Because people spend a lot of time on social media, it is one of the most effective marketing channels. While having a website will allow users to buy items from your business, social media will allow you to promote your brand to a wider audience.
However, it’s not as simple as posting an ad on Facebook and hoping that people click through to your website. You need to be strategic in your approach to your social media marketing. Creating a social media funnel will allow you to capture potential customers in various stages of the buyer journey and to serve up content that speaks to each customer’s unique needs.
This article will explain the concept of a social media funnel and how to create one.
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What is a Social Media Funnel?
A marketing funnel is a visualization of the buyer journey, starting from brand awareness and ending in brand advocacy. It also shows you the actions that your brand is expected to perform in order to move customers along the journey as well as the tools that will allow you to gradually convert a stranger into a customer.
The funnel methodology lends itself particularly well to different marketing channels, including email marketing, content marketing, and social media. A social media funnel gives you an idea of the type of content you should post on social media accounts to attract new customers and keep current ones loyal to your brand.
The needs of your potential customers shift as they progress through the funnel. Let’s look at the different stages and how your approach should evolve according to your prospects’ changing needs:
The funnel starts with a potential lead who might not be aware of your brand. Your focus at this part of the funnel is to make them know your brand, tell them what you do, and make them want to know more about you.
Your communication at this stage should have two objectives. First, you need to highlight the problems and issues your product or service can resolve. The second objective is to build trust with your lead. If you can’t build trust, you will never make them take another look at your messaging.
The visual part of your content at this stage should highlight the need your product addresses. This can be in the form of a picture, infographic, meme, or even a cartoon, as long as the visual is in sync with your brand personality and values.
Your visual content should come with a caption. Three short sentences are enough for most purposes. The first two sentences should highlight your brand, while the last one should try to build trust.
How do you build trust with someone who doesn’t know you? You give them something of value for free. This could be a download or a link to an article that talks more about the relevant problem and tell the lead something they didn’t know.
For instance, Seattle Coffee Gear uses YouTube tutorials to teach people how to make various types of coffee.
All the videos above have two things in common. First, they show the product in action. Second, none of them are trying to sell the viewer anything. At this point in the funnel, hard-selling your brand can backfire badly, so you need to be disciplined and stick to your core message.
Once the lead gains insight into your brand, its products, and services, they transition to the consideration stage. This is the stage where they start considering the options that they’ve encountered and evaluating them against each other.
This stage is all about the lead comparing you to your competitors across a defined set of variables that include price, features, reviews, and customer service.
According to the Sprout Social Index, 45% of customers said they tend to research a product or service when someone related, like a friend or relative, posts about it. Likewise, 32% of customers react similarly when an influencer or celebrity posts regarding the same thing.
As a brand, there are two ways for you to nurture the lead in this stage. You can flood them with content like white papers, blogs, videos, and onsite content that talks about how your product is the best. For example, we have in-depth guides about selling online courses which we use to nurture the leads in our funnel.
Or you can give them a free trial of your product or service and let them use it and get invested with it.
Most users of Trello, a popular collaboration tool, are just aware of the free version of the product. However, Trello also offers a Business Class variant. The post above is designed to get existing Trello users to try the premium version of the product for a few days so they can see and feel the difference. In my opinion, offering free trials is a more effective strategy in the consideration phase compared to copious amounts of marketing content.
By nurturing customer relationships, you give your leads something that they can trust and make them receptive to your conversion campaigns. Once you feel you’ve said your piece and are ready to get them to convert, it’s time to move to the Action phase of the funnel.
At this point, your leads will probably have evaluated their options and are ready to make a purchase. Your social media content should give them a compelling reason to purchase from you, not from the competition. This reason will depend heavily on your market, but for similar products, the cost is usually the biggest single influence on purchasing decisions.
For example, gadget store Technofy offers a hefty 65% discount on 2nd-generation Apple Airpods. There are thousands of stores that sell the same product, but only a few offer such a large discount. While you may think that discounts tend to cheapen the product, they increase your revenue: around 67% of customers prefer buying products from websites that offer discounts.
On top of the discount, the store promises free shipping and a cash-on-delivery payment option, making buying the item a lot easier for those who don’t have access to online payment channels. This helps eliminate the resistance to making the purchase, which is really what the Action stage is all about.
Many sales funnel models stop at the point of purchase. However, these models fail to consider that customers prefer buying from brands that they feel can meet their needs for a long time. Engaging your customers will not just keep them updated about your products. It will also make repeat customers out of them.
There are many methods you could use to increase customer engagement. Hashtag campaigns are among the most popular ways of engaging existing customers. For instance, nail care brand Essie created the #essielove hashtag to influence people to post images of their nail polish in action.
Aside from being a rich source of user-generated content, the hashtag exposes customers to over 2 million Instagram users who follow the brand. This makes them part of a community of proud customers who are not afraid to show their love for Essie products:
Customer engagement is more than just engaging with individual customers. It also involves building a community of loyal followers around your brand. Once you’ve managed to build a vibrant community, you can proceed to the next phase of the funnel – encouraging your customers to go out and spread the word about your business.
