Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Is there a Social Media sales funnel?

Or: When I find potential customers how do I handle them?

In Social Media it’s extremely important to remember that the first word is “Social.”

This means it’s not a place to overtly sell anything … really, it’s not. But there is a way for businesses to engage in Social Media to benefit from their time an effort on the Social Web.

Three Steps to Engagement

1. Start by being a good listener: The more you listen the more you will learn and the more you will understand your customers and potential customers. Heck, you might even hear things you had not thought of that will help your business.

2. Talk with (and to) the social web: Start sharing yourself and your knowledge. Answer others’ questions. Help others find answers. Share really good things you find. Or just share an interesting take on something that is on your mind. Be genuine and people will get to know you and over time will come to trust you.

3. Listen for specific opportunities: Opportunities for you meet a need or make a suggestion that involves a service you provide or something you sell. But BE CAREFUL. If your offer of help sounds disingenuous or self-serving you will alienate a customer or potential customer.

A Sales Funnel for Social Media?

Can a traditional sales funnel be applied to Social Media? I would argue that, yes, it can.

Working down a Social Media sales funnel:

1. Audience: The largest number of people you are engaged with on the Web. Many of whom may not want to, or may not yet know that want to, do business with you.

2. Prospects: The next smallest group of people with whom you are engaged. The ones who have expressed some form of interest in you, your company or something you do.

3. Leads: The next smallest group contains people who have signed up to be contacted or have asked for your help. These are the folks who are interested in what you are selling.
4. Conversions: The group who have money on your goods or services and who
reached that point because they saw value in you and/or your business.

5. Evangelists: These are the pure gold in Social Media. These are people so excited about their dealings with you and your product that they go out of their way to tell others.

At each stage of the funnel you need to have a Social Media and Inbound Marketing strategies to maximize the chances that your efforts will not go unrewarded. (For more on inbound marketing, I recommend Hubspot’s Inbound Marketing Resources, including the excellent – and free – Inbound Marketing University program)
A Social Media strategy, for example, would be having a way to acknowledge your Evangelists publicly and also, perhaps, to reward them privately.

An Inbound Marketing strategy, for example, would be having a plan in place to reach out to Prospects once they are identified on the social web.

Whatever you do, it is extremely important to remember that it’s called Social Media for a reason – don’t do anything that can be seen as “anti-social”!

Related posts:
10 Things To Watch Out For In Social Media
10 Social Media No-Nos
5 Steps Before Jumping Into Social Media
10 Commandments for Social Media

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