Not sure social media can be used to boost your business's sales? You might be surprised. Now's the time to develop a winning strategy for turning social media followers into customers that keep coming back for more.

It has become a norm for businesses small, medium and large to use social media for marketing. Many use Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and more.

Traditionally, social media has been an effective way to drive brand awareness. But now is the time for businesses to take it one step further and start converting their followers into paying customers.

Brands should use social media for both marketing and sales

As stated by Hootsuite, 90% of brands today use social media as a way to increase brand awareness, but only 58% are able to measure social media ROI effectively, and a smaller percentage - 34% - are actually able to do so.

The Hootsuite report also reports that 28% of marketers are currently implementing a social commerce strategy or are planning on implementing one soon. This is not a surprising statistic, since 40% of digital consumers research new brands on social media before making a purchase decision.

Therefore, if some of your potential customers are already doing their research on social media before making a purchase, does it not make sense that your business should be creating sales leads and driving consumers toward sales funnels?

B2B or B2C? Social media can do both – and well

It makes perfect sense to use social media for sales for businesses that sell to other businesses, as well as businesses that sell directly to consumers. In light of increasing pressure to prove social ROI, more and more companies are focusing on generating revenue from their social media strategies, according to Social Media Examiner.

It's important to follow some best practices that top social media marketers follow if you want social media to work for your business.

Start by defining your target audience

The first step to turning your social media followers into customers is identifying which of these followers that you have hopefully been gaining over time fall into the target audience that you are targeting.

You can do this easily by researching your existing customers and defining their specific characteristics. Ask them how the product or service you provide them helps them solve a problem they are facing. You may already know this, but it still doesn't hurt to ask.

In order to see how your customers solve their problems with your product or service, you may want to send them a survey. This survey should have a question with contextual information about your business, which will help you understand how your product or service helps customers.

Based on your customers' answers, you should create content focused on a set of solutions that you can explain and include in social media posts.

Establish and utilize your sales funnels

Social media sales funnels don't differ all too much from traditional sales funnelsl, so building funnels that incorporate social should not require a whole lot of out-of-the-box thinking. Make sure you figure out which marketing channels are currently sending leads into your funnel, how those leads are being followed up on, and how long it takes to close a sale using those marketing channels.

Social media leads need to be integrated into existing sales and buying processes in order for businesses to maximize the effectiveness of social media marketing. Social media leads are usually quite early in the buying process, so your social media content should build up awareness of your brand with them before moving toward sales.

Post consistent, quality content on social platforms

As soon as someone follows or likes your social media account, you can begin building their awareness of your brand. To do this, you need to have a plan for how much content you are going to post to each of your social media accounts, and you need to commit to regular, consistent posting of high-quality content.

Using an automation tool is also an option that you might want to consider in order to be able to schedule your posts in advance and not have to be concerned about remembering to do so. This is helpful for scheduling batches of content at a time so that creating new content for social media does not become yet another daily task.

If you do use an automation tool, then that does not mean you can just set a posting schedule and forget about checking in. In order to build relationships with potential customers, you should respond to comments and messages. It's important to respond quickly to establish a good track record of customer service, so be sure to check in periodically.

Nurture leads

When you consistently engage with the leads you have generated on the social media platforms where your business operates, you can nurture those leads into future sales leads.

Social media leads are likely earlier in the buying process, so you should create content that helps them make their decisions about whether to continue on your social sales funnel.

Providing answers to common questions about the business's products or services and explaining how they can help the customer is one way to accomplish this. Facebook and other social networks give brands access to retargeting capabilities that use contacts, websites visited and apps used.

Establish goals and measure results

Lastly, you must establish a goal for your social media sales funnel, otherwise you will be unable to track true social ROI. Determine how many social media users you would like to see progress through your sales funnel, whether that is through an actual purchase or a transition from a soft to a hard lead.

Tracking results is essential to measuring whether your business is achieving its goals. You will want to look at audience growth, engagement with content, progress in the sales funnel (i.e. requests for information, email signups, purchases or sales that can be tracked with analytics, etc.). It is possible to gather and analyze this data using some social media automation tools and other services.

Develop a strategy for converting social followers into customers

In the social media landscape, platforms are constantly jockeying for popularity among particular demographics and adjusting how posted content is treated. It can be a lot to follow and keep up on as far as best practices are concerned.

Through consulting, strategy development, and social media management, Emagine can help you create a stronger brand identity and convert more followers into customers.

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