There have been 100’s if not 1000’s of posts in the lead up to and the beginning of 2016 regarding social media trends, and that’s awesome. I mean after all it is good to keep abreast of whats happening and what the developments are in the space. Our team dedicate a good proportion of their week to doing just that. My concern is that obsessing over this creates an ongoing perception that Social Media will be your silver bullet when it comes to sales and marketing, and for most businesses that just isn’t true.
There are so many variables when it comes to converting a potential customer into a sale, not least the customer having an immediate need for the product or service. So now is as good a time as any to cover off on the 5 most important things you need to understand about Social Media trends and business.
1. It Takes Time
This is not a quick fix, starting a social media campaign and running it for 4 weeks is not going to garner you measurable results. It’s a bit like networking, if you attend a networking event you will find that pretty much everyone is there to sell and very few people are in the market to buy. It is unlikely that you are going to close a deal at that first event. In fact it will often take 6 months of showing up to events regularly and building relationships outside of the events themselves, over coffee and conversation, to build a healthy sales funnel from that contact sphere.
Social Media is no different – throwing out some content for a couple of weeks and then going back to nothing is likely too garner you the same results, i.e. not much. Our clients who are in it for the long-term routinely report back to us that they are busier than they have ever been, but they also understand the the conversion pathway from social media can be extremely difficult to track or quantify. The reason for this is simple; it can take anywhere from 7 to 13+ touches to generate a sales-ready lead. Customers tend to only remember the last touch point, whatever that was. This is why we like to close the loop by capturing customer details through direct interaction on the social platforms themselves.
13+ is a lot of touch points. Social supports this in a number of ways and works best if you are driving it in two ways: quality content that is compliant with the 60/40 rule, and solid advertising driving potential customers into a conversion funnel designed to convert, and then re-marketing to those clients.
2. Use your databases
If you have an existing client database – use it. Social media ads are built to chase after those additional sales and add-on opportunities, as well as sourcing new customers through lookalike audiences. If you are using a social media agency then don’t keep your database to yourself, ask them how they can use it to maximise your return on your social media investment.
Most platforms these days have opportunities to import csv files and customer lists to pre-qualify and target your various ad campaigns. Existing customers already trust your brand so it is a great way to boost your sales.
3. Tell your story
Again it’s a common mistake, so one worth mentioning. Social media is other-centric and a voyeuristic medium at best. This means that you need to give us some insight into who you are and what you are all about and no I don’t mean your brand story. #boring
If you are using an Agency, you are still going to have to take happy snaps while you are out and about to share what’s happening in the business. Is it someones birthday, have you just finished a project, were you at an event or seminar? Believe it or not these things are actually interesting to the outside world for a really simple reason: people do business with people, and we like to know who we are doing business with. Sharing your interests and achievements will go a long way to developing trust and credibility with your potential clients.
4. Have a plan and revisit the plan
If you are using Social as an adhoc medium and you haven’t at least mapped it against your wider marketing, advertising and communications plan, then how successful is it going to be?
I get it – you are busy and this social stuff takes up time, time that you could spend better elsewhere possibly. If that’s the case maybe you are better off working with an Agency like us so you can maximise your business development efforts across the board?
That being said, taking a couple of hours to look at your marketing for the year ahead and the seasonality of your business – its ups and downs – is always a useful thing to do for a couple of reasons:
- Knowing when the peaks and troughs of your sales cycle occur allows you to forward-plan your advertising activity to build up your sales prior to seasonal drop-offs.
- Every business has cycles where clients or customers want specific information or are more receptive to different products or services. Forward planning allows you to have the content ready to go and means you can ensure that you maximise it’s distribution across your networks gaining the most exposure and return for your efforts.
5.Your strategy should be about more than just content and advertising.
If you have a sales or business development team or person, what are their social goals for 2016? How are they going to use Social Media to build their referral base? What are their Social KPI’s?
All too often Social Media is seen as the domain of the Marketing & Communications teams exclusively and yet it is one of the most powerful tools on the planet for starting dialogues and building on relationships overtime – a core function for a sales person. If your sales people aren’t optimising their profiles and being ambassadors for your brand in the wider marketplace then now is probably a good time to start.