The question of social media conversions came up in conversations among friends at this year’s HubSpot Inbound Conference so I decided to create a multi-part blog post with the answers. This is the first part.
Here is the question;
In your experience has social media* been more effective in meeting you or your client’s needs for top of the sales funnel activities like branding or bottom of the funnel activities like completing actual conversions (download, registration, purchase etc.)?
*Social Media is defined as an online platform that allows two-way interaction among people to create, exchange or share information, including text, images, video, code, presentations and so on.
Here is our first answer. Meet Tristan.
Our efforts in social media have been more effective at the top of the funnel for our B2B business, and at the bottom of the funnel for our B2C business.
B2B has been all about education for us, so providing a great educational blog article about some specific relevant topic (that doesn’t talk directly about our products) that links to an offer like an ebook or guide for new visitors to learn more, has really driven a lot of ToFu leads, and the place we’re primarily promoting those is Social Media. Specifically LinkedIn and Twitter have been great for this.
Meanwhile, our B2C app gets promoted pretty directly to the bottom of the funnel, whether in social media, or more traditional PR pitches. With a mobile app like ours though, word of mouth is gold, and that happens less and less with actual mouths and now happens on Facebook! This can also be chalked up to the fact there’s not much of a funnel when dealing with consumer targeted mobile apps- you decide you need a new texting app and you ask some friends and pick one- you don’t read an ebook to help you make the decision!
Whether ToFu or BoFu targeted, specificity helps in social media. No one wants to hear (and thus, share!) how we have a great communication app that does everything. They will however share a great post about how to spoof your caller ID on your mobile phone, with a handy link to a post that closes with a relevant call to action: Oh, so you want to spoof your caller ID, you’ll want to download our app! I’ve seen a trend: the more specific the social media message is, the better it converts to a visit, and those visits convert best into actual downloads.
One of our competitors is Skype, so setting up alerts so that anytime someone tweeted with the phrase “Skype alternative” I was alerted- not just our followers, mind you, but all of twitter. I set up the alert to help me find people seeking recommendations from the twitterverse, and the very first one of these I responded to resulted in a conversion within 5 minutes. We went from this guy never having heard of us, to becoming a user just by setting up smart monitoring of social media and then responding with the information they were looking for right when they needed it. It seems like a no-brainer, but it’s amazing how many companies are not doing this.
The short answer is that I use and help my clients to use social media throughout the funnel, top, middle and bottom. However, I should mention that my focus is not typically on branding, etc. Rather, my clients and I are concentrating on attracting the right people’s attention, engaging and converting them to customers (if appropriate) as efficiently as possible. If a business is marketing focused, they tend to use social media as a different means of getting a one to many message out as a substitute for TV/radio, magazines/newspapers, direct mail or email blasts. If a business is sales focused, they tend use social media more as a 1:1 communication tool to start a virtual conversation that may lead to a voice conversation or to enhance engagement between actual voice conversations. So, I think of social media as alternatives to the telephone, individual email, snail mail, or those individual conversations that we have at networking events and trade shows.
Here are some specific examples of things that work;
Dozens of people look at my LinkedIn profile every day. I send them an InMail that reads, “I noticed that you visited my profile on LinkedIn. What brought you by?” It’s short. It’s not about me. It’s curious and non-threatening and leads to conversations.
I follow many blogs that my ideal clients might follow. I comment frequently. I never mention my company or my practice, but typically ask a question or offer another point of view without selling. My goal is to get someone to think, “Hmmm. Interesting. Who is this guy?” and click my url which will lead to my LinkedIn profile. (See prior point.) I may also comment back at a commentator with a question about their comment and actually begin our conversation on someone else’s blog.
I have nearly 1,000 articles on line. It’s not unusual that I share links to relevant articles after I have a conversation with someone. The key word is relevant and the cool thing is that with Signals, I’m notified when they open the email as well as when the click the link. So, I can immediately ask something short and non-threatening, like, “Did that help?” or “See what I mean?”
A few months ago, I met someone at a networking event. We exchanged emails and had a telephone conversation. Then, I saw another event, similar to the one at which we met. I tweeted something like “@Heyyou, did you see this event? Are you going?” and we met there.
Consumers are using social media to get the attention of companies when they’ve received less than acceptable service. My experience is that these companies have a higher caliber employee monitoring social media, probably an unhappy customer on social media can be much more damaging than an unhappy customer calling the customer service line. Think about the impact of having your ‘sales’ conversations viewed by other people who haven’t shown themselves yet.
Here is a link to last year’s series about whether Social Media is Sunsetting.