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You Have Over a Bazillion Social Media Followers. Can You Convert Them into Customers?

iStock-480148510.jpgLiking a post is not a buying signal.

Here’s what will happen when you deposit the 537 Instagram likes your post got into your checking account: Nothing.

Massive social media followings are fabulously flattering but they’re not prospects, they certainly aren’t leads, and they may never become customers. Such is the challenge of marketing with social media. How do you get people to do more than just like you? Try these tactics.

Understand the networks

Simple fact of life. Some social media networks just aren’t into you. They’re not going to work to promote your brand or distribute your content no matter what you try—and consequently, they will never become a sales vehicle. Which one will work for you? You’ll have to figure it out.

Twitter might excel at lead generation, while Facebook might be the social media network that converts. It’s also crucial to understand that social media leads are what’s known as soft leads. They haven’t indicated any intent to purchase your product or service. In fact, they might not even equate your product or service to the piece of social media content they liked.

For your eyes only

Create and promote exclusive content. Let’s make Instagram our social media crash test dummy for the rest of this article. For the most part, though, you could use these tactics for any of the social network giants.  

Exclusive content makes your followers feel special. Sure, they probably have an account on most of the networks. They’ll have a couple, though, that are their go-to networks. Offer up content that can’t be found anywhere else. Create a special offer for them. And for goodness sake, ask for the sale.

Dress for the occasion

This gets a bit fuzzy around the edges. Social media is about people interacting with people. Even if you’re a business, your customers want to engage with the humans who operate it. That’s why the Progressive Insurance Facebook page has 412,425 likes, while Flo, the Progressive Girl, has almost 4.9 million likes. On the other hand, the Tesla Motors Facebook page has 2.1 million likes, while CEO Elon Musk has just 595,126 likes.

The company’s spokeswoman has more relatability than the insurance it sells. The electric car has more relatability than its eclectic founder. Nevertheless, both companies know what to feature in their social media content to draw in eyeballs.

Social media is all about finding people who share our beliefs and outlooks. Your challenge as a company is to find people who sum up what you stand for. You have text—but photos and video tell richer stories. Have fun and show your followers the real-life goings-on at your company. Help them see how you fit your product or service into your life. It validates their decision to buy it and fit it into their life.

Let’s say there’s no identifiable human to represent your brand on social media. It’s time to make a few. Social media is great for satisfying our curiosity about what goes on behind closed doors. Post an image or a video of your people interacting with your product or service. And for goodness' sake, remind your followers that the product they see is for sale. For double goodness' sake, send shout outs to every single follower who becomes a customer.

Stop being pushy

“What if we run a contest or ask for people to comment on a post…and nobody does it?” Well, you would have to wonder about the value of your bazillion social media followers. You won’t be able to convert them into customers if you can’t even get them to interact with you.

What if you do run a contest or ask for post comments, and nothing happens? Have you ever done something like that before? It might take some coaxing if that’s unexpected behavior. The only harm a contest or request for interaction could possibly to do your business is bruise your ego. Get over it. There’s no crying in social media.

The most important thing you can do to convert social media followers into customers is interact with them. It can’t be just you pushing stuff out as posts. Get busy and leave comments on things they post. The fact that they do post gives you another opportunity to stimulate interaction. Have your followers generate content that you’ll feature as posts. Photo contests were popular long before social media came along. It won’t take long. People will get used to it and participate. Soon you’ll be known as a company that runs contests and loves getting comments on posts. And for goodness' sake, don’t assume your followers know you want post interactions and user-generated content. Remind them on a regular basis.

Social media is more of a nurturer than a sales tool. People can passively engage with you without even going near your sales funnel. Your bazillion likes are an indication of interest, but not a predictor of sales. Two things are undeniably true: It’s social and it’s media. Engagement is what powers the engine.

We know that engagement is what powers a sales funnel. It converts leads into customers, and it transforms customers into promoters. If you’re going to play in the social media arena and plan to use it as a conversion tool, for goodness' sake, make sure it’s quality and appropriate for the network.