sales are fun and interactive. When you host a story sale, be sure that you monitor your messages to communicate with buyers, and remember that Instagram stories last only 24 hours.
Instagram Live Sales
Instagram live sales are becoming increasingly popular on social media. Live sales are usually planned, as a lot of preparation is required and they are very interactive. Live sales means using the “go live” feature to host a sale in real time, engaging with your audience, and featuring each piece for sale. Live sales require diligent attention to the comments section, where people will “claim” (or bid upon) your items, depending on the method of selling you choose.
I recently interviewed Reneé @Fashionthrifter2018 who hosts a ton of successful live sales on Instagram. Her bubbly personality, gorgeous and fun pieces, and careful attention to detail make for very successful sales. She explained that social selling provides many benefits, among them the ability to make sales quickly, avoid the listing process, and create long-lasting relationships with buyers. While she makes it look easy and glamorous, she explained the preparation and organization that is required to successfully host a live sale.
In our interview, she explained her process. She organizes, prepares, measures, and numbers her items. She has notes prepared to quickly provide the details of each item, while truly presenting the item in its best light to attract buyers. Reneé perfectly balances organized professionalism with entertaining fun, while taking the time to acknowledge and interact with her viewers.
Behind the scenes, there is quite a bit of work required, perhaps not quite as much work as listing to multiple platforms would be, though, and avoiding the platform fees is certainly nice! To be successful as a social seller, it certainly helps to have a following. Thus, many social sellers go hard on Instagram, producing constant content, engaging with others, advertising their products, and being consistent. You must build and retain an audience to be successful selling on Instagram.
Another account to check out is @LynnsclosetLLC. Lynn hosts weekly live sales and almost always sells out! Her sales are entertaining to watch and her competitive prices are perfect (even for resellers seeking to flip for a profit). Lynn does not necessarily advertise a ton either, but her entertaining personality, beautiful pieces, and hilarious daily reels have allowed her to grow an audience who adores her, that pop in to support her live sales and become customers! Lynn makes it an interactive and fun time, plus she offers giveaways (each purchase is an entry to win a prize).
Social Selling on Facebook
Facebook is another way to sell things socially! In addition to Facebook Marketplace and Facebook Business Pages, there are so many groups dedicated to selling and live sales, providing a built-in audience.
The group Couch Thrifters for example, is one of many that allows for live sales and “post sales.” Post sales involve creating a thread dedicated to a sale, and commenting underneath with each item for sale and a few details about each. Thereafter, people can comment beneath items to “claim,” subject to the group rules.
If you’re looking to make more sales in Facebook Groups, search for groups that are dedicated to live selling in the categories that you sell items in, there are thousands of groups dedicated to social selling on Facebook!
New Social Selling Marketplaces
Social selling works, providing a more intimate level of connection and engagement between buyers and sellers. As it is becoming more popular, new social selling marketplaces are emerging to specialize in live sales. For example, Galaxy is a platform where you can create an account for live sales. Galaxy has some tools to aid sellers with the administration of live sales and the behind-the-scenes work, so you can just focus on having fun and selling away. Jon and Brad, @The Posh Kings, have had many successful sales on Galaxy, allowing them to bring their audience of buyers from social media into a fun and interactive ecommerce experience.
A few posts from reseller influencers mentioning WhatNot have recently emerged, too! WhatNot appears to be a live social selling platform. Based upon recent posts, it is exclusive and requires application, causing a lot of hype and excitement in the reseller community! We will have to stay tuned to see how this new marketplace will work!
A Few Social Selling Tips
If you have been thinking of trying social selling, try it! It might not be perfect the first time, but you won’t get great at it until you take the first step and start!
Here are some tips for selling on Instagram and social selling:
Be organized. Make sure you have a system to track who is purchasing what.
Make sure you are organized in your billing, collecting payment, shipping, and providing tracking.
Record your live sale so that you can reference it if you need it (for administration and for reflection to improve your next one)
Build a following or use a platform that has one built-in!
Make sure you have a good internet connection
Offer discounts, deals, or giveaways to attract a crowd and entice buyers!
Do you love social selling? Share with us your experience below!