Driving sales using social media isn’t as straight-forward as you may think. It’s not just a case of writing a few tweets, sharing a couple of Facebook pictures and hoping for some new customers in return. While the likes of Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ can still be a total minefield for a number of businesses, there’s a chance that even the most quietly confident companies are doing something wrong on their social channels too.
But what is this major error that your business is probably falling victim to? Creating a social strategy focused on acquiring new fans instead of appealing to your current and most importantly, loyal consumer base.
I recently had the pleasure of attending an insightful social media marketing masterclass organised by The Guardian, which stressed the importance of catering to the current customer via social channels.
Led by professional speaker and award-winning author of Watertight Marketing, Bryony Thomas, the masterclass was a real eye-opener in terms of reminding businesses that quality is better than quantity when it comes to social following.
Bryony spoke about which social tools and techniques to use to influence a buying decision, the difference between an impulse and considered purchase and how to ensure that your business comes highly recommended. And I have to say, her style of presenting was completely captivating.
So what can you do right now that will benefit your business on social media? Here are three key points I took away from the class:
Consistency is more effective than creativity
When using social media it’s easy to fall into the trap of coming up with a super creative campaign that expertly engages your followers and then, a week or two later, forgetting about those followers until you launch your next campaign.
The same concept can be applied to yo-yo dieting. You put all your effort into eating healthily and cutting down your calories for a few weeks, but then you fall off the wagon and pile all of the weight that you lost back on. Until of course, you attempt to cut your calories again and a vicious cycle ensues, which does not bring sustainable results.
When you lack consistency on your social channels, people lose interest and go elsewhere for their updates and interaction, taking your potential sales with them. They seek out a business that values them and demonstrates its appreciation with constant giveaways, new blog content, fun tweets or engaging Facebook photos.
If you find yourself too short on time or staff to sit on Twitter for seven hours, schedule in a short amount of time each day (say 10-20 minutes) which you dedicate solely to updating your social channels. Make a daily commitment to your social media and your customers will thank you.
Social media should be used in different ways for different types of purchases
At her masterclass, Bryony constantly brought us back to the idea of low risk and high risk purchases and how social media can be used to assist each one.
A ‘low risk’ purchase is one made on impulse and the deciding factor is usually based on either emotion OR logic. Here, social media is all about awareness and reaching out to those customers (whether new or existing) who are keen to buy something immediately. It might be payday and they’re eager to splash the cash on a new pair of headphones… NOW. Connecting with your customer isn’t as important in this case, as they’re not too fussed about whether you’re taking the time to get to know them. They just want to buy something.
On the other hand, a ‘high risk’ purchase is thought about for a greater length of time and often involves emotion AND logic. This means that social media has a more important role in truly engaging with the customer and creating an impact that they cannot ignore, eventually swaying their decision and convincing them to buy with you.
Taking into account what type of purchase your customer might be making (are you selling hats or holidays?) will help you to create a more effective social strategy.
Trade in your funnel for a bucket
Funnel marketing is often praised and acknowledged as being the best way to target customers and drive sales. But Bryony argues that trading in your funnel for a bucket is a better option.
Instead of spending the most amount of time raising awareness around your business and trying to reach a plethora of new followers, even out your time a bit more and focus on your existing consumer base too. As shown by the structure of a bucket (which is more of an even shape all the way down than a funnel), split your time fairly between sparking interest in your product, trialling new campaigns and deepening existing relationships with older followers.
If you’re often tied up thinking of new ways to promote your business and curating sales material for new customers, it is likely that you’re spending less time interacting with the customers you’ve already won over. But those same customers can prove invaluable at helping you to promote your business and improving your sales!
Spending those extra hours on building loyal and lasting connections with your current consumers can result in some brilliant recommendations on and off social media, which will then filter down (or up if you’re still thinking of the funnel), attracting more new fans online and eventually, more new business.
As Bryony says: “Social media is the most powerful marketing tool you’ve been given in recent years to earn the right to someone’s time” – so make sure you’re using it wisely!