social media how toHave you been able to turn your fans and followers into active prospects?

Are you interested in monetizing the social media channel?

Keep reading for five tips to turn fans and followers into a revenue channel.

But first…

Do Fans Mean Business?

Marketers have made tremendous strides in growing their audiences on social media channels. There have been concerns over whether social media could only be successful in business-to-consumer (B2C) companies, but we’re starting to see great case studies in both business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) brands.

In looking at the B2B software space, we can see tremendous success from companies like HubSpot, InfusionSoft and HootSuite that have grown large numbers of followers by providing valuable content to their target audiences.

In the B2C space, our passion for brands like Old Spice, Coca-Cola and Ford have been reignited by creative social media campaigns. But what now?

Have these large followings contributed to revenue for these brands? The next natural question for C-level executives and marketers is, “Can we monetize our social media following?”

As pressures have risen for solid measurements and a demonstration of social media ROI, more companies are recognizing that revenue generation has to be a top priority of social media strategies.

This doesn’t give license for tacky sales pitches on Twitter. Rather, it opens the door for a more strategic approach to social media content, content distribution and measurement.

To get started, there are a few things you’ll need to prepare for.

Tip #1: Understand Your Sales Funnel

It’s pretty difficult to place leads into the sales funnel if you don’t have a clear understanding of the sales process that supports it.

The first step in monetizing the social media channel is to have a clear understanding of which marketing channels are currently contributing leads to the funnel, what the sales follow-up process is and how long it takes to close the sale.

You’ll need to figure out where social media fits into the equation.

  • Will social media leads respond to existing sales processes?
  • Where are social media leads in the buying process?
  • Will they convert at the same rates?

To truly understand how social media leads behave, you’ll need to do some testing. It is unlikely that social media leads will perform the same way that other types of marketing leads do.

This is because with social media, more commonly you are reaching potential buyers earlier in the sales process, before your competition. Getting potential buyers’ attention early has tremendous value that can be overlooked if expectations haven’t been set for how the social media lead will perform.

If you compare social media with traditional sales, in essence social media adds three levels that extend your sales funnel to provide more opportunities for conversion.

funnel with goals

Social media adds three levels of brand awareness to the sales funnel, providing more opportunities to convert prospects.

Tip #2: Optimize Your Path to Conversion

It’s important to make sure it is super-easy for potential buyers to buy. We tend to be fairly lazy consumers and if we have to search out how to buy from you, we are less likely to convert.

Therefore, take a look at your Facebook page. Does a potential buyer have to click on the Info tab to find your website, then go to your website and figure out how to buy your products or services? If so, you are likely missing out on the opportunity to convert Facebook fans into purchasers.

Create a tab that allows fans to convert within Facebook and you’ll likely see a spike in new revenue.

Success in social media relies on having strong content to share on social networks, which many times resides on the corporate blog.

Look at your blog and make sure there are conversion points that will in essence turn every post into a landing page. Make sure you test multiple calls to action to figure out what works best at converting social media traffic.

funnel graphics

Understand the path to conversion from social media so you can optimize each step.

Tip #3: Provide Opportunities for Soft Conversion

The social media lead likely enters the sales funnel earlier in the buying process. He or she may not be ready to make a purchase; however, you have an opportunity to convert interested social media fans and followers into email subscribers.

Soft leads are people willing to provide their email address in exchange for highly valuable and relevant content. These are valuable leads who have said they are interested in your content; but they haven’t necessarily said they are interested in your product yet.

If you combine email marketing campaigns that provide a mix of content that helps to push them through the sales funnel while providing valuable information, you will have a better opportunity to convert social media’s soft leads into potential buyers.

Tip #4: Nurture the Social Media Lead Differently

It’s important to understand the difference between the social media lead and the traditional lead because traditional sales-related email campaigns will kill the sale with the social media buyer.

Because social media leads may enter the sales funnel at an earlier stage in the buying process, you will need to adjust your email campaigns to provide value and content that will help drive the decision-making process.

This will require a strategy that includes decision-making content. Decision-making content is designed to answer questions that commonly arise when purchasing your product, overcome objections that are frequently heard in the sales process and provide opportunities to convert into a hard lead.

