A difficult challenge in relation to social media management is engaging users on and off the platform. Ideally, businesses will be able to use social media to advance customers in the buying process.

This is easier said than done. It starts with understanding the length and magnitude of the customer journey. This will help you understand where social media fits in and how you can use it with your other marketing efforts.

A recent Social Times article talks about social media management and cross-channel engagement. The article explains that for consumer goods, you should use Facebook and Instagram to build long-term relationships:

“For superior cross-channel engagement, it’s best to think about the customer’s journey to conversion and how it relates to your brand’s best-performing channels for long-term relationship building. In business-to-business situations, this is likely to be a sales representative’s LinkedIn presence or an email list. For consumer goods, where fun and peer-to-peer sharing are such powerful forces, Facebook or Instagram might be the way to go.”

As you can imagine, this represents the beginning of the customer journey. There are other things that can be happening simultaneously with this as well, like getting customers to read and share your original content.

Although social media interaction is good for building relationships, it doesn’t represent the end of the customer journey. The next steps occur on other platforms like your website, email newsletter and CRM.

This is where cross-channel engagement comes into play. After the initial greeting on Facebook, you should get followers to sign up for your email newsletter or visit your site to browse your products. Getting a user to leave his email address symbolizes his “conversion,” in that he’s not just a lead anymore. Working with email subscribers is much different from marketing to your website visitors. Therefore, it’s necessary to have a fully automated marketing and CRM platform.

It’s important to understand that social media doesn’t represent the end of the customer journey. To convert leads, you’ll have to move them to your website or landing page.