How much do you think a “like” or a retweet is really worth? 50 cents? 50 bucks?
How about nothing?
Face it – unless you’re turning those online fans into actual customers, all that work you’re doing to build up your online community is never going to (literally) pay off.
“I hear you, Laura. Now how do I convert my fans and followers into customers?”
I’ve broken down the answer into 4 steps. In order to make real money on social media, you need to:
Here’s a deeper look at each step in the process, plus an example of how I put the whole strategy to work in my own business:
Step #1 – Attract Customers and Prospects
Attracting prospects on social media is actually quite simple: it’s about sharing great content. You want to stand out on those busy social feeds. Be someone who’s actually giving people something worth their time, their click, or their retweet. So long as people associated you with “yes, this is really great stuff for me,” you’ll continue to attract more potential customers. (And that translates to more likes and followers, so be prepared to see those numbers steadily rise.)
This should be your rule of thumb: quality over quantity. There’s nothing wrong with only posting a couple times a week. In fact, it’s way better to be a bit scare than be sharing low-value content. More bonus points if you’re sharing your own original content. This will help you quickly position yourself as an expert in your field.
Step #2 – Engage, Engage, Engage
Step #1 was about attracting customers, meaning you’re getting people into your world. Step #2 focuses on building that Know, Like and Trust relationship.
This step is where you really want to move from broadcasting to dialogue. By broadcasting I mean messages that you’re just sending out to everyone – there’s no back and forth. That’s part of engaging customers, but you also want to have that more personal conversation. That means a one-on-one dialogue on Twitter, leaving a comment on someone’s blog, responding to a comment left on your blog. It could even mean emailing with people one-on-one.
The goal of all this engagement is for prospects to feel like they’re getting to know you as a trustworthy, likable person. People need to feel like they’re getting to know a human being, which takes them that much closer to becoming a paying customer. This is why I always encourage people to use their own face on social media, not the company logo. It’s hard to build a relationship with a logo!
You should also be engaging people who are already your customers. Congrats on closing that sale! Now you should give them a reason to keep coming back for more. Even if you don’t have something new to sell to your existing customers, use social media to stay top of mind. They’ll be more likely to recommend your biz to friends or contacts if you remind them that you’re still around.
Step #3 – Move people into your sales funnel.
This step is all about converting those fans, followers and connections into actual leads. It’s simpler than you think: you’re not asking for the sale (yet), but just collecting email addresses. Here’s how it’s done:
- Make sure you have some way for people to sign up for your email list. That means offering a newsletter (like The Dash) or some piece of free opt-in content. My Facebook Cheat Sheets and Google Analytics Cheat Sheets are two examples of evergreen opt-in content. I call them “lead lighthouses” because they’re always there bringing in new leads, no matter what else is going on in my business.
- Periodically post links to your lead lighthouses on social media. Worried about oversaturating your fans and followers with links the same content? I hear you, but chances are slim that the same people actually see even 50% of your posts and tweets. In general, small biz owners don’t promote themselves enough – don’t hold yourself back just because you’re concerned about turning a few people off. Change up the language you use to drive people to your lead lighthouses and spread out your posts. Once or twice a week is ideal, so long as you’re sharing other great resources as well. (If you need a little help planning out your social media posts, don’t miss that free social media planning workshop, Streamline Your Social.)
There you have it – the two-step process to turning prospects into leads! It may seem too simple, but this is actually how I’ve built up my subscriber list to over 80,000 people.
Step #4 – Make the Pitch
So you’ve attracted quality prospects on social media, you’ve engaged them and built a relationship with them online. Then you’ve turned them into proper leads. My final step in converting your social media followers into a customer is all about email.
Yup, that’s how I made the vast majority of my sales – with email marketing.
This is where things get very interesting, and I want to explain it using an example. This is one way that I’ve used social media plus email marketing to convert people into paying clients.
This is how I used to land my private coaching and consulting clients before I switched to only selling online products. These were several thousand dollar contracts, not just a drop in a bucket. It’s a buying decision that people definitely need to think about, probably for a while. They weren’t just going to see one tweet from me and then decide to spend a few thousand dollars. Establishing that know, like, and trust was really important.
The first step was attracting those clients. At this point in my business, I didn’t have to keep hitting the pavement, making connections, and pitching to prospective clients. Most people found me initially, usually via Twitter, my blog or some interviews I had done.
One of the biggest ways that I keep in touch is through my weekly newsletter, The Dash. Remember Step #2?. This is one of the ways I continue to engage prospects and customers. Every single week I’m generating a little bit of conversation. I’m providing valuable content, and that’s in addition to the other social media activity that I have. I chat with people on Twitter and Facebook, send out updates, et cetera. But the email list is really one of my most valuable assets. It allows me to put my message and my offerings in front of people where they already are. I make sure that I’m keeping in touch every single week. Step #3 is about driving traffic to sign up for my list. I do that by sharing links to blog posts, to lead lighthouses and directly to the sign-up page.
Here comes the pitch (a.k.a Step #4): when I wanted to land new coaching and consulting clients, I’d just send out an email! I’d email all my Dash subscribers announcing that I was opening private coaching and consulting slots. I’d do this about twice a year with the goal of getting 6-month contracts.
It’s important to emphasize that these were not very salesy emails at all. I’d just kind of announce what was going on. “I’m taking new clients. So if you want to work with me, this is the time.” Then I‘d just tell people to respond if they were interested.
I’d ask people to write back to the email if they wanted to learn more about my coaching and consulting services. They don’t have to jump through any hoops. They just had to hit reply. They could send me a two-word email if they wanted. For those who did respond, my assistant or I would send out a second email that contained a link to a page with an overview of my coaching and consulting program, the price and the actual link they would use to sign up.
This worked really well for me as a way of filling up my client docket. One time that I opened spots they sold out in under 48 hours!
The Social Media Selling Cycle
An important note: people would purchase my coaching and consulting time that had never bought products from me. That’s one of the amazing things about social media – it has the power to leapfrog the traditional pattern of “buy the cheapest product a company offers then another more expensive one, etc.”
That can pattern can work but it doesn’t have to be that way. You’re giving people so many opportunities to get to know, like and trust you that you no longer have to do that slow step-by-step climb.
That time I sold out my coaching spots in 48 hours? Many of those new clients hadn’t purchased anything before, but a lot of them told me, “I’ve been following you for six months or I’ve been following you for nine months. I’ve been reading your blog and I’ve been using your newsletter.”
The point is this: patience is key. It can take a lot of communication. It can take a lot of “touches” before someone becomes a customer. But the payoff is that you don’t necessarily need to start with this low stair-step. You’ve spent such a long time providing free valuable content and communicating with people. You might be able to jump right up to that higher sales level, all thanks to social media.
Over to you!
Do you have a story of how social media impacted your sales? Was there a time that you were expecting better results but didn’t reach your goals? Tell us about the product or service, the campaign, and what happened. The beauty of this community is that we all have something to teach each other, so spread your wealth of knowledge!