One of the key benefits of social media that's not talked about nearly enough is its ability to mitigate doubt and confusion among fence-sitters.
Yes, your prospective customers are confused and uncertain. After all, why would they even be coming to your Web site unless they had questions about your product or service? To be entertained? I think not.
During my 15 years of Web site strategy and usability work (before I got all social media on you) I very much tried to live by the two-click rule (discover the most common questions customers have about your business, and answer them on your site within two clicks or fewer).
How does zero clicks sound? Social media makes it possible. The key is to create meaningful content that answers those questions, and propagate that content throughout the social Web, making a visit to your site unnecessary.
Here's how it works:
1. Question Detective
First, you have to identify which questions are most important to answer. I recommend starting with six, because it's a meaningful amount of content and will address the tip of your question iceberg.
You can use a few methods to determine which questions to answer. You can survey your customers, although that's not always the best approach because the questions are not fresh in their minds - they've already made their buying decision.
You can study your Web analytics, and see which pages get the most traffic, and what questions are likely to be in prospects' minds when they are on those pages. Or, you could survey Web site visitors, gathering data in real-time.
I also like to look at search data, both the searches that people are conducting about your company on Google (use this free keyword tool), (insert Google keyword tool screen shot) and the searches conducted on your Web site (assuming you have a search function).
I would also make a point to solicit input from customer service and sales teams, as they have more day-to-day interaction with fence-sitters.
2. Answer Man
Once you've identified your top six questions, answer them.
Not in a "here's our FAQ" way, but in a vigorous, social media way. I recommend answering each question with a dedicated blog post, and a video - at a minimum. For B2B companies, I suggest adding a short slide presentation that answers each question, and possibly a podcast that answers all six in aggregate.
Remember that video is 52 times more likely to show up on the first page of Google search results, so don't skip that part.
You don't need a film crew. You don't need a makeup artist. You need an inexpensive HD camera (I prefer the Kodak ZI-8 over the FlipHD because it has an external microphone jack. How did I know that? Because Kodak is very adept at the precise strategy we're discussing here).
You need some clue about lighting, somebody in your company that's decent on camera, and a loose script. If possible, on-the-scene video showing demonstrations would be great. And if possible, I'd recommend having employees closest to the product (designers, engineers, product marketing, customer service) be the stars of the show, not executives or marketers. It's just more authentic and believable that way.
3. Digital Dandelion
Take your written and video content, and spread it as widely as possible on the social Web. Post it to your Facebook page. Your LInkedin page. Your blog, naturally. Put it on YouTube of course. Even better, use TubeMogul to syndicate it to dozens of other video sites. Certainly, link to it from your corporate Web site, although the ideal scenario is that the content performs well enough in search results that potential customers can answer their questions before they ever get to your site.
4. Improve and Expand
Now that your content is posted to your various social outposts, invite your current customers to make it better. Talk it up on Facebook and the blog. Send it out to existing customers via email, so they can refer fence-sitters to it. Invite current customers to comment on your answers.
Each quarter, commit to answering a few more questions. Involve your customers, and ask them to create their own content that answers other questions (maybe a contest for the best ones).
Now use social listening tools to find blog posts, tweets, forum threads and other discussions about your brand and your products, and as appropriate direct fence-sitters to your new social media answers.
Now you're combining content with marketing, social media with customer service. Now you're using social media to its full advantage.
Give this a try will you? Then come on back and tell us your story in the comments.
(illustration by HiddenLoop)
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