A hard lead is someone who has taken an action that directly indicates he or she is now interested in your product. This means the lead is now in the research and consideration phase of the buying cycle and you have an opportunity to convert the lead into a buyer.

Through your other social media efforts, you have been able to develop trust with prospects; therefore, if you continue to show thought leadership in helping them to make a decision, they will be more likely to purchase from you rather than the competitor they don’t have a relationship with.

Having a combination of decision-making and topically relevant content that is sent to soft leads will help you identify when the lead makes the jump to product interest.

At that point, you can follow up with traditional product-based information and put the lead in the traditional sales processMany times you can recognize this transition if you identify pages and calls to action that indicate product interest, such as signing up for a product demonstration, attending a product-based webinar or downloading decision-making content.

Tip #5: Measure Your Results

Finally, the only way to identify where leads are in the sales process is to measure your efforts.

The quickest and most cost-effective way to monitor social media conversions is to apply Google analytics campaign tracking to the links you shorten and post on social networks.

The combination of Google Analytics and HootSuite Pro makes this easy. Once you have the data, it is important to put it into a format that tells the management team what they want to know.

Use these metrics to demonstrate success through the sales funnel:

  • Cost per impression
  • Cost per engagement
  • Cost per soft lead
  • Cost per hard lead
  • Cost per sale

What do you think? Have you successfully converted social media fans and followers into revenue? Are you still trying to figure out how to do this? Join the discussion and leave your questions and comments in the box below.

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  • Terral at LoBoy

    Great info – THANKS!

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  • Thanks so much! I’m thrilled you enjoyed the post. 🙂

  • Hi Nichole, 

    Really nice post! One more thing I would add that is crucial to measuring your social leads is tracking the original lead source. When setting up and tracking social campaigns it’s essential to understand the original source of that lead: Twitter, Facebook, Slideshare, G+ etc. Doing so will help you understand which channels are generating the best leads in regards to your particular content and messaging. Here at Marketo, we find that 40% of our customers first come into contact with us through a piece of our content in social. We then track the original source, then score and nurture each one through the funnel. 


  • Marywine

    Worthless info, really, since Facebook makes it VERY difficult to acquire info or present ecommerce, and with the advent of Timeline, even my clients ads will be “less visible”.

  • Great post Nichole. 

    One thing to add is that access to special offers and discounts is consistently cited as one of the primary reasons that people connect with brands via social networks. Therefore a great way to convert these fans/followers into customers is to give them an exclusive offer. 

    Our customers have been having great success using our new application, Wishpond Social Offers, to convert Facebook fans into customers. You can find out more about Social Offers on our site:

  • melaleucareviews

    This sort of measuring is definitely good. Great contribution Jason. Besides Google Analytics do you have any suggestions for tools that help measure this from start to finish?

  • Nichole, you’re absolutely right with your first point. Many companies don’t even think about their sales cycles when launching a social media campaign. 

    Great post!


  • Nichole_Kelly

    Jason – Thank you so much for commenting. The problem with attribution is a complex one. My preference is to track the entire campaign history because social media can create the lead, come into play in the middle, or close the lead. Without full campaign tracking it is tough to tell where social media is delivering the most value. I’d love to hear more about your tracking for Marketo’s efforts. Can you contact me offline?

  • Tim Schmidt

    Funny you say that about Facebook, since FB was referenced in half of a tip. If FB will not work for you, move on.

  • Nichole_Kelly

    Hi Marywine – Thanks so much for commenting! Facebook’s changes have made it more difficult to automatically collect the information, but as far as I know you can still have a landing page with an embedded lead form. I’m still catching up on all the changes though, so perhaps this changed as well. I wish you the best of luck as we all work to transition our Facebook plans to accommodate the new rules.

  • Patti – Thank you so much for commenting. When you think about the sales cycle it certainly sheds some light on where social media may not be making it easy enough for leads to convert. Have a great day!

  • Absolutely incorrect. You can build a form within Facebook to collect leads and sync in back into your marketing automation software. Not hard to do, just takes some creativity and a developer. Once you get the leads from Facebook you can score them and put them into a nurturing campaign and ultimately drive them down the funnel to a conversion. 

  • Thanks for the reply. Just started following you on Twitter so feel free to reach out to me over a DM. 

