The companies that will continue to succeed are the ones that customers specifically ask for. Consumers today have a plethora of options, and brands that will stand the test of time will be those that connect with them emotionally, respond to shifting cultural attitudes, and have an authentic purpose. Marketing on social media provides an opportunity to communicate these facets beyond the short-term benefits of your products and instead build long-term loyalty by differentiating yourself from your competitors’ products.

Hello, my name is Emmy Bright, and in my capacity as a marketing consultant, I’ve had the pleasure of working on social media campaigns for a variety of leading organizations. So, that’s why I’m here today: to share with you this Great Learning Course on what the most successful companies do to generate results from their social media marketing efforts.

I’m going to teach you how to develop a social media strategy for your organization, communicate more effectively on social media channels, and, of course, measure your results in order to be successful with social media. Instead of relying on other forms of advertising, social media allows businesses to communicate with customers on a regular basis, providing them with entertaining, educational, and promotional messages that they can respond to directly. So let’s get started on our journey to becoming better social media marketers.

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Creating a Social Media Strategy.

  1. Set Strategic Goals

    Doesn’t it seem like every company is active on social media, but at the same time, you only really hear about a few businesses doing anything particularly interesting or impactful on these platforms. That’s because following the direction of a social media strategy is the big difference between the companies that drive results from social media and those that don’t. It is easy to have a mediocre approach to social media for business if you’re haphazardly active on these channels without having a clear plan and a set of goals in mind.

  2. A social media strategy is a written document that maps out how your organization plans to use different social networks to achieve important business outcomes. This document is where you’ll establish your goals for using social media, identify the audience you’re trying to reach, and build a roadmap for all your activities on those channels.
  3. Developing your own strategy document is important because it’ll help you clarify your company’s priorities, plan out your campaigns more thoughtfully, and collaborate with others. For example, I was recently working with a client where early on, it was clear that different departments at the organization were focused on conflicting activities on social media. The primary cause of this problem was that there wasn’t a strategy established to coordinate their efforts around common goals to better organize their approach deliberately. To avoid a similar situation, start developing your own social media strategy document that’s actionable and results-driven by setting strategic goals to direct your campaigns.
  4. A strategic goal is an outcome that’s meaningful for your business, easy to understand at a glance, and straightforward to measure. Some common social media strategic goals are improving customer engagement, generating more leads, growing sales, increasing traffic, expanding reach, and enhancing a brand’s perception. While there are plenty of strategic goals to choose from, there are two important goal types you need to be aware of. Ongoing goals define the overall focus of your marketing, as they’re the outcomes you’re always looking to impact with your activities on social media. Like, if a footwear brand were to set the goal of increasing their messaging’s reach on social media by 40% by the end of their first quarter.
  5. That’d be considered an ongoing goal, as they are focused on it for the long term and it is likely a result most of their activities will help work towards, while other goals you’ll set are directly related to measuring the success of a particular initiative, known as campaign goals. For instance, if the same footwear brand set a campaign-specific goal for the short term, like gaining 3,000 signups from their month-long Instagram giveaway. Outline a few goals in your strategy to strike the balance between investing in a mix of activities while not overcommitting and spreading yourself too thin. It is time for your organization to become a leading example of how to use social media in interesting and, most of all, impactful ways by following your very own social media strategy.
  6. Define your audience

    If you’re trying to reach everyone on social media, chances are you may reach no one. Instead, identify who exactly your audience is by creating customer personas as part of your social media strategy. Targeting the right audience on social media is so important because understanding their challenges, interests, and demographics will inform how you personalize your messaging.

