Your Social media has extraordinary power to extend your reach, to capture customers and prospects, and to drive sales. But the social channel is often treated like the stepchild of marketing. It certainly gets adopted for the low cost of entry, but maybe for that same reason, it doesn’t get the attention it deserves.
Done well, social media can make you money. Otherwise, it’s just a drain on resources. With that in mind, here are seven steps that are critical to driving sales on social media.
Begin with a clear plan. Without a plan, social media becomes a “when we get to it” activity instead of a priority. This doesn’t have to take a lot of time. But you need to do it. Your plan should answer these questions:
- Which platforms make the most sense for our audience? Don’t chase fads, but don’t ignore trends. Focus on the platform or platforms that your audience engages with most.
- How often should you post? Consistency matters, so set a schedule and stick to it. A few times a week? Daily? Several times a day? The answers depend on your goals, your resources and your audience.
- What kind of content should you post? Brainstorm a list of the kinds of posts you could create. Then create a calendar — literally — that shows which type of content gets posted on which days. Remember, for every post that sells a product or service, post four or five that don’t. Posts might include:
- Case studies
- Client profiles
- Employee profiles
- Myths dispelled
- Common questions answered
- Did you know?
- Behind the scenes
- Special events
- Throwback posts
- Best practices
- Products / services
One of the things businesses like about social media is that it’s “free.” But it’s not. Not really. You have to allocate the appropriate amount of time on your schedule or your team’s, or bring in a dedicated social media specialist, or hire an outside firm to handle it for you. There are advantages to each; just choose the one that ensures a consistent and productive presence on your platforms of choice. If you don’t, you will fail.
You might think that no matter what you post, it will get seen. But with so much content in your audience’s feed, your posts are super easy to scroll past. So make your audience stop. That takes an arresting image, a startling or scrappy headline graphic, or an irresistible video topic. Research shows that if your posts aren’t creative, they simply won’t get the engagement you need. And engagement is a crucial step toward sales.
It’s time. If you’ve been putting off doing videos for social media, you can’t wait any longer. But relax. They don’t have to be long. They don’t have to be complicated. In fact, the shorter the better. Just look at the kinds of content listed above, and see how many of them lend themselves to video. You can use a phone or an inexpensive video camera, as well as an inexpensive microphone, and make perfectly watchable videos. But start.
All of this effort is wasted if you’re not building a robust following. So spend the right amount of time and energy growing your base. Start with customers. At every interaction, ask them to follow you. Always welcome them when they do. Consider rewarding them, too. Just as important, ask prospects to follow you. Follow them. Like and comment on their posts, and share them when they’re worth sharing. Respond to every mention of your business on your platforms.
Follow your competitors. Pay attention to what they’re posting. Strive to outperform them. If they do something smart, ask yourself how you can build that into your program, too. And while it may seem counter-intuitive, comment with praise when one of their posts rings true – especially regarding industry trends or best practices. Your graciousness reflects well on your business.
Organic reach is awesome. It’s great to have people naturally respond to and engage with your content. But remember that your goal is to drive sales. So when you need people to take some action — visit a landing page, attend an event, get a coupon — consider paid social ads that give you access to prospects who look like your current customers. Paid ads are also a great way to build your followers, especially if you’re new.