The advocacy stage is all about converting your customers and followers into brand advocates. These are users who actively promote your brand to their networks, either by featuring you in their content or by ensuring that your brand maintains a good image on social media and review sites.
You cannot build brand advocates unless your customers feel that they’re important to you, so you have to give them a reason to promote your products. User-generated content is again very useful here. When you feature your most loyal customers in your content, they tend to share your posts as well. You can also hold contests or giveaways requiring your customers to invite their contacts to follow your social media accounts or engage with specific posts.
Both approaches will give your brand valuable exposure to new audiences eager to know more about your brand. Because their contacts have already influenced them to look at your brand positively, they are more likely to convert as well.
How Can you Create a Social Media Marketing Funnel
We’ve already discussed what a social media marketing funnel is. Now, it’s time to learn how to create one for your brand. Your social media funnel should focus on converting new audiences into long-term customers and brand advocates.
When you design your funnel, you need to begin with a set of SMART goals. These goals will help guide you through the process of building the funnel as well as crafting content and strategies for each section of the funnel.
Let’s look at the steps you need to take to create an effective social media marketing funnel for your business.
1. Know your customers
Any marketing campaign starts with identifying your target audience. It’s not as simple as saying that you want to reach as many people as possible. Instead, you need to identify the type of customers who are more likely to find some use for your products.
Creating a buyer persona is one of the most common strategies implemented by businesses to define their audience. A buyer persona is a demographic and psychographic sket of your ideal customer. It integrates information about your audience’s interests, demographics, occupation, age, and other related information. Facebook’s Audience Optimization tool, for example, allows you to target a specific audience and improve your posts’ relevance based on their interests.
The image below shows a great example of a business-to-customer persona.
A business-to-business persona includes details regarding your target’s company, such as their size, industry, products, services, and revenue. It also contains data regarding people you want to engage with, their objectives, and problems.
A customer persona helps you to gain insight into your potential customers and identify their purchase triggers. When you build your social media marketing plan, a customer persona acts as a valuable resource.
2. Identify your marketing funnel
After you understand your customer persona, you need to identify your target audience’s intentions. If your business sells online course subscriptions, your target audience will probably consist of people who probably need to learn new skills for work.
It’s challenging to sell all of your available customers to as many customers at once since not all of them have the same learning requirements. However, you can narrow down your audience through social media. You can do this by posting content that is relevant to your target audience. Online learning provider edX, for example, posts surveys about computer science to attract users who want to learn about that field:
This quiz allows you to segment your audience according to their answers. For example, if a user shows an inclination towards data science, you can add them to your data science segment. If a user’s answers lean towards software design, you can start sending them content about software design courses, and so on.
Once people finish your quiz, you can make them land on an optin page to avail of an attractive discount on their desired courses. After that, you can direct them to a sales page.
The image above shows how social media users get funneled to a landing page, where they can make a purchase or subscribe to your email newsletter. Between the social media post and the landing page, though, you can add layers of content that will allow them to consider their options. Your social media content should add value to the decision-making process without leading directly to a premature sales pitch.
3. Test and modify the funnel
After you ideate your funnel, you have to create it. Don’t start with critical upselling and down selling. Keep everything simple. However, you need to resist the urge to rush the process of creating the funnel. Just like all good things, building good social media funnels takes time.
You might become frustrated when your prospects fail to convert, or you don’t attract leads at all. It’s normal not to get it right the first few times as you’re still getting a feel of your audience’s interests. Performing A/B testing on your customer funnels will let you isolate elements and adjust them until you find a mix of content that works with your audience.
4. Focus on customer retention
According to Forbes, acquiring a new customer costs five times more than retaining an existing one. While this figure doesn’t mean that you should stop finding new customers, it only emphasizes the importance of customer retention as a key element in your marketing funnel.
How do you retain existing customers and convince them to buy again? Many marketing experts suggest offering sharply reduced prices on future purchases. However, you need to ensure that their current customer experience is satisfactory before you entice them with lower prices.
Your business isn’t just there to sell products. It exists to provide a great customer experience. Your social media funnel needs to incorporate customer service as part of the engagement. If your customers find it easy to communicate with your business, it will be easier to turn them into advocates for your brand.
Social media is one of the most pervasive promotional channels your brand can ever use. However, without a clear strategy, social media will just be yet another underutilized medium. Creating a social media funnel will allow you to replicate and dictate the customer journey.
A social media funnel is a visual representation of the customer’s experience of your business, from the moment they first become aware of your products to beyond the point of purchase. Each stage in the funnel – awareness, consideration, action, engagement, and advocacy – requires different kinds of content to push the customer on to the next stage.
Creating a social media funnel is simpler than it sounds. It starts by knowing your customers, identifying the types of content that will resonate with them at each stage of the journey, testing and modifying the funnel, and focusing on customer retention. This process will allow you to create a funnel that can turn strangers into brand advocates.