  7. Like how 85% of LGBTQ consumers and 79% of African-American consumers have taken action after seeing an ad campaign that was inclusive and diverse because it was more relevant to them. Now that you know why it’s useful to define your audience, let’s learn how to create customer personas for each type of customer you’re trying to attract. Customer personas are semi-fictitious profiles that represent your ideal customers and list details about them based on your experience and research into their background, motivations, and more.
  8. The point of customer personas is to have them act as a single source of truth on who your audience is so you can reference them again when you’re creating your own social media campaigns. This information about your customers can come from observations, reviewing existing analytics data from your website, social media, retail locations, CRM, or other contact points. Or even from conducting a survey or running a focus group. Start putting together your own personas by organizing your customers into different groups then assign demographics and behaviors that accurately define them. For example, a yoga studio might have three customer personas, college-age millennials, working parents, and retirees based on what time of day they participate in the studio’s classes. Creating a customer persona for working parents might start by naming the persona the mindful parent as it’s easy to remember a specific nickname to reference this customer group. From there, you’d clarify some useful demographics about them like their typical age range, profession, education level, family life, common personality traits, and yoga preferences.
  9. This data could’ve been collected from the customer profile they filled out when signing up for a class combined with demographic research you’ve referenced on the yoga practices of Americans. After that, you’d outline patterns in their behavior like their personal goals in taking yoga classes, what their common frustrations are when it comes to fitness, and why they chose your studio over others. This information might have come from sending a survey to customers over email to learn about the motivations behind their attendance and their mindset when it comes to fitness. While your personas are always a work in progress, use them as a litmus test for ensuring all your social media campaigns are aimed at reaching the right people, your customers.

Choosing The Right Channels

Invest in a smart mix of channels

You need to be active on every social network. We’ve all heard that before, but that statement is a myth and also bad advice.

The right approach to social media is investing in a smart mix of channels as opposed to trying to be everywhere with no cohesive strategy. As a part of your social media strategy, you want to make informed decisions about which channels make the most sense for your organization to use to reach your customers. The reason your choices are so important here is that having an impact on a social network and driving business value from your presence there requires a serious investment of time and resources.

You don’t want to waste your limited bandwidth on maintaining the wrong social networks. Instead, you should focus on selecting ones that are best suited to help you successfully achieve your goals, so what does investing in a smart mix of channels look like? It depends on your business. I once worked with a chain of auto repair shops and their mix of social channels consisted of being active on Facebook, Yelp, Nextdoor, and Instagram.

This mix made sense for them, as these channels align with their customer base of local car owners ages 25 to 55 interested in reading reviews about the shop’s repair services. While every organization will focus on its own unique mix of channels, the three-part process for choosing the right social networks is similar for everyone. First, research a channel’s audience to determine if your customers are actually active there. Most of the social networks provide data on their own audience’s demographics in terms of size, composition, and activity level on the platform, which you should reference.

This research will help reveal high-level insights about these social networks, like how Snapchat and TikTok, for example, have younger audiences under 25 years old. Secondly, review research studies about social media provided by high-quality, third-party sources like eMarketer, Pew Research, Social Media Examiner, and Business Insider Intelligence. These organizations and others provide data, trends, and analysis on how consumers and businesses use social media and the most common demographics on each of these networks.

For instance, Pew Research just released a report on the usage of different social media networks, indicating Facebook and YouTube are the most widely used by adults in the U.S. Lastly, understanding what nuances make each social network distinct will help your company choose the right destination for communicating with your customers. Understanding what types of content are most often shared per channel, each platform’s specific features and the psychology of a channel’s user base can help guide your decisions. You can determine these specifics.

The most widely used social networks

Marketing has always been about creating demand for something by cleverly attracting and keeping people’s attention.

You are more likely to succeed as a marketer when you closely monitor where your customers are focusing their attention, and then adapt your efforts to reach them on those channels. A powerful way to earn the attention of your customers is by communicating on the most popular social networks with the largest active audiences and the widest range of business use cases. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube should be the top considerations when choosing which channels are right for you because of their high number of monthly active users.

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Choosing a social network with a large audience is crucial because it is more likely that a significant portion of your customer base is active on at least a few of these channels. And these more widely used social networks tend to offer a broader range of use cases, as you can often communicate with people in multiple ways by sharing different types of content. Let’s go down the list and define these channels by highlighting what makes them distinct for businesses using them to connect with their customers.

Facebook is a good starting point. It is the most widely known and largest social network, with 2.4 billion monthly active users, and it has a wide variety of features and uses cases. A business can use Facebook to share text, video, images, live video, and stories, as well as use its range of advertising options to effectively target any demographic on the platform. Next is Instagram. Owned by Facebook, and arguably the most popular social media app currently available, its main user base is a community focused on sharing visual content like images, short-form, and long-form videos. It’s considered the online mall of today’s generation.

