Need More Sales? Put the “Social” in Your Social Media

TRP party crowd surfingGive some thought to your social media campaign.  Is it working?  Sure, you may have “likes,” and “retweets” and “favorites,” but is your social media strategy measurably generating sales?  Or perhaps it’s generating a boatload of reports and metrics you never considered 5 years ago (and yet your business somehow managed to hum along quite nicely).  Given the millions that are invested each year into technology to measure social media, there’s a lot of vested interest in, let’s be frank about this, smoke and mirrors that can distract from the tangible needs of the business.  If you find that people are telling you your social media is working, but it’s not generating sales, it’s time to re-evaluate.  The points below might help:

Problem:  You Create All Your Media

If all of your social media content comes from “over there,” (by which I mean a department in your organization, or your agency), then it probably won’t do a lot for your sales funnel.  In fact, without a strategy to drive interaction, this common approach is little more than old school advertising using new technology.  The only difference is that the message appears on a computer screen instead of a billboard.  Sure it’s media, but there’s not much that’s social about it if there’s no engagement or interaction.

Solution:  Your Customers Create your Content

Any 13-year-old can set up social media pages and post spam.  The magic is to post content that people who want your product, and can buy your product, actually, really care about.  Unless your brand is linked to a social or political cause, achieving this consistently is nearly impossible.  An option is to let your customers create your content for you.  This isn’t easy, which is why not many brands do this well.  The upside is that, if it’s done well, it will drive sales, while increasing your customer base.  Here’s one way to do it:

Tactic:  Using IRL (In Real Life)

Real life is the oft’ forgotten essential ingredient in great social media campaigns.  Used strategically, IRL will contribute to your user generated content, create a “buzz,” for your brand, and will act like hundreds of mini-testimonials, demonstrating that lots and lots of people are enjoying your product or service.   Two Canadian companies that do this very well are Mogo socially responsible financial services, and TheRedPin real estate brokerage (full disclosure, the latter has been a client of Socialicity).

Setting up opportunities to engage IRL takes planning, coordination, and persistence.  It’s not easy.  However, the payoff is a groundswell of content, all of which is about your brand, that your customers are sharing to their networks.  The next solution runs along the same lines.

Leveraging the Power of Employees to Create Content

Many organizations typically funnel all of their content through one single Facebook page.  Without paying Facebook to boost the post, a post on a company page that has about 500 likes will get to the computer screens or smartphones of only a small fraction of that number.  The real power lies in a brand’s employees.  Brands who are good at this allow content to be created independently by employees, on their personal pages, and shared with their friends (newsflash, this actually happens way, way more often than brands are aware).  A friend of mine who works at a coffee shop recently posted a latte she created (the “latte art” looked eerily like a gnome – it was actually pretty funny), and invited her friends to “come down for a custom-designed gnome latte.”  With 600 friends on her Facebook page and about 300 followers on Instagram, the coffee shop was suddenly much busier than they’d been in a long time.  How big is the army that is your employees’ Facebook friends?  Makes you think, right?

The Obvious Challenges

Giving hundreds of employees carte blanche to post whatever they want about your brand has some obvious challenges, but they’re not insurmountable (One strategy is to start by setting up a team of brand ambassadors who work closely with marketing).  The benefit is that where you once had a reach of perhaps a few hundred, you now have a reach of many, many times more than that, depending on your business.  More about organizational change management than about social media, this approach often leads to fascinating unintended results as organizations begin to weave the thread of “social” into the fabric of their organization.

While neither of these solutions is easy, they both make a measurable difference to the bottom line.   Don’t fall for the, “because we should” rationale of social media.  If what you’re doing doesn’t create sales or populate the sales funnel, it’s time to re-consider your strategy and tactics.  It might be time to put a little “social” into your social media.

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Jim Gaffigan, Bacon, and Increasing your Ability to Influence

baconRecently I was having a conversation with a client of mine who had reduced their pricing in order to increase sales.  When they didn’t see the expected bump in results, they came to me for help (and I was thankful they did).  While creating a solution turned out to be more nuanced than a quick fix (when crossing advertising copy, social media, call centre, and face-to-face sales scenarios, there is always complexity), there was one part of their puzzle that not only made a big difference, but was simple enough that I’d like to share it with you.  Making this simple change, and rolling it out across a variety of their customer touch-points, directly contributed to a significant increase in sales.  It’s also a technique that is fundamental to human conversation, and one I would suggest you mastered by the time you were 4 years old, but potentially have forgotten (as my client had).

My niece hasn’t forgotten though.  She’s 5.  Here’s what a recent conversation went like:  “Guess what?” She says.  “What?” I ask.  “You’ll never believe me if I tell you,” She says.  “What?  Tell me!” I say, now on the edge of my seat.  Only then did she tell me her news (Don’t worry, I’ll tell you her news at the end of this piece).

Turns out that by applying this simple technique my niece used so expertly, my client was able to realize their bump in sales that had eluded them months before.  Here’s what it is:

Building Curiosity

Rather than simply stating what you want your customers to know, the trick is to build so much curiosity in your audience that they absolutely need to know what the change is and demand that you tell them.  This requires a little self-control, because the rule is that if they don’t ask, you don’t get to tell.  And if they never ask, you know you need to revise your approach of building curiosity.  The challenge is placing that need to know in your customer’s mind.

Back in the heyday of door-to-door sales, this technique was called “sizzling.”  To illustrate, let’s think about what sizzles.  Bacon for example.  Sure, you may not want bacon right now.  But if you hear it, sizzling noisily on the pan, smoke wafting into the air, carrying with it delicious bacon-y aromas, you suddenly want bacon (I even bet you kinda want bacon now!).    It’s the same with your important piece of news.  Turn it onto bacon and sizzle it.

Putting It Into Action

There are literally hundreds of ways to do this.  One example I hear on occasion goes something like, “I was talking to someone just the other day who was able to solve that problem and they were amazed at how easy it was.”  (You’ll find the approach that works for you.)  Then wait for them to ask.  Sometimes the waiting can feel like an eternity, but just like bacon, it may take a few moments for your message to cook.  You’ll find it’s worth it.

Here’s a recent poster from Westjet (part of a series), that uses the sizzle technique to create curiosity about their fares to London.  Notice what they don’t tell you:

Westjet uses the "sizzle" technique to create curiosity about their airfares.

My Niece’s Big News

As promised, here’s my niece’s news.  Her Pokemon had evolved from Weedle to Kakuna.  Did learning it change my life?  Nope.  But because she sizzled the news as hard as she did, I knew it was a big deal for her and I replied enthusiastically.  Your customers may do the same (just don’t make it about Pokemon).

If This Was Helpful…

If this was helpful, just think what a live conversation would do.  We help select companies of all sizes (from 1 employee to thousands) fine tune their messaging to ensure it delivers the intended results.

Pat Perdue Customer Experience Evangelist

Pat Perdue is CEO of Socialicity Media.  You can reach Pat by email at Pat@socialicity.ca

 

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