Category Archives: sales

The Greatest Hits on The SocialSteve Blog – 2013

Thanks for being a reader of The SocialSteve Blog (named one of the Top 50 Global Influential Marketing Blogs). Here are the articles that were the greatest hits on The SocialSteve Blog in 2013 …

SocialSteve Greatest Hits

#10) Why PR Agencies Should be Great at Social Marketing, But So Few Are

#9) A Facebook Page Every Marketer Should Learn From

#8) How Often Should You Post?

#7) 2013 – The Year Social Media Will Be Measured Correctly

#6) Activation Marketing via Social Media

#5) Social Media Highlights the Important Difference Between Marketing and Sales

#4) Know Your “Ps” When It Comes to Content and Social Marketing

#3) The Successful Social Marketing Framework

#2) What is Social Marketing? (Make Sure You Really Know)

#1) Why Are We Doing Social Marketing Anyway?

Strive for social marketing excellence.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

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Social Media Marketing and Its Relevance to Sales

social salesWhat is social media marketing’s role in sales? This is the real question company leaders want answered. Last week I wrote an article, “Why Are We Doing Social Marketing Anyway” which touched on the subject of social marketing’s relationship to sales. Judged by the amount of discussion and misinformation generated, especially on the LinkedIn CMO Network Group, it is necessary to take on questions of social marketing and relevance to sales directly.

First, let me state that it is pretty much impossible to measure direct results of social marketing on sales. That is because most of the channels used for socializing a brand are not owned by the brand. If I post something on my Facebook page, or tweet something on my Twitter page, and it states something like “love my new ‘brand-name’,” that post can be monitored, but not pixelated or cookied to capture further actions. Yes, there are quantitative marketing mix models that attempt to isolate marketing channels to assess product sales lift, but most of the accurate models are cost prohibitive to use.

If you really want to understand the relationship of social marketing and sales, you must be more of a psychologist than a marketer. Human behavior … that is what needs to be evaluated. How does the audience react to brand posts and socialization? There is a direct correlation to continuous active following and future sales.

So let me give you an example. A while back, I did some social marketing for a well-known women’s magazine. The sales department “packaged in” a Facebook post from a deodorant company that simply said “keep dryer …” The audience went ballistic. They were appalled at blatant advertisement and selling on a social channel. Direct selling on social channels often produces the exact opposite of the marketers’ objectives. It turns off people.

But smart marketers know how to subtly sell on social channels. Think of it this way … use social to sell a customer experience. A customer experience that delivers value to the target audience. And when you consistently deliver value over time, you do not win a sale; you win a loyal customer that often becomes your advocate as well.

In the past, I have defined that social marketing should NOT be measured in sales or conversion. It is measured in awareness, consideration, loyalty and advocacy. Awareness and consideration as pre-sale attributes. But the post sales attributes of loyalty and advocacy are much more important for long-term sustainable business. And this is the true power of social marketing.

So here are some takeaways on social marketing relevance to sales:

1) You cannot measure direct sales effectively.
2) In most cases, consumers are turned off by blatant advertisement postings on social channels. (Yes, there are some exceptions and brands can run promotions and coupons in limitation.)
3) Social marketing yields strong results of pre-sales awareness and consideration and post-sales loyalty and advocacy. These four attributes tee up sales. Social has a strong value in sales, but not necessarily direct sales.

True – social is not a great vehicle to deliver immediate sales. But well executed social marketing delivers long-term sustainable sales. Social marketing yields brand preference. Brand preference produces repeatable sales and word of mouth marketing and referrals. Thus social marketing manufactures consumer conviction and sales.

It is difficult to correlate social activities to sales figures. But if you see empirical data that demonstrates brand increase in awareness, consideration, loyalty, and advocacy, does it not make sense that an increase sales will be the residual affect?

Far too often companies are driven by quarter-to-quarter results to the detriment of long-term sustainability and growth. Social marketing is definitely a long-term commitment and rarely produces immediate results. But does every company want committed customers and brand champions? Wanting and executing do not go hand in hand. Are you committed to long lasting success or just worried about the next quarter? The answer to this question largely defines expected social marketing success to drive long lasting sales.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

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Filed under brand communication, brand marketing, brands, sales, sales conversion, social marketing, social media, social media marketing, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve

You Talking Product or Lifestyle on Your Brand’s Social Media Presence?

