A question we see often is where social media fits into the sales funnel. Should you consider and treat them like leads? Or prospects? Or what?
We are used to somewhat traditional methods of marketing, where a given marketing campaign will drive interest into the top of your funnel, which you can then convert down to a sale.
Unlike a television ad or any other type of marketing campaign, with social media you are not (should not) be solely trying to drive sales. You should be building community and loyalty around your brand and what it represents, which will eventually pay off in the forms of sales and referrals. In that sense, it is not a direct (short-term) lead generator (unless you run a specific contest/campaign for that purpose). However, being on social media and using it right creates a very sustainable base for future sales.
People who follow you on social media have indeed expressed an interest in your brand (and even endorse it), but still may not have an interest in buying from you just yet. They are therefore not a ‘lead’, but they are still in-tuned with your brand and listening to your communications. Such as with a commercial, a billboard, or a banner ad on a website that are shown to a person regardless if they want to see it or not, on social media people are saying “I want to hear what you have to say” when they click Like or Follow.
And so to accommodate social media into the picture, we add a new and wider piece of the funnel at the top. This is what we could call the ‘Receptive Audience‘. They are not just part of the general awareness pool since they follow you, and are still not quite a lead. They are in between.
So what are the implications of this new piece to the sales funnel?
Well, you treat a lead and a prospect differently, right? The ‘receptive audience’ should also be treated differently. They may have liked you on Facebook or followed you on Twitter, but this does not mean they’re looking to make a purchase.
You should focus on intriguing them with your content – not pushing them towards a sale. This is why only 1 out of 10 publications on social networks should be promotional of your products/services. The other 9 of those posts should be strictly for the user’s benefit (educational / entertaining / useful, etc). They say social media is the softest soft sell for a reason.
Because not all followers on social media will eventually purchase from you at all, this part of the funnel must be much larger. This means you must develop a wide reach on social media to have that boil down to sufficient sales in the end. The good part is that building your base can be easily done with the right strategy and social media’s inherent ‘sharing’ nature.
Social media is not just about the number of fans or followers you have. Sure, you need a decent audience to be able to have them make their way all the way down the funnel to a sale, but without engagement those followers will never make the jump from Receptive Audience to Leads. You need to intrigue them with your content and influence them progressively over time.
Because your fans and followers may all mature at different times towards becoming a lead, you need to make it available for them to do so – without pushing it on them. Setup methods for people to learn more about your products or services or ask questions. Make your website link prominent in your description, allow direct messages to your Facebook page, offer free e-books or downloads, etc. Then, use your 1 in 10 posts to reinstate the fact that these methods of becoming a lead are available.