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You've heard the stats. 84% of C-level/vice president executives use social media to support purchase decisions. 86% of B2B IT buyers are currently using social media networks in their purchase decision process.

No doubt, buyers are using social media. But before you get too excited, remember that not all social media users are created equal. Understanding the varying types of prospects you'll meet on social is crucial for your social selling success (and it can save you a lot of heartache along the way).

A few of us at Trapit polled one another about the types of prospects most commonly found, from the studious learners to the human torandos of activity. Here's a little guide for you. Good luck!

1. The Ghosts

This distinction goes to those who have mastered the dark art of ghostly appearances. They have a profile on LinkedIn or Twitter. But the last time they tweeted was in 2014, and they have no recent activity on LinkedIn.

Many social sellers exert far too much energy chasing ghosts. No matter how great the prospect's title is, don't waste too much time trying to resurrect the phantasm. Even if you have the world's greatest offer, you probably won't bring a ghost back to life.

2. The Lurker

Every social media network is full of these types. Like the ghosts, the lurkers do not leave much of a social footprint, but unlike the ghosts, they are active users of social. They constantly scroll through their Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn feeds.

How can you tell the difference between a lurker and a ghost? For starters, look at your marketing automation tool. Check to see if any potential lurkers have visited your company's website by following a link from social media. That's a clear indicator that they are interacting with content on social, even if they, themselves, aren't tweeting or posting or liking or commenting.

When you find a lurker, be sure to manage your expectations. Don't hope and pray that the lurker will stop lurking and suddenly interact with you. But don't become disheartened either. Keep posting content, knowing that your target audience is consuming the content that you share, albeit passively.

3. The Human Frenzy

This is the prospect who doesn't just live online. Oh no, this type of prospect is so prolific on social media that you wonder if he or she can type with his or her fingers, toes, tongue, and navel – all at the same time.

Social sellers love these types because getting engagement is easy. The human frenzy chats with everyone. But be warned: it's easy to lose track of time as you exchange thoughts with the human frenzy. Before you know it, you've forgotten about your other accounts.

If you engage with a human frenzy, do a gut check. Ask yourself whether you are adding value to the human frenzy's journey or whether you are simply chatting in the name of building rapport.

4. The Connector

Every social seller needs a few of these. This type of prospect helps connect you to new ideas and new people on social media. They're easy to spot because they are constantly tagging people on social media. They tweet things like, "Hey @KimBabcock! You should talk to @MarkLBajus about this!"

As you engage with connectors, resist the temptation to be a taker. While connectors thrive on building bridges between people, it's easy to feel taken advantage of. So, make sure that you return the favor by introducing your connectors to new people and new ideas from time to time. It's good karma, and it'll make you a more successful social seller.

5. The Hidden Gem

Rejoice if you have some hidden gems in your professional network! Many sales reps focus heavily on connecting with executives. But executives aren't the only members of buying committees, and sometimes, C-suite members aren't the best inroad into an account.

Sometimes, a sales rep is better served by speaking with someone farther down the ladder: the summer intern, the junior associate, the marketing assistant – the person who has been tasked with the grunt work of researching solutions to a company's problems. According to Google's research, 81% of non-C-suite employees influence purchase decisions.

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You'd be surprised. Often times, the hidden gems might be those so-called millennials. Nearly half of all B2B researchers are between the ages of 18 and 34:

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6. The Political Troll

This term has murky origins and perfectly suits the prospect who uses social for political purposes. Political trolls have a knack for turning conversations about poodles into political discourse.

Depending on what your company's brand stands for, it might be perfectly acceptable to feed the troll by discussing politics as if the two of you were a pair of drive-time radio hosts. But be warned: Some of your prospects might be turned off if they see you on a political soapbox.

7. The Self-Cheerleader

Your weekly renewed commitment to being a less judgmental person is thwarted by this person. Post an article? This person has a response, which surely will include a bevy of first person pronouns. Have a story to share? Funny, this person had the same experience, but better. Need an astronaut to fly to Mars? This person is game to give it a whirl, and they're sure they'll be the best astronaut the world has ever seen.

Patience, my dear social seller. Don's snap at them. The self-cheerleaders can surprise you. Many of them have large professional networks, and from time to time, they set aside their own interests and help you with your sales efforts.

8. The Learner

The learner may share some DNA with the lurker and the hidden gem. The learner uses social media to soak up every ounce of knowledge possible. They click on every interesting link, and they have 50 browser tabs open at any given time.

For a social seller who is a trusted advisor for their customers, this is an ideal prospect type. These prospects are eager to rethink their business problems, and many times, they're eager to teach their colleagues what they learn.

What Types Did We Miss?

Did we miss a type of prospect on social media? Leave a comment below. Otherwise, if you're new to social selling, feel free to check out our cheat sheet.

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Posted by Mark Bajus

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