Have you ever have had a conversation with someone where all they do is just talk about themselves? How many friends do you have like that? Probably not many. No one likes to be on the receiving end of blatant over self-absorption and indulgence. Could your brand possibly be socializing like that?

Stop to think about how your brand is socializing? Does the brand constantly talk about its product? Are you using Facebook, Twitter, or other social channels as an excessive advertorial, promotion, and product dumping ground? If this is the case you are turning off your friends and target audience.

Let’s start by stating the obvious … I know … You want your product to have strong sales success. It pays your salary. But far too many brands are taking this mentality and lure to their social media channels.

lifestyle

I always tell people that social media should be the marketing of a lifestyle. What does the your brand stand for? What are the stories you want to tell that resonate with your target audience? Think about drawing your audience in, keeping them interested, and engaging with them.

So how might you go about this? Let me start by asking a simple question … What is the personality of your brand? (For that matter, does your brand have a personality?). I usually put this in the category of message strategy. The personality of a brand comes out in the message strategy, or is it that the message strategy comes out from the brand personality? In any event, you need a voice, tone, persona, and overall feel for your brand that resonates with your audience. You see, the brand personality should not just be a reflection of your corporate culture, but also have depth in what your audience wants. And that is a big difference between personal socializing and brand socializing … In professional marketing you should be willing to change your brand’s personality and manufacture talking points to please your audience. Case in point – a pinnacle example is Coca-Cola’s digital presence. Look at their digital presence. (homepage, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, flickr, Pinterest, Tumblr)

Brands need to change. Social channels should not be viewed as selling channels. Too many companies are lured into a sales mentality and throw too much product material on their social posts. Brands need more of a story-telling, lifestyle, entertaining, and/or expertise of media mentality, presence and engagement on their social channels. If you take this approach, your social presence will help you sell. Down the road. With greater conviction. With greater help selling to an extended audience via referral and advocacy. That is if you take time, patience, and investment to become a producer of media and engagement as opposed to being an advertising exec on your social endeavors.

Now I am not saying you cannot or should not mention your product or run a promotion on social channels. Certainly you can and should, but some words of caution … Do it in the context of social engagement. Not “down your throat advertising.” Integrate promotion and sweepstakes in the look and feel of the set brand personality. And limit social channels for product speak. The number of times you mention your products in posts really depends on the vertical you serve. But I would limit it to no more than 15%, 20% of the time, max.

If you follow steps to think like a media producer and media director as opposed to an advertising exec when utilizing your social channels, you will see much greater empirical results. Use social the way the audience values brands on social. The audience is not looking for another advertising channel. They are looking for digital presence that reinforces their lifestyle and aspirational desires. Can you present your brand personality in this manner?

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

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Filed under ads, brand communication, brand marketing, content marketing, digital media, marketing, sales, sales conversion, social marketing, social media, social media marketing, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve

Social Media: Are Twitter and Facebook Best?

Twitter and Facebook … most often the first two words after social media. Just about every executive initiative related to social media starts with, “We need to be on Facebook and Twitter.” But are these two high visible platforms really the best channels to rally potential and existing buyers?

Last week, data was released that stated your Facebook fans and Twitters followers are twice as likely to purchase your product or service. “The survey by Chadwick Martin Bailey and iModerate Research found that 51 per cent of fans of pages on Facebook and 67 per cent of brand followers on Twitter say they are more prone to making purchases from the companies they track.”

Pretty compelling information. But wait. What came first? The chicken or the egg? Do you purchase from a brand first, and then decide to join the brand’s Facebook fan page and follow them on Twitter, or does the social media connection happen before a purchase? We’ll debate that one for a while … at least until there is some empirical data to determine this.

While this debate continues, let me offer an alternative strategy. I am not going to suggest a substitute, but rather something more compelling that should be integrated into your (presumed) existing Twitter and Facebook activities.

If you want to develop relationships with your target audience (this is what social media is REALLY all about), go where they are hanging out as opposed to expecting them to come over to your place. Find the existing communities where they are already participating. (I am sure there are many!) Simply search blogs, portal, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. to find the existing groups. Join these communities. Start by listening to the discussions there. Then join the conversations focusing on providing information that delivers to the communities’ needs (not yours). Continue to position yourself as a subject matter expert. Over the course of time, you will build relationships. Then you can invite them to your community (Facebook fan page) or to follow you (Twitter). But do this slowly and be sincere about the relationships you look to build. DO NOT SELL!!!

