Social selling refers to selling in a live and interactive way. Usually, this refers to selling items on social platforms such as Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook
Social selling is becoming increasingly popular as people use their social media audiences to sell their products. Live sales, Instagram story sales, and auction-style threads are common methods of social selling.
Have you ever thought about using your Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, or TikTok to sell things? Everyone is a potential customer if you sell a broad category (like clothing).
💡Tip: Looking to learn how to sell directly on an official Instagram, Facebook, or Tiktok Store? Check out this article.
In addition to social media, new platforms designed for interactive selling, like WhatNot, Jamble, and Posh Lives, have emerged to offer live, social selling. This is a unique way to make more money faster, 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 Live Selling?
Live selling refers to selling things in a social manner, often live, to promote engagement and interaction with buyers. When live selling is done on social media, it is often called “social selling.”
Live selling provides many advantages: it is fun and interactive and 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.
Live 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.
Here are some tips and tricks for preparing a live sale:
If you’re selling on a marketplace like WhatNot, Poshmark Live Selling, or Jamble, a lot of the administration is taken care of for you. But, if you’re selling on social media without those built-in tools, 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.
💡Tip: When it comes to live selling, you get out what you put in. The more you invest in advertising and planning, the better results you will get.
Live selling certainly is not for everyone, but if you have an outgoing personality and do not enjoy the work associated with the traditional reselling model, it can be a lot of fun and very lucrative!
How Do Live Sellers 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 the same buyer and seller protection level.
💡 Tip: Add your accepted payment methods to your social media bio or LinkTree. Then, you always have them readily available to buyers!
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 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 Live Sellers Ship Orders?
The shipping process is infinitely easier when you sell on an official marketplace. 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 ensure you know 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 what it might cost them so they don’t back out last minute and leave you with unsold merchandise.
Most social sellers use self-shipping discount services such as Pirate Ship, Shippo, and Sendle. Each of these offers 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 Is the Best Place to Sell Live?
There are so many places to sell live, and we recommend that you try them all. While WhatNot and Poshmark Live sales provide a built-in audience and administrative tools, you are also subject to marketplace fees. Social media presents a more affordable way to sell live but requires extra work. Weigh the pros and cons and determine what works best for you.
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.
Selling on Instagram Feed Posts
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 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.
💡Tip: You can have an impromptu Instagram story sale anytime by sharing a photo of an item(s) to your story and using the link feature to link to the listed item!
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 mean 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.
💡Tip: Nervous to sell live? Try to do a live thrift haul first. So, go live with the intent of showing your thrift finds, and people just might show up and inquire about purchasing. This is a win-win situation because after the live you can share the video to your Instagram feed as well, which is more potential for sales and engagement.
I recently interviewed Lynn from @LynnsclosetLLC. Lynn hosts several 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 and 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).
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 explains the preparation and organization that is required to successfully host a live sale.
She organizes, prepares, and numbers her items prior to each show. She often has notes prepared to quickly provide the details of each item while truly presenting the item in its best light to attract buyers. Lynn 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 in selling on Instagram.
Live Selling on Facebook
Facebook is another way to sell things live! 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!
Live Selling on TikTok
If you think you will ever try live selling on TikTok, create a TikTok account immediately because you will need one thousand followers to have access to be able to go live.
This is easier than it sounds and can be accomplished even through occasional posting. Once you have access, you can go live and sell. TikTok is amongst the most popular and rapidly growing social media platforms. This audience will be particularly valuable to you, especially if the demographic of your buyer is a bit younger, as the app is dominated by primarily Gen Z.
New Social Selling Marketplaces and WhatNot
See what I did there? And WhatNot…
WhatNot is the largest and most powerful reselling marketplace. WhatNot is arguably the best place to go live, but it does require an application.
Poshmark is truly promoting live sales more than ever! Posh Lives bring the entire Poshmark community together for a seamless selling experience.
💡Tip: Not into showing your face and twirling around with your inventory? Poshmark “Silent auctions” are silent shows where the host does not go on camera but instead auctions listings from their closet. This might be a great option for you.
To learn more about WhatNot, Jamble, Poshmark Live Sales, and live selling, check out the Vendoo Marketplace Guide!
Tips for Live Sellers
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 live selling on WhatNot, Poshmark, and others:
- Be organized. Make sure you have a system to track who is purchasing what.
- Make sure you are organized in your billing, collecting payments, 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! 👇🏼