Social media: Turning followers into customers

Local experts share tips on how to monetize social media

FB icon on blueprint

Late last month, Facebook announced it had reached a significant milestone: On Monday, August 24, approximately one billion people logged on to the website. It was the first time that many members used the world’s largest social media network in a 24-hour period.

That milestone got us thinking. With Facebook and other social media networks growing, as a business, the case for establishing an online social media presence to interact with customers and clients has never been greater.

But simply establishing a presence on Facebook or Twitter isn’t enough. Business owners want to know how being on social media can positively impact the bottom line. With that in mind, we reached out to members of the local tech community with the following question: How can businesses turn their followers and ‘likes’ into paying clients? Here are the responses:

“There are two main concepts you should focus on if you want your followers to become customers and they are building their trust and providing value.

You don’t earn people’s trust overnight and you definitely don’t earn it by posting marketing messages to them over and over. They followed you, so they took the first step in connecting with your brand. Now it’s time for you to honor that and cater to them and their needs as if they were in your bed and breakfast.

Ask yourself (and your followers) what they are hoping to get out of connecting with your brand’s community. They may want to connect with other like-minded people. They may be considering purchasing from you and want to get to know you first. They may want to receive special offers or be updated on upcoming events.

Your entire goal is to provide them with the value they are seeking. If you can consistently provide value through sharing informative, educational and entertaining content, the likelihood your followers will become paying clients will increase exponentially. Over time you can build interest in your product or service by sharing interesting stories that involve your product. Share some client testimonials and maybe run some contests, or do some giveaways.”

“Monetizing social media can be difficult if you don’t know what you are doing. It’s not just about having a bunch of fans on your Facebook business page and boosting your post. That’s what Facebook wants you to think, but if you have done that you probably haven’t seen a whole lot of clients come from it.

In reality, [social networks,] Facebook especially, have come a long way from even a year ago. For instance, Facebook recently introduced a ‘buy now’ button that enables a potential customer to purchase directly from Facebook.

For best results, we have found that if you create a time limit or limited number of specials, you can create a sense of urgency for the potential customer to buy.

When someone clicks on the ‘buy now’ button it takes them to a landing page where they fill in their name and email (data that you should collect for future email campaigns) and then use PayPal to complete the transaction.

There are many other ways to market on social media. The beautiful thing about Facebook is that you can target individuals that have particular interests in your area. Facebook also uses information like when you change your status from single to engaged or ‘in a relationship’ to serve ads from companies marketing things like jewelry, wedding venues, limo services etc.

We have found Facebook to the best resource as far as social media goes for local businesses trying to promote a special, a particular product or event. Other forms of social media are great, but it depends on the type of product or type of business you are trying to promote. Visual businesses like sign companies, t-shirt companies and beauty salons do particularly well on Instagram and Pinterest.”

“Treat your Facebook followers like family. If you get tired of post after post asking for you to purchase something or share something, I guarantee your followers feel the same way. In order to turn your followers into clients, treat them the way you would treat your friends on Facebook. Social media posts should be 80 percent engaging, personal and fun; 20 percent business pitch. As consumers on Facebook begin to get to know you and trust you, that relationship will turn into long-term clients.”

“Don’t Leave Your Customers Hanging. More and more businesses are using social media as a customer service hotline.

When a customer comments on your Facebook page or sends you a private message, respond as soon as you can. Immediately “like” their comment so the customer knows that you’ve acknowledged their post; reply shortly afterwards with a detailed response. If the customer sends you a private Facebook message, they will expect a response right away.

Facebook has a great tool located on the right side of your Facebook page (if you’re an admin of the page) that measures your response time. According to Facebook, in order to get a special icon on your page you must respond to 90 percent of your messages and maintain a median response time of five minutes for all replies sent over the last seven days.

Responding in a timely manner is customer service’s number one rule. If your Facebook page meets the response time requirements, your page will have a “very responsive” icon below your page’s cover photo, which anyone can see. When your page isn’t very responsive to messages, only people who help manage your page can see responsiveness.”

“What’s really cool is the way you can now drive traffic through social media to your website with calls to action. You can have a call to action on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine – whatever you are using, and you can still have a separate call to action on your website.

For example, let’s imagine a bakery offering a bread sale on Wednesday with a call to action that says the first 50 people get the [discount] code; there are ways of structuring your call to action that tells you exactly where your activity is coming from. You can then use tools like Facebook Insights and Twitter Analytics to track SEO-type statistics.

These tools, along with SEO information from your website, really give you the kind of data you need to track your successes.”