Mitch Joel (one of my favorite social media thought leaders out there) suggests, “spend(ing) ten times as much time adding value to the five or ten existing communities where (your) potential members might be hanging out, reading and connecting” in his article “The One Thing About Building A Community.” This is the integrated approach I suggested in the beginning. You will have your community where your existing customers will come (Twitter and Facebook – and others). Your community is an opportunity for you to build loyal customers and advocates. Your community will also attract people who might be considering purchase of your brand. But if you proactively want to rally your target audience, build relationships to new potential customers and over time turn them into your audience, go to their existing communities and play there.

Make It Happen!
Social Steve

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Filed under brand marketing, brands, Facebook, marketing, sales, social media, social media marketing, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve, Twitter, Uncategorized

Social Media: How To Go About It Video Series – Part 1 of 7

Want to get in the social media game? Many want to, but still feel social media is a foreign language. Social media can be demystified. I thought it would be beneficial to splice up a video of one of my recent presentations into 3 to 4 minute segments to convey simple approaches and principles for social media.

The series is titled “Social Media: How To Go About It” and consists of the following 7 parts:

Part 1 – The Marketing Funnel
Part 2 – LCR – Listen, Conversations, Relationships
Part 3 – Define Position Before Starting Social Media
Part 4 – Define Objectives Before Starting Social Media
Part 5 – Importance of Value with Social Media
Part 6 – Traversing the Crowd through the Social Media “A-Path”
Part 7 – Social Media – Where Do You Start

I will post two parts a week for the next few weeks. You can find the clips both here on my blog and at YouTube. I hope you find these useful and I would love to hear back from you.

Here is the Part 1 – The Marketing Funnel …

(Also see “Social Media Conversion and the Social Media Marketing Funnel”)

Best,
Social Steve

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Social Steve’s 2009 Social Media Wrap Up – Some Helpful Stuff

2009 has been a fabulous year! When I look back and review the progress made in social media, I see massive accomplishments due to swift adoption and recorded success stories. The year started with only a niche group knowing what social media is. As we end the year, everyone is talking about Twitter, Facebook has 350 million plus users, just about every company is thinking about how they are going to use social media outlets, and numerous companies are reporting successful programs. When you consider that “economic challenges” captured most of the headlines, the results and growth of the social media industry are quite impressive.

One of my objectives in 2009 was to be an advocate for social media by providing a rational bridge between established and sound business and marketing practices, and the emergence of new, supporting social media technologies and communications vehicles. That said, here I provide a summary of the articles I wrote to endorse, promote, and provide education of social media.

Marketing and Brand Marketing
Social Media Conversion and the Social Media Marketing Funnel
What Brands and Social Media Players Can Learn from The Grateful Dead
Awareness – Is it Always Good?
Differentiation When Social Media Moves Towards Mass Adoption
Brands in the Age of Social Media
Using the Social Media “A-path” to Capture Ultimate Customers
Indie Music & Social Media – A Perfect Match

Measurement
Socialnomics – Social Media ROI or Social Media Measurement?
Measuring the Value of Social Media

Game Plans
Social Media Conversation: I Know You’re Talking, But Are You Listening?
Executable Game Plan for Winning Ultimate Customers with Social Media
Mastering (?) Social Media
Simplifying Social Media
Before You Start with Social Media

Considerations on the Company and Organization
The Social Media MVP in 2010
Winning with Social Media at Your Company: A Letter to the CEO
Social Media – What Companies Are Looking For
What it Will Take for Social Network Profitability

Ramifications on SEO
Social Media cutting SEO spend
Social Media – Should Make Companies Rethink SEO

I appreciate all your input, feedback, and the conversations we have had. We don’t always have to agree, but it is the socialization from a diversity of perspectives and experiences that produce winning and sustainable strategies, plans and execution. Let’s be social and make it happen even bigger in 2010.

