For this month's social media marketing news, we're going to cover the basic categories we are engaging through social media. The categories of people are: visitors, customers, and clients.
Let's get some context here so that we understand the roles involved here:
Visitors are people who have some interest in what we offer. They haven't done business with us before, but they are trying to figure out what value we can offer them. Our responsibility is to provide them with a strong impression of what we offer and why it is valuable to them. Even if we offer something for free, they still are trading their time and attention for it. That time and attention is highly valuable. Our goal is to convert them from being a visitor – similar to someone who is “window-shopping” – to a customer who comes in and engages with us. When it comes to social media marketing, our #1 goal is to ask and gain that visitor's trust. That starts with the process to provide us with their email address. When we get that email address, we convert them to become a customer.
Customers are people who have either visited with us before or have completed a transaction with us. They are showing interest and seem to think that we have something of worth to offer them. However, their level of loyalty is not very high. They're still in the evaluation process to figure out if we're good enough to get their attention and their business on a regular basis.
Our #1 goal in this stage is to show them a consistent message that provides great value for them and a high level of understanding of their needs. We know we've met that goal when they respond to our emails and come back again and again to our website. If we're offering something for sale, we start seeing them visiting more often and spending more time on our site. When we get multiple visits on our site and we also get multiple purchases, we convert them to become a client.
Clients are people who are fully engaged with what we offer. They visit our site and they purchase our products and/or services. Clients engage with our social media outlets and they regularly “like” what we're offering on them. They want to connect with us regularly. Our #1 goal in this stage is to encourage them to tell others about what we are providing for them and to become fans of what we do. We know we've done well when they are sharing about us on social media and want to broadcast the great relationship they have with us.
With these categories in mind, how does social media play into our acquisition strategy of visitors, customers, and clients?
Social media is a tool, not the solution, for turning visitors into customers, and customers into clients.
The reality of social media is that it is “rented space.” We don't own that space. We also don't have any guarantees that we will have that space in the future. That news may seem harsh, but it's the reality of the situation. There is always that possibility where we may have our business page shut down and the data disappears forever. It's like a billboard. We can rent that billboard for a long time, but there is always that chance that the billboard provider may rent it to someone else, or that the billboard is torn down. With this in mind, we want to drive traffic to those resources that we own and fully control.
This is why it is critically important to encourage visitors, customers, and clients to sign up for your email blasts. The best way to do this is through our website. Even though we want visitors, customers and clients to “like” our Facebook page, retweet our Twitter posts, etc., these channels provide no guarantee that we can and will be top priority in front of the audience you want to talk to. Take full advantage of social media and what it offers. Invite people to engage further in the places where you have full control and ownership.
Second, we need to provide compelling reasons which will attract visitors, cause customers to buy, and clients to be proud to be associated with us.
Just because we gained that email address does not mean that we've gained and retained a client. No, it just means that they're willing to engage further. Social media provides us opportunities to increase trust, present compelling reasons to do business with us, and for people to share with their friends and family why they do business with us. We need to provide content which is engaging and presents the value we provide.
Social media is a validation source. It encourages interest, allows people to talk about what we do, and it is easily accessible to everyone. Better yet, it is in a marketplace which gives people the feeling that it is neutral and safe. How we interact within the marketplace will determine how well we will attract people to do business within our environment. We want to give people plenty of reasons for them to trust us and to choose us. With that in mind, we engage in social media so that we are relevant in the marketplace.
Thirdly, we need to understand that social media is not where we want for the transaction to happen.
The transaction needs to happen at our place and under our control. That might be a brick-and-mortar location, a website, maybe even at a market, or a conversation. Where they don't need to happen is on social media. The key point is to invite everyone to come to our location and do business with you. We don't want to be completing a transaction and for someone to inject themselves into the conversation – which is easy on social media. Instead, we want to provide the environment that builds trust and increases engagement – and that place needs to be under our control.
Reviews and comments which are positive and promote what we are offering is a good validation source and process. Social media provides that validation very well. However, we don't want to be creating an opportunity for someone to make a bad comment. Instead, we want social media to encourage visitors, customers, and clients to do business with us and to continue doing business with us. It's a validation source, not the sales counter.
As we convert visitors into customers, and customers into clients, we need to maintain the position that social media provides us with a great opportunity to communicate within the marketplace. We can effectively communicate with all visitors, customers, and clients, as long as we are intentional and strategic about the message.
How do you engage with visitors, customers, and clients? And how does social media fit within those plans? What kind of trustworthy environment are you providing for all three groups to do business with you?