First, every business needed a website. Then they needed to have a video. Subsequently, everybody knew they needed to be ‘on Facebook’ and ‘to tweet’ and do ‘social media marketing’ and use a bunch of other buzzwords without really knowing the real meaning behind them. As with video production and website design before that, business owners still don’t quite know why. By definition, every business activity is performed in order to ‘increase the wealth of shareholders,’ that is to make money! In this article, we’ll try to explain how to get your social media sales to increase and measure the ROI (Return on Investment) of your social media marketing campaign.

Social Media and the Bottom Line

When you get a cold call from a salesperson trying to sell you social media marketing ask them ‘why?’ The answer you’re likely to get will be a mixture of increasing your branding, increasing the audience for your ‘marketing message,’ getting ‘likes,’ getting higher search engine rankings, driving traffic to your website, etc. Those things are all nice and good but truthfully, they are only secondary perks of ‘doing social media.’ A real social media marketing campaign deserving of the name will get sales for your business and will allow you to track its return on investment – beginning to finish! Below is a blueprint for how to accomplish those goals.

How to Utilize Social Media to Get Leads and Sales

First of all, you need to create your profiles. Simply registering for an account, uploading a logo, and posting some updates is NOT enough. You need to take full advantage of customization options available on the given website. MySpace is a perfect example of a social networking website that offers a very extensive customization package – given a little skill in coding, you can turn your profile into a fully functional website. We know what you’re thinking – who the flip is using MySpace anymore? Although its user base has significantly declined, myspace (as it is now stylized) or new myspace is still ranked in top 5 (or at least the top 10 depending on the compilation) of social media websites – in every ranking we found when researching for this article, myspace has beaten Google Plus by a good margin. If you are in the music business, then you know that with the direction the company has taken after Justin Timberlake has come on board, myspace is arguably the most important social media network for music artists and enthusiasts – just as DeviantART is for artwork. Another social media website, LinkedIn – advertised as a professional media website – has arguably the most underutilized customization options available. The reason is most likely the buggy system for creating business pages that focuses on using an email @ the company’s name (ex: jon@mycompanyname.com or sales@mycompanyname.com) and it’s almost non-existent customer support for the feature – at least for the non-paying members.

Social Media Customization

So how and why do we customize our social media pages? Firstly, make sure you complete the full profile – have your name, logo, website, telephone number, physical address, etc. You need to make sure if somebody lands on your page, they have every option available to contact you. Continued use of the profile is also necessary – if you have frequent posts, fan interactions, goodly number of followers (counted at least in thousands), your profile will look credible – if you only have 10 likes and 3 posts, 9 out of 10 people will disregard it as a joke, a fake profile, or an SEO or affiliate marketing stunt.

Let’s now take it a bit further and look at the professional customization, that is those that require a web developer, an API, or an app. If your business is in the service industry, you need to make sure your page has a contact form or a live chat feature. If your visitor is ready to buy they need to have a way to send you a lead immediately – it is called an impulse for a reason – it doesn’t last long!

Sell Directly From Your Facebook Page

If you sell actual products, then you want to (at the very least) have a way to display your products on your profile and offer a way or the customer to go from your product page on social media directly to that products listing on your eCommerce website – that is the page with a “buy now” button. Once again, this is the bare minimum. A much better solution is to offer visitors – where available – a separate eCommerce solution for the given social media network, such as an online store on Facebook or an app or iframe on other social media websites that allow such add-ons.

Engage Your Potential Clients on Social Networks

The items described above are just the prep-work. To really get sales, you need to get your hands dirty and break some sweat. The best way to get sales on social media is to approach a potential customer at the moment he or she expresses interest in your product/service – not necessarily the one offered by your company but the general type of service or product that your company provides. Once you’ve identified the customer, you could call him by either sending a private message, email, or simply comment on the post they made. This is a specific kind of cold calling – a social media marketing cold call. You could argue semantics and call it a ‘warm call’ because the person already expressed interest in your product/service and since they made the announcement on a public forum, contacting them is a fair game and will almost always be compliant with the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003*

*CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 is a United States law enforced by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC ) that governs the sending of commercial e-mails. For those unfamiliar with the US law, you can look up 15 U.S.C. 7701, et seq., Public Law No. 108-187, S.877 of the 108th United States Congress. The full text of the law and its provisions can be found on the FTC website.

