5 Social Media Mistakes That Hurt Your Sales : Social Media Examiner

social media how toIs social media NOT working for your company? Have you tried to show the return on investment (ROI) and it’s still negative?

If you’ve been using social media for a while and you’re still waiting for it to deliver positive revenue, here are some tips you can employ when your social media strategies are struggling to produce.

When you start any kind of social media activity, the ROI will probably be negative. Building revenue from social media activities takes time because you have to develop trust with your audience first.

However, there are many companies that have been using social media for more than 6 months and they’re still not able to show a positive ROI. Why? And where can you look to find potential sources of fallout?

Here are some activities that can kill any good social media strategy.

#1: You Have a Pushy Sales Strategy

Pushy salespeople kill trust.

Once social media brings in a lead, it falls into whatever the normal sales process is for the company. Most companies are not treating these leads any differently than their other leads. Here’s the challenge.

If your company has an approach that traditionally deals with what we call “fast” leads (that convert quickly and respond to multiple phone calls that ask when the person is going to be ready to buy), you may be turning your social media leads off with what’s perceived as “spammy” calls and messages.

We work hard to build relationships and develop trust in social media. Nothing kills that trust faster than screaming for the sale. Just remember that people LOVE to buy, but HATE to be sold.

TIP: Consider putting social media leads into a separate sales process with a different type of scripting.

Rather than asking when people are ready to buy, ask how you can be of service and what you can do to help them meet their needs. Use their answers to determine their time frame for purchase and gear your follow-ups around that.

#2: You’re Using the “Buy Now” Approach

You’ve seen it before—the follow-up email with the big “BUY NOW” button and nothing else in the message. This falls right into the same category as the sales strategy mentioned in #1 and can lead to a quick unsubscribe.

The typical email and communications strategy that you use for “other” leads may not be appropriate for those coming through social media. We expect a personalized response. Show you know who leads are and that you understand their needs. Some prospects are ready to buy now, but others are looking for information and resources and may not be in the “buying” phase.

TIP: It’s okay to have a Buy Now button in an email, but consider offering a personalized message based on what you know about the person and what he or she is trying to accomplish.

Acknowledge how you got his or her name and ask questions; don’t repeat marketing messaging. If prospects don’t click the Buy Now button the first time, try replacing it with something that offers a free resource download or something of value to the lead that isn’t followed up by a sales call. Reintroduce the Buy Now button later.

#3: You’re Not Asking for the Sale

This may sound contrary to the first two, but I’ve also seen the exact opposite where companies are so scared of offending someone that they never ask for the sale at all.

It’s important to give your leads an easy and convenient way to convert into customers. They probably aren’t going to go searching for it on their own and you could lose the sale to a competitor that does.

TIP: Use a combination of lead scoring and lead profiling to determine where someone is in your sales funnel and what he or she is looking for so you can tailor messages that answer prospects’ needs.

Use the lead score and “profile” of who leads are to develop your sales approach and marketing communications strategies for each group. The easiest way to break it up is to create “fast, medium and slow” groups and align the communications strategy with a top “pain point.” Always include a direct call to action in communications, but understand when and where it’s appropriate in your communication vehicles.

Here’s a great example of how Avaya turned a Twitter interaction into a $250k sale by listening to and engaging with potential customers.

#4: You’re Not Properly Using Lead Forms

This can come in a few different scenarios; for example: Companies may confuse when someone fills out a lead form for a free piece of content with sales interest, they may only have lead forms for interest in their products or they aren’t using lead forms to collect information for those who are downloading their biggest pieces of content that generate sales interest.

There are two core examples of improper lead form usage.

  • Companies aggressively follow up with “leads” from landing pages offering free content with pushy sales messages as described in #2. The person who filled out the lead form wanted the free content. Unless he expressed that he is also interested in your products, you could be confusing content interest with sales interest.
  • Companies only have lead forms for interest in their products. They aren’t using lead forms to collect information for those who are downloading their biggest pieces of content that generate sales interest. This would include items such as white papers or ebooks related to your industry that show your company’s position in the landscape. Don’t miss the opportunity to develop relationships with those who may not be interested in buying today, but will be tomorrow.

TIP: Understand the different types of lead forms you’re using and create a communications strategy that utilizes the buying mindset of the different individuals who fill out those forms.

Consider asking a question in each lead form that tells you whether the leads are “fast, medium or slow” and identify their pain point so you can align your communications strategy with where they are in the buying process and what problem you can help them solve.

HubSpot wrote a great post on how to use better questions to determine lead scores.

Applying lead scores to your sales funnel.

#5: You’re Not Providing “Decision-Making” Content

With social media outreach, you have a tremendous opportunity to help people make decisions about the products they choose. “One of the key benefits of social media (that’s rarely discussed) is its ability to resolve doubt and confusion among fence-sitters,” Jay Baer eloquently stated. Your content strategy needs to focus on helping these “fence-sitters” choose you.

True decision-making content aligns the customer’s pain point with the solutions that solve it. It’s what we call “evergreen” content designed to help find the tipping point to move your leads to the next stage in the sales funnel, from “slow” to “medium” and from “medium” to “fast.” It’s content that you pour your heart and best resources into that, as a result, is always relevant to sales conversion.

Here are some examples of great decision-making content:

  • Eloqua uses white papers, webinars, demos and toolkits to drive the sales process. Notice that every piece of content is directly related to problems that Eloqua can help solve.
  • HubSpot has a vast array of resources for various content types around their core business, “Inbound Marketing“. By offering the information in these formats, it allows readers to select the “depth” of information they want on the subject and also help signal where they are in the buying process to HubSpot.
  • CareOne offers tips on how to vet other debt-relief providers against them.

TIP: Create content that helps your prospects evaluate you against your competition and make the right decision for them.

Understand that it’s just as important to know when customers aren’t a good fit as it is to know when they are. Provide content about topics that you know lead to interest in your products and/or services. Wrap all of this content with a lead form and put the leads in the appropriate place in the funnel.

If you aren’t sure how to create decision-making content, here’s a great article to get you started.

The reason your social media strategy isn’t delivering ROI may have nothing to do with your social media strategy itself and everything to do with what happens after you receive the lead. Evaluate what happens to your social media leads and look for opportunities to cater to their needs, which may be different than for a lead that came from a direct-response paid search ad. Know the difference and you may find that your social media leads convert faster, better and deliver a much better ROI.

Check out these two great resources on driving social media ROI. Use your Blog to Drive Social Sales and Driving Targeted Twitter Traffic.

What ROI social media strategies have you found work best for your company? What tips do you have to share? Please leave your comments in the box below.

Photos: Flickr & Nichole Kelly
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