According to Instagram, 60% of people surveyed say they find new products there. This is because businesses are able to share and market their offerings visually. Let’s move on to Twitter. Referred to as society’s megaphone, Twitter is a social messaging service where users are limited to 280 characters of text to be reposted amongst its audience. As a vital, up-to-the-minute news source for the world’s current events, the platform is best used by businesses to join trending conversations and communicate with customers one-to-one.

Another major social channel is LinkedIn, which is a professional network for users looking to connect with industry folks, showcase their expertise and improve their professional skills. Owned by Microsoft, LinkedIn is a business-focused platform for companies looking to target other businesses for recruiting qualified talent and highlighting a company’s work culture. Last but not least is YouTube, which is the Google-owned platform for watching videos online from consumers, businesses, and influencers, covering every subject from makeup to movies.

Messaging and chat-based networks

As more interactions on social media have gone from public to private, and more people access these platforms from their phones, social media marketers must find new and clever ways to appeal to a mobile audience.

Chat and messaging-based social media networks must be a key part of a company’s marketing mix to reach people where they engage privately with their closest circles. Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Snapchat are popular chat-based social media apps where consumers communicate in short messages, one-to-one, or in small group chats similar to SMS texting on mobile devices. Unlike texting, these platforms are free to use, available internationally, provide a range of features, sometimes have stronger security, and offer a private space for family and friends to connect as long as there is an internet connection.

Due to their popularity, many organizations are already active on these apps, especially because these social networks tend to have a particularly active user base. Like how U.S. consumers on WhatsApp are active on the chat app for two minutes on average each time they use it to communicate. Keeping this level of engagement in mind, companies are using these messaging apps in a variety of productive ways to achieve their marketing goals.

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First off, Facebook Messenger is commonly used by businesses to serve relevant advertising to users by highlighting ads in a person’s inbox. Another business use case of Messenger is having it act as an alternative to an email newsletter by having customers opt into receiving messages from organizations they want to hear from. One final popular use case of Messenger and a few other chat apps are offering customer service either live, by using canned responses, or with chatbots automating different concierge experiences like booking a haircut. Secondly, there’s WhatsApp.

WhatsApp is also owned by Facebook and it’s frequently used by small businesses to provide customer service support at scale either in real-time or with automated responses. Soon, advertisers will be able to serve ads within a WhatsApp status which are similar to the idea of Instagram Stories or Snapchat Snaps that disappear in 24 hours. Snapchat is unique compared to the other messaging apps in that there are original content series on the platform in the Discover section where brands actively advertise.

Companies usually advertise with short video ads in-between the Snaps a person is viewing from their friends or other accounts they follow and interact with. To get the attention of the app’s younger user base, brands often sponsor the platform’s unique features by releasing their own lenses and filters in addition to using Snap and Story ads. It is important to note that, unlike the other messaging apps, organizations don’t provide customer service on Snapchat since the content shared there expires. Keep these messaging-based social networks in mind as more conversations move from public to private channels and your organization adapts.

Niche social networks to consider

The point in being active on a mix of social channels is to diversify your investments, kind of like setting up a mutual fund, where the risk is reduced since you’re buying into multiple stocks. It’s helpful to make informed investments in niche social networks, to reach your audience in places where there’s less competition and more opportunities to make an impact.

A niche social network is a platform where a big audience is active, but there’s not likely as large of a user base compared to Facebook, Twitter, or another more mainstream social channel. Tik Tok, Pinterest, and Yelp are examples of important niche social networks businesses should consider being active on to reach a specific type of customer. These networks often cater to a particular demographic as opposed to the mainstream channels that pretty much reach everybody.

For example, Tik Tok is very popular among teenagers, Yelp is great for reaching a local or regional audience and Pinterest is best used to reach people looking for inspirational visuals. In addition to a smaller audience, these channels often have a more specific use case for consumers and businesses which is why they have smaller audiences. Since these networks aren’t trying to be everything to everyone, it is to your advantage to get active on niche social networks as there’s less noise from other advertisers. In some cases, if you’re an early adopter of a new, growing social network, then you might be able to see a significant return in terms of the amount of attention you receive if it takes off.

