Bridging The Gap: Turning Your Community Into Clients

By on January 4, 2011

We’ve spent hours with clients who simply can’t understand why their community isn’t responding to their marketing messages on their social media pages – and nine times out of ten it’s because their strategy has become unbalanced.

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What I mean by this is that they are spending so much time on gathering new followers, fans or connections – that they forget to foster the community they already have waiting in the wings. Remember the entire point of gathering a community is to use it. If you find yourself with an unbalanced strategy, here are a few things you can do to sort it out.

Scan For Active Community Members

Check your LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter profiles for community members who are active on your pages and reach out to them. You can do this by either asking them a question directly, giving them an exclusive discount offer, or by sending them a free digital product for being such a great member.

This will motivate the rest of your community to interact with you – which will re-open the dialogue of discussion that could lead to sales! Keep watch for loyal community members and reward them for their trouble, they don’t have to post on your pages you know. You could even set up a monthly ‘best member’ competition, for followers who post often.

Involve Your Community in Your Marketing Goals

Many of the people in your community will have businesses of their own, or work in fields relevant to your business. Your community knows that as a business, it’s your goal to sell products. Trying to hide this fact will only make you appear sneaky and dishonest. Instead why not use your community to make sales?

I’ve seen some amazing results from businesses that have reached out to their community and motivated them to sell their products for them. Start a small incentives program that involves your community. Promise them free products, or massive discounts if they can find you new projects, or are directly responsible for product sales. Works every time, and it will bring your community closer – and constantly checking your posts for tantalizing proposals!

The Jackpot Generosity Rule

You’ll find thousands of sites out there that will tell you to either split your sales goals in two, or make them a third of your strategy. That means half (or a third) of your posts will be marketing messages, and the rest will be open dialogue between you and your community. Over the years we have discovered though this is a sound strategy, it is a lot less effective than the 15% rule.

If your pages are only 15% sales pitches, then your community has a real reason to return there, because they’ll find genuine content that interests them. If you make it all about your community, and less about your sales target – your sales will increase based on brand loyalty and communication alone. We call it the ‘Jackpot Generosity’ rule, and it works. So resist the temptation to bombard your community with sales messages, and instead focus on improving their user experience.

These are just a few ideas on how to rectify your unbalanced social media strategy, and to make your community more susceptible to sales messages when they are posted. How do you turn your community members into paying customers? If you have any great tips, we’d love to read them right here!

About John Souza

John Souza is founder and chief strategist of SMMU and Social Media Impact, and is a bestselling business author. He won the 2011 Tech Marketing Awards ‘Social Media Marketer of the Year’ and most recently the About.com Reader’s Choice Award for Best Online Education Site. John has appeared on The Michael Gerber Show, and his business has been honored at the Mashable Awards, Forbes Business Awards and The Stevie Awards.
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