Four phases exist in the social media marketing (SMM) progression:
The first phase is exposure, where an individual becomes aware of you. He may read something by you or about you, or have your content shared with him by a friend.
The second phase is interest. In this phase, the person becomes more familiar with you by actively seeking out and reading your content. They may become an RSS subscriber to your blog or a Twitter follower.
The third phase is engagement. In this phase, the person talks with you and your company, perhaps not about your products specifically, but about the your content that has continued to gain his attention.
The fourth phase is action. Here the person acts to specifically request a higher level of information from you. They may sign up for a Webinar or request to be on your newsletter mail list. This action, also called the opt-in, signifies the general point at which the person becomes a sales lead and is handed over to the sales department.
I use what I call the 5/95 rule. At any given time 5% of your potential customers are actively in buying mode, sifting through different vendors offerings and figuring out who to buy from and why. The other 95% are happy with their situation. We use SMM to develop positive relationships with the 95%. Do they all jump up and want to buy from us tomorrow? Of course not. But, at some point, each one of those 95% will queue up and take their turns going into buying mode. And when they do, our positive relationship will pay off as many of these people consider us for the sale. This is why I think of brand awareness as part of the sales process. The person I’m addressing may not be in the market until next year, but when he does get in the market, I want him thinking of me.
Benefit #1: Reach New People You Wouldn’t Have Otherwise
The power of social media lies in the leverage you get from people sharing. If I have 1,000 Twitter followers, 1,000 Facebook fans, and 1,000 LinkedIn connections and I like your content and decide to share it, you’re going to reach new people. Some of them may not be possible customers for you, but some of might.
Benefit #2: Reach More of Them
If I share content on LinkedIn with my connections, it is potentially read by over 1,000 people. If I share the same content in the SMM Group on LinkedIn, it is potentially read by over 350,000 people.
Benefit #3: Drive Traffic to Your Blog or Website
My point here is that a good SMM program plans for escalating people from first contact or awareness of your brand right through to customer. It’s planned that way. And the opt-in phase almost always takes place through a page on your website.