  • Working at Marketo I have the luxury of using our own software for tracking every campaign I do in social. It’s important for me to know the impact that my marketing programs have on bottom line revenue, so I set up campaigns for each channel and measure throughout the entire process. 

  • Duncan – Thanks for joining in the conversation. For some brands discounts and offers work well, for others exclusive content works well. It just depends on the industry and type of product or service. Thanks for sharing.

  • Great post Nichole. I think the keyword that separates social media leads from other channels is “intent”. Many times, people are on social networks for content discovery and connecting with people. Search engines, for example, are used more often with sales intent. There are exceptions to this statement, but this is what I’ve seen from my own experience and analysis. 

  • Kris de Leon

    Thanks for this article Nichole. I really like how you elaborated on Tip #4 – nurturing relationships in social media can be different than with traditional leads. 

  • Mark

    Brilliant article thanks. A lot of my B2B customers are reluctant to use social media for fear of the lack of conversions. But I can see how this makes everything easier. Thanks.

  • Always good stuff here at Social Media Examiner. I love the back and forth and insights to the many solutions out there. Thanks everyone for contributing!

  • Hi Nichole,
    Thank you for the article.  Can you provide an example of person or company that has a “tab” that will help to create a sale within FB?

  • Here is a B2B example of a form embedded into FB and tied directly back to a database. 

    Hope this helps!

  • I would agree. The mindset is definitely different in social and it’s important to align communications strategies with the difference. Thanks so much for commenting! I hope you are doing well.

  • Kris – Thanks! I’m so glad you found the post useful. The difference with the social media lead is at the core of a successful lead generation strategy, for sure. 🙂

  • Mark – Thanks so much for commenting. I often hear that B2B companies are reluctant for the same reason. We have several B2B case studies we can point to and while I don’t have an exact timeline, I’d say that many of the earliest successes were in the B2B space.

  • Chris – Thanks so much for commenting. This is definitely a great community of sharing where many opinions are welcome. I hope you continue to participate in the discussion. 🙂

  • Hi Krista – I think Hubspot does a good job at this. Notice how they use content to drive the lead conversation into a soft lead. See their landing page here I hope this helps!

  • Hi Krista – I posted a link to the Hubspot fan page, but it looks like the link made it go into moderation. In the meantime, take a look at their page and click on the box for their welcome tab to see a good example. I hope this helps!

  • Teresa Bassham

    Thanks Nichole – a great article for me to share with my very small audience,  warm regards Teresa

  • Hi, very interesting post. It would be great if you could do another one in which you explain real life succesful examples, step by step, of companies that do it in different sectors.  I belive it would add more value.


    Antonio Basso

  • A great article Nichole. I would be very keen to know if anyone else has experienced a significant drop in their FB leads since the introduction of Timeline? Also, if there are other business/social media consultants out there who have fallen into the trap of giving away so much information via Social Media that they no longer earn a decent income. Thanks!

  • Teresa – I’m thrilled you enjoyed it. Thanks so much for sharing.

  • Tracey – Thanks for commenting. I would love to hear about these types of stories as well. If anyone knows any please share. 

  • Azmediamaven

    Ms. Kelly, Thank you so much for these tips. I am starting a social media marketing firm and these are the types of straightforward tips and information I can share with my clients and work with them on a social media strategy.

  • Thanks for your contribution. is a french service provider focusing on social media and we appreciate your post.

  • Thanks so much for commenting. I’m so glad you found the post to be useful for your business. 

  • Personally, I think selling to your social media community is a lot like selling at a cocktail party. I’m sure you could make a sale or two if you really worked the room but if you are the guy (or girl) that is walking into a black tie affair with a handful of business cards, people will start to avoid you.  Same with your community…try too hard to sell to them and they go bye bye pretty fast.  The better approach is to continually add tons of value and make people want to buy from you instead.  

  • Nick Paul

    I want to question whether having a sales portal within Facebook is such a beneficial tool. I read recently about a number of brands pulling their sales portals from Facebook tabs in favour of directing their customers to their regular home page. Also, the number of people actually visiting pages and especially tabs after the inital “like” is incredibly low compared with the views of posts in the newsfeed. It can often be a big investment to develop an in-Facebook sales portal where the number of fans who will actually see it are relatively small.

