Eight Ways to Start The Buying Cycle With Social Media

Think social media marketing doesn’t result in sales? Think again. Social media has become the starting point of the buying cycle.

Need proof? A Nielsen study of 28,000 respondents from around the world showed that online consumer recommendations are the second most influential type of brand advertising.

(The only thing more powerful was earned media.)

According to Bain and Company, customers engaged by brands on social media spend between 20 and 40 percent more.

Here are eight examples of how to start the buying cycle with social.

1. Just listen and respond

Bath Ales, a brewery based near London, compared a period of social media silence to another of social media activity and found that its online sales increased 56 percent during the period of engagement. They credit the boom to listening to their customers on social media and engaging them, even if it was just a simple thank you.

2. Provide special offers

Make your company worth following on Twitter or Facebook. Dell Computers uses those two platforms to send coupons to customers. In 2009, Dell brought in $3 million worth of sales through Twitter alone. Consider that Twitter had about 20 million users at the end of 2009 compared to 500 million now.

3. Collect orders

This tip may work best for food service businesses, but some creativity can probably tweak it for other industries. In 2011, a Seattle Mariners beer vendor started accepting orders through Twitter. By the start of the 2012 baseball season, the vendor said about 10 percent of his orders came from Twitter.

Roger Smith Hotel - Twitter Sales

The Roger Smith Hotel has seen increased success by encouraging sales through Twitter.

4. Search for buying signals

Social media users give off buying signals when considering a purchase. The Roger Smith searched Twitter for people looking for hotel recommendations and announcing travel plans. The Manhattan hotel then offered prospects discounts. The Twitter buying signals and other social media efforts created between $15,000 and $20,000 in additional revenue for the hotel.

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5. Generate word of mouth

Organic tea brand Steaz wanted to quickly and cheaply grow its brand recognition and sales. Steaz thought its product and target audience (mothers) would generate social media word-of-mouth. The company hosted a Twitter chat about natural and organic foods and earned 2,830 tweets in an hour. Though no sales may have come directly from the event, it gave the brand visibility, which likely created sales.

6. Be visually inspiring

A Pennsylvania husband and wife use Pinterest to promote the jewelry and art they make. After posting an item on Etsy, an e-commerce site focused on handmade and vintage items, they pin an image of the product with a link to it on Etsy to their Pinterest page, giving it more exposure. The couple generated about $60,000 between the Pinterest and Etsy accounts.

Play.com Facebook Sales

From contests to photos, Play.com makes sales through Facebook by creating shareable content.

7. Get to know your followers

Online retailer Play.com doesn’t use Facebook to sell as much as it does to get to know its followers. Seeing how they engage and share content gives the company a better idea of how to reach them. So far, it’s worked. In addition to increasing its Facebook following, Play.com’s sales through Facebook rose to £2 million in 2011, an increase of 80 percent from 2010.

8. Be open to followers’ suggestions

In this case, social media didn’t just create sales; it created a business. Milysan Troche, a style blogger, started using Instagram to post pictures of her own outfits but soon began receiving requests to post gently-used luxury merchandise for sale. Soon Milysan knew her high traffic rates could support its own website, and MyHauteCloset.com was born. Nearly 100 percent of her clients come from Instagram.

Image: skpy (Creative Commons)

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