Saturday, September 22, 2012

3 Tips For Using Incentives To Sell On Social Media

If I asked what your business is getting out of their social media efforts, what would you tell me? Fans and followers? Likes? Comments? Maybe a few shares?

What does all of that activity translate to? Marketers will often argue that engagement on these networks strengthens brand awareness, increases loyalty and advocacy, and creates a propensity to buy. This can be true. Social media is often a great platform for pushing more content out to an audience, increasing possible touch points, and opening a dialogue between brand and consumer.

But, how do we measure the impact that social media engagement actually has on a brand’s sales? Where does the ROI actually come from? One way to find that payoff is to take the leap past engagement-only initiatives, and turn social media channels themselves into functioning sales channels.

When I mention selling via social media, salespeople often perk up while social media managers tend to shy away. Some say social media is the wrong environment for selling. They say that people don’t want to buy on social media outlets, they just want to ‘engage’ – mostly with their friends, and, if you’re lucky, maybe with your brand too. Additionally, all brands should tread carefully, or else they might frighten fans away from them, and into the arms of a competitor’s brand page where they can just laugh at funny photos and share the latest television ad. Fans are there for entertainment, and don’t want to be pressured by invites to make a purchase, they say. Well, this assumption is absolutely false. And, believing it will cost your brand money. The truth is that social media users want to buy. Your fans want to buy.

Want to test this theory out? Go ahead. It’s simple enough. Start by offering your fans an incentive, and then ask for the sale. Incentives are important for pulling people away from their news feed and onto your brand page. Users don’t mind following you, and they don’t mind spreading the word on something they deem worthy. But, you must tell them why. In fact, 58% of consumers cite coupons as the main reason they engage with a brand page on Facebook & Twitter. So, the best place to start is by meeting that desire and offering a deal.

What kind of deal should be offered? To get you started, follow these 3 tips:

Offer an Exclusive Deal – Fans don’t want to be offered the same coupon they can get in their weekend circular. They want something few others have access to. What’s more, they want to be the one to share it, so their friends can get the deal only through them. Exclusivity can turn a good deal into a great one, and give your brand a nice viral push.

Make it Worthwhile – The goal is to motivate action, right? So, $.10 off their next purchase isn’t going to cut it. Most data on this subject points to anything over 25% being the sweet spot for driving purchases. Make fans want to get this deal, and make it worth sharing with their friends to get the desired result. Put your consumer hat on for a minute. Would redeeming a $.10 off coupon be a top priority for you? Now how about $10 off of a $50 purchase? This difference will help a customer decide if they your offer is worth their time.

Offer it For a Limited Time – To get fans to act on your offer, you must persuade that action. A clear expiration date for a date in the near future motivates a fan to redeem it before the opportunity is gone. To keep this effect going, switch up your offer each month. Give fans a reason to return unprompted to see what you have to offer next. This keeps them engaged, keeps them sharing, and keeps them buying.

While we see social media spend as a portion of marketing budgets continue to rise, it should be understood that brands want to see their bottom lines increase as a result. There is no excuse for failing to bring in revenue when the opportunity to drive sales is there. Give your fans want they want in a brand to bring in real ROI and show the true value of social media marketing.