Digital products are a great way to diversify your income, and yet many independent business owners feel uncertain about how to use social media to sell their products. We all know by now the impact that being visible on social media can have on your business, but maintaining a consistent presence everywhere does have the potential to become unbearable and exhausting (especially with constant algorithm and platform changes).
After two painful burnouts, I learned an invaluable lesson: It is possible to sell more and do less on social media and the first thing you need to do is understand what “season” your business is in.
Not sure what I mean? I’ve got you covered – let’s dive in.
Choose a social media platform
As a business owner, it’s important to know why you’re investing time and resources into something. So, let’s start with platforms you can use to sell digital products on autopilot.
With nearly one billion monthly active users, Instagram is one of the most popular social networks worldwide. That means that no matter what your business is, your target audience is very (very) likely be hanging out on Instagram.
Some other things to note about Instagram:
- Organic reach is down (competition is up!)
- Paid ads are complicated
- It’s harder to grow followers today, but easier than ever to drive sales (more on that later)
Like Instagram, TikTok boasts one billion active users. But unlike Instagram, TikTok snagged the title of the most downloaded app in the world. While business owners (myself included) originally thought the platform was just for teens who wanted to learn dance trends, it’s now crystal clear that TikTok is joining the ranks with other powerhouse social media brands and lots of independent businesses and potential customers alike are on this platform now.
According to Retail Touchpoints, 72% of users report making purchase decisions based on something they saw on Instagram. And Marketing Dive tells us that one-third of users have made a purchase right from an ad (cold traffic).
While AdWeek reports that nearly half of TikTokers are buying stuff from brands they see on the platform. The survey shows that 15% of all adults and 36% of Gen Z have made purchases based on TikTok.
Pro Tip: There is no doubt about it, both Instagram and TikTok are worth the investment for independent business owners. They can both bring lots of value to your digital product sales strategy.
How to sell on social media without burnout
Now that we know how important it is to have a presence on Instagram and TikTok, how can we leverage social media without doubling our workloads or hiring an entire team? We’re all familiar with the sense of creeping burnout that can come from the relenteless demand of social media.
The key to selling more digital products on autopilot is using social media in a way that matches the “season” that your business is in.
You’re in a season of visibility if:
- You’re in the research or pre-launch phase of your business.
- You’re growing your warm audience.
- You want to be seen as an expert in your industry or niche.
You’re in a season of engagment if:
- You need feedback from your audience.
- You need to confirm a new idea or initiative is something people will pay for.
- You want to chat one-on-one with potential clients.
You’re in a season of lead generation if:
- You’re building a waitlist for your next launch or offer.
- You’re booking discovery calls for your business.
- You’re building anticipation for something.
You’re in a season of closing sales if:
- You’re lauching your latest offer!
- Your shopping cart is open.
- You’re welcoming in new clients or students.
- You’re answering any last questions people might have.
Once you understand what season your business is in, you’ll be able to use only the Instagram and TikTok features that correspond with that season. Hello, autopilot.
How social media algorithms work
Before we dive into the nitty-gritty of which features to use to sell digital products on social media, it’s important to have a basic understanding of how the algorithm for each platform works. The algorithm has one simple goal: get people to spend more time on the app. That’s it.
If your content is valuable (meaning people re-watch it, comment on it, share it, or save it), you’ve accomplished that goal. One thing that you’ll see across both Instagram and TikTok, is that short-form videos are being prioritized. Why? Because they check all of the boxes for content that keeps people on apps longer.
According to invideo, “In 2020, 96% of consumers increased their online video consumption, and nine out of ten viewers said that they wanted to see more videos from brands and businesses. In fact, as of 2022, an average person is predicted to spend 100 minutes per day watching online videos.”
Later Market Research tells us that in 2019, users spent a weekly average of six hours and 48 minutes watching online videos, which is a 59% increase from 2016. There’s no way around it: using short-form videos is the number one way to increase brand awareness, trustworthiness, and sales on social media.
What else should you keep in mind while posting? Instagram has confirmed that they take a few things into account when it comes to pushing content:
- Information about the post. These are signals both about how popular a post is–think how many people have liked it–and more mundane information about the content itself, like when it was posted, how long it is if it’s a video, and what location, if any, was attached to it.
- Information about the person who posted. This helps them get a sense of how interesting the person might be to you (the viewer), and includes signals like how many times people have interacted with that person in the past few weeks.
- Your activity. This helps Instagram understand what you might be interested in and includes signals such as how many posts you’ve liked.
- Your history of interacting with someone. This gives them a sense of how interested you are generally in seeing posts from a particular person. An example is whether or not you comment on each other’s posts.
That means that social media should be less about talking to “followers” or “subscribers” and more about talking to a human who’s reading your actual words. In other words, t should be less about focusing on likes and comments and more about direct messages, shares, reposts, and actions taken.
It’s important to remember that this is relevant no matter what season your business is in.
Pro Tip: Selling equals helping. This is the key to not coming across as pushy or inauthentic. If you focus on the relationship the sales follow. Trust me. Using the season’s method to sell digital products on autopilot using short-form videos.
Now that we know which social media platforms to focus on (Instagram and TikTok), what kind of content those platforms like (videos), and why the algorithms like that kind of content (they keep people on the app longer), we can zero in on how to sell on autopilot.
Find out which features you should use for your season
- Instagram Stories: specifically use the visibility stickers like location, mention, and hashtag.
- The 5-3-1 method: go into one of your hashtags on your recently published post and like five posts, comment on three, and reply to one story.
- Hashtags: use up to ten hashtags in storie, and 30 hashtags in posts on Instagram.
- Calls-to-action (CTA): in your posts, ask people to share and save (both increase your engagement rate).
- Instagram Stories: specifically use engagement stickers like polls, question boxes, the emoji slider, and quizzes.
- Chat sticker: use the chat sticker to open up a private chat with people most interested in the upcoming course topic that you’re building out.
Lead generation season
- Direct messages: have potential customers and clients DM you a code word to get more information about what you’re collecting leads for.
- Instagram Stories: use the poll sticker to ask if your viewers want the link for your opt-in or landing page.
- Close friends: mark leads as “close friends” and then send them special pre-launch stories.
Closing sales season
- Direct messages: ask followers to direct message you in captions and end your stories with a CTA to *reply* to your story with questions.
- Instagram Stories: use poll stickers to ask questions about what’s holding them back and then follow up in their DMs.
- LIVE: go LIVE every day to talk about your product or service.
So, there you have it! Coaches, service providers, product-based businesses alike can use this information to sell digital products on autopilot using short-form videos on social media.
Just remember to stay focused on whatever season you’re in. Once you know that, you’ll know where to focus your efforts on social media which allows you to get more out of the time and energy you invest into each platform.