4 Steps to Selling With Social Media

social media how toAre you wondering why your social media efforts aren’t working?

Social media success sometimes appears arbitrary.

Perhaps you’ve wondered, “Why does company X generate leads and business from their social activity while my company wastes resources on blogs that don’t get read and tweets that go unanswered?”

Social media is so new, sometimes the path to success is unclear and it’s easy to lose your way.

If you want to demystify the experience and improve your ROI (return on investment), you need to make sure that your marketing and campaigns include these four essential components:

  • Attraction: How do you attract qualified leads to your website or business?
  • Retention: How do you stay in contact with people after they’ve left your website or store?
  • Conversion: How do you get people to “buy now” or move further down the sales funnel?
  • Measurement: How do you determine if any of this is working?

By following this model, you’ll be able to ensure that you’ll successfully navigate your way through this untamed wilderness.

What follows is a detailed map you can follow.

mint

Why is accounting software more popular on Facebook than you?

#1: Attraction: How to draw people to you

For most of us, we want to attract qualified traffic to our website. While there are many ways to do this—including search engine optimization, traditional advertising and referrals—I’ll focus here on social media.

To succeed with social media, you’ll need to have a content strategy. This means talking to your ideal customers about what they’re interested in, and having those conversations where they hang out. (For more details, check out How to Develop a Social Media Content Strategy.)

Depending on your audience, you may need to become more active on Facebook or join groups where your customers talk on LinkedIn.

groups

Chances are that LinkedIn has a few groups where your ideal customer hangs out.

If they’re not active on social networking sites—or can’t access them during the working day—you’ll need to create blog posts and videos that help them solve their biggest problems.

kvi

Knight Vision helps businesses solve their media coverage problems. Hopefully those businesses read this post before any bad coverage!

While developing your social media profiles, a few things to keep in mind:

  • Brand your profiles: It’s free or nearly free to set up a blog, create a YouTube channel or build a profile on popular social networking sites.

Because of this, everyone does it. To rise above the pack and establish your credibility, you’ll need to create a branded experience that will immediately help build trust with your audience. This may mean a custom Twitter background, a Facebook landing page or a detailed work history on your LinkedIn profile.

youtube nike football

Nike scores with their branded experience on YouTube.

  • Go deep, not wide: Don’t try to be active on every social network out there. Instead, focus on becoming great at one or two platforms where you’re most likely to engage your prospects. Once you’ve mastered those, you can add more to your plate.
  • Be consistent: One blog post, one video or one tweet won’t save your business, no matter how clever it is. Success comes from consistency. Your customers don’t want to work with a one-hit wonder; they want to work with someone who has consistently established credibility and expertise over time, which shows that the person should be around for a long time to come.
emarketingvids

Emarketingvids build its following through consistently creating content of interest to their audience.

  • Create paths back to your site: Although being too salesy can turn prospects off, you should always have links to your website so they can learn more if they wish. Ben Pickering has a great article entitled 5 Tips for Driving Facebook Fans to Your Website that gives some suggestions on how to do just that.
Takeaway: Branded, consistent activity on social media sites where your customers already hang out will drive more qualified leads to your site.

#2: Retention: How to keep people coming back

If you’re selling a big-ticket item, chances are your prospect isn’t buying from your site without looking at your competitors’ sites as well. Likewise, if you’re selling a product that needs to be regularly repurchased—like contact lenses or morning coffee—your prospect will continually see competing offers.

How do you stay top of mind and keep the lines of communication open after someone has left your website? This is where retention comes in.

While “traditionally,” email marketing has been the favored tool of the Internet marketer, these days social media plays a critical part.

From the home page, we’re asking people to like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and subscribe to our blog posts or YouTube channel… all of which send them offsite.

This goes against everything we used to know: You never send people away after you’ve captured their attention! (It’s like the Vegas casinos: Never show a gambler the exit sign.)

However, getting people to like, follow and subscribe to us gives us the opportunity to continue to engage with them. We can build a relationship by better understanding them through listening and helping them.

sme

Social Media Examiner engages their audience on their website and on Facebook.

To maximize your retention activities, make sure that it’s easy for someone to engage you in your social media activities right from your home page and every other page on your site.

Remember: Always provide value to your ideal customer with your social media activities. You’re only one click away from being unfollowed, unsubscribed from and unliked if you’re not providing value.

Takeaway: For certain sales cycles, you’ll need to engage your prospects with social media even after they’ve left your site… Just make sure you’re providing value wherever you ask your audience to follow.

#3: Conversion: Moving from liker to buyer

Improved conversion rates (whether it’s a “buy now” button or filling out a contact form) are a natural outcome of being active in social media.

The latest HubSpot “State of Inbound Marketing” report showed that companies that blog more have more consistent sales. Companies also report that social media has made the biggest gain in lead generation activities.

more important

Social media continues to grow as a lead generation tool for businesses.

Anecdotally, at my company’s own site, our highest converting traffic comes from blogs and our YouTube channel. In fact, visitors who first watched one of our videos at YouTube are over 700% more likely to fill out a contact form than the average site visitor. Are you ready for your closeup?