Happy Holidays, Happy New Year, and best wishes to you and your family,
Social Steve

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Filed under brand communication, brand marketing, brands, indie music, marketing, marketing plan, measuring social media, punk music, sales, sales conversion, SEM, SEO, social media, social media marketing, social network, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve, Twitter, Uncategorized, Word of Mouth Marketing

Social Media Conversion and the Social Media Marketing Funnel

The billion dollar question – define for me how social media converts sales. Now that social media is getting serious consideration and/or implementation by just about all companies, this is the number one question I am getting asked.

First, let’s get a couple of things straight: 1) Social media is not a sales tool. 2) It is a marketing tool, among other things. It can increase the probability of sale – just like a well planned marketing campaign. It takes a salesperson to complete a sale (usually), but a good social media program produces many qualified leads.

I choose to answer the social media conversion question in the context of the marketing funnel principle. In the simplest form, the marketing funnel looks like this:

Simple Marketing Funnel


There are variations for the marketing funnel, but generally, some “marketing endeavor” creates awareness and interest, and a “salesperson” completes the sale. Ultimate conversion is accomplished by sales, not marketing. The sales force relies on marketing to generate qualified leads.

So now let’s talk about social media and the conversion process. A winning social media plan and implementation delivers greater numbers throughout the marketing funnel AND provides a cyclic capability not experienced elsewhere.

SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING FUNNEL

In the diagram above, the marketing Funnel State is shown down the center. The first three states (awareness, consideration, and sale) are the same as in the simple marketing funnel, but social media is one of the best ways to generate awareness and motivate consideration. (I covered an execution scenario in the article “Executable Game Plan for Winning Ultimate Customers with Social Media”. The steps described to get Attention, Attraction, Affinity, and capture an Audience are an expansion of the funnel states of awareness and consideration.) The next state is the conversion. As mentioned above, conversion is a sales function, not a social media function, not a marketing function. Once again, a good marketing campaign and a good social media program generate awareness and increases qualified leads. They amplify the probability of conversion.

There are two very important additions to the social media marketing funnel – loyalty and advocacy. Social media has the power of making stickier (loyal) customers and turning them into your marketing engine (advocates, referrals). You can reinforce your customers’ purchase decision by engaging in appropriate social media activities. This is the power of social media – the ability to create advocates for your brand – advocates that produce the most compelling marketing of your brand. (See “Using the Social Media “A-path” to Capture Ultimate Customers .“)

The left side of the Social Media Marketing Funnel is labeled Group. This highlights the population before and after a specific funnel state. Yes, the population decreases as you move down the funnel, but social media endeavors produce a feedback loop where promoters spawn awareness, to a new target market population. This continues to be a cyclical program thus increasing the population in every funnel group. Social media is more than a campaign. It is continuous communication and conversations. If you continue to produce valuable information, you will continue to increase awareness, promote loyalty, and motivate advocacy.

The right side of the Social Media Marketing Funnel explains the Individual State or frame of mind of filtered group population after a specific Funnel State. For example, after a population gains some awareness of a brand, some individuals have interest. This is similar to the movement from Attention to Attraction in my A-Path model . There is an evaluation before sale. After a person purchases something and begins using the brand, they form a more complete assessment of the value potentially leading to brand loyalty and even a stronger satisfaction defined. Ultimately, some very happy, loyal customers will turn into advocates (see A-Path model ) and generate word of mouth referrals.

The Social Media Marketing Funnel model provides guidance for systematic implementations. There are two important takeaways here:

1) To begin, your product, service, and/or brand must have true value and differentiation for a target market. No offering will ever be successful unless this is true, independent of social media.
2) Your social media game plan should be designed such that Listening, Conversations, and Relationship building activities (see LCR Mentality) stimulate specific Funnel States (Awareness, Consideration, Loyalty, Advocacy). You can implement social media promotions to motivate conversion and sale, but as I always state, social media implementations aimed to sell most often have negative ramifications. It is best to have your sales team sell.

Bottom line – social media is an excellent vehicle to increase the probability of conversion. You can drive awareness and produce qualified leads. Think about the guidance provided here, listen to your target market, deliver them value, and build relationships. You will see an increase of prospects, customers, repeat customers, and customer promoters.

(Acknowledgement – The content above answers the question I have been asked hundreds of times – “How does social media convert?” The model I have defined here is a social media extension of what Adam H. Cohen termed “The New Marketing Funnel”)

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