If you read my previous post on converting conversions into sales, you will know that selling on social media is all about having the right kinds of conversations with your audience to create engagement, trust and respect and then adding a great ‘Call to Action’. Social Media marketing brings sociology into marketing much more than ever before.
Old marketing was all about defining your target market, understanding what they want and then packaging your product in such a way that it appealed to them. Social Marketing however creates a much larger need to understand the kinds of conversations your target market are having and how to include your brand into those conversations, this means adding an elements of psychology, community management and an understanding of crowd based conversations.
Nicholas Christakis, a professor of medicine and sociology at Harvard University and co-author with James Fowler of Connected, says “The reason we form networks is because the benefits of a connected life outweigh the costs. It’s to our advantage as individuals and a species to assemble ourselves in this fashion. There are very fundamental reasons we live our lives in social networks and if we really understood the role they’re playing in our society we would take better care of social networks and find ways to take advantage of their power to improve our society.”
He goes on to say: “The first rule is that we shape our network. Humans deliberately make and remake their social networks all the time. We form new friends according to certain rules, and we ditch old friends, and we choose our spouses and co-workers and so forth. This means that we literally create the network around us.
The second rule is that the network shapes us and where you are located in the network has significant implications for the experience you have in life. The simplest example I can give you is that you can take two different adolescent girls. Both of them have two friends. … It turns out that if a girl’s friends do not get along, she’s more likely to think of killing herself than the girl whose friends do get along. …
Another rule is that our friends affect us. So you could have two happy friends or two unhappy friends, and it matters. We are affected by what’s going on around us.
The fourth rule is that the effect doesn’t just start there. Our friends’ friends’ friends affect us – meaning that there’s a kind of social domino effect or a social contagion. Things ripple through the network and we can come to be affected, not just by what the people around us are doing, but by what people further away, that we don’t even know, are doing. The best example of this is a children’s game of telephone. You’re the fifth in line, and the person whispers something in your ear that is erroneous. But it doesn’t just include the errors that that person introduced. It includes all the accumulated errors of everyone else. So that’s how we come to be affected by people downstream.
The last rule is that the network has a life of its own. The network is a kind of super organism and in a way has its own existence and its own desires and properties, if you will. A very simple example of this is the kind of accuracy that’s achieved by Wikipedia, [in which] every little person contributing something creates a whole that’s more than the sum of its parts.”
In this attention deficit era of social network fatigue, it is absolutely critical that we step back to realize that we must facilitate these all important connective conversations between companies and people. We must also realize that in the digital media age, every person is a reporter and each one of them is a powerful amplifier of news and influence – for better or worse.
The collaborative conversations that drive and define Social Media require brands to have a genuine and participatory approach. Just because you have the latest tools to reach people, or are have playing around with on social media, doesn’t mean you can throw the same old marketing at them. And, it doesn’t qualify you to attempt to market on social media without first thinking about what it is you are doing, why you are doing it and how you will engage your audience in conversations that lead to more sales without alienating them.
Today, conversations are markets and markets are conversations and this being true we have to realize that social networking sites by their very nature cultivate a tight, unswerving and mostly unforgiving community and culture. Participation requires that we listen and observe how they work as our first action, in order to understand the sociological landscape and the dynamics that define each community. They are after all, populated by people, not audiences.
The difference is that by listening, reading and participating, corporate marketing will be smarter and more approachable than ever before and this how we humanize brands, create loyalty, and earn customer’s business.
Once we have the culture right and are able to engage our audience in conversations that are building trusted relationships we are able to create a community around our brand. The trust and engagement is what we build on to begin to introduce our ‘C2A’s’ or Calls to Action within our conversations thereby opening the funnel to more sales.
These calls to action can be as subtle as a recommendation to purchase or ‘check out’ a certain product when questions or comments are posted on our page or profile or as blatant as a direct advertorial post by us. Social networks require that we remember this is an ongoing conversation, I like to refer to them as an online networking event held on a daily basis, and to use similar etiquette to what you would use at an offline networking meetup.
I cannot imagine that other than your 30 second spiel afforded at the beginning of most events of this type that you would find too many other opportunities to advertise or broadcast your business, products or services at an offline event of this nature and we need to exercise the same restraint online or risk offending our followers. However, one post per day that is directly advertorial is appropriate as long as it has been posted on your own page or profile. All other posts need to be ‘added value’ or purely conversational to keep your followers engaged.
In order to convert engagement into desirable outcomes however, we must:
- Create programs with an outcome in mind (What do you want to cause, change, inspire, sell, build, organize, etc.)
- Introduce conversion opportunities through existing and emerging touch points
- Measure performance
- Increase conversions
By having a plan and strategy and an ‘end in mind’ we are able to measure the ‘actions’ taken by our followers, and adjust and maximise our ‘C2A’s’ to take into account what fuels or inhibits our ongoing conversations and conversions and fuels our social commerce. What inspires shares, and thereby recommendations for our brand, and what social proof we are gathering along the way.