Process and organization
After reading this, you’ll feel more confident about planning, creating and publishing purposeful social media content that moves your business forwards.
There’s no shortage of advice online about how to create a social media content calendar. But if you’re anything like me, you don’t want to read any more articles that talk about “national days” or “content buckets”.
You want to know how you can actually convert followers on social media - and that takes more than tenuously linking your brand to International Day of The Dog.
In this article, we’ll explore how to create a social media sales funnel that attracts, nurtures, and converts your audience. One that aligns to the customer journey in much the same way as a “traditional” sales funnel.
By the end of the piece, you’ll feel much more confident about planning, creating and publishing purposeful social media content that moves your business (or your client’s business) forwards.
Type the word “sales funnel” into Google Images and you’ll see hundreds of different images pop up. They’re all variations of the same concept, but the slight difference between them all can be a little intimidating. At least it was to me.
In simple terms, a sales funnel is the journey your customers take from first becoming aware of your business, through to investing in your products or services. Along that journey are different phases that move people closer to the “bottom” of the funnel - i.e. the conversion and long-term brand advocacy.
While every sales funnel will have different phases, these are generally considered to be the basic five:
The beauty of social media is that it can fuel every single phase of this sales funnel.
And, the better you understand the sales funnel, the easier it is to create content that delivers the right message at the right time.
With that being said, let’s jump into each phase in more detail. From Awareness through to Loyalty, we’ll look at the different types of content to share to organically attract, nurture and convert your social media followers.
This is the very top of your social media sales funnel. At this phase, people are unaware of your brand, your values, your mission, and your amazing products or services.
Since we’re talking about social media, this is the phase that will encourage people to hit follow.
So how can we guarantee that?
This clever post from Slack speaks not only to its users but also to anyone who communicates online using emojis (so basically, everyone!). Its playful tone of voice and relatable subject matter is a nice introduction to the brand.
In this free guide, Emotional Intelligence Practitioner Topsie Vandenbosch shines a light on what imposter syndrome is and how people can deal with it. This gives her ideal clients a quick win and gets them onto her email list, where she can continue to nurture them with value-packed emails.
It’s worth mentioning here the value of Shareable content on platforms like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
Shareable content is designed to be shared by a brand’s existing audience, thereby getting in front of new audiences they might not otherwise reach.
Typically, this type of content triggers an emotion. It is funny, relatable, inspiring, or polarizing.
Think about the last time you shared a piece of content with your friends and family via private message, or with your community via Instagram Stories. I’m willing to bet that’s because it made you feel something.
If you want to know how to create Shareable content, the best place to start is by speaking to the values and/or experiences of your target customers.
The better you know their values, what’s important to them, what they will and won’t stand for, and their day-to-day experiences, the easier it will be to create content that makes them say: That brand really gets me.
Here are two examples of Shareable content from website builder Squarespace and shaving subscription company, Dollar Shave Club. The first is inspiring and relatable. Squarespace’s target customers are business owners and budding entrepreneurs who hope to make their side hustle their full-time gig one day. Here they create a mock Google review to rate “thinking” about launching a passion project (only worthy of 1 star - not great) versus actually doing it.
The example from Dollar Shave Club taps into the lived experiences of their target customers: men! It’s funny and oh-so-relatable.
Notice how formats for this type of content are typically text graphics/carousels, Tweet screenshots, memes or GIFs.
When you think of the type of content you share the most with your friends, family, and community, it likely falls into one of those three categories.
In this phase of your social media sales funnel, you want to share helpful, informative content that provides your followers a quick win.
“Interest” content also helps people become problem aware. They may have some idea of what their problem is already, but they don’t completely understand its impact and aren’t sure of the solutions.
This is your opportunity to dazzle your new followers with incredible content that helps them, but doesn’t sell to them.
If you’re too promotional too soon, you’ll turn prospects off. Instead you want to establish your expertise, build trust, and enrich consumers’ lives to help them make an informed decision about working with you/buying your products.
As your leads start to become more familiar with what you offer and how you can help them, they’ll start to develop a greater interest in specific products/services.
Types of content you can share to fuel this phase of your social media sales funnel include:
Men’s healthcare company, Hims, which focuses on sexual health, hair loss, and skincare, does regular Q&A Instagram Lives. One of its most recent ones was with Dr. Justin Ko about male pattern hair loss.
Here’s a lovely piece of Interest content from Tails.com. They’ve taken an incredibly common dog owner question (take it from me!) and broken it down into a digestible carousel post.
Beauty brand Wild Seed Botanicals does a great job of showing off the consistency of its body polish in this Instagram Reel. Demo-ing products or giving us a glimpse of your process (if you’re a service-based business or creator) is an effective way of getting people one big step closer to considering purchasing.
By now, potential customers are aware of their problem and how they might go about solving it. However, they’re not sure exactly who has the right solution, so they start shopping around.
This is the phase during which prospects are “product aware”. They’re weighing up the pros and cons of different solutions. They’re exploring the features, benefits and most importantly - the results of different offerings.
This is where your competitive edge is crucial. What is it about your solution that makes it better than your competitors - why should people care?
