It’s probably the most common question I receive from service based businesses when discussing their social media strategy.
I mean, not exactly in those words.
Usually, it’s more like, ‘social media is shit and it won’t work for me”, or “I just don’t GET it” or “what’s the point?”
In fact, if you’re a services provider I’m willing to bet you’ve asked yourself some version of the same question. A LOT of people have reservations about really diving into social media without being entirely sure where the ROI (return on investment) is.
For some of you, you’ve tried to ‘do’ social media for you business in the past, but other than a few ‘likes’ and comments from your mates you’ve gained no real traction. Or perhaps you’ve paid a consultant a few hundred dollars to run some Facebook ads in the past, and it’s come up with zip. Or you’re active on your personal social media accounts but can’t understand how pictures on Instagram accounts lead to sales. Or you understand why product based businesses who are able to easily showcase their products visually could do well on social media, but you can’t understand how it works for services.
Here’s the thing.
Social media is hard. In order to succeed, you need to be doing a lot more than just setting up a Facebook page and holding your breath hoping for the best. Even posting content regularly isn’t enough – it’s the absolute bare minimum. The key word in ‘return of investment’ is ‘investment’. And the bottom line is that you aren’t going to get any real return from social media if you aren’t putting in the time, effort and persistence required to get good at it.
And in order to succeed, you’ve gotta be good.
Let’s use the analogy of riding a bike. Just because you ride one doesn’t guarantee you a spot in the Olympic cycling team. The ROI of social media is no different. It is what you make of it.
In order to win and generate real leads for your business, it’s all about the execution. Executed well, I can confidently tell you that outstanding ROI in every single one of the main social media platforms in 2017.
But to execute well, you need a process.
For service based businesses looking to generate leads from their social media accounts, here is the three step process for turning likes into leads.. and dollars.
Step one: Give the people what they WANT! (AKA add value)
The bulk of your social media efforts (70ish%) should be concentrated here.
On the surface, this step is an awareness and brand building function. As such sits alongside other ‘brand awareness’ driven traditional marketing outlets such as billboard, press ads and TV.
However, that is where the similarity ends.
Unlike traditional marketing efforts, all of the content that your business produces at this stage must provide also value to your potential clients. Whether you decide to do this by entertaining, or informing, or educating, your potential clients doesn’t matter. The bottom line is that every piece of content must in some little way provide value.
In other words, ‘salesy’ social media content is banned. If it’s all about you and how good your business is and all you are doing is talking about yourself and god I’m so good and did I mention how good my services are, ditch it.
Instead, add value. Usually for a service based business, the most valuable content will come from providing advice related to your field or industry. In other words, giving some of your knowledge and expertise away for free.
Here are a few examples of content that you might consider for your social media efforts at this stage of the process:
HOW TO VIDEOS.
Quick videos that demonstrate how to do something that you know your potential clients struggle with. For example, if you are a handyman, you might release short videos on ‘how tos’ on some of common household fixes you find yourself coming out to do jobs for.
Blog posts or Instagram captions that give practical pieces of advice. For example, a tutor might write a post on 7 ways to improve your ability to study for a maths exam.
Here’s an example of a pool company offering information about the advantages and disadvantages of buying different types of pools.
GUIDES AND INFOGRAPHICS.
Easily referenceable guides or tables containing a summary of information that you know your clients are looking for. For example, if you are social media professional you might put together an infographic containing the ideal image specifications for different social media platforms.
Here is a sample infographic that a marketing company might use.
This is known as inbound or content marketing because it provides people with stuff they want, rather than traditional forms of marketing that concentrate on what your business can offer (and which are often annoying and interruptive messages).
Concentrating your efforts on this type of marketing not only builds your brand, but all your authority and it creates trust and loyalty.
Only once you have nailed this step are you in the position to move onto step two.
