5 Critical Steps For Converting On Social Media

By , Published November 11, 2014

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Social media is kind of a wild card for a lot of marketers. For a segment of the marketing population, it’s something that’s too big to be ignored, but too unwieldy to tie to the bottom line.

Very few companies can pull off the hard sale on social media – nor should they. It takes a special kind of mind – and by special, we mean dense – to think your third sweatshirt sale this month is relevant to a stream populated by what friends and relatives share about a Facebook user’s day.

Still, if you’re willing to put in the work and only insert one plug for every 10 “real” posts, there are conversions to be had on social media.

1. Build Trust

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As with your website and landing pages, it is imperative that you first establish trust with visitors on social media. Your visitors are unlikely to “like,” retweet, or engage with you if they don’t trust you first.

Use the power of authority. Robert Cialdini, author of “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion”, suggests we have a deeply-rooted sense of obedience to people or entities in positions of authority, and are therefore more likely trust them. You should borrow authority from those that your audience would find credible:

  • Media mentions from a well-known industry publications
  • Testimonials
  • Logos of your big brand clients.

Demonstrate social proof. Our brains are fond of shortcuts, and one of these is “there’s safety in numbers.” Your social media visitors will perceive you as more trustworthy if you present them with objective large numbers.

2. Be In Their Tribe

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The first rule in converting on social media is “know your visitors – and their friends.” People are tribal and generally care more about people who are similar to them.

This is true even for marketers – you’ll find that you’ll usually “like” or “retweet” a post that’s already aligned with your own values or validates your belief systems.

This means that if you want visitors to notice, love, like, retweet, or share your social media posts, you first need to learn and understand their “tribal” identification. See which online sites they like, what online shops they buy from, and so on.

Then use this information to create messaging that’s more likely to resonate with them. For instance, if you know that a lot of your visitors are fans of Star Wars or The Walking Dead series, you might experiment with a post containing references to these shows.

That one plug for every 10 “real” posts thing – that’s valuable here. Be comfortable talking mostly about things that do not include the company you work for, but is relevant to the space you operate in.

Lastly, don’t do it just for the sake of blending in. Your messaging should strongly reflect your values and that of your tribe. Don’t be afraid to alienate outsiders – the worst thing you can do is to try and please everyone all of the time.

3. Segment, Target, And Optimize

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Unfortunately, a lot of digital marketers are still using the “spray and pray” tactic on social media. This practice has spawned a slew of myths, the biggest one of which is that “you can’t sell on social media.”

The secret to social conversion is segmentation and targeting. For your social media posts and social advertising to be effective, they should correspond to and cater to customer’s needs at exactly the point when they are ready.

For instance, you can tailor your posts for people at the top of the funnel to drive awareness of your industry. Here you can post helpful articles from your blog or others which your visitors would find interesting or useful.

You can intersperse these posts with ones that encourage people to get to know more about your company and products or services, such as links to webinars or whitepapers. This way, you’re also driving them deeper down the funnel.

If you’re doing some promotions (e.g. an offer or discount) for people deeper into the sales funnel, use the advanced targeting options available on most social networks to narrow down to the target audience. For those who are ready and eager to convert, make sure you’re using optimized landing pages. Don’t waste your hard-won visitors from social by presenting them with a crappy landing page.

4. Have A Clear Call To Action

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Your goal in social media is still for your audience to take a specific action. Do you want them to read your newest blog post, or somebody else’s? Watch a video? Buy the latest must-have bag of the season? Whatever it is, make sure that your social media visitors know it by putting a clear call-to-action (CTA) on your posts.

While it’s tempting to focus solely on writing clever posts on your fan pages, remember that all your efforts will be wasted if you fail to put hot triggers that would nudge your visitors to act.

According to psychologist B.J. Fogg of the Stanford Persuasion Lab, a behavior will only occur if motivation, ability, and trigger are all present at the same moment. So when the CTA (your trigger) is missing, you’ve just made it harder for your social media fans and followers to take action.

Needless to say, the CTA should be present not only in your page posts but also wherever you’re sending your visitors off to. Whether you’re linking to your blog post, video, or a dedicated landing page, ensure that these are optimized for converting your visitors with a clear and strong CTA.

5. Measure The Metrics That Matter

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To measure the impact of Facebook and other social networks, the idea is NOT to measure just Facebook and the other social networks. Facebook isn’t a channel, it’s a channel amplifier. If you’re using it correctly, it should help all your other channels convert better.

The methodology is available at the SiteTuners blog, but the gist is that you can run tests – if the network allows you to upload email lists, have a set of emails ready, nurture half of them on social media, don’t nurture the other half on social media, and then use your standard tools to see which group converts better. The difference in conversion is the lift your social media network is providing.

Chances are, Facebook, Twitter, and other channels are already helping you convert, you just don’t know how to measure it yet or are too obsessed with the “likes” and other vanity metrics. If you follow the steps above, and on the blog, you can get closer to the actual percentage of the conversion lift, and you can adjust your strategy from there.

Social media, like your main web site and your mobile site, is very tough to get right. But that’s also what your competitors are thinking. If they ignore measuring it and getting it right because it’s a difficult space to operate in, that’s their loss, but it should not be yours.

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