Content is king in social media marketing. There are a lot of things that can grab people’s attention within a feed – and you have to make sure that your content is even better at grabbing people’s attention. If you have done your audience research ahead of time, you already have an advantage – the people who are looking at your content are the type of people who want to see it anyway.
It has to be more than just putting your brand out there. That may have worked for TV and print media, but the online audience is more savvy than an audience has ever been before. They don’t passively expect things to come to them – they seek them out. It means that your content has to be entertaining, informative as well as having a clear purpose.
The Sales Funnel
When you are creating content – you must make sure that there is a clear purpose behind everything you put out. The mistake that a lot of people make is to try and sell straight away, without having a clear sales process in mind. Cold callers have a return rate of less than one percent. You need to warm up your social media audience. You have to entertain and inform them before you will convert them.
Basically – you need to set up a sales funnel. You need to attract, interest, get the customer to make a decision and then take action. You must create content that manages to achieve all of these purposes – although some pieces of content can have more than one purpose.
One of the best things that social media can do is to build brand awareness. The more people who are aware of your brand, the more potential customers you have. In the sales funnel, the first thing you need to do is get as many people in the top as possible. If you try a hard sell too quickly, then you will probably turn customers off – the best thing that you can do is to entertain them.
There are a lot of ways to do this. Firstly, you can have a striking image or video – something that will get their attention. At a basic level that means you need to have a well shot image that is interesting (and has your logo on it). It should be something that links to your business, but would have value on its own.
For example, if you are a restaurant – you could put out a picture of your signature burger. Or, you could show a video of people chatting in the line outside your place – or show off some amazing cooking skills – even a ‘So Yummy’ style recipe video. All of these things are more likely to get people’s attention than a static food shot – and will attract more people to your brand.
That’s the purpose of this stage of the funnel. You’re still selling your popularity or cooking skills – but you’re also showing that your brand is fun. It can be used for any business. Twitter is great for high level content, especially if you can be relevant by responding to popular hashtags. If your product or service lends itself to great images, then Instagram is your friend… and Facebook benefits from great images and timely copy.
Once you have attracted people, you may find that there is some success (even cold calls get their 1% – and you’re doing a lot more to appeal to people). The next thing you need to do is get their interest. This is where you focus on education rather than entertainment (although you should still try to be entertaining. The purpose at this point of the funnel is to point out your brand’s unique selling points.
Your brand doesn’t have to be better than everyone else – you just have to be better at at least one thing than your direct competition. Say that you’re an accountancy firm. There are many accountants – but you’re not like them. Perhaps you specialise in a certain trade and have industry knowledge. Maybe you have a very quick response time. You may even have software that makes it easy for people to keep track of their accounts while they work. Whatever your USP – now’s the time to let people know about it.
You have already attracted people’s attention – what makes you unique in your marketplace is what will get their interest. At this point – you’re not actively selling – you’re informing. Again, at this point in the funnel – you will get some conversions, and more than you did at the top level – as more people are already ‘bought in’ to your brand. It’s harder to get interest on Twitter (there’s only so much you can say in 140 characters) – but having a striking and informative video is your friend here.
Just because the audience is interested in you, doesn’t mean that they aren’t also interested in other companies. You are solving a problem that they have, but there are other ways to solve that problem. At this stage, the content you produce must show your comparative advantage to the rivals in your marketplace. To find your USP, you should have already researched your rivals – to make sure that your brand stands out in the marketplace. Now’s the time to use that research to stand out further.
If you sold go-karts, then you would look at other go-kart retailers. Don’t attack them directly (it comes off as petty), instead look at what their strengths and USP are, and counter their argument. If they are cheaper than you, sell your quality ‘We don’t sell carts that will fall apart after you’ve driven them three times.’ If they sell themselves on quality, up the value of your service and design: ‘Our karts are custom built to your specifications – which means you don’t need to build them yourselves.’
You are continuing to educate (and hopefully entertain) but the purpose of this content is to force the audience into making a decision. They may not be ready to buy yet – but when they are ready to buy, it will be with you, rather than one of your competitors. Again – you will get sales again at this level – but it’s all building up to the real sales pitch, and getting your audience to take action.
This is the most important part of the funnel – this is the close, the deal – where leads become customers. This is where you must make the audience feel that they have to sign up with you, otherwise they will miss out on a deal. What reason can you give your audience to sign up with you, right now – rather than thinking that they will just come back to you later (and probably forgetting)?
42% of people on Facebook become a fan so they can access an exclusive discount, offer or competition. Having a promotion at the end of your sales funnel is an extremely effective way to convert – especially if it’s a limited time offer. If the customer things that they will miss out on an opportunity – they are more likely to interact and have an extra motive to convert.
It’s really easy to do. Websites can not only provide an attractive looking offer that will grab you, but they can also build in a literal countdown clock so the audience can see their opportunity slipping past them. If you don’t have a product or service that lends itself well to a discount, you can also have a competition, sweepstake or a signup form if you offer something like a free trial or audio book – meaning they can sign up then and there, rather than having to navigate a website.
When you are creating content – you need to think about the platform on which the media is being consumed, as well as its role in the sales journey.
Don’t forget that on social media, you can also use things like Facebook Insights and the pixel to track the interaction your consumer has had with your business. You can then retarget those people. These customers would be lost with traditional media, but now someone who has shown interest in a middle funnel piece of content can now be targeted with a specific offer. People who are retargeted are more likely to convert than people who aren’t.
In conclusion, you must be creating content with a clear purpose. You must have something that can attract a wider audience. You must inform them about your brand to get their interest. You must position your brand so that it seems the best option when they make their decision. You must have an effective hook that will get the audience to convert rather than just consider. Finally, you must retarget people who have fallen out of the sales funnel. If you manage to do that, you must see an improvement in your conversion rates.