January 24, 2010

Top 5 Misconceptions about How Social Media traffic Converts

@hedenius, a distinguished and most prominent colleague of mine came up with the idea for this post. The 100th post of jesperastrom.com. Social Media and conversion is one of those questions I think about all the time. The foundation for my analysis lies within the presentation I held at Searchmeet in 2009. It is all about baby steps, looking for small conversions leading to the final goal of a financial transaction.

1. The landing page is only about the offer

One of the greatest misconceptions when it comes to social media conversion is that of the offer. When you are working with search engine traffic or e-marketing, they you are looking at putting an offer in the face of your visitor that he or she can say yes or no to. You try to make your offer seem as valuable as possible by highlighting it, by making putting it in the proper placement or by simply covering the whole page with it.

Social media traffic does not want the offer. At least not the offer you are interested in selling. They think that the offer is in the way of the deal. When they trust you, then they will come to your page for that offer through a brand search. If you only highlight your offer, then you will be stuck with only a fraction of the value you could generate from the users you receive from social media traffic.

First rule of social media conversion is that you shouldn’t sell anything. You should build trust, then sell when the visitor returns through the search engine. Help them research through social media. Give them the tools to do this research and help them tell others about it. But DON’T offer them to buy anything at this point. It simply doesn’t make you a credible talking partner.

2. Making your Value proposition all about the money

Which brings me to the second misconception about social media traffic. It doesn’t matter how much money you put on the table. Think about it this way.

Your goal should be to become a part of the group. If you have ever been associated with a group of people you know that there is a social hierarchy in any one of them. You know that there is this one person that you all care if he/she is there or not, and you know that respectively there is a person that you simply don’t care if they’re around.

If you put money on the table first, then you will only be the person the group comes to if and when that money is on the table. You need to get the group to respect you. Cause just as in the group. If you are that one person who is the cool kid in the click, people will listen to your suggestions.

If you make your value proposition greater than money. If you make it about trust, or as simple as friendship, or as a source of invaluable information. Then your value, and the value of your services will increase accordingly.

3. The shortest way is the most profitable

For search engine traffic, or at least the buyers that come from the search engines, they have a set mind that they want to buy. You should give this traffic one option when they land and this should be an obvious one. They should be able to hit buy and be out of there in a matter of seconds.

When you’re looking at converting social media traffic you have to take the way around the park first. Disregard the Dell Outlet for a while cause that is just spam, really it is. If you’re looking at converting social media traffic you’ll have to take it in steps. You have to think of where they enter in the purchase process rather than just offering them one single way to convert. With this I mean you have to give them the option to subscribe, the option to sign up, the option of becoming a member or just leaving a comment.

When doing so you’re collecting some valuable piece of information about them that you can then later use to convert them. CRM-style!! If you learn about your client first and then make the offer, then you’ll be able to extract more money out of each buy.

4. People are rational, that’s the rational

Most conversion theory, just as economics is based on the notion that people are rational. In real life, we know that no one in this world considered a human being is rational. We all have our “just cause” preferences that screw up our clear judgment. When converting traffic from the search engine, the buying process has already begun with the search. The buyer is already on his/her way to make the buy.

The social media visitor thinks differently. You actually have no idea in what frame of mind they are. You know what they are interested in as they arrived at your website clicking a link. This represents great information for you when trying to convert them. However, it doesn’t tell you about their frame of mind. Thus, you need to find that out instead of trying to push them towards a sale.

The best example is if you think of real life when you’re out shopping and you have an item to return to a certain store. If you’re only offered the chance to buy more when you arrive at the store you’ll be pretty pissed off. I mean, if the clerk doesn’t accept your claim to return the good, doesn’t understand your need, then you will probably leave and be reluctant on coming back.

When looking at social media traffic, these people are just the same. You have to have a look at them, understand what they’re about, and then aim to convert them to what they like, in the tone that they want it. I mean, in the example of the store above, it is not uncommon that you can sell more stuff to a customer gone happy, than one that is pissy with some garment they do not want.

