There’s a big difference between having a presence on social media and actually using it successfully to bring in new enquiries and clients. In this article I’m going to cover the key things you need to get right to get these results from your social media marketing, ie. to turn your likes and followers on social media into enquiries and clients.

These fall into 2 broad categories – make sure you attract and connect with the right people; and – make sure you nudge them towards doing business with you.

1. Attract and connect with the right people
Social media marketing is great for raising brand awareness, but successful strategies focus on building relationships with potential clients before, during and after they are ready to buy. This requires a different approach from the more traditional ‘push’ marketing methods. It also relies on you knowing who your ideal clients are – for example, what they’re interested in, how they spend their time, and what matters to them, so that you can ‘talk their language’ and so naturally spark and engage them in conversation online.

Many businesses are so focussed on building an audience that they forget to ask whether the likes and followers they are attracting on social media are actually the right people for them. And many businesses also don’t realise that they can influence who follows them (on any platform) with the content they share.

For example – if your business is a vet practice and you share only funny photos of cats, then you may find that your likes and followers on social media come from people who love cat photos, or who love funny photos, but don’t actually own a cat. However, if you post updates that include the odd funny cat photo (because who doesn’t love a funny cat?) but that also answer questions that committed cat owners would ask, or that share stories of how your services have helped to enhance the lives of your furry clients, then you’re going to attract people who are actually cat owners!

You will also position your practice as experts in cat care and will naturally encourage your audience to build trust in you (which we all know is vital to attracting new clients!)

Also, please embrace the fact that social media is about being social! No matter how great someone thinks your content is, if they comment on it or ask a question and never get a reply, or if they see you just using the platform as a digital billboard, they’re not going to be interested in finding out more about your business.

In summary – share content that will appeal to the right people for you and be as proactive as you can in engaging them in conversation and in helping them out.

2. Nudge them towards doing business with you.
Attracting a new client directly from social media will happen naturally, but just relying on this isn’t going to give you the results you want. As human beings we invariably need a nudge in the right direction to get us to take action and this is what you need to be doing with your followers on social media.

It’s important to remember that your audience will include people who may be ready to buy now (in the vet practice example, this could be someone who’s recently moved into the area who wants to find a vet) but  will mostly be people who aren’t yet ready to buy but who could be, further down the line.

You therefore need systems in place to encourage both the ‘buy nowers’ and the ‘buy laters’ to take the next steps from being likes and followers on social media.

(Once again, many businesses forget this and concentrate only on trying to sell their services right now, so they are missing out on a potentially very lucrative proportion of their audience.)

a. Those who are ready to buy now
To encourage those who are ready to buy to do so, take a look at what’s working well to ‘convert’ with your other marketing methods. For example – do you run events or put on talks? Or do you find that free phone consultations or promotional offers work well? Take whatever is working offline and replicate it on social media, and then you can add new ideas into the mix to test them too.

In other words, move your interested followers from social media to an event or phone call, or to online booking by sharing invitations to do so regularly amongst your other content.
(For maximum impact, make it as easy as possible for them to do so – too many steps or long forms to fill in will put off even the most interested potential client.)
If your website works well to convert visitors to enquiries or clients, then make sure to regularly share links to it as part of your content mix.

An example of a vet practice encouraging their social media audience to come and meet them in real life!

b. Those who may be interested to buy in the future

One of the massive benefits of marketing your business on social media is that you can attract and start to build relationships with an audience of interested people. You have the opportunity to build relationships with those who aren’t ready to buy now, and build an audience of followers on social media, so that when they are ready to buy, you’re the obvious choice.

To continue talking with these people in a measured and controllable way, you need to take the conversation off social media, where communication tends to be sporadic and unpredictable.

Instead, encourage as many fans and followers as possible to ‘opt-in’ and subscribe to receiving updates from you.

Email is a simple, effective and cheap way to send updates. If you use email marketing software such as Mailchimp or Active Campaign, you can create sequences of messages that can be scheduled to send at regular intervals after sign up, meaning that you only have to create the email content once and it gets used over and over again. (As you can measure open rate and click rate, you can edit and tweak your emails to ensure those you’re sending are resonating and encouraging action.)

