Running social media for your company or for a client, it’s tough to get respect as a contributor to the bottom line.
Revenues of course matter, a lot. “Always be closing” salespeople may constantly remind you while dismissing your contributions as merely cute positioning and chatter, without moving the needle on real business success.
But smart social media execution can contribute meaningfully to sales growth and bottom line business success. The sales funnel is a progression with four stages: Awareness, Interest, Evaluation and Purchase. Social media can enhance success at every one of these.
Here’s a rundown of ways to contribute every stage:
Emphasize platforms your buyers frequent. If you’re promoting an arts supply store, a lot of your customers and prospects will be spending time on Pinterest and Instagram. If it’s a news publisher, then you’re going to want to reach people who spend time on Twitter. Consider your audience and what else interests them, and to maximize awareness, be active on the social media platforms that go best with those interests.
Affiliate with like minded groups. You can further hone in on what interests your business targets, and establish a strong presence, by affiliating with groups within social media platforms. On LinkedIn you’ll find people associating based on shared professional interests and on Facebook it can be shared personal interests. In actuality there are all sorts of groupings across the various platforms, so it’s advisable to check everywhere. Do keep in mind that these groups are based on affinity and mutual support, and the reception to overt selling can be negative. Even if your goal is greater awareness towards sparking interest, keep your contributions general, on-topic and in the spirit of the group interactions.
Boost posts and advertise. While your group participation may slant away from outright promotion, ultimately there is a product or service to sell. Paid promotion is totally appropriate to build awareness of what’s the business and its offering. Advertising within social media can be especially effective due to accurate and precise audience targeting, like people whose social media profile specifies a profession or personal interest, and also because people engaging with those ads may choose to follow the associate brand, so awareness can build even stronger from there.
Stir up advocacy. Ads can work, but they also turn off some people, as does overt self-promotion in social media. But if you can get others to tout your attributes, that’s a great way to build up positively associated awareness. It’s a long game and mostly an indirect effort. It’s not advisable to make a practice of constantly asking people to put in a good word. But if you are a strong social media participant who likes and comments on what other people post, and who shares your own valuable content, then awareness through other people’s advocacy will build up over time.
Monitor keywords. There are other ways to build up awareness besides your own direct visibility. Social media can also be a source of lead generation to take to other sorts of sales and marketing efforts. Monitoring keywords and hashtags means staying abreast of who is posting on the particular subjects that are relevant to your business. You can engage directly with a follow, like, comment or re-post. You can also simply take note of who’s the party, and why the might be interested, and add them to your CRM or other relevant resources in order to build up awareness through other efforts besides social media.
Test your messaging. The next stage of the sales funnel concerns people not just knowing who you are but starting to tune into what you may be able to do for them. It’s key to determine what messaging can spur this progression. Social media can be great for testing out effectiveness including capabilities to determine how broadly or narrowly to run that test. You can set up satellite social media handles, which can be directly associated with your brand or not, and try out content to see if it gets the reaction hoped for. If so, that content’s messaging can be spread to other sales and marketing efforts.
Try out responses. Besides posts of intriguing content, another way to prompt interest is with responses to what others are saying. If you come across posts that are topical to what you’re selling, try a few responses about how you may be a fit for the implied need. If it’s done through direct messaging, the beauty is that each of these responses is to a single other party, so it’s the ultimate narrow experiment for gauging how well that particular tact works. If it does work, try it more, and spread the encouraging approach to others within your company, again boosting overall sales and marketing.
Implement analytics. How are things trending with your getting people interested in who you are and what you’re selling? Is this month’s messaging an improvement over what was used before? You may have a feel for that, but the social media networks provide direct indications with some sophisticated depth through their analytics features. Take advantage of these to confirm how things are really going.
Landing pages. You’re certainly stirring up interest when someone’s intrigued enough by your social media activity to click through to your site and see more of what the business is about. It’s enormously valuable to track progression from there. A great approach is to have each of your social media profiles connect to a particular landing page and not simply direct them all to the home page. This way you can ascertain which social media channels are most effective at generating interest, and advanced web techniques can be employed for what’s next like understanding which social networks have best tendencies to advance from interest to other stages of the sales funnel, and to try leveraging that interest with retargeting ad campaigns.