With that said, here’s a quick breakdown of some of the noteworthy niche social networks to be thinking about. Pinterest, arguably the largest niche platform, is a visual search engine to get product and design recommendations, especially when planning a wedding or taking on an interior design project. Another is Tik Tok, it’s a place where users share and consume short videos of a few seconds that are typically preplanned to tell a story or align with a popular challenge that’s trending.

Next is Quora, a question and answer-focused social network where anyone can share a question publicly, and then experts on the topic chime in to answer from their perspective. I’d also recommend being aware of Tumblr and Medium, which are both a mix between a social network and a blogging platform for producing and sharing different types of messaging.

Reddit is another networking takes note of that it’s a news aggregator where its users share links on various topics, encouraging upvotes and sometimes passionate discussions from others. And lastly, two additional niche social networks worth considering are Yelp and GIPHY. Yelp is a destination for people to leave reviews about restaurants and local businesses, while GIPHY is a database and a search engine for GIFs and other looping video formats. It’s time to make a strategic investment in niche social networks, as there’s an opportunity to earn a major payout in attention.

Publishing on Social Media.

Crafting engaging messaging

Marketing often gets a bad wrap because a lot of it is disruptive and aimless. Social media is an opportunity to do better than that by crafting engaging, relevant, and complementary messaging that serves customers and as a result drives business outcomes. When deciding what you’ll be publishing on social media, start by identifying topics that are so valuable that your customers will want to opt in to receive your messaging.

I recommend coming up with three to five overarching categories of topics to direct what themes you’ll consistently address on social media. A strong example of this comes from a popular men’s shaving brand that continually covers grooming and hygiene tips, comedic life hacks, and deep dives into common health questions. By regularly producing articles and posts on social media about these categories of topics, the brand has carved out a niche for itself with its customers beyond promoting its products. To emulate their success, brainstorm different topic options to narrow in on what themes will best guide your future messaging on social media.

But how do you choose topics that are the right fit for your customers and your company? By ensuring their engaging, relevant and complementary. First off, choosing engaging topics means that the stories you’re telling aren’t always promotional but instead are entertaining, educational, value-driven, or a combo of all three. When a story you’re telling on social media is enjoyable, teaches something useful, or expresses your viewpoint on an important topic, it’s more likely to be engaging to a customer. It’s okay to talk about the benefits of your products and services sometimes, but moving your messaging beyond that is an opportunity to connect with customers in an unexpected way.

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Next, you want to choose topics that are relevant to your customers. Basically, do they have any reason to care about what you’re saying? This is where your customer personas come into play as the interest your audience has and the challenges they face should guide which topics you’re addressing. For the shaving brand I mentioned, they’re thinking critically about how to best answer the questions their customer base of men is likely asking about their grooming routines. And lastly, these topics need to be complementary to what your company actually does and what the organization is reasonably expected to know.

While you certainly have the creative freedom to cover a wide range of topics, it’s important the connection between your messaging and what you offer as an organization is clear. This is why it makes sense for that shaving brand to offer grooming tips and witty life hacks, as it’s logical for a company that sells razors and shaving cream to have this expertise. Being thoughtful about aligning your marketing topics and themes with your brand can help build a better understanding of what your company uniquely offers. Earn the permission to communicate with your audience on social media by ensuring the topics your messaging addresses are always engaging, relevant, and complementary.

Balancing an editorial calendar

The more organized you are with social media the more likely you’ll see results. One of the best ways to structure your approach more strategically is to develop an editorial calendar to manage all the timing of your social media publishing.

An editorial calendar is a document your team can use to outline when certain messages will go live on each social network, in line with your other marketing campaigns. This calendar often exists as a spreadsheet or as part of a popular marketing tool. You might be asking, “Why is it important to have an editorial calendar?” The reason is this: it keeps your social media efforts goal-focused and organized.

By documenting when your social posts will be shared, you save a significant amount of time as opposed to haphazardly publishing at the last minute. Of course, some of your messages on social media will happen in real-time to react to important company updates or industry news, but most posts should be pre-planned. This also means adjustments are more fluid, ahead of schedule, and can be made from one place in terms of the larger strategy, which is much clearer from the bird’s eye view.