For a more detailed look at conversion rates and the difference between social media leads and other leads, check out Nichole Kelly’s post, 4 Tips for Converting Social Media Leads.

Takeaway: Your social media activity increases your site’s conversion rates because your expertise and credibility have already been established.

#4: Measurement: Making wise decisions

The concern many companies have about social media is that it lacks accountability and tracking, yet this just isn’t true.

Start by installing some robust traffic reporting software on your website, such as Google Analytics. These tools will give you insight into where your traffic is coming from, so you can determine if your Facebook activity is paying off or has been a waste of time.

traffic sources

I was surprised to see this much traffic coming from StumbleUpon. Time to invest more effort there!

You can also see which of your blog posts bring in the most traffic, which gives you insight into what type of content you should create moving forward, and perhaps even what type of services you should be offering.

Further, you can set up Goals in Google Analytics to determine where your best traffic is coming from. For a step-by-step walkthrough of setting up Goals in Google Analytics, you can check out this post, Tracking Conversions: Does Your Website Turn Suspects Into Prospects?

You don’t need to stop with website analytics, however. Facebook Insights gives you great, um, insight into your Facebook activity, and EdgeRank Checker is a freemium tool that provides suggestions for maximizing your Facebook activity.

insights

Accumulating fans is the easy part… Can you engage them?

YouTube also offers analytics, breaking down your audience by gender, age and location, as well as showing you which videos are the most popular and what caused them to attract more visitors.

youtube insights

We appeal to middle-aged men. Maybe it's time to hit the gym.

Takeaway: Measuring the results of your social media activity is easy if you use some free and inexpensive tools to track traffic and conversions at your website.

Conclusion

Social media is still in its infancy, and a lot of the tools and techniques we currently read about will be outdated by next year, if not by next month. (See MySpace, Flock, Google Buzz, and pinging news aggregators with our RSS feeds.)

So rather than focusing myopically on flavor-of-the-month tactics, make sure that all of your social media campaigns include the formula of attraction, retention, conversion and measurement, and you will have a sustainable plan for success.

Your turn!

What do you think? Do your social media campaigns include all of these components? Is there something we didn’t include that you feel is a requirement for success? Leave your questions and comments in the box below.

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About the Author, Rich Brooks

Rich is president of flyte new media, podcasts at The Marketing Agents, and founded The Agents of Change conference. He helps small businesses succeed through search, social & mobile marketing. Other posts by »




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  • http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/ Michael A. Stelzner

    Thanks Jermaine!  Rich does great work.

  • http://about.me/jkiss James Kiss

    Great points! Thank you for making this list and sharing!

  • http://treasurycafe.blogspot.com/ david k waltz

    I must say, this site definitely walks the talk. That little safari dude (does he have a name?) with the one big eye is a very memorable brand icon. And the content is very useful, I think not only to beginners like me but others as well.

    Now if only I could get my google analytics to work right…

  • http://twitter.com/ProfitBankMoney Profit Bank Money-RM

    I like your ideas. Any internet marketer will tell you that a list is the lifeblood of an
    online business and retention of your customers will improve whatever
    email marketing campaign you run. By using Rich Brooks tips to retain your
    customers your online success is more likely to happen. Thanks for this great tips Rich

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  • http://twitter.com/therichbrooks therichbrooks

    Thanks, Jermaine! I’ll have to check out your site soon.

  • http://twitter.com/therichbrooks therichbrooks

    Thanks, David. What’s the problem you’re experiencing with your analytics? As far as the safari dude, I want to say it’s Scout. Mike?

  • http://twitter.com/therichbrooks therichbrooks

    Thanks! So much of our long term success comes down to building our list over time.

  • Chefrachelleboucher

    Excellent!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_ZJ2VUSYEZ3VFLAIK3V3WG4BUQM Fabrizio

    Great post and great blog. One of The place for top resources for marketers. I like the lean, but rich, list for success: you can day a lot with few words and a lot of cases. Michael your blog itself it’s a case of successful marketing

  • Ashley

    If your social media isn’t bringing in sales, then it’s not working. Great steps!

  • http://www.facebook.com/#!/InTheSpotlightMarketing Kaitlyn

    Great tips! I agree… providing value is one of the most important ways to retain people. I use google analytics for my job and I feel that it is a great way of gaining insight to where our traffic comes from and I can than use it to determine where I want to focus my marketing efforts and helps me decide what kind of content I want to continue posting. 

    Check out our website http://its-marketing.com/ and our free Hilite service! 

    Thanks for a great blog post 

  • http://twitter.com/therichbrooks therichbrooks

    Kaitlyn,

    It always comes back to value…but also understanding what value means to your community. Thanks for leaving a comment!

  • http://twitter.com/therichbrooks therichbrooks

    Agreed…assuming that sales is the goal. Of course, for most small businesses, that’s EXACTLY the goal. :)

  • http://twitter.com/therichbrooks therichbrooks

    Agreed; Mike is a great blogger that attracts other good bloggers.

