Social media & the difference between love and sales

Successful marketing and social media can be two different things. While you might start a social media page to sell products, if they’re not monitored carefully, it can becomes something else entirely.

When I see social media professionals equating participation on social media with sales potential, I become nervous. I am aware that social media does help your business build community, create brand awareness and establish rapport that leads towards a sale. But just because someone loves your brand doesn’t mean they buy from your business or even like your products.

Sales and love are often two very different things when it comes to business.

Let me tell you a story of love and a lack of sales.  

I used to live in Glebe in Sydney. There was a beautiful institution called the Valhalla Cinema. It was old and steeped in history and showed anime, cult and classic films more regularly than anywhere else. And I loved it.

Of course my personal love of the Valhalla didn’t fill it enough times a week required to keep it open. And of course, being in a suburb at the time that was moving from shabby to chic, there was more money to be found in redevelopment than screening films to half empty rooms.

But I thought love for the establishment would save it. I thought community would rally around it and win the day.

So I stood with my little “Save the Valhalla” sign and railed against the injustice of my beloved cinema being stolen from me. I was against greed, angry at councils and real estate for putting profit before community.

Other protesters shared by ideals and I bonded with the people around me. It was passionate, wonderful and we felt compelled to put in our all.

When a break in the speeches and being fired up came, I asked “what has been your favourite film this year?”

It became a little awkward. There was muttering and people looking at the leaves at the pavement, hoping someone would jump in.

I pressed on, thinking it might have been controversial films or even a little risqué a title that stilled their tongues.

“What’s your favourite night to come here?”

Out comes the stomach punching truth. My fellow campaigners were people who occasionally check out the festivals. Very occasionally it seems, considering they named a film from 2 years ago, or a festival which hasn’t been seen in years. Or a film that was well and truly sitting in the Weekly section of the local video store.

Reality set in. I looked around and noticed I didn’t recognise a single face outside the staff. None of these people were even close to semi-regular.

These lovely, well intentioned people loved the cinema as an idea as much as I did.

But the protesters didn’t understand it needed to be taken past the idea stage into interaction. They wanted to be seen supporting it, and yes, to support it with their Saturday afternoon and letterbox dropping activities.

But not enough to make a commitment to pop their head in every couple of weeks and see a film- or vote with their wallets.

In short, they loved the romance of the idea, but not enough to make room for it in their lives.

And that is exactly what most fans on social media are like.

Marketing and social media can attract interest. But that doesn’t always translate into cold, hard cash. Anyone who uses Facebook can tell you clicking like on a fan page is a million miles away from actually making use of it. We ‘like’ the idea of things all the time!

Like when the bus is running late or if we have a moment to spare and only a smartphone to entertain us.

Or we visit a little seaside town and we fall in love with the local shops enough to give social media approval, knowing it’s highly unlikely we will return.

Moving to a new area means digging through Facebook and seeing what we might get around to eventually once the boxes are unpacked. Maybe, one day.

Or a friend likes something that looks cool in our newsfeed so we like that, too.

The idea behind the Facebook like is stronger than the intent to purchase. We want to share a little love and have a little token of something at that point in time that often doesn’t translate into anything more than that casual moment of appreciation.

And this behaviour is a reflection of how we respond to a lot of sales and marketing.

So how do you turn love into sales?

This is indeed the money making question. You need to encourage the people who have liked your social media to build on that like. Take them to the next level. Court them until they translate into actual paying customers.

Ways you can take the marketing and social media journey are:

  1. Always remember what you are in business for. Likes for being the most inspirational social media channel in town are great, but you need to include sales messaging. You need to shift product!
  2. Always solve a problem for your customers. Your passion may be infectious, but in a competitive world, you need remember your customers are after what’s in it for them. The more you help your customers understand what you do and trust you on your social media, the more sales you will generate.
  3. Forget the popularity contests. Value isn’t about who likes what. It’s about who clicks through to your content and who readily engages with it beyond the like button. Who cares if you have 200,000 followers if 7 people like your post and no one clicks through to read the content behind it?
  4. Encourage your fans to become customers. Move them off Facebook and onto your email lists. Give them a reason to connect with you personally. Make yourself available outside social media. Do not rely on social media platforms to be all your community engagement.
  5. Spend less time on the looky-loos and more time on the genuine customer potential. Identify where your paying customers come from and encourage more of the same. And don’t be afraid to ditch social media channels that don’t work for you on a sales level.

All of this takes time. You need to get to know your followers and work out what works and what doesn’t. It involves reporting, research and keeping a conversation flowing.

Forget about getting people to like you and instead, focus on connecting with them.

That’s how you turn love into sales.

Want to know more about how your marketing and social media endeavours can be translated to actual sales? Get in touch.

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