What’s the point of social media?
Everyone is now telling companies that they must be using social media. It’s very easy to get caught up in the hype.
Unfortunately, many of the “experts” who are telling you that you should use social media are not telling you how to use it.
If you do not know how to use social media correctly, you won’t get results. There’s an important rule to apply to social media (or any other marketing activity, for that matter):
Social media is worthless unless it generates results
Companies will have different thoughts on the results they are aiming to achieve. However, the most important metric that printing companies should use to measure social media is sales.
All activity at your company has to focus on keeping your production facilities busy. If social media does not achieve this, it is a waste of time and effort.
Of course, social media may not directly generate sales, but it certainly plays a role. To ensure social media is doing its part, it’s important to understand how it helps to drive sales.
How does social media fit into the sales cycle?
There are three stages in creating a worthwhile social media presence:
- Finding and attracting prospects
- Engaging with prospects
- Converting prospects
However, it is very hard to use social media for the final step. Unless you are driving online sales through your website, you are unlikely to achieve sales through social media alone.
To win serious business accounts, you almost certainly have to adopt a direct sales approach. You will have to take your social media contacts into the real world.
Why do you have to take social media contacts offline?
There are three reasons for doing this. The first is that you create a more realistic relationship. You will be communicating with them through a personal channel. This is most likely to be through the phone. However, you can also achieve this through e-mail, Skype and similar. This helps achieve a deeper, more personal relationship.
Once you have this deeper relationship, it is easier to move into a sales dialogue. This is usually not appropriate on social media. Often, social media dialogue is much more open and can be read by many. You absolutely do not want to be seen as someone who is constantly selling in these channels (it’s a major turnoff for prospective customers).
Once you are communicating with a prospect on a one-to-one level, you can start focusing on a business conversation. You can move from engagement to sales. That’s where the third advantage of an offline conversation comes into play: you can create a personalised call to action.
With a one-to-one dialogue, you can encourage the prospect to take the steps that you want. Each of those steps will lead towards the sale.
So why do you need social media if you are having sales conversations offline?
Social media is a great way to create warm prospects. Your social media activity should be geared towards making sure that you have a constant stream of potential new customers to contact. These people will be happy to talk to you. You’ll have a very different conversation compared to cold calling a prospect.
The point of social media is to build your prospect pipeline
In my next three articles, I will discuss how to engage with your social media audience and how to decide which social media contacts to turn into sales leads. Then I will outline four ways to transition the relationship from social media into real-time.
Editor’s Note: This post is part of a larger series on how social media can help drive sales for your print business:
- How Real-Time Social Media Relationships Create Print Sales
- The Best Way to Engage Prospects on Social Media?
- Which Social Media Connections Are Potential Customers?
- How to Convert Social Media Connections into Customers
PS If you’d like more information on how to use social media effectively to sell printing services, download my free e-guide “Ten Social Media Rules For Print Sales People”. You’ll also receive my regular “Views from the print buyer” bulletin, full of ideas on how to use social media and sell print effectively.