Convert Facebook Fans Into Paying Customers in 3 Easy Steps
This tip comes courtesy of a question asked during the Secrets of Social Media Lead Generation Webinar (click the link to view it on-demand). Gunnar and I weren't able to answer all the questions submitted during the live webinar, and this is an important one that deserves its own article.
Converting Facebook fans into paying customers is easier than you think. Businesses selling goods and services on Facebook give customers a reason to offer more than a "like." These businesses are using Facebook to generate questions that products or services give answers to, and you can do it too by focusing on solving customers' problems.
Step 1: Solve Customers Problems
You've probably heard that posting a certain number of times, on certain subjects, on certain days, is the key that unlocks leads and sales on Facebook. But it's simply not true. Technical skills are essential, but making a sale demands a focus on needs of customers, not secret sauce best practices. The true secret is getting back to basics, and that means solving customers problems.
For example, grocery store Harris-Teeter pays customers to ask its dietician health-related questions on Facebook. Why would this grocer-or your business-do that? Because helping customers put out a fire, right on the spot, is powerful. Answering burning questions opens the door to make a suggestion. It can be a friendly tip, useful trick or, if appropriate, outlining benefits of becoming a customer or starting a trial. Either way, this isn't a new idea—it's what most businesses do each day.
Likewise, another Webinar participant asked, "If you never talk about your products in social media, how can you confidently assume customers will investigate you of their own volition?"
The answer is, you cannot be sure. And nor should you avoid promoting or discussing products or services on Facebook. You should simply be careful about when, where and how you do it. Just be relevant. Customers know you're there to sell them something—this is the very basic premise of interaction between customers and businesses!
Step 2: Be a Thought Provoker, not a Thought Leader
Getting back to basics on Facebook works, but only if you plan ways to make yourself addictive to customers and let them share insights on purchase intent with you. If you want to generate more inbound inquiries, your job is to provoke immediate responses from customers. The key here is sharing useful, original (i.e. previously unknown) knowledge with customers on Facebook in exchange for understanding their purchase intent. In other words, give them something valuable and generate a lead.
I've interviewed businesses that are showing customers opportunities they've never seen before or providing solutions to problems they didn't know they had. That's the candy; that's how you can become addictive and earn leads. The trick is showing customers ways to capitalize on opportunities and solve problems that ultimately connect to your products and services. Think of it like making everything you do on Facebook scratch customers' itches.
"The key is to discover what you're seeing that most people are not seeing right now," said my co-presenter Gunnar Branson, CEO of marketing and innovation consultancy Branson Powers, during the webinar. "For instance, what might you know—right now—that's relatively unknown and revealing? Think in terms of a risk or opportunity that your listener, watcher, reader will react strongly to.
"The formula is something like this," said Branson, "and it can be applied in any selling scenario: 'Most people think A, but it's actually B. Here's why I say that (include some sort of proof: an observation, trend, anecdote, statistic, etc.). Therefore B.' That's it. That's the way to plan or 'map out' stories or insights that will draw people in."
Step 3: Take Action
The final step is to align your behavior on Facebook in ways that help customers solve problems or aid them in getting something important done today.
Here are tips on getting started:
- Change it up: Resist asking, "What should we be doing with Facebook?" Rather, ask, "How can Facebook make what we already do for customers better?"
- Talk to me: Give customers a reason why they need to think about something important to them in a powerful new way that gives them a reason to talk to you ... so they can more clearly understand what you just provoked.
- Make it easy: Use contests, calls to action, bold statements—do what it takes to prompt a reaction and make it easy for customers to qualify themselves as leads.
- Repurpose content: Are you already helping customers put out fires or do more with less? How? Where? Collect and organize this information using simple, accessible tools like a blog. Consider ways to prompt customers within Facebook to visit your blog, induce a response and capture a lead.
Jeff Molander is author of Off the Hook Marketing: How to Make Social Media Sell, adjunct professor of marketing at Loyola University Business School and CEO of Molander & Associates. He's a regular columnist in Target Marketing, blogs at www.offthehookblog.com, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.