    From my experience I’ve found success in directing fans to specials on the main website through wall-posts, educating fans on service offering and how to contact & purchase and by making the URL of the site clear in the first line of the about us section. This way when engagements happen, even on non sales-related posts, there’s no need for the customer to poke around on the page to find out what to do, our brand it brought to front of mind and they simply visit the site to book.

  • Great article! I’m confused on the difference between a hard and soft lead. Different stage of the buying process?

  • Jeff – Thanks so much for commenting. I’m thrilled you enjoyed the post.

  • Nick – Excellent perspectives. It is certainly worth testing which approach works well for a company. We tend to start with the approach you’ve outlined and if it isn’t successful we look for ways to drive engagement inside Facebook. The goal is to make it super easy to buy or convert into a soft lead. If your clients are willing to go to your home page and find what they are looking for, that’s awesome. However, there may be others that when faced with the barrier of leaving Facebook may be less inclined to follow through. Definitely worth testing, for sure. Thanks so much for the comment!

  • Matt – A soft lead is someone who has provided their contact information in exchange for content that isn’t necessarily about your product, but it may be relevant to the prospect for other reasons. For example, Hubspot put out an e-book about Pinterest. That e-book doesn’t necessarily dictate interest in the product, but is highly relevant to marketers who are their target market. A hard lead is someone who has provided contact information that is directly linked to interest in the product, i.e. a lead form, a content download for an e-book about your products, etc. In the example of Hubspot, they have e-books that are related to generating more leads online, which is what their product helps marketers accomplish. They also have product webinars, and the ability to schedule a demo of their product. These would be hard leads. Does that help? Thanks so much for commenting!

  • Undoubtedly great post teaching very remarkable points which should be used effectively over social media to get even more conversion.

  • Absolutely. An offer doesn’t have to be a discount, it could potentially be an exclusive free piece of valuable cotent, or similar. As you mentioned, ti definitely depends on the brand, and what they are trying to achieve. 

  • Nice post Nichole! I think social media is very powerful when used correctly. At the very least it’ll help to build brand awareness. Unless you’re Coca Cola or Apple, in which case virtually everyone already knows your brand!

    When it comes to followers, its most important to have quality, targeted followers. I really wonder why people still think its great to have 10,000 Twitter followers, and many are willing to pay to buy followers, who will never interact with them and never buy from their business.

  • With the Timeline Changes there are a lot of unhappy people who spent money having a custom Facebook Page made and they don’t know how to make a Timeline Cover so they will have to pay someone to do one or go without. I can’t help everyone but I am willing to have 1,000 Custom Facebook Timeline Covers made for FREE for 1,000 business owners. This is my way to “Pay It Forward” and help some people. I know 1,000 isn’t a lot in the grand scheme of things but I am just doing my small part to help business owners out. People can get their FREE Custom Facebook Timeline Cover here

  • With the new Facebook timeline, how do you create opportunities for conversion in a static form on the Facebook page? Apps still exist, but they’re not as prevalent (on that left-side bar) as before. Thoughts?

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  • Nichole_Kelly

    Antonio – Excellent feedback. Thanks so much. I’m working on a series of case studies as we speak. 🙂 Thanks for commenting.

  • Absolutely Marc. I agree 100%. What the post aims to achieve is to make it easy to buy when they are ready. In the same analogy, imagine that you were at that cocktail party and someone came up and asked you for your contact information so they could follow up for a sales conversation. Would you want to say, well if you go to my website my contact information is there? Of course not, you’d be prepared to hand them a business card and follow up when you got back to the office. In social we want to be prepared for the natural transition to the sale when you’ve done your job really well and people decide they are interested in buying. Does that make sense?

  • Thanks! I’m so glad you found the post useful.

  • Mark – I’m with you! It’s about quality not quantity. 200 loyal followers who interact on a weekly basis are far more valuable to an organization than 10,000 disengaged followers. Thanks so much for commenting.

  • Nichole_Kelly

    Blog Mutt – I think apps actually make it easier to highlight your tabs and have a better call to action. Rather than being text on the left side of the screen, now you can select an eye-catching image with text to tell people what is behind the tab. While you are limited to 3 because the 4th is reserved for photos from what I understand, it forces you to pick the three most important. Some companies went crazy with tabs and created way too many. While you can still have other tabs that show in the drop down list, picking the three most important helps to ensure these pages have a distinct purpose. What do you think?

