If you’re like most business owners, you’re finding it difficult to start converting Facebook fans to paying customers. But getting this done is easier than you think. After a year of interviewing businesses who are generating leads and sales on Facebook, I found the common thread: Whether selling services or goods, these businesses are giving customers a reason to offer more than a “like.” Here’s their trick: Using Facebook to generate questions that products or services give answers to. Top social sellers are focusing on solving customers problems. And you can, too.
Step 1: Solve Customers Problems
You’ve probably heard about the secret sauce: posting or updating Facebook a certain number of times, on certain subjects, on certain days is the key to unlocking success. But it’s simply not true. Operational skills are essential to have, but making a sale demands focus on needs of customers, not “secret sauce best practices.” The true secret is getting back to basics and that means solving customers’ problems.
For instance, grocery store Harris-Teeter pays customers to ask its dietician health-related questions on Facebook. Why would a grocer—or your business—do that? Because helping customers put out a fire or scratch a bothersome itch is powerful. Answering questions opens the door to discovery and to making suggestions. You can offer people a friendly tip or useful trick or, if appropriate, outline benefits of becoming a customer or starting a trial. But beware: sales don’t just happen; you need to solve problems with a plan in mind.
Step 2: Be a Thought Provoker, not a Thought Leader
Solving customers’ problems on Facebook works, but only if you plan ways to make yourself addictive to customers and let them share insights on purchase intent with you. Want to generate more inbound inquiries (leads)? Your job is to provoke immediate responses from customers with social media. The key here is sharing useful, original (previously unknown) knowledge with customers on Facebook in exchange for understanding their purchase intent. In other words, give them something valuable and generate a lead.
Many B2B (business to business) companies I’ve been interviewing for my book are showing customers opportunities they’ve never seen before or providing solutions to problems they don’t yet know they have. That’s the candy. That’s how you can become addictive and earn leads. The trick is showing customers ways to capitalize on opportunities and solve problems that ultimately connect to your products and services. Think of it like making everything you do on Facebook scratch customers’ itches.
“The key is to discover what you’re seeing that most people are not seeing right now,” says Gunnar Branson, CEO of marketing and innovation consultancy Branson Powers. “For instance, what might you know—right now—that’s relatively unknown and revealing? Think in terms of a risk or opportunity that your listener, watcher, reader will react strongly to,” he says.
“The formula is something like this,” says Branson, “and it can be applied in any selling scenario: ‘Most people think A, but it’s actually B. Here’s why I say that (so some sort of proof—an observation, trend, anecdote, a statistic). Therefore B.’”
“That’s it,” says Branson who says it works in B2C (business to consumer) as well. “That’s the way to plan or ‘map out’ stories or insights that will draw people in.”
Step 3: Take Action
The final step is to align your behavior on Facebook in ways that help customers solve problems or aid them in getting something important done today.
Here are tips on getting started:
- Change it up: Resist asking, “What should we be doing with Facebook?” Rather, ask “How can Facebook make what we already do for customers better?”
- Talk to me: Give customers a reason why they need to think about something important to them in a powerful new way that gives them a reason to talk to you… so they can more clearly understand what you just provoked.
- Make it easy: Use contests, calls to action, bold statements—do what it takes to prompt a reaction and make it easy for customers to qualify themselves as leads.
- Re-purpose content: Are you already helping customers put out fires or do more with less? How? Where? Collect and organize this information using simple, accessible tools like a blog. Consider ways to prompt customers within Facebook to visit your blog, induce a response and capture a lead.