How to Build a Social Media Sales Machine
According to one recent study, there were approximately 1.3 million new people joining various social media networks every day during the entirety of 2020. If you needed a single statistic to highlight why this is one of the most important sales channels available to you in the modern era, let it be that one.
But the major factor that makes social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others so powerful isn't necessarily the size of their collective audience - it's the diverse makeup of people from different walks of life around the world. Another study indicated that as of 2019, roughly 90.4% of millennials had an account on social media of some kind. The same was true of about 77.5% of Generation X, and even about 48.2% of the Baby Boomers.
People are also spending an incredible amount of time on various social networking sites - much to the benefit of marketers everywhere. Millennials in particular log onto social media for an average of about two hours and 38 minutes every single day. They're second only to Generation Z-ers, who tend to spend about two hours and 55 minutes on various sites according to the World Economic Forum.
All of this combines to create a perfect storm in the best possible way. For a brand, social media doesn't just allow for immediate interaction with potential customers - it allows for immediate feedback, too. Businesses can respond to those they've dedicated themselves to serving in a rich, organic and appropriate way based on the needs in the moment.
However, it's critical to understand that social media marketing in and of itself is not a silver bullet. It's still entirely possible to "get this wrong," especially if you don't have a strategy at the heart of all your efforts. Simply having accounts on these sites isn't enough to generate the results that you're after. For that, you need to go a bit deeper into not just who you're interacting with, but how.
Therefore, if you really want to take your various social media accounts and turn them into the social media sales machine that they were always meant to be, there are a few key things you'll want to keep in mind.Building a Stronger Social Media Sales Machine: Breaking Things Down
One of the most important things for you to understand about the current state of Facebook marketing in particular is that, simply put, it's not 2014 any longer.
Gone are the days when you can devour up as many $0.10 leads as you can get your hands on, cramming them into your sales funnel and hoping for the best. As the old saying goes, "the times they are a-changing."
Thanks in no small part to the still-ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the way people are interacting with their digital services is changing dramatically. Regardless of the type of business you're running or even the industry you're operating in, you need to adapt just as quickly to take full advantage of these new trends as they emerge.
In 2021, just a few of the techniques that are working well on social media include but are certain not limited to ones like:
- LinkedIn networking. Especially considering the fact that more people are working from home than ever, their professional lives have bled into their personal ones in a way we've never really seen before and social networking is playing a big role in that. More people are connecting professionally on social media sites like LinkedIn than ever, to the point where it's become a terrific opportunity to really reach out and make a connection that may have been unavailable to you in the past.
- Facebook groups. This is a great opportunity to reach out and connect to collections of like-minded individuals at the same time. But more than that, it's a great way to tap into an audience that you already know at least a little bit about (given the topic of the group in question) so that you can play to that niche and connect in a more meaningful way.
- Instagram Stories. Especially for brands, Instagram Stories are a great way to put a little bit of your personality on display. It's an opportunity to show people that you're more than just a collection of products and services, essentially. It also taps into the power of visual marketing, which has always been one of the strengths of social media.
- Instagram direct messages. Not unlike LinkedIn networking, this is a great way to reach out to someone directly and make a connection in a far more personal, intimate way than ever before.
- Podcast interviews. In the modern era, one of the best ways to separate yourself from your competitors involves capitalizing on every opportunity you have to establish yourself as a trusted authority in your niche. Podcast interviews - especially with thought leaders and other experts - goes a long way towards furthering your ability to accomplish precisely that.
- YouTube. Over the next few years, video is poised to become the dominant form of content on the Internet. People are watching more videos online these days than ever, which means that if you want to give people the best possible chance to get exposed to your marketing and sales messaging, video sharing sites like YouTube are how you do it.
- Livestreams. Similarly, people love live content because they present a sense of urgency to what people consume. People are far more likely to view something if it's live because they get this sense that they don't want to miss something exciting. You could do live question and answer sessions to engage with your audience, live product demonstrations to help people get the most out of their purchase and more.