  • http://treasurycafe.blogspot.com/ david k waltz

    Rich,

    Thanks for the reply. I also like that Scout has a map for informative posts, and a microphone for interviews, you can almost tell what the piece is going to be about without even reading the title. 

    My analytics issue: Example, I was linked to another sites posting last week, and on my Blogger stats it showed a 2-fold traffic increase over a 2 day period. In Analytics, it said I had a grand total of 3 visitors during those 2 days. I did something wrong in my Analytics set-up obviously

  • 1916easterrisingcoachtour

    For any article to be as good or relevant for the rest of 2011 will be difficult. Excellent advice.

  • http://www.ymarketingmatters.com/ Yasmin

    Thanks Rich and SME for this well done, practical, useful and in depth post! Tons of great information and insights.  It’s good to know that I am on the same page, and aligned with my thinking and approach to Social Media for my SMB clients. Sometimes, it’s difficult to get the results one wants or forecasts, and one needs to re-look at tactics, content, etc and figure out how one can do better. And sometimes its so easy, it just flows…and viola, you have all the social media stars aligned in the constellation with awesome results and traction. Its an every evolving learning process!

  • http://twitter.com/therichbrooks therichbrooks

    Thanks, mom!

  • http://twitter.com/therichbrooks therichbrooks

    Even failure becomes success if we learn from it, which is why I recommend regularly checking your analytics. That’s the only way we can know if we’re making the impact we hoped for.

  • http://twitter.com/therichbrooks therichbrooks

    Although different stats programs show different results, that seems too extreme to be w/in reason. I’m guessing there’s a page or more on your site that didn’t get the code. Double check the code on the page in question and hopefully that will be the answer.

    I’ve written a lot on google analytics and created some videos. Maybe you can find some answers here: http://www.flyteblog.com/flyte/2009/06/the-ultimate-google-analytics-video-guide.html

    Good luck!

  • http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/ Michael A. Stelzner

    Scout it is :)

  • http://www.i95dev.com/ecommerce-magento Henry Louis

    As mentioned above, Social media plays very important role in our business development if we know the way of utilization. The above mentioned tips are very interesting to use the social media in business development. Thanks for sharing this information.

  • http://ceomarketingsummit.com/ Stanleyrao

    Interesting article! Retention of existing customers is important in any kind of business

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  • http://twitter.com/tobinslaven Tobin Slaven

    Nice work Rich! Always get a lot out of your posts on SocialMediaExaminer

  • http://www.IfSimply.com/ Keith Griffis

    I think the most important part of this is the content strategy. I am a bit biasd because the is what I speak about a lot, but it can make the difference between stumblin along with little success or becoming focused on your goals. Before you create any post, link, or video you should ask yourself, what is the point? What is my goal? Does this make sense for my “ideal” customer and goal.

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  • http://www.jacquesvh.com Jacques van Heerden

    The 1 line that can be taken out of this post to identify the important aspects is: “Identify your customers, target those customers, stay active on your social profiles and give out rewarding/quality content.” Great post, thanks!

  • http://www.singfreenow.com Mark Bosnian

    Informative post! I read this blog daily and just can’t get enough!

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  • http://www.adigaskell.org/blog Adi

    Some good points here, although the big one is the measurement.  Measuring traffic is very good but the bean counters will want to know whether it’s bringing in money.  Do that and you’ll really get your organisation on board with your social media efforts.

  • http://twitter.com/ChantalBonefaas Chantal Bonefaas

    Thanks for sharing these steps! Would this work for any company? Currently I am working for an organisation, who is desperate to sell more magazines, but not willing to become a ‘sales machine’. Second they have limited budget (read: no budget). They feel that their target group is so small and exclusive that social media will not contribute to their sales strategy. However, I think that this limited target group is an advantage instead of a disadvantage. Since the target group has specific interests, it should be easy to adapt to them through social media, right?

  • http://www.best-web-hosting-companies.com/ Kavya Hari

    Attraction should be most important task on here :) It will be most wanted part on here :)

  • Harriet

    Thanks for sharing this information.  I have tried social networking, but jewelry is such a saturated field and I can’t seem to convert views into sales.  There are so many choices on Etsy where I sell (or don’t), that I get discouraged with a great amount of views that do not turn into sales.  I have to think my jewelry is not as desirable as those that are successful.

  • http://www.TheArtofDiscipline.com/ Craig Desmarais

    Fantastic article!  Measurement is my biggest challenge right now.  Anyone know of some good articles or tools and processes for effectively measuring ROI?

  • http://twitter.com/buzzquotient buzzquotient

    Hi! Nice article! Engagement is big factor for conversions as it helps with brand awareness and brand retention. 

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  • http://twitter.com/testvergleich Tests und Vergleiche

    I m not sure and maybe someone else has already mentioned – but I think the topic of (authentic) interaction is missing here.

  • 2social2

    SocialGO #2 social website creator is quoted at LSE and has a marketcap of less then 5 million GBP! Shareprice .01GBP. SocialGO is very easy to use (drag and drop), a social website is created within minutes. Keeping full control over the content and thus stay in control over your privacy.

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