Not to mention, an editorial calendar is essential for team collaboration, as most people work together on the company’s social media efforts from the same document living online. To create a social media-focused editorial calendar, start by selecting a free or paid tool to help manage this document. This could be Google Sheets, CoSchedule, or Trello. Choose a tool that’s best suited to the number of contributors you need to collaborate on a calendar, what functionality you’re looking for, and how complex your calendar is going to be.

Once you’ve selected the right tool, it is important to be able to look at your calendar and quickly understand what social posts are scheduled on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. This way you can jump between looking at the granular daily details and the larger picture. Next, define how you’ll differentiate the messaging you’ll plan to send from different channels. Maybe you’ll label all of your upcoming Facebook posts in blue, and then all of your Pinterest posts in red to make the difference clear to all contributors.

When mapping out what content will be shared, some organizations like to include the exact copy and media they plan to post on the calendar itself. Other companies in contrast, simply make a note of when a social media post is going to go live and on which channel. Some tools with calendar functionality like CoSchedule or Hootsuite allow you to schedule your social media posts directly from the calendar itself for more streamlined publishing.

Regardless of what options you decide on, just make sure your calendar is actionable and facilitates an efficient process, rather than creating more questions. There you have it. Start building out your own editorial calendar. Become faster, more organized, and more effective in reaching your objectives.

Understanding paid to advertise

Sometimes having an engaging message to share on social media isn’t enough to earn the attention you’re after. Ensuring the visibility of your messaging on these channels often requires investing in paid advertising to promote your campaigns amongst your customer base. Knowing what paid advertising options are available on social media and how to best structure an ad campaign is important for having a balanced, results-focused strategy.

But first, what is paid advertising on social media? Paid advertising is when you purchase exposure to certain audiences or preferred placement of your message on social media. The primary way leading social networks generate revenue is to provide a diverse set of paid ad options. So much so that Facebook earned over 67 billion in ad revenue in 2019. In contrast, posting organically is when your organization shares content on social media without paying for exposure. For example, your company shares an image on Instagram and it organically reaches less than 2% of your audience.

Instead, you can pay for that post to be promoted amongst a higher percentage of your customer base with Instagram’s advertising options. More money spent strategically often means reaching more of the right people. So, what’s the best way to pay to reach more of the right people on social media? Start by understanding that most social networks allow you to target a specific audience and choose the type of ad that corresponds with the message, offer, and goal of your campaign. And of course, each gives you the ability to measure results on cost per impression, cost per click, or a cost per conversion basis.

With that in mind decide which audience members you’re trying to reach. Is it families of four, veterans? Just be specific to gain focus. After that decide what you’re trying to do with your audience. Or in other words what’s the goal of the advertising campaign? Are you trying to drive sales, encourage app installs? Once you’ve picked your audience and have a goal in mind the type of ad, message and offer should also reflect the customer you’re targeting and what action you want them to take. Next, it’s time to choose a budget depending on the results you’re after and the cost associated with ads on that network.

For instance, LinkedIn’s ads are known to cost more than other options but are particularly effective at targeting the right people based on their job title. There isn’t an ideal starting budget as it really depends. Set a budget based on what makes you comfortable and your company’s resources and then scale up. Your first advertising campaign on social media will include lots of experimentation. I recommend investing a small portion of your budget on different campaigns across platforms to see which ads perform for you and where. Lastly, monitor the progress of your paid ads regularly and adapt future campaigns based on those results. Follow these steps to make the most of paid advertising and get your message heard.

Interacting With Customers.

Building and maintaining a community

Without a doubt, being able to listen and respond to customers is one of the biggest benefits of using social media. Yet, many businesses avoid communicating with them directly on social media and just blast their promotional messaging just like they would elsewhere.

The more effective approach here is to take the time to build a community for your customers, where you’re able to encourage conversation and build trust and loyalty in the process. So, what do I mean by the community on social media? A group or account run by your organization where people can come together over a common interest to share their perspectives, discuss a topic, and support each other. These aren’t spaces on social media where people are passively following along, but actively participating in the discussions and activities happening there. These communities can exist almost anywhere on social media, whether as a LinkedIn group, Twitter account, group Pinterest board, or a YouTube channel.

