Take a moment to remember all those late nights you pulled in college (and the ungodly amount of coffee you consumed). Did you ever spend hours pouring your heart and soul into a paper, only to receive a poor grade because the professor did not believe you properly addressed the prompt? Because you didn’t see the big picture?
Too many organizations make the same mistake when it comes to their social media strategy. You may spend hours of your week scheduling your social media calendar and thinking of clever little tweets, and you may even be successful when it come to gaining new followers and fans.
But what’s the point if those fans don’t turn into customers?
It’s time to see the big picture when developing a social media strategy. Make the next leap and turn those followers into prospects and customers. Do it right, and social media becomes a reliable source of valuable customers and revenue for your business over the long term. Do it wrong, and you’ll end up with lots of people who think you’re great. Which is fine… but does nothing to move prospects down the sales funnel. Here’s how to do it right, and make the time you invest in social media count:
1. One step at a time
If your followers aren’t responding to offers and promotions you post on social media, don’t be discouraged. They’re your fans, and that in and of itself makes them likely prospects. Unfortunately, they may just not be ready to buy; in which case, constant bombardment for their business could be counterproductive. Focus instead on cultivating followers as prospects, rather than customers. For example, provide opportunities to subscribe to your emails, where you can offer interesting content and more information about how your business can help meet their needs. Become a valuable resource for your followers. Share your own content and others’ that will be helpful and educational to the type of followers you want to have.
2. Take it easy
Once you’ve got someone’s attention on social media, do more than just try to sell your product to them. Yes, exclusive deals you offered to fans and followers have their place, but they shouldn’t be the only thing you have on the menu. Try combining product announcements and offers with links to news and information that’s relevant to their needs. They’ll appreciate that you don’t want to just sell to them, you truly want to serve them.
3. Keep it fun
Social media is the perfect opportunity to show your followers you’re a great company to do business with. For example, if you’re a brand or retailer, invite consumers to post pictures of your products in action; for that matter, have a contest for the picture that shows the best use of your product and let your fans pick the winner. Start conversations between social followers by asking people to share advice or stories with each other about a particular topic, and give them a hashtag to use. This tactic works well not just in business-to-consumer situations, but also in business-to-business selling.
4. Stay engaged
Don’t take your followers for granted, even after you’ve converted them to customers. When they post on your page or tweet you, always take the time to respond with a friendly comment. In social media as in traditional channels, it’s easier and cheaper to keep an existing customer’s business by staying appreciative than to win over a new prospect; so don’t let that opportunity pass you by.
5. Check your progress
As you start to see more people signing up for email and showing interest in offers from you, be sure to track results so you can get a sense of what’s working and what’s not. For example, you can use campaign tracking in Google Analytics to see who clicks through links you post and who posts to or about you. You can also use Google Analytics in combination with a social media management tool like HootSuite to efficiently track activity on all the different social channels where you have a presence.
6. Remember the big picture
No business lives by social alone. It’s wonderful to have a big group of fans and followers, but turning them into prospects and, ultimately, customers requires that your social strategy be part of a larger marketing and sales strategy. Social works best when it’s integrated with marketing emails to reach out to potential customers, knowledgebase content that educates on both their issues and your products and services, and other tools that help you connect throughout the buying journey.
As you’ve probably surmised by now, there’s a lot more to making social work for you than adding Facebook, Twitter and other buttons to your marketing content. But there’s also a lot of opportunity to win over customers and keep them – and that makes it well worth the effort.
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