Catch Them at the Right Moment

Now, the question is how to identify the social media user at the moment they express interest or otherwise indicate readiness to make a purchasing decision? This is the golden question that really tells us how to get sales from social media! The two main ways are through targeted advertising and by monitoring the social media sphere. The focus of this article is the monitoring strategy but lets first briefly touch on advertising.

Targeted Social Media Display Advertising

Most social media websites offer some sort of advertising. Usually, those that do not are simply waiting to grow their user base before offering the advertising options (such was the case with both Facebook and LinkedIn). What distinguishes social media ads from other types of display ads is the amazing targeting. Since social media profiles include individuals’ very personal data, the social media websites can offer advertisers a broad array of criteria for audience targeting, which goes beyond keywords and basic demographics, such as ASL (age, sex, location), and allows to choose from such data as interests, job title, income, marital status, hobbies, and more.

How to Advertise on Facebook and Other Social Media Websites?

Moreover, starting advertising on social media is very easy and offers a lot of tracking options. Picture below is a screenshot of a possible ad that a video production company – Indigo Productions – could run on Facebook to promote its music video production services among people who are in a band and may want to take the next step and record their first music video (or consider alternatives to their current production company).

Drive Sales to Your Business by Monitoring Social Media

Let’s now move to our main subject – social media monitoring for sales opportunities. The idea is actually very simple: nowadays people “take their business on the street” all the time but now this ‘street’ is the information highway known as the World Wide Web, more specifically social media. Your Average Joe will announce his breakfast on Twitter, complain about inhumane treatment of the chicken he just ate by sharing a Peta campaign picture on his Facebook wall, then at lunchtime check in at a local dinner on Foursquare, then go back to the office and endorse his colleague for his skills on LinkedIn and ‘+1′ an article he just read on Google Plus. When our friend Joe suddenly announces for the World to hear that he’s considering buying a product that we sell or asks for a recommendation for a service that we provide – NOW is a time to act. We need to answer his question and politely suggest our product or service. We also need to act FAST – we need to engage the user before somebody else does or before he loses interest or logs off.

Social Media Sales Automation

Now, how do we manage to monitor the activities of 1.15 billion users on Facebook, 200 million on Twitter, and all the others split between the array of other social media networks? One way is to utilize the search function present in many of those websites. We first come up with keywords that our prospective clients might use in their post announcing their readiness to buy – let’s call those the ‘buying keywords.’

There are at least several potential buyers for our video production service, so all we have to do is contact the poster and engage them in a discussion. In the case of Twitter, we can either send them a private message or make a post ‘@the given user.’

The alternative to the regular search feature, we can use the hashtag search – #keyword – this would be more useful on networks such as Facebook that don’t allow us to search through the posts of people, rather by their names and titles of pages.

This method is time consuming but can bring surprisingly good results! To make it more efficient, we can use certain services – either regular desktop-based software or web-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) – there is a huge variety of services available that can make this process much more efficient through automated alerts – we first include our keywords, industry, product/service names etc. and wait for the program to find current posts for us.

Some services will be more comprehensive (some will even, in addition to social media networks, include regular websites, blog, forums, and RSS feeds) some will focus on specific websites. As may be expected some will also be more expensive and some will be free or include a free trial or a free – but severely limited – version of the service.

Conclusion

Per analogiam, some will be better and some will be worse. Oftentimes, the best fit for you and your company will depend on your strategy and personal preference, so if you decide to follow our advice and engage in social media cold calling, don’t go with the first service you sign up with. Try several first and decide which one is the best for you – maybe it will be a combination of two or more programs?

Some more well known services that allow for both brand and sales social media monitoring include HootSuite, Vocus, and Mention.net – the choice is yours!

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