Social media marketing has a million applications. What started out as a way to post memes has evolved into a B2B paradise. Marketing, selling, and networking are concepts that are all better achieved on social media. It has been instrumental since its inception in making a lot of small businesses become big, freelancing become a viable option, and new industries emerge.

And social media is at the heart of it, due to – perhaps inadvertently – creating a marketplace where customers meet sellers and buyers. We’re exploring all the various ways the social media landscape is closing the gap between buyers and sellers. Read on for all the details.

It’s a networking and engagement opportunity

Social media, in its original intention, is created for communication. Sure, we started with chatting late at night with our pals and video calling our grandparents, but it has also been instrumental in networking. Without networking on social media LinkedIn wouldn’t exist, for example.

At its core, what social media does is help a business inspire a relationship with a customer. Regular posts about products, services, events, and state-of-the-market updates help create an emotional bond, which serves as part of the wider ecosystem of keeping a customer engaged. Other tools like a customer incentive platform directly contribute: a points-based reward system promotes the behaviors that forge the long-standing ties. Every part of the customer experience – from enquiring about how a company’s services would impact their business, to browsing the website, to completing transactions, to reading a blog – has to be respectful of them as a customer, inspiring the emotional touchstones that are necessary for strong customer retention.

You can set up shop on social media

Instagram, in particular, has been a pioneer of retail social media for years. Initially, this was through no fault of its own. Influencers naturally emerged and evolved, which led to a lot of brand deals and selling merchandise online, and before you know it, Instagram is transformed into a hybrid photo-marketing/social media marketing platform.

But in the past year or so, with user habits working more in favor of this, and Instagram paying attention, Instagram and Facebook have both made moves into pushing their platform into a retail space.

The most obvious shift into the retail space was Instagram’s shops. If you have a B2B business, particularly one that is tech or online-focused, you can now add a shop to your Instagram profile and sell items and services directly from the platform, further closing the gap between seller and buyer. The shop items will then take you to an external website that will allow you to buy the product.

Affiliate marketing is getting easier

Affiliate marketing is hugely instrumental in B2B industries as you can target B2B content, blogs, websites, etc., and sell your services and products to other businesses.

Another addition that Instagram added last year, was to improve affiliate marketing with an app feature. With somewhat of a networking chatroom crossed with a commission filter, an influencer can sign up for the process and essentially declare to the platform that they are open for business. Their details will be added to a list that affiliate marketers can then filter through an approach for brand deals and sponsored advertisements.

This makes sense for the platform that pioneered the idea of influencers, and it might well be replicated by other platforms that are trying to keep up like Pinterest, or platforms that already have a high influencer reliance like YouTube and Twitch. A lot of influencers create their brands and businesses around a certain subject relating to an industry, like lawyers, doctors, engineers, etc. so if you were to contact influencers on these platforms you can reach businesses that are keeping an eye on these influencers.

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