To reach 50 million users, it took Radio 38 years, TV 13 years, the Internet 4 years, Apple’s iPod 3 years while Facebook added 100 million users in just nine months. Social media is a cross-cultural, political, gender and generation phenomenon and accordingly presents an ample opportunity to generate sales leads. Though social media is a powerful tool to find target audiences and build relationships, ultimately, it should serve as a referral tool to your product or service offering — typically on a branded webpage. That said, to funnel users to your website, there are several steps:
Craft a compelling brand message — Users want to identify with a brand. Consider Nike’s identity. Customers buy Nike because the brand gives them the confidence to succeed — much like an effective coach. To build a compelling brand message, personify you brand by using adjectives and images of people your brand would be if it were a person. By thinking of your brand as a person, it will help build a compelling brand story and message. (visit Sparxoo’s brand resource page for more articles on crafting a compelling brand message)
Identify and focus on 2-3 social networks — There are dozens upon dozens of social networks across the web. Unless you have unlimited resources, you’ll be hard pressed to penetrate most of them. To determine which is right for you and your efforts, identify the social network your customers are most likely to join. If they are design-savvy Gen Yers, consider Tumblr or if they enjoy photography, Flickr might be the best place to begin building your brand. Try to think beyond Facebook and MySpace. Yes, nearly every demographic is under the Facebook umbrella and there are reasons to use Facebook, but take a moment to confirm that’s where you’ll get the most impact. Consider the opportunity to have more intimate relationship with prospective customers at a smaller, more focused community.
Build a sales funnel — After you’ve used your brand personality and message to find and target users, you must direct them to your website to gather additional information through expanded product offerings. What information should you gather? Start with email address, company and potentially a phone number. But users won’t just fork over their personal information — you must create a compelling reason or a carrot at the end of the stick. It’s not good enough to have a website. Consider a free trial offer of your new software or provide a free 30 minute consultation. Once you have their information, consider connecting your information to a sales and newsletter manager such as SalesForce and Constant Contact. From there, you can begin building stronger relationships with participants.
Deepen relationships with participants — Not everyone that visits your site or social profile wants to participate. Typically, very few stay for more than a couple of minutes, leave and never return. However, there is a small percentage of users that might comment on a white paper via SlideShare.net, send an email with a question about your new video or respond to a newsletter. When the participant reaches out, they are saying I care about what you’re doing. Respond in a timely manner and ensure all questions are answered. The user could be your next client.
Make the sale — Not every person that reaches out to you wants your product or service. However, after the user has read several white papers or you have a dialog with them, it’s fair to assume they’re interested in your product or service offering. The next step is making the sale. If the user has clearly benefited from several white papers, chances are they will pay for them. Or, if a user has a dialog with you, steer the conversation towards the product.
At the end of the day, you might receive 10,000 visits to your site. Of those 10,000, maybe only 1,000 sign up for your free trial offer. Of those 1,000, only 250 enjoyed it so much they would be willing to pay a small fee. Of those 250, maybe only 75 will pay for the premium product. That means it took 10,000 referrals to obtain 75 premium sales. Growing social media presents a powerful way of reaching those 10,000 quickly by funneling traffic to your free product or service offering. When we hear there are 400 million Facebook users, and millions of users on LinkedIn, Reddit, Orkut, MySpace and a slew of other sites, our eyes widen at the potential to capture them all. Focus and effectively convey your brand message in a coordinated way to proceed from intrigued stranger to sold customer.
Image by B S K from Stock.Xchng