Using Social Media to Find, Engage and Sell to New Consumers
Social Media offers unique opportunities to those who are able to see the opportunity that it presents. While there are still a few out there that have resisted the influence and opportunities that social media presents, the savvy (or the brave) have embraced this wholeheartedly. Social media, in amongst other things, offers a world of unique tools to FIND, LEARN and ENGAGE with consumers and can provide the exact information needed to make sales and generate new leads.
FINDing Your Potential Consumers
A major stumbling block many companies face is that of locating and identifying potential consumers. There are many methods of customer acquisition and they are as varied as the customers themselves. While Social Media is not the end-all to this problem, it does bring new solutions to the table. Social Media offers a new way to find consumers where they are active online, and in ways that no other form of media can accomplish.
Reaching your target audience is all about research and conversation, two things which have always been part of selling. Finding consumers’ using Social Media is actually two separate processes: finding consumers to talk to and finding the right place to have a conversation with your consumers.
Start by researching where your consumers are discussing your brand, whether it be on traditional social networks, forums, blogs, or any other social outlet. Start with one social outlet at a time, and use search tools (such as Google, Facebook, or twitter search tools) and look for references to your company, then your competitors, then industry topics in general.
Consider where the conversation is taking place. Is it on a neutral site where everyone has equal say? Is it on a site where you can control the conversation? Where your customers are having their conversations may determine how you join in the conversation.
LEARN about Consumers
Social Media can be a powerful education tool for those who want to learn about the habits and preferences of their consumers. There is no shortcut to learning about consumers through social media. It will require time and effort. For example, read past discussions to find out what were the important issues being raised, what people liked and disliked. Review what have competitors done in the past and how it was received.
Just as important as knowing what consumers are saying is knowing who are influencing the discussions. This is related to both what consumers are talking about, and where they are talking. For example, blogs will have different influencers then traditional social networks. Each network will have different influencers depending on the dynamics of the conversation as well as the content. Finding out who the main influencers are and reaching out to them will help to form a relationship with them so that they are more likely to mention your company in a favourable light. Reaching out to them can be as simple as introducing yourself and your company and providing them any material they need to improve the position of influence while strengthening your brand as well. This can be accomplished through giveaways, contests, interviews, exclusive information, or any other piece of information or material that they can use.
Engage Potential Consumers
Finding consumers and knowing what they are talking about online is only half the battle. You must then engage with them online. Start by joining the conversation as an equal and then establishing your place as an expert. Once the community has accepted your expertise on the topic it is a small step to becoming the leader of an online community in order to influence the discussion.
Here are some helpful hints to consider before you jump in:
Remember when dealing with social networks that the key word is “social.” As such, a hard sell may not work at least not right off the bat. Instead, join the conversations gradually. Share your knowledge and the value you can bring to consumers in a more subtle way and they will naturally want to know more. Consider the 80/20 rule and use the hard sell only 20% of the time, and only when appropriate.
Remember that consumers know when they are being marketed to, and if they are not prepared for it, they will reject the advertiser and any product or service they are offering. Trust has to be established first so that users will not recoil when they see promotional content in a conversational medium.
There is always an opportunity in social media if you know where to look.
Social Media offers many opportunities to reach a new audience to sell to. However, before you can sell, you must first look for the right audience to engage. You must then learn everything you can about them so that all decision you make are educated and informed. Once this is done you can then engage them in dialogue and conversation in a way that can be extremely effective at building your brand and reaching potential consumers with relevant messaging.