Mailchimp makes it easy to send a series of automated emails to your database.

Building your own database of interested leads creates a huge asset for your business as you’re now in control of talking with your audience – and not relying on third party social media software. By being smart when attracting subscribers (see below), you know that those on your list are interested in what you have to offer, so if you offer value as well as news of offers and promotions, you have a reliable means of driving your business forwards.

Now that we’ve established how to communicate with your subscribers once you’ve taken them off social media, the last question to answer is how to encourage your interested audience to subscribe.

A few years ago, standard practice was to offer a newsletter and to provide a sign up form on the website. However, the offer of a newsletter is rarely compelling these days, when every business is clamouring for attention from followers on social media.

A much more effective strategy is to offer a specific free gift or ‘lead magnet’ that your audience will value, in return for their email address.

Your lead magnet should –

  1. provide help or advice about something that matters to your audience

The content that you provide in your checklist or guide is important – you can use it strategically to attract exactly the right type of potential clients for you. For example, if you know that owners of Burmese cats happen to be great clients for you because they attend the practice to get regular checks on their cats, are happy to spend whatever is needed, and will recommend you to their friends, then offer a guide about one aspect of caring for Burmese cats, to attract more of the same.

(Note – you may already have a guide on your website which would be perfect for this use with a quick re-design.)

  1. be easily and quickly consumed

It can be tempting to create a long ebook or video series, but that can be counter-productive as your audience may never read, watch or listen to all of it. You want them to get to the end of it so that appreciate the value of what you’ve given them and your positioning as expert is reinforced. A checklist or short guide or video training is ideal. Make sure the design is attractive and professional and that you include your contact details as your initial recipient may well share it on!

The last piece of the ‘lead generation’ mechanism to put in place is a means of sharing your freebie with your social media audience. Some businesses will share their lead magnet from the home page of their website – which does work (and you should definitely place it there), but a visitor may very well get distracted by the other content there and forget to sign up.

It’s far more effective to share your lead magnet on a free-standing landing page or squeeze page, where there is no alternative navigation possible, and where you can make absolutely clear the benefits your visitor will get from the freebie you are offering. (It is, in effect, a sales page for your lead magnet; people do need encouragement to hand over their email address these days.)

An example of a free-standing squeeze page offering a free checklist as a lead magnet.

For best results your squeeze page needs these elements:

  1. a compelling headline
  2. bullet points of the benefits of the lead magnet you’re offering
  3. an image (preferably a mock up of the guide, checklist or video)
  4. a privacy statement (to reassure your visitor that you won’t spam them or sell on their details)

It can be daunting, knowing where to start with creating a page like this, but there are many software packages available, designed to help you create pages like this, such as LeadPages and Instapage. They have pre-designed templates so that you can just add your own images, brand colours and text. They integrate with all the major email marketing software packages, so that when someone clicks on the box to request their freebie, they are invited to add their email address, which then automatically gets saved to your list.

Now you have your lead magnet available on a free-standing web page, share the link to the page regularly and often, along with your other social media content. Remember to include a few details about what you’re offering in the tweet or post. Also, ‘pin’ a tweet or post about it to the top of your Twitter feed and Facebook Page. You will soon find that you get new leads dropping into your email list, without any additional work from you!

Once you get comfortable with this new method of attracting leads on auto-pilot, consider adding new lead magnets into the mix to attract different groups of potential clients into your database. All email marketing software packages allow you to ‘segment’ your database into specific sub-groups. That way, you can easily send very specific and targeted message to your subscribers. The more relevant your emails are, the more likely they are to read them!

To really ramp up this form of lead generation, use Facebook ads to share your squeeze page with a highly targeted audience that you would be unlikely to reach just using your Facebook page. I’ve used this method to build my business – it works beautifully!

To conclude – in order to turn your likes and followers on social media into new enquiries and customers, you need to have a process. This can be as simple as reminding your audience of an event or promotion. However, it is far more effective to put in place a mechanism for automatically attracting and nurturing leads, as I have described here.

When will you put this in place for your business?