A great example is the indoor cycling company Peloton, which runs very active Facebook groups, one for all its members, another for Peloton mothers, and a third for customers in the UK to connect. These groups are communities where members discuss their workout routines, struggles with staying active, and seek advice from fellow Peloton customers facing similar challenges. The peloton will occasionally chime in on conversations, answer questions, as well as share company announcements and prompts to spur discussions. Fostering a community like this is useful because it’s an opportunity for your organization to demonstrate your care by being supportive, educating customers, or showing empathy.

Plus, you’re creating a safe place for members to communicate on a topic with like-minded people open to engaging with them. In the long run, facilitating a genuine conversation with your community on social media can lead to greater trust in your organization and a stronger familiarity with your customer base. Furthermore, a study by Ling Tung, a Taiwanese university, found that a person’s sense of membership on social media can have a positive effect on their brand loyalty. To build your own community that improves customer loyalty, identify which topics they’re most passionate about and decide where it’s most ideal for them to participate. Sometimes this means creating a specific group to connect your audience on a set of topics, but most of the time, connecting with them from companies’ profiles works great.

From there, make it clear that you’re looking for their input on your campaigns by asking them directly, proactively responding to their feedback, and featuring the input of customers in your messaging. The makeup brand Glossier has done this successfully by highlighting positive feedback from customers and always responding to their comments and DMs on Instagram. As a result, they’ve built a massive community of people excited to talk with the brand because it’s well known that they consistently listen, respond, and react to their audience. Your company can do this too, as long as you recognize that social media should be a dialogue with customers, not a monologue.

Providing social-first customer service

Delivering customer service on social media is different because it’s often public. When a person posts about their displeasure or excitement over your company’s products, that exchange is available for all to see and judge based on how you respond. Yet, many companies still ignore complaints shared on social media, leading to a customer’s net promoter score dropping by 43% when their comments go unanswered.

Avoid this outcome and embrace social media first customer service to stand out from your competitors and build stronger bonds with your customers by following this advice. First, you need to know where exactly customers are complaining and providing feedback about your business in order to listen and respond to what they’re saying. While social media monitoring tools like Keyhole and Mention can help you find mentions of your business across channels, looking manually on each network works too. For companies that serve consumers, networks like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are often where they receive the most feedback.

If a business has a retail location, that’s when it’s important to check Yelp, Google, TripAdvisor, OpenTable, and other locally-focused networks where customers leave reviews. For organizations serving other businesses, check out the reviews and commentary on LinkedIn, G2 Crowd, Product Hunt, Capterra, and elsewhere. With the right channels in mind, it’s important to consistently listen and always respond to your customers regardless if a message is positive or negative. Responding to positive feedback is easy as the tone of the conversation is often lighthearted and can result in fostering a stronger bond amongst your satisfied customers. Addressing negative feedback is more difficult, but essential for publicly demonstrating your empathy and the ability to solve your customers’ issues in a reasonable manner.

When dealing with a complaint, it’s important to publicly acknowledge the message and then if possible, move the conversation to a private forum on that network. For instance, if someone reached out on Facebook about a defective product, it’d be best to comment publicly by apologizing, letting them know you’ll make things right, and saying you’ll resolve the problem by continuing the conversation in a private Facebook message. This way you’re giving the customer the support they need, acknowledging the problem for anyone else watching, and limiting any additional public backlash by making it private.

Aim to keep these conversations on the same network as where they started, as it’s quicker and easier for the customer to engage with you from the same channel. Another consideration is answering every customer service message within 24 hours or less, as consumers expect companies to respond quickly on these channels. Instead of waiting on the phone or typing out a long email, it is easier for customers to just leave a comment or send over a tweet and with this ease, consumers expect a fast reply. At the end of the day, what’s most important about social first customer service is that you’re making it clear to your customers that you not only listen and respond but take action as well.

Selling on Social Media.