5. Direct conversion is all that counts

Anyone engaged in social media will have two KPIs skyrocketing if successful. First of all it is mentions online. Second of all is brand searches in the search engines as well as direct traffic. These are the three most important KPIs out there for social media conversion. You know that your conversion rate on brand search terms is HUGE. Look in your statistics.

Thus if you can increase this metric, it is great for you. One of the best ways to increase brand searches and direct traffic are to get into the head of people. You best do that by talking to people.

Now. Brand search increase most often get rewarded to the SEO people in your organization. Even though they haven’t done anything to increase the search volume. This is one of the greatest lessons you can learn about converting social media traffic. IT doesn’t convert right away. But it increases your overall conversion rate as your brand searches increase when you’re doing it well.

Update #1: Just as @Jaamit from FreshEgg SEO says, links are a truly one of the MOST important KPIs when working through social media. I can’t believe I didn’t write it from the get go. But, I guess I’ll reward Jaamit with a link instead of getting pissed off and thank him for pointing out my mistake. Thnx for the comment!!

Update #2: Stumbled across this post about brands and behavioral economics that is HIGHLY useful when trying to explain for old school ppl what social media and conversion is all about.

Why SEO conversion theories don’t apply

Basically, SEO traffic has a specific frame of mind that you can convert through. Social media traffic has no such frame of mind. At least not that you know of. In order to convert the social media traffic you first of all need to find out the frame of mind of the user, then convert the user. Lesson learned right?

The secondary effect is that your brand becomes more dense in online conversations. This requires a lot of work, but we can see that those companies well integrated in social media made higher revenues than those who didn’t engage in social media. Those engaged were more frequently mentioned. Those more frequently mentioned got more of the business.

Especially in mature markets. Social media becomes what conveys the online consumers to buy from you as they believe you are the best choice (regardless if all rational says otherwise). SEO then takes care of them when they are ready to buy.

Now, how you go about doing this is up to you. Or to me… 😉

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15 Comments
  • jaamit, January 24, 2010 Reply

    Great post Jesper, you're absolutely right on the path to conversions from social media. But I think you miss off an important one - what about links that social media generate? For me this is a key KPI which can boost not just branded searches but generic RANKINGS because of naturally earned links from authoritative sources.

  • Paul, January 24, 2010 Reply

    Enjoyed this posting as it clearly put Social Media Marketing into perspective and its a great article to show people who dont understand SMM and why they should be involved

  • Jesper Astrom, January 24, 2010 Reply

    @Jaamit - Thnx a lot for the comment. I can't believe I left that out! Ha ha.. :) Gave you some link love for it. Thnx!!

    @Paul - Thnx! I really hope we can get deeper into this topic. I am composing a video for my YouTube channel right now so that more people will be able to consume thoughts on conversion and social media.

  • Johan Ronnestam, January 24, 2010 Reply

    Hey.

    Lots of nice takeouts even though I do think you might think to highly of socially directed traffic.

    You wrote: "but we can see that those companies well integrated in social media made higher revenues than those who didn’t engage in social media"

    Any source/facts around that?

  • Jesper Astrom, January 24, 2010 Reply

    @Ronnestam - there are more studies than this one, but I guess this is the most commonly referred. http://blogs.cisco.com/ciscotalk/marketing/comments/the_correlation_between_social_media_revenue/

    I agree with you though. If social media itself explains the revenue or if the nature of revenue dense companies in 2009 is to engage in social media. I don't know. I guess we need more studies to say what is the hen and what is the egg.

  • Dimitri, January 24, 2010 Reply

    Hi Jes,

    This is a one great post! Do you think I can translate it and share with russian part of the WWW? :)

  • Jesper Astrom, January 24, 2010 Reply

    Thanks a lot!! Absolutely Dimitri Keskos! Please feel free to link! I have links from Tibet, China, US, most of Europe, Australia and India... but I don't have a single link from Russia :)

  • Ira kaufman, January 29, 2010 Reply

    this post reflects the essence of the social media revolution. The myths must be converted to truths as a foundation for good metrics in social media marketing. I welcome a chat as I working a new tool for measuring value in social media.


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