Social Media: So Misunderstood … Let’s Simplify It

Sep 08, 2011

When social media first came onto the scene, many people said, "Oh, it's just a passing fad - the soup du jour." Now, though, just about everyone is on the bandwagon, but that doesn't mean people really understand social media marketing and how to go about it. Social media can be simplified and demystified by looking back at some traditional approaches to marketing.

Let's examine a traditional sales-marketing funnel: awareness, consideration, sale. Typically brand managers do some marketing to create a target group that becomes aware of a product or service; a subset of that group considers the offering; and some of people considering the product actual make a purchase. Pretty simple - yes?

Well, going social adds two more stages to a traditional sales/marketing funnel: loyalty and advocacy. Let's take a look at the entire Social Media Marketing Funnel and go through it stage by stage.

In the center you have the "funnel states" which we already mentioned. On the left you can see the group of people you are focused on before and after each stage of the funnel. The "individual states" on the right represents the frame of mind or psycho-demographic of individuals before and after a given funnel states.

Follow along as we zig and zag across the funnel starting from the left, moving to the right, and then back and forth. So there is a big world out there, and you don't want to market to everyone. So you select some channels where your target is and execute well-defined marketing (thought leadership, promotion, etc.) that supports your position and reinforces your value and/or subject matter expertise to generate awareness. Awareness yields "interest" for some. The group that has some "interest" becomes a defined "target market." You want this group to "consider" your product and start their "evaluation." Those that do start to evaluate your offering become your "prospect" and obviously we want to convert prospects to "sale." After someone purchases something, they use it for a bit and really have a "complete assessment" of your product-they are your customer. The degree of loyalty they have is defined by their level of "satisfaction" and if their user experience is good, they are likely to be a "repeat customer." If you identify your loyal customers' needs and wants and reward them, good chance they will provide "word of mouth" marketing for you and be a "promoter" of your brand. The beauty here is that word of mouth marketing refuels the funnel without your effort or expenses.

There you have it. A complete marketing progression. Really not that complicated, right? So now let's get into social media. What if we simply take this same approach with our social media endeavors? Think about it this way. Where are you going to engage to create awareness? Get consideration? How will you engage to produce loyalty? What will you do special to create advocates? If you start to answer these types of questions you will be on your way to determining a social media strategy that produces results. You will be led to the appropriate social channels where you should be present and engage.

Let's drill into this a bit:


If someone is on your site, they are probably already aware of your brand. Thus, you need to determine the existing places where your target audience already is and engage with them there through conversations-not selling, but certainly take opportunity to do some brand name dropping.


So once a number of individuals become aware of your brand, they'll want to check you out for consideration. Consideration can manifest as simply looking for more information-so continue to engage offsite. As you build a presence in the offsite community, group, forum, etc., you can mention your digital assets worth checking out.

Conversion - Sale

Social media increases the probability of sales via activities in awareness, consideration, loyalty, and advocacy. Social media is great for customer engagement and building relationships. Yes, engagement and relationships lead to sales, but that is a residual effect.


It is worth noting that the sale is not crossing the finish line. Loyalty is bred by user experience and by the brand reinforcing that value of their offerings. Once you have successfully sold a customer, give them reasons to stay engaged with you. Offer continued education and a place to connect with other people like them-something that creates a sense of community built around your brand, a place for the customer to upload their user generated content.


Engagement is very good to see, but having individuals that actually market your brand is the pinnacle of success. Identify power users in your social channels. Zero in on their wants and deliver to their needs. Establish 1-to-1 relationships and conversations. And find special ways to reward them.

The best  way to achieve this kind of success through social media is with great content! Do not be satisfied with good content. (Tip of the hat to Jim Collins.) Would you want to share okay content with your friends? Every time you communicate, it is an opportunity for people to share something about your brand. Don't miss any opportunities.