Diligence. That’s it. There is no skill required, no tool necessary, no special knowledge to get you leads through social media. If you are diligent, you will succeed. Of course, there are tools, techniques, skills, and special knowledge that can make it a whole lot easier and more successful. Even with these, you still need diligence.
The tools are out there. There are dozens of them available to help manage and track your social media campaigns. On the road to conversion, the tools get you there faster, but they aren’t required. Everything you truly need is already at your fingertips as long as you have an Internet connection. Here, we will go into the techniques and knowledge that you’ll need to take what you already have in social media (even if you have nothing going yet) and turn it into a converting machine for your business.
Depending upon your business, goals, and industry, a “conversion” can mean many different things. Events that some people call conversions, others use as steps to earn conversions. Some of these steps are completely non-existent in certain industries, while other industries require many more steps to truly achieve conversion.
Below is a list of events. Whether they are conversions, steps to conversions, or not applicable to your business, it’s good to understand the basics behind each:
- Fans and Followers – On social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, connecting with people is one of the goals of most business social media campaigns. Some campaigns, particularly ones that are early on in the formation of a complete social media strategy, use acquisition of fans and followers as the conversion itself. In most cases, it is just the first step.
- Making Contact – It’s one thing to have a fan. It’s another to convert that fan into a real contact. Turning people from a fan into a contact can be achieved by engaging with them directly in conversation on social media. It can also be done by acquiring further information about them, such as when they subscribe to a newsletter or give you another method of communication outside of social media.
- Referrals – For businesses who utilize social media for customer relations and retention, the all-important referral is often missed. Encouraging and/or incentivising current customers to refer potential business to you is often the most rewarding type of conversion.
- More Information – The lead. For most businesses that are selling a product or service, the lead is second only to the sale and is normally where social media stops and real life selling begins. It’s not that social media can’t sell. In the future, it will be more relevant as consumers use social media more and more for direct purchases. Today, getting the lead through social media is normally the ultimate conversion.
- Sales – There are companies that use social media all the way through; they get the fan and go straight into selling their products and services. While this is currently only applicable to a small number of business types, it’s something to keep in mind as business moves more into the social media realm.
Regardless of how you define a social media conversion for your business, the techniques and best practices remain the same.
Getting Fans and Followers
You can have the most conversion-compelling message in the history of marketing and it won’t make a difference if you don’t have the right fans and followers. On Facebook, “fans” have been replaced by “likes” but the premise is still the same as for Twitter or LinkedIn connections YouTube subscriptions, and just about every other social network out there.
Success is defined differently for different business types. A small, local business can have more success with 400 quality Facebook likes than a large corporation with 10,000 Facebook likes. The key is to achieve the right exposure on the right networks. An entire blog post can (and probably will) be written on the topic of getting more fans, but suffice it to say that this is the first basic step to conversion.
Look at your competition. All of them (or at least a lot). Where do you stand relative to their Twitter reach? This will give you an idea of how much work you have to do.
In most cases, you shouldn’t fall into the trap of purchases cheap “fake” fans and followers. There are services out there and while some are reputable and truly get quality fans for you, most are simply worthless fake accounts. Natural is, for most businesses, the better way to go.
Converting Fans Into Contacts
Once you have someone following you on one social network, it’s time to expand your interaction with that person. You can cross-pollinate by getting Twitter followers to become Facebook likes to become LinkedIn followers to become… you get the point.
There are ways, particularly on Facebook, to encourage people to give their email, phone number, or other form of contact. Some incentives on Facebook will not only give people the opportunity but will also give you an additional method of contact through which to market to them. It’s all opt-in which makes it a wonderful thing. The more points of contact you have with someone, the more likely they are to convert into something more.
The other type of “contact” is one that many would debate. Rather than going into a point/counterpoint description of what we mean, it’s better to tell a real-life story.
Tim Martell at Marlboro Nissan runs the company’s social media campaigns amongst other things. When a vehicle is sold there, everyone is asked what brought them to the dealership.
One day, Martell was walking by the finance office when the finance manager said, “There he is. That’s the guy.” Martell poked his head in and saw a customer sitting there.
“I was just asking who ran your dealership’s Facebook page,” the customer said. “I go there every day. The stuff you post on there is great – not what I would expect from a dealership.”
When asked how long he’d liked the page, the customer said 4 months. He only recently started looking for a vehicle but has been engaged as a “contact” with Marlboro Nissan for a while, even though it was mostly a passive point of contact.
When Martell checked the paperwork later to see what referred the customer to the dealership, he had put “Autotrader”. That may have been where the customer found the vehicle and will go down as a conversion on their referrals list, but Martell knows (and counted as such) that this was a social media conversion.
Keep all of that in mind when managing your social networks. For some businesses, particularly those that do not sell bulk products or services, it isn’t always a direct request for information that yields conversion. In some cases, someone replying to a post or retweeting you, for example, is enough to be able to consider them a “contact”.
Be interesting. Conversational. Social media is the only marketing venue where sometimes those who talk the least about leads and sales are the ones who get them the most, which leads us to…
Getting Referrals, Leads, and Sales
The final social media conversion for most businesses is normally either a referral, lead, or sale. We will discuss all three at once since the road to get there through social media remains the same. It adjusts based upon your business type.
This is normally where we lose people. On the surface, the graphic above of 5 businesses within the same vertical goes against conventional marketing wisdom. It depicts the number of social media interactions on Facebook and Twitter in a month compared to the percentage of those interactions that were a “converting message.”
A converting message is one that is self-serving. It is normally a call to action and a link to a lead form: “We are running a special for Twitter users TODAY ONLY: (link)”.
Anything else is a non-converting message. The conventional marketing thought would be that a higher percentage of converting messages would yield more leads. In social media, it’s the exact opposite.
In this graphic, the size of the ball indicates the number of leads that company received that month from social media. As you can see, the most active client who happened to have the lowest percentage of converting messages had the most total leads. Without going into too much detail about the formula behind it, the basic concept is that an active, engaging social media presence “earns” the opportunity to send out marketing messages by not sending out marketing messages.
In other words, being active and conversational allows you to generate leads. Finding the right mix based upon your company, its involvement with social media, and the time-constraints of the person or people running the campaigns is the key to success. For example, a company that is doing very well at social media and has a full-time employee working part-time on social media could probably expect to be able to have 2-4 Facebook updates and 3-8 Twitter updates a day. If 20% of those updates are converting messages, that means 0-1 on Facebook and 0-2 on Twitter daily.
Too many updates and you’ll lose people. Too few and you’ll bore people. Again, the mix needs to be just right for your business.
Conversion is the ultimate goal of any marketing effort. Social media is no exception. There are those who believe that social media is simply for branding. Other think it’s more of a time-drain than an actual marketing effort. Companies that do it right are able to see the reality: social media is a conversion machine.