But the biggest change to come about over the last few years in particular is that "social media advertising" and "digital advertising" are no longer two entirely separate concepts. Instead of having one set of goals for social media sites and one set of goals for your ads, you need to bring them together to form something much more powerful than either could be on their own. They need to be able to organically play off of and empower one another - only then will you be able to see the type of long-term momentum that you're after.Connect, Commit, Close
To get a better idea of how effective all of this can be in practice, consider the three main phases of online leads - those who are cold, those who are warm, and those who are so hot that a purchase is essentially a foregone conclusion.
If you want to put your brand in a position to use something like Facebook advertising to turn attention into revenue (on autopilot, no less), you'll want to think about these three phases in a slightly different way - the connect phase, the commit phase, and the close phase, respectively.
These three phases, stacked one on top of the other, while paired with what you're already doing on social media, will make all the difference for your campaigns moving forward.
The connect phase, as the name suggests, is all about reaching on and contacting the people who have already engaged with your brand on social media in some way. Note that this doesn't necessarily mean that the "sales" process begins in earnest. It can simply be continuing on with a conversation that was already taking place, or contributing something else of meaning and value to their lives through further high-value content creation.
The goal here is to use the opportunity to stay at the top of their mind. Based on the fact that these are cold leads, you're already aware that they're probably not ready to make a purchase today. But provided that you take full advantage of this connect phase, you increase the chances that when they are ready to buy, the first name they think of is yours.
The commit phase is when these same leads officially enter into your sales process. The final stage - the close phase - is all about taking those red-hot leads and bringing them in for aa sale in the most effective way possible.
In regard to how you'll use social media to organically move someone from one end of this process to the other, dynamic sequences will become invaluable to that end. Dynamic sequences are a set of ads that are delivered sequentially, all of which are triggered by a specific user event based on custom audiences that you've previously defined.
Just a few examples of custom audiences that you might want to take advantage of include but are not limited to ones like:
- Anyone who joins your email list.
- All of your pixelled website traffic.
- Anyone who engages with your page on Facebook. This can include link clicks, messages to your page, likes, comments, shares, etc.
- Anyone who engages with your account on Instagram. This can include comments, direct messages and even clicking your "Bio" link.
- People who view at least three seconds of your Facebook videos.
- People who view at least three seconds of your Instagram Stories.
The people at the earliest part of this process - those who are still in the connect sequence - could be served up a very specific type of ad after their initial interaction with the express purpose of keeping engagement going. You're not necessarily trying to sell them anything at all - you likely won't even want to use a call to action. All you're trying to do is get them familiar with your profile pictures and content, all so that they start paying more attention and that they begin to understand that you're here to build a relationship with them as a brand.
Then, you would move onto ads that begin to show off what a trusted authority you are in your industry. Slowly but surely, you're here to show your credentials. You're trying to convince people that yours is an account worth trusting. You know what you're doing. You know what you're talking about. You have different awards and accolades. More than anything, you're helping people to understand that you really are a brand worth paying attention to, and you're not just another social media scammer ready to take their time (and worse).
At that point, you can begin to seed testimonials - essentially to just help them confirm that which they've already suspected. This is when you begin to share customer success stories to help show prospects everything you've already helped satisfied customers do. You're still running all of this content via digital advertising like on Facebook, but you're also still likely not including anything that remotely resembles a call to action.
Instead, you're hitting home again and again that your brand is here to help people. That you understand that types of problems that people are facing on a daily basis and that you're uniquely situated to solve them. You're conveying that, unlike your competitors, you understand the people you're talking to on a basic level and that you're ready to assist in any and all ways that you can.
Note that all elements of this approach probably represent quite a departure from the way social media advertising has traditionally been handled. But at the same time, the way people are interacting with sites like Facebook and Instagram is changing - and you need to be ready to change in response, too.
Yes, this will require you to re-think your approach to how you're interacting with people on social media. Yes, it will require you to think very carefully about the impression you're giving off - both as a professional and as a brand.
However, the results will soon begin to speak for themselves. Engagement on all of your social media platforms will go up. People will happily bounce from your Facebook page to your Instagram Stories and back again. Most importantly, the cost to acquire new leads will go down - and it'll become easier than ever to move them from one end of your sales funnel to the other. That in and of itself may very well be the most important benefit of all.
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