When my agency receives inquiries from organizations, we first ask them about their goals for social media. Most tell us that their key goal is to increase sales. We then talk with them about the difference between a goal and an outcome – money is an outcome, not a goal. Experience has shown that a more realistic goal for organizations who want sales would be lead generation.
However, the approach to acquiring leads is something of a gray area.
I’ve advocated that social media success comes down to alignment. A company that wants to actualize results from social media marketing must align their efforts with the values of the business, and solidify their commitment to relationships.
Here's an overview of how that process actually works.
The Social Media Funnel
If we built a marketing funnel for social media, it would look like the diagram below.
Too many businesses want to jump right to the leads, and bypass the other steps, but you audience will have no desire to download your eBook until they know who you are, and they like what they see. It’s the same "know, like, and trust" approach that’s become a key tenet of modern-day marketing.
Bottom line: Businesses are often focused on the wrong things, and improper focus leads to inaccurate measurement, and ineffective steps to correct it. As a result, the conclusion, often, is that social media doesn’t work.
The Importance of a Strategy and Relationship-Mindset
It’s vital to have a social media strategy which aligns with the organization’s values.
Most profitable businesses have values at the heart of their company, and it’s those values that empower their teams and drive their business growth. Yet, when I look at businesses that employ social media, it’s infrequent they emulate these values online, especially with customer service. If service is a value to your organization, you need to respond to your audience online.
The other caveat is that it’s not an overnight process. Social media marketing is relationship-building, and relationships take time.
When was the last time you built immediate trust? Did you give someone the key to your house upon meeting them at the dog park? Put Mom in a home before seeing the facility? Just because someone ‘liked’ your page, or accepted your LinkedIn request, that does not invite you to hound them to the sale.
Relationship marketing is a long game.
How to Fulfill and Measure the Social Media Funnel
You may be wondering how you can fulfill these objectives using social media - below I offer some examples that can help you determine goals for each objective, the measurables or Key Performance Metrics (KPI’s) associated with each goal, and content suggestions that have worked for our clients to achieve positive ROI.
Please keep in mind that these are general guidelines - each business will need to determine the most effective goals to fulfill these objectives, and measurement will vary by channel. Also, this is just a sample. There are dozens of goals you could set – and, some will overlap. For example, engagement such as post comments can also fulfill the awareness objective by resulting in higher reach and following.
Goals, KPI’s and Content
KPI: The number of people who viewed a post
Content suggestions: Humanizing posts, tagging other pages (appropriately, such as sharing content and giving the author credit) and content shared by others can help to increase reach. On a platform like Facebook, some use paid advertising options such as an awareness ad or a post boost (considered engagement by Facebook) to help expand their reach.
KPI: The number of followers on a channel
Content suggestions: Using the above tactics are a good start for this metric, as some may follow the business as a result of the reach. Again, a paid ad can accompany this effort, particularly when starting out.
Other measurables: Impressions, volume, and share of voice.
Goal: Post reactions and comments
KPI: The number of reactions or ‘like’ as well as comments on a news feed post
Content suggestions: Open-ended questions - "Caption this" or "Finish this sentence" posts often solicit comments.
Goal: Website clicks
KPI: The number of people who clicked a website link from social media – this can be tracked by most social sites and analyzed further in Google analytics
Content suggestions: Content that’s engaging will result in a click. This is usually made up of an intriguing headline or the combination of a headline and the caption accompanying the post, which entices the user to want to read more.
Goal: Increased length of time on website
KPI: The length of time a visitor from social media stays on the page they clicked – this can be tracked in Google Analytics
Content suggestions: Once we have the initial click (from the previous goal), we want the user to stay and read the post. It’s vital that the content is relevant to the headline or copy clicked, and not ‘click bait’ that will lead the user to leave the page quickly.
Other goals/measurables could include online mentions, positive reviews, direct messages, and social shares.
Objective: Lead Generation
Goal: Take action on a website (e.g. eBook download)
KPI: The number of people who took action on a website as a result of an initial click from social media. This can be tracked in Google analytics through behavior and user flow, UTM codes and other custom variables.
Content suggestions: When we get to this metric, it depends on the success of the other two engagement metrics (website clicks and length of time on pages). Often, if the content met the needs of the audience, they will naturally click to other pages on the website. A clear Call-to-Action (CTA) at the end of a post is helpful for encouraging that next step. For example, one of our clients invites his readers to take a deep dive into the topic by downloading a copy of his e-book at the end of his blog posts.
Goal: Online inquiry
KPI: The number of people who completed a ‘contact us’ form or other lead generation method
Content suggestions: This is where it gets tricky as how they found you, besides already being on site, could come from a number of factors such as Google search or a referral from another website. The best advice I can offer is to diversify your marketing beyond social media. It’s now proven that Google algorithms favor brand signals as part of their search results. A ‘brand query’ is one type of brand signal, which are people who search for your business on Google. Brand query is a result of heightened brand awareness – our first objective.
Other goals/measurables could include a phone call or email inquiry, if we can effectively track the role of social media in the generation of that lead.
Based on the outcome of the last objective, it’s evident this is a cyclic process - it’s an ongoing effort, and a good reminder that marketing shouldn’t stop once the lead is acquired. If relationship marketing is done well, a business can build customers for life.