More and more consumers, many of which could be just your type of customer, are using social media and spending more and more time on it which means there is an opportunity for you to attract them. To do this though we need to break social media down in to levels so that you can make the connections that will result in sales.
The way in which people have been led to purchase products and services has mostly be unchanged. Consumer behaviour though having been modified, updated and adapted, has nonetheless always gone down the same behaviour route when purchasing.
As an example, I recently purchased my first really professional camera (I only ever used my camera on my mobile previously) and I did this solely by using social media. What type of camera did I require, what kind of look, what brand, what spending budgets… All this was answered by searching on Twitter and Youtube. I found a camera that was well described and showcased on Youtube (FujiFilm X A-2) which got my attention initially then me liking the look and the feel for the camera and what it could do. I then checked comments and reviews via Youtube and Twitter which build my trust and then by all of the above giving me confidence I went on to purchase it online.
Years ago we said a ‘sales funnel’, but I think social media and selling is better described by ‘levels’ or in deed steps as it is this process that you need to take your audience in order to achieve better chances of making sales.
- Build brand awareness
- Engage your audience
- Build your reputation
- Sell your product / service
- Loyalty and satisfaction
Build brand awareness:
When it comes to marketing your business you have to ultimately create awareness. Via social media this can be achieved by building an audience and sharing what it is you do and deliver relevant content in order to keep those numbers following you. Make sure that what you share coincides with when your target audience will most likely see it, study all the analytics provided by social media platforms and social media management softwares to work out what updates you share work the best and when you gain the most engagement.
Remember that at this stage your audience may be built up of three types, ie a) those not yet even thinking of purchasing your products / services, b) those who have just started to think about it and c) others who are actively looking to purchase. Try and make sure that the content you share is valuable to each of these three types of audience you will be sharing your content with.
Engage your audience:
Once you have an audience and once they are following you because they have an interest in your business services / products then you need to engage them above just ‘sharing daily updates‘ etc. Just like in real life, to gain engagement you need to ask questions, share thoughts, ask for feedback and reviews, posts surveys / polls, comment on other posts and other similar which will ignite a response.
You could also look at creating events at this stage or building the likes of groups that are relevant to what you are selling. You could simply run a dedicated ‘hour’ on Twitter or create a group on Facebook that tackles a common consumer question regarding your products / services. Another popular way is to use competitions.
At this stage you have not only got a target following, but you have a target following that is engaging with you and this is building your brand awareness.
Build your reputation:
Once you have an audience and engagement then you need to reinforce that you are a respected person / business within your industry sector – A trusted place that a consumer can purchase from.
Social media alone will not sell most products and services… It is not like an ‘Ebay’ where people simply go to, make a bid or purchase. As a business you will of course need to be contacted and will obviously need email address, telephone number, high street address etc, but importantly with social media you also need a capture point – The reason you are building and engaging your social media audience for.
Make sure that your end destination for your social media ‘traffic’ goes to a place that they feel confident with and in-line with the reputation and character you have built for yourself on social media.
Ask your social media audience to leave feedback and comments on your website, maybe it is a review of your products or feedback on your services – build these up so that when someone comes from social media to your website they are further enticed to purchase from you.
The likes of videos / photos of happy customers, your products in use, positive stories from people using your services will quite possibly be that final push that your visitor to your website needs in order to make that purchase. You have at this stage worked hard to get web traffic from consumers who are already familiar with you, do not lose them at this stage!
Sell your product / service:
From this point where interested visitors are browsing your website with an intention on purchasing then you need to make the sale. This point is really the easiest, but not always applied.
As mentioned previously, social media will not be the only selling tool you need to use. At this point other forms of marketing can take the lead in order to sell or to further keep people focused on your brand so that if a purchase is made in the future then your business is one which is on their shortlist.
More and more people purchase online these days so let powerful tools such as email take over or at least add to the probability of the consumer buying from you. Have a form to capture emails on your website, make sure that the visitors attention is grabbed by offering them something, ie an ebook, blog posts that are not public, competition etc. Use email marketing to back up your whole social media process ie from the minute that potential new customer finds you on social media and going on to them visiting your website and till the point they have made a decision to purchase*.
A combination of social media (which includes great content ie images, videos and blogs) and email marketing is a power formula to drive new and existing business. Your social media activity with lead consumers up the levels so that your email marketing is hitting the inboxes of those highly likely to purchase now (share offers and promotions) or in the near future (let them know of what is new that is about to come on to the market).
Loyalty and satisfaction:
We have mentioned previously about getting consumers to share their experience from having purchased from you, but you now need this part to not only entice in new customers but also to further build your reputation and increase chances of repeat purchasing.
Make sure that your whole website has social media sharing capabilities and reviews which can be directly added to your social media channels. You of course can not expect always 100% satisfaction and in-fact nearly all businesses would not have an unblemished customer feedback history, but it is also how you deal with your poor reviews that will gain you new business. Make sure that all reviews and feedback is responded to and action such things as refunds or compensation, ie free gift cards, in order to showcase your commitment to high quality of service.
As with all those that make a purchase from you, some will never come back again, some will return to check your prices for a repeat purchase, some will purchase from you again following previous satisfaction and others will simply have fallen in love with your brand and be highly likely to purchase whatever new products / services you have. Think about how Apple, more so when Steve Jobs was known to be the main man behind it all, managed to get so many fans falling in love with their latest gadgets – People would not just purchase say the new iPhone, but they would shout out about it to their friends online, take it out to show people at the pub, advise people that they are missing out by not having one – ie they have become ‘raving fans‘. Why do football clubs in most cases bring out a new kit every season… ?
These repeat customers who are raving fans need to be targeted with more unique offers and depending on the size of your business, offered free gifts / products / services and extra engagement on social media as their form of marketing for your brand is probably the best kind you can ever hope for in marketing.
Once you business is big enough you should then look to expand your social media accounts and sections of your website to cover the likes of customer care so that you have a unique channel to deal with customers expectations of quick responses and satisfactory remedies.
Author: Christopher Walkey
Founder of Estate Agent Networking and an internationally invited speaker on how to build online target audiences using Twitter and LinkedIn.