How to Guide the Customer Journey with Social Media
When you use the seven stages of the marketing hourglass as your guide, you invariably create a stronger, more cohesive marketing strategy that your clients’ prospects and customers feel connected to. The customer journey should be your guidepost in all marketing efforts, and social media is no exception.
But how do you most effectively leverage the benefits of social media at each stage of the hourglass? Let me walk you through how to get the greatest results from social media, whether someone is just discovering your client’s brand as a prospect or is returning to make their hundredth purchase.
The first stage of the marketing hourglass is “know.” People can’t do business with your client if they don’t know they exist! In this phase, you’re not aiming to do anything more than create awareness and get on people’s radar screens. And that starts with simply posting on social media.
A regular posting cadence is critical. Ensure that you and your client are on the same page about post volume and that it’s something that’s sustainable from a bandwidth and budget perspective.
Just as important is ensuring that the content is high-quality. It’s better to post incredible content only a handful of times a week than it is to clog up followers’ feeds with reposts and hollow content multiple times a day.
As you begin to post more frequently, you’ll hopefully start to get shares. This shows you that the content you’re creating is in fact meaningful; people wouldn’t pass it along to their friends if it wasn’t. It also means that your client is starting to generate name recognition with those followers who are sharing their stuff. Finally, it gives you an opportunity to cast a wider net and get your client introduced to the friends of your followers.
In addition to the organic social elements at this stage, you can pay to boost certain posts. This essentially gives you a megaphone for one of your existing pieces of content. Pick the one that got the best traction organically, and then pay to amplify it with a broader audience.
Educate on Problems
You’ve gotten your client’s name in front of prospects’ eyes. Now it’s time to demonstrate that your client has the know-how to solve these prospects’ problems. This is where educational content comes in. Link out to blog posts and podcast episodes (plus hub pages, if you have them!). Create explainer videos that can be shared on social channels.
This content should address the core problem your client solves for their customers, and its goal is to establish your client as the go-to for industry knowledge and information. The more regularly prospects see your clients’ helpful content on social, the more they’ll come to like their brand.
Here is where you want to step up your social engagement game. When prospects comment on content, don’t just give them a thumb’s up—engage in a discussion! Ask a question to start a dialogue. The content has provided your “in” to getting to know them better; don’t waste that opportunity by skipping the all-important social engagement step.
As far as paid social is concerned, at this point you should continue on with boosted pages, plus begin to target prospects with paid posts.
Build Trust and Make the Initial Offer
Now that you’ve gotten prospects’ attention, it’s time to build up trust and get those prospects to take the first step in trying your client’s product or service.
This is where posts with CTAs come in. Calls to action are great ways to drive a specific goal. Rather than leaving prospects to their own devices, you’re telling them what their next move should be. If you’ve just shared a helpful piece of information, a CTA inviting them to download a related infographic or ebook is a great way to give them a more meaningful taste of the great work your client does.
These posts can be both organic and paid social posts. A combination of organic and paid is a great way to ensure that you stay front-and-center in prospects’ newsfeeds. You can direct these paid CTA-centric posts at those who have already interacted with your clients’ brand online, so that you know you’re targeting people who are familiar with the business and are at the right point in the funnel to consider a low-pressure introductory offer.
At this point, you’re hoping that followers are sharing your clients’ links. When you post a great piece of content that a follower reposts, that’s a great trust-building element. Their friends see the personal endorsement of your client’s brand, and that means something!
Once you’ve made the initial offer, it’s time to go in for the sale. The moves that you make on social media should support your client’s selling process; and that means turning up the dial on engagement.
The trial offer hopefully demonstrated more of your client’s value to the prospect, so they know that your client is an expert in the field and is qualified to solve their problem. But before they commit to becoming a customer, they want assurance that the customer experience will be stellar.
Being attentive and engaging on social media is one way to demonstrate that your client will provide incredible service. When you’re responding to questions and comments in a timely manner, addressing bad reviews in a polite and effective way, and demonstrating next-level care, that helps your client stand out. Even if the prospect themselves isn’t reaching out to the brand, they can see how you’re responding to other prospects and existing customers. And if the responses aren’t great, they’re taking note.
At this point, you should be using retargeting to reach hot prospects. If they’ve already interacted with the brand, you want to remain top-of-mind. Then, when they’re ready to finally make a purchase, it’s your client’s name—not their competitor—who pops into their head.
Delight, Engage, and Inspire Sharing
The final two stages of the marketing hourglass are repeat and refer. Once your client has won a customer over initially, they’re not done! You must ensure they’re continuing to deliver so that the customer returns and tells all their friends!
Social media is a great place to support the rest of your client’s customer experience efforts. Sharing case studies from happy clients, generating great Facebook reviews and responding to everyone who posts (good or bad!), and creating posts with evangelists is the way to keep the momentum going and ensure your client’s one-time customer becomes a lifelong client who refers often.
On the paid side of things, retargeting remains a key part of staying top-of-mind with existing customers. Smart retargeting can help you direct relevant offers to the right customers. Say, for example, your client owns a home improvement store. For their clients who have purchased A/C units, you can target them with ads for replacement filters. After all, you know they’re going to need them sometime, and if your client remains on their customer’s radar screen, they’ll be the place they turn to for this complementary product.
Social media shouldn’t be thought of as an isolated marketing tactic, out on its own island. It’s a part of the broader strategy. Aligning your social media goals with how you move customers through their journey helps you to create meaningful, targeted, effective content for social.