Step two: Form a BOND. (AKA connect)
Creating social media content that provides value makes you a business that your potential clients are attracted to. The result? They will ‘like’ or follow your social media channels in order to get more value. They will engage with your content, and you will create a trusted audience of people who want to hear from you.
Once you have established yourself as an attraction business, potential clients will be more likely to approach you for your business rather than the other way around.
This is the connection and leads stage of the three step process.
People coming to you will start to be something that will occur naturally, so long as you continue creating content. This is the first stage of step two, and the best thing is that there is nothing more that you need to do other that to keep producing valuable content!
For other potential clients that aren’t so proactive or ready to ‘buy’, approximately 1 or 2 in every 10 pieces of social media content that you release should come in the form of a ‘lead magnet’. This forms the second stage of step two.
I know, I’m starting to get a bit techy, but bear with me.
A lead magnet is additional content that you give away in exchange for someone’s contact information. By requiring your potential clients to ‘opt in’ to receive some of your content, you are funnelling your message off social media and into another platform by adding them to your email database.
This is important for one key reason.
Unlike product based businesses, there are few service based businesses that are successfully able to sell directly from a social media account like Facebook or Instagram. Because a service is intangible, it generally requires a lot more time to establish that you are a trusted and competent services provider. Being too salesly will put them off. By offering ‘lead magnet’ content, people will ‘subscribe’ or opt in in their own time. By the time they are ready to give away their contact details, they will usually be a warm prospect and will be ready to receive more promotional offers away from social media.
THERE ARE FOUR PARTS TO A LEAD MAGNET SYSTEM FOR SOCIAL MEDIA:
1// Set up a simple landing page offering a valuable piece of information (lead magnet), such as a free PDF guide or video. This resource may mention your service, but it is not its primary aim.
This is an example of the layout of a landing page. Source: Neil Patel.
2// Post an ad on social media with the offer and directly people to the landing page.
Here’s an example of a Facebook ad leading to a landing page with a free offer.
3// People who click on the link go to the landing page, where they are asked to enter their email address in order to access the lead magnet.
4// When they submit their email address, they automatically receive an email containing the lead magnet.
Which brings us to step three in our three part process.
Step three: Seal the deal (AKA Convert).
Once you have the contact details of your prospects from social media, you are able to contact them with appropriate future offers and information because they have expressly opted in to receive them.
This is where the (respectful) sell begins.
Warm prospects are much open to being offered your services, and now that you have their contact information, there are three great ways to go in for the sell.
1. EMAIL NEWSLETTER SENDS.
The first way to nurture your contacts is to have a set of 6 – 10 pre-written emails to start sending out once a person has subscribed to your email list. These emails should continue to provide value by offering advice related to your service, but may also increasingly lead to asking for their business. Use Mailchimp.
2. DIRECT OFFERS.
People have opted into your email newsletter, and they now expect that they will receive the odd promotional offer or advertisement. Feel free to send them.
3. FACEBOOK AND INSTAGRAM MARKETING.
One of the coolest features of Facebook and Instagrams ads is the ability to target your email database with advertisements using a feature called ‘custom audiences’. With custom audiences, you are able to load your .csv (Excel) file of all of the email addresses that you have collected from your marketing efforts above, and Facebook will find their Facebook accounts and serve them your advertisements. Make no mistake, this is one of the most effective ways to generate solid leads from your efforts.
Even better, Facebook also has a feature called ‘Lookalike audiences’, where it looks at some of the key attributes that the people in your email database share and finds you a whole new audience of people that also share those attributes. This opens your business up to a whole new audience of potential clients who have never even heard of you, but who have a much greater likelihood of needing your services based on their similar attributes to the people already on your list.
If you’ve followed each step, you’ll begin to see leads and sales for your business. Pinky promise.
And that’s it! A three step process for getting solid leads from social media for your service based business. As you can see, it takes time, effort and strategy – but, trust me, it works.
And the next time someone tries to tell you that social media is a waste of time, you can smile – because you now know something they don’t.