Encouraging direct and assisted sales

Stories sell, and social media has really proven that to be true as millions of businesses have driven sales from these platforms by promoting their engaging stories to the right people at scale. Your organization can achieve its sales goals by understanding the two types of sales that happen on social media. Let’s start with direct sales. This is when the last marketing channel a customer interacted with prior to making a purchase was a social network. These transactions are considered direct sales, or conversions, as social media was the final touchpoint that converted a person browsing a social network into a paying customer.

Like if someone made a purchase on a website right after watching a YouTube video about the company’s eco-friendly mission behind their latest product line. Direct sales on social media are often the result of promotional messaging that showcases a company’s products, their benefits, and different use cases as part of an ad campaign. While promotional messaging should never be the primary focus of your approach to social media, this type of content is important to include as a part of your mix to help encourage sales. Most surveyed customers, 65% to be exact, said they like social media ads that show them products they’re interested in and might not have discovered elsewhere.

Basically, direct sales are most likely from paid ad campaigns on social media when they are relevant to the customer being targeted and one part of your mix of engaging messaging. On the other hand, assisted sales are when social media is one of the multiple marketing channels a customer interacts with before making a purchase, but not the last touchpoint. Assisted sales, also referred to as assisted conversions, occur from a customer engaging with an organization’s messaging on social media at some point prior to making a purchase. This might mean a customer visited a company’s website, then interacted with their Instagram posts, and then a month later made a purchase through their email newsletter.

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The customer’s interaction on Instagram didn’t drive them to make a purchase at that time, but it assisted them in getting familiar with the company, making their last interaction over email more effective. Assisted sales are the result of customers interacting with your posts on social media for the long term, typically through viewing your educational and entertaining messaging. For instance, I once worked with a mattress brand where we regularly published articles, interviews, and infographics focused on techniques for learning healthier sleeping habits.

After sharing this content consistently, Facebook became a top source of assisted sales due to the brand’s educational messaging influencing its customer’s purchasing decisions. Interacting with these social media posts didn’t immediately encourage customers to go and purchase a mattress, but it did foster trust and familiarity with the brand for the long term. Educational and entertaining messaging does take time to build a connection with customers, as it’s one interaction of many touchpoints a customer has before a sale occurs. With that said, stories definitely sell, it’s just important to know what kind of sales to expect.

Partnering with influencers

Customers will always trust people over brands. And that couldn’t be more accurate today. As 63% of consumers trust an influencer’s opinion of a product, over what a brand says about it. Influencers are a key part of the sales cycle on social media today, due to the trust they’ve earned from consumers, and the response they’re able to elicit from their massive following. An influencer is an individual that’s built a loyal audience they can communicate with on social media, a podcast, an email newsletter, a blog, or elsewhere.

 

While influencers exist in every industry and discuss a range of topics, from cars to makeup, to food, what’s similar about them all, is their ability to persuade their audience to take action. From selling their own merchandise, encouraging signups for a petition, or pushing products on behalf of a company sponsoring them, influencers have the unique ability to make an impact, and that’s why companies want to partner with them. To break through the noise on social media and reach customers that trust the opinions of these influencers. For businesses, there’s a variety of ways to partner with influencers regardless of their budget, and resources to increase brand awareness, drive engagement and earn sales. Here are a few to consider.

The most popular type of partnership is paying an influencer to promote a companies products or services directly, usually by featuring their offerings in a sponsored post. A post is considered sponsored when an influencer is paid to share it to promote a business, which should be disclosed somewhere in the advertisement. Another approach to partnering is sending free products to an influencer for them to consider reviewing, to highlight its pros and cons for their audience. This is a widely used tactic by makeup companies, which frequently send their newest collections to beauty influencers active on YouTube and Instagram.

A less common type of influencer partnership but typically highly profitable, is creating a co-branded product with an influencer and sharing the resulting sales. Warby Parker, a popular eyewear brand, often partners with influencers of different sizes who reach a range of audiences, to launch limited edition glasses and sunglasses collections. To decide which of these partnerships is right for your organization, it is important to clarify what you’re trying to promote and set clear goals to guide the structure of your campaigns. Now it’s your turn. To seek out influencers with credibility, and through a genuine partnership, earn the trust of their audience.