Social media engagement and sales are more closely linked than you might think. Globally, two billion of us use social media. What we see and hear will of course have an influence on what we buy, whether we realise it or not. Almost half of us turn to social media when making a buying decision, and 71% of social media users are more likely to purchase from a business they are connected with online.
It’s easy to set up a company Facebook page, Twitter account, or LinkedIn profile. It’s also true that social media can be a fantastic leveller for a small business. If you’re putting out a message that chimes with your buying audience, even with a very small budget it becomes possible to get your voice heard and compete against much bigger players.
But you’re not looking for likes and follows just for the sake of it. If your end goal is to increase customers and sales, here are some tips on how to create a sales-focused social media presence.
Make sure you are engaging with the right people on the right platforms
So, what do we mean by engagement? In its broadest sense, it refers to the many ways in which your online audience interacts or has contact with your business online. It can include any variations on the following:
Clicking on, liking or sharing your social media posts
Clicking through to your website to read more about your product
Filling in a contact form
Making a purchase online.
One of the best things about social media is just how easy it is to measure these metrics. You are completely free to see who is engaging with you, in what ways, and how far they get in the buying process.
The first priority is ensuring that you engage with the right audience (i.e. those who have a good chance of eventually buying from you). For this, it’s useful to build up a picture of your typical or ideal customer. Which social media platforms do they use? What content are they interested in looking at and where do they go for advice? What type of questions do they ask before making their purchasing decisions? Your research here can involve surveying existing customers, or looking at your competitors’ social media presence for inspiration.
Once you know the go-to platforms for your target audience, and you have an idea of what content potential customers are most likely to be interested in, you can work out how and where to focus your social media efforts.
Increase sales without being ‘salesy’
None of us appreciate being constantly sold to via our personal social media feeds. So how do you get your message across without inadvertently turning users off your brand?
Take inspiration from bigger brands for exactly how to pull this off. Topshop is a great example, with over a million Twitter followers. Yes, its feed includes posts focusing on its products, but it doesn’t feel like a long list of adverts. In between product posts there are roundups of events like London Fashion Week, slideshows of celebrity photos, and content around not just fashion trends, but music and TV, too: precisely the type of thing their target audience is interested in seeing and reading about.
Following the ‘80/20’ rule — where just 20% of your social content is focused on your product, and the bulk of the content relates to more general information of interest to your audience — can be a useful route to striking that balance.
Should you pay for social to increase your reach?
Paid social posts involve putting money behind certain content, such as an article or video, so that it will appear in the feeds of users who are not already following you. With Facebook’s promoted posts, it’s possible to target your paid posts according to age, location, and interests, for example. You pay for it on a cost-per-click, or cost-per thousand model.
This can be a great way of instantly increasing your exposure. Targeting the right groups with the right content can result in a quick sales boost. But success here isn’t always guaranteed: viewers are much more likely to scroll straight past a ‘Promoted Tweet’ than something that has been actively recommended to them by a real person from their group of contacts. Especially if your target audience is relatively tech-savvy, they are also more likely to to have an ad-blocking tool in place, so your paid-for ad might not be seen by as many people as you had hoped.
There’s also the organic approach to extending your audience and boosting your sales: allowing a slow-growing audience to build up organically. From an initial core of followers, if your content is deemed worthy of likes and shares, it’s possible to gradually extend your audience without financial outlay in the form of ad-spend.
Tying social media into your other sales efforts
So, your social following is starting to grow and a steady stream of traffic is finding its way to your website. But then, they seem to get stuck. Something’s stopping them from clicking that ‘Buy’ button or giving you a call.