Social media is shifting so much of what people do online, that the term Internet has almost become out of date. People access who they want when they want wherever they are…and they are looking to have fun, not solve problems.
Yet many of the smartest people in this industry are still focused only on what they say is proven, standard Internet marketing driven by clicks and conversions. My hope for the future is in branding that creates revenue, brevenue, because to get noticed today you have to build awareness, create famliarity, THEN drive people to consider a purchase or business lead generation request.
First, check out this 10 minute video so I can get you up to speed:
What is context?
Up till the last few years, everyone was focused on creating keyword rich content, much monetized through Google, and that market isn’t changing, yet the online demand is not rising. That happens to mature markets at the top of the bell curve, and everyone sits around wondering what will happen next.
Many of us looked to social media for change and new business. What’s funny is that the business end is being driven by folks like Zynga, putting rewards based offer walls on games that harken back to the old rewards programs of affiliate marketing. Which is one of the reasons it is working, among many others…
The business end is also being driven by email, which is despised by many of the top social media folks I have encountered. Still you read again and again, from Groupon to Fred Wilson’s investments, that companies are using email in addition to social media to drive sales. Because email is everywhere you are, and like it or not, it converts.
- Given the wealth of proven strategies, you’d think the social media world would embrace this change and actually begin defining some ROI.
- Up till now, it isn’t the truth; much like the early dotcom days, when hot air marketers talked a good game but had no idea how to really market, there is a cleansing going on in the social media marketing arena, between those measuring success by popularity of followers or likes, and those defining it by ROI.
- Is this the death of social media? Heck not, it’s just the beginning, and conversion is a 2 step process. The social media people are awesome at the first step, generating awareness, it’s the next 2 steps they are missing. In social media, they come for pleasure, for connection, and the world of commerce is driven by pain, problem/solution, which has made Google rich.
Step 1. Creating Awareness
Social media is based on virality, on the power of referrals in the social graph. The key to starting a campaign to build awareness for your brand, your product, or your service is to understand that:
- Context is king, not content. You need a discussion about the content you are generating, a buzz built by exploration of social media’s first wave of visitors, the pundits and curators and judges of all things good. They are the gatekeepers to the rest of the people, spreading it through their lists.
To do this you have to be new, relevant, and interesting. Here’s a few ways how to do it:
- Begin researching what your market, audience, and customers are really interested in…you can no longer live detached from the, and creating a social, viral campaign without jumping into the river and swimming with your audience will waste your time.
- Find out the core issues around your product or service to them, in terms of what they respond to, what times of year it is important to them, what time of day and what time of week. You don’t need to spend a lifetime, yet 2-4 weeks of going out among the people with give you far more ideas of what will work then the same time spent inside your isolated business wondering why no one is listening to you.
- Become part of the audience and launch your viral campaign for a few weeks before, a few weeks during, and a few weeks after. Just like any product launch campaign, it must begin early, set some buzz and competition out there, then deliver the goods, and follow up after it’s over.
Just posting content and hoping they pass it on is a waste of time, you have to set the context, which is defined as:
the facts and circumstances surrounding an event or situation.
Your marketing is an event, set it up that way and think of the facts, the behaviors of your audience, and what will make them stand up, notice, and pass it on.
Step 2. Creating Familiarity
In the old days a good sales letter would walk a customer through the process. Today you need referrals, driven by the social media first wave, the people who are there to judge whether what you have done is worthy of them spreading it throughout their universe.
- Their invitation to others drives the second wave, often filled with more buyers, because they trust the first wave to deliver them the best information and resources. If the first wave is excited in social media, they’ll pass it on, good, bad, and never indifferent.
- That invitation immediately links your brand to people’s interest through a trusted recommendation. Focus your viral campaign on earning that trust, and focus on enabling the first social media wave to create familiarity with your brand and what you are doing…and if you are already famous, then re-earn their trust to spread the word for you.
- What they say matters far more than what you promise, it’s the social proof that starts things going.
Step 3. Promote consideration of the product to buy
At this stage you can use standard, open ended, interest generating questions surrounding your product (what works for you? What doesn’t? What is the single biggest problem people like you face?) , the problem/solution that your product offers, to siphon off 20% of the traffic to go through your sales process. Don’t bash them on the heads, place it in non-marketing speak around the framework of your message.
- This means at the bottom of your blog, around the top and bottom and right of your Facebook Fan Page, in terms of an invitation to dive in further. While most social media people won’t dive in too deep, those who will are well qualified.
- In social media, it’s about quality clicks, not always quantity. They come for pleasure and entertainment, yet if they are interested in what you offer, there is always a problem/solution question lying underneath.
- Use your viral campaign to tug this question, and in my upcoming post I’ll talk more about how to convert them from social media, the Brevenue formula I’m working on for my clients and my book.
Take a listen to the video, and for those social media experts who think they know it all, be afraid. That’s the first sign you don’t get it, because the easy days of getting Twitter followers and Facebook Likes as measures of success are being replaced by ROI.
And don’t worry, social will still be about pleasure, it’s just about time we all started treating this like a business as well. What’s your biggest question or challenge with social media conversion? Let me know what you think!