Focus on your unique value proposition and highlight the key benefits of your solution. Remember - your product/service can have all the bells and whistles in the world, but what’s most important to your prospects is how it will change their lives for the better.
If you’re a coach, consultant or service-based business, make sure that the transformation you provide is super obvious. How will you take people from scenario A (the problem) to scenario B (solution) and what will life look like for them afterwards? How will your solution not only solve the immediate problem, but also have a greater impact in other areas of their lives?
If you’re a product-based business, call out the transformation available to buyers and highlight the key features of the ingredients/materials.
Remember: When prospects are weighing up brands that offer very similar products/services at very similar price points, what will clinch the deal? The relationship they have with brand A versus brand B. That’s why investing time into engagement and nurturing meaningful relationships with social media followers is so important. That degree of trust and familiarity may be the difference between a conversion - or not.
Male grooming company Beardbrand have an excellent engagement rate because they make a concerted effort to engage with their followers through clear CTAs and back-and-forth conversation in the comments.
This sneak preview of Teachable’s new design templates isn’t an explicit promotion, but it’s a good way of showing prospects what they’re missing out on. For anybody weighing up Teachable against their competitors, this type of content will help them come to a conclusion about which is most suitable.
This phase of your social media sales funnel isn’t about educating anymore - it’s all about promotion.
You want to tell people how they can work with you or purchase your products regularly - i.e. at least once a week. This might feel a little easier for product-based businesses. However, having worked with lots of service-based businesses, I know there is sometimes a fear of coming across too “salesy”.
Try to work through this fear, because talking about your offering simply and clearly is the easiest way to start generating more leads and sales through Instagram. Really. That’s the secret.
If you’re a service-based business, be clear about your availability, the services you offer and who they’re for specifically, and how people can take that next step with you.
If you’re a product-based business, call out the specific benefits and value of your product(s) and who they’re best suited for.
Presenting your offer regularly is key because many prospects are almost ready to buy - they just need the right invitation at the right time.
And don’t forget to share testimonials all the time. This social proof is what many people need to convince them to take action and convert. It alleviates the risk factor your solution presents, by showing them that they’re not the first person to invest and that the customers who’ve gone before them have had a great experience.
As well as continuing to push stories of transformation in the form of reviews, testimonials and case studies, really hone in on common customer objections.
These are typically around investment - either price and time - and you may have heard before that most (not all, but most) objections aren’t really objections at all. They’re just an easy way for someone to say they don’t see the value in your solution.
So, how do you tackle these? Head on is best. Draw up a list of objections people might have and compose answers to these. It helps if you have specific examples from previous customers or clients that you can reference to alleviate buyers’ worries.
Service-based business owners often call out these objections within emails promoting time-sensitive programs. It’s a great way of helping people get off the fence.
For example, these (tongue-in-cheek) FAQs from copywriter Laura Belgray (which also happen to include common objections), that she answers in a promotional email.
Here are some other types of content to share to fuel this phase of the social media sales funnel:
Video is key to generating more conversions. For example, this campaign from Nuxe scored 6x ROI with simple, stop-motion video shared on Instagram Stories.
Here’s a great example of promotional “Action” content from SoulCycle. Shared at the beginning of a new year, it was a timely - and irresistible - offer.
So you’ve only gone and done it. You made the sale! You got someone to convert! Time to sit back, relax, and…
… just kidding. 😉
Yes you’ve made the sale, but now comes the fun bit. The bit where you turn a customer into a brand advocate. Someone that will continue to buy from you in the future and shout about you to their friends, family and acquaintances.
The way to do this effectively has a lot to do with engagement, and for that reason it’s not necessarily about the public-facing content you’re sharing on social media.
Checking in regularly with customers and clients via regular email communications and DMs is essential to maintain long-term relationships and customer satisfaction.
According to McKinsey & Company, there are two types of brand loyalists. The first “... are active loyalists, who not only stick with [a brand] but also recommend it. Others are passive loyalists who, whether from laziness or confusion caused by the dizzying array of choices, stay with a brand without being committed to it. Despite their claims of allegiance, passive consumers are open to messages from competitors who give them a reason to switch.”
This underscores how important it is for brands to stay in touch with customers. Particularly when you consider that 41% of an ecommerce store’s revenue is created by only 8% of its customers. This 8% is made up of repeat customers, which shows how profitable customer retention is.
And, according to the book Marketing Metrics, a repeat customer has a 60%-70% chance of converting. With more repeat customers, less time and investment is required for customer acquisition and conversion tactics.
So, what are some of the ways of fuelling the “loyalty” phase of the social media sales funnel?
Sharing content from your loyal followers like this example from Gousto, is a great way to show appreciation to your existing customers.
The closed Pelaton Facebook group offers its customers the opportunity to network with one another and share exercise plans, techniques, and schedules. The fact that this group is private offers a level of exclusivity for fans of the brand.
Creating a social media sales funnel that converts doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, you’re probably doing this already without realising that it’s specifically “Interest” content or “Action” content.
The benefit of aligning your marketing deliberately to your social media sales funnel is that it helps you plan content with purpose. Plus, it allows you to effectively measure whether each type of content is helping to move your business forward.
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