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  • Couldn’t agree more!  You should always be ready to sell when the time comes and someone wants to buy….the problem a lot of people make is they are ready to sell much too soon and scare away any potential prospects 🙂

  • If one is making use of the social media to attract people and to make them known about their presence then to drive them to buy your product you need to make meaningful interaction with them and try to explain them that why your product is better than others. And if you provide them the best quality deals then definitely they will attract to purchase your product and you can raise your sales through social media. Anyway thanks for sharing such nice information with us.

  • Robert Gilmour

    I have only one problem with this – understanding the sales funnel. I am in the hotels and travel industry. All who operate in it know that the process is non-linear, in fact can be very complex. if you can point me in the direction of a usable definition of it and how to understand it as it applies to travel, i’d be very grateful (and amazed!)

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  • Nichole_Kelly

    Robert – I would argue that the sales funnel for the hotel industry is the same as for other industries, but the big difference is how often people cycle through the funnel. Think about the purchase pattern…I have a trip coming up and I need a hotel. I can either search for area hotels or I can see if my favorite hotel has a location where I’m staying. If you have done a good job of staying top of mind and driving my preference for your brand (exposure/influence), I’m going to seek out your hotel (engagement). I will check my dates and make a reservation (action/conversion), I stay at the hotel and have a wonderful experience. I join your rewards program(retention). You send me emails about my points and special offers. (exposure) At my next trip, I go through the same process. It is important to recognize that customers are going through this process every time they make a decision to stay at your hotel. But if you’ve done a good job they breeze through the top three parts of the funnel very quickly and move right to booking  a reservation. If you haven’t done a good job at keeping the customer engaged and brand loyal between stays, they are more likely to seek out your competitors and price shop. Does that make sense? 

    I think Marriott has done a great job at keeping customers engaged in between visits and their rewards program really encourage you to continue staying with them.  With their variety of property types it makes it easy to stay on both personal and business travel. Marriott provides customer service through their social channels to ensure customers had a good stay and if not, they rectify the situation. I would say one of the hardest things to combat for business travelers is the loyalty to a hotel chains rewards programs. Once a consumer has accumulated a certain range of points it will be more difficult to get them to switch. What do you think?

  • Robert Gilmour

    Nichole, i hear what you are saying, i wish it were that simple as in your first para, the sales process is nowhere near as straightforward as this

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  • saucyhorse

    Really useful article Nicole

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  • Jprouphael

    Hello Nicole, thanks for the above, I have enjoyed reading it, especially seeing there is serious conversations and threads finally to turn social media into a proper money maker for companies!

    I am a Masters student in a university in London with few years of marketing experience, and my Masters dissertation is on ‘Social Media Fashion Brands’ fans: spectators or actual buyers’. I still cannot get to grips with how much emphasis is placed on social media today without no actual and accurate metrics in place today to measure its overall efficency in leading directly to sales. No doubt it is a great tool for communication and brand building and updating etc, but the constant question is why has no brand come forward saying for example I have 5000 Fans which i have invited purely to an event, out of the 5000, 200 attended, and out of the 200, 50 bought. Wouldn’t an experiment as easy as that help us better understand the power of these ‘like’ buttons that till date doesnt seem to mean much more than “i have my eye on you”! The social media craze has been around for over 5 years now, don’t you find that simple tests like the one I am suggesting above could help at least start a discussion on the potential of social media generating sales?

    Any comment is appreciated if any insights on experiments already carried, and would surely help with writing my dissertation!

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  • JBR


    Is there any data as of yet that shows that a social media presence actually converts into sales for a company? If so, please point me in that direction. It’s one thing to follow a brand or “like” one, but how does this translate into sales for a company?

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  • Thank  Nichole!. Your tips will useful for me to monetizie my social media leads

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  • Social media marketing is a tricky one and success in this kind of channel is never easy. You have to made your own strategy to catch and successfully engage to your target prospects. First and foremost you must understand every lead, it lead source because leads that comes from different platform / media have their own distinct behaviour and you must know that to speed up the conversion process.

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  • Christian Biz Traveler

    Great post – thanks for putting it together.

  • Thanks for the sharing and grate tip for new starters

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  • Your content is very interesting and kindly add more detail, thanks.