Actively engage. It can be hard in the social media realm to determine who’s a legitimate prospect and who’s more suspect. You don’t want to overlook any opportunity, so you should always assume the best and engage actively at every opportunity. At least in social media interactions are by nature light and informal, so no one exercise in engagement should be too taxing. Monitor what’s effective and who seems to be progressing from stages of being interested to active evaluation of what’s being sold.
Build archive of your presence. Smart consumers evaluate thoroughly. They endeavor to understand a vendor before placing trust. This is another area in which your social media activity is a long game. People may look over a history of posts and interactions as part of consideration about how strong their interest really should be. Ideally they’ll encounter a record of consistent posting in a helpful and respectful voice and generous engagement in relevant groups and with interested parties.
Always be responsive. Evaluation can be the most frustrating stage of the sales funnel. Prospects are serious enough that their every inquiry and request must be accommodated, but it can be entirely vague as to exactly when they’re considering making a purchase. Sales people detest when things slow to a crawl, but good social engagement can keep things energetic and encouraging without being to taxing as evaluation proceeds.
Cite your customers. If someone becomes your customer, they’re joining a peer group of others who’ve decided to buy. Is that an association about which they’ll feel good? Which wins make you proudest? Make sure you follow them on social media, and when you like something they have to say, endorse it, with (if appropriate) citation of their being “our customer”. This can boost your standing with those engaged in evaluation.
Strategic hashtags. Some prospective customers are going to have particular points of evaluation. And if you’re actively posting to social media, over time you’ve probably addressed those points with relevant content and interactions. Hashtags are a great way to keep track of that and when there’s awareness of someone engaged in evaluation prioritizing some topic, those hashtags can serve to collect everything relevant over time and reflect how you share that priority.
Form customer communities. Another lure for those evaluating you is to show them how well you treat those who do become customers. Besides participating in relevant topical groups, set up your own groups to stay in touch with your customers, provide updates and have another front to become aware of support issues that may require attention. Of course all of these activities have merit regardless, but they also are good, visible signals for those evaluating you.
Engage with emerging wins. As prospects are getting to the point of a purchase decision it can be time to put on the full court press. Show them love and attention from every part of the company. If you’re not following their social media accounts yet, get on that. If you are already following, go over some of their posts and find some to comment or like. Send a direct message indicating your glad availability to help figure out any issue that may be encountered as a new customer.
Limited time promotions. Sometimes just a little bit more lubricant is required to bring on a new customer. Consider a well timed post with a special offer, or if there’s a particular target with hopes of conversion, directly message an offer to that party. If it’s a broadly available offering you’re making, that offer might get circulated to others, recycling to spark new awareness and hopefully interest with additional parties.
Consider the buyer’s journey. The purchase stage for a new customer is of course especially exciting. Social media impressions made up to then may have been key to getting them to the point of that vital decision for your business. Considerations tend to be different at every stage of the purchase process, and different prospects and customers take different paths. This is an area of strong consideration throughout sales and marketing, and social media pros can be vital contributors to these internal dialogs including using others’ inputs to shape social media direction and for everyone in the business to apply learnings over time that make each person more effective.
Stay engaged with existing customers. Once a customer is landed, that’s not the end of your objectives with that party. Social media remains vital to keep them engaged and to spur repeat business, especially as that aggressive salesperson may have already shifted focus to the next hunt. Keep following your customers, engaging with their posts, directing personalized messaging and considering special offers that they may appreciate seeing on in their social feeds. Live engagements with your customer populations, like Facebook Live sessions, can be great ways to lock in their loyalty and secure their positive endorsements to help you add even more customers.
Don’t oversell. Remember from the top of this post your sales colleagues scoffing at your role in their objectives. By now we’ve strongly established that you’ve got a lot of ways to help them with social media and they should appreciate opportunities to collaborate with you. But it’s certainly valid to retain consideration of the fact that social media is not a forum people go to to be on receiving end of a pitch. At every stage from awareness to interest to evaluation to purchase keep your social media content insightful, engaging and entertaining and seek to make every point of exposure and engagement one that will be valued by your audiences.
Way #21: work with eClincher
The eClincher platform brings value to every stage of using social media to enhance your business’ sales success. We provide one interface from which you can post and engage on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube, Google+ and Google My Business. Just about every piece of advice in this post can be empowered through our platform including monitoring feeds, keywords, hashtags and influencers; accessing analytics; scheduling posts; premium boosting of selected content; catching and reacting to every sort of incoming engagement through our unified social inbox; and more. Try it out and let’s collaborate on demonstrating how your business can achieve great sales success through social media.