Just Because They Liked You, Doesn’t Mean They’ll Convert

What’s the value of a “like” of a fan page on Facebook or even a “recommendation” of a piece of content if your customers aren’t converting? Is it worth your efforts to continue if your customers and visitors are not ultimately doing what you want them to do? With all the hype around social media these days and the amount of traffic that both Facebook and Twitter can potentially drive, it’s more important than ever that you look at the usability and conversion factors on your website, before and during your social media engagement.

Just because you started a fan page, doesn’t mean:

  1. That people will find you and fan you.
  2. That once they become a fan, they’ll remember you a day after the action.
  3. That once they become a fan, they’ll become a customer.

There’s a lot more to implementing a successful social media strategy than just getting “likes” and “thumbs up” on content. At the end of the day, why are you doing this? Is there an end goal to your efforts that you want to reach, like gaining email subscribers, getting people to comment on content, or even purchase products or services? If you don’t know what your end goal is, it will be pretty difficult to understand if your efforts in social media communities are worth the time and resources you are spending.

Just because you are engaging people in social media communities and bringing them to your site, doesn’t mean:

  1. That they will do what you expect them to do.
  2. That they will return.
  3. That they will recommend you to their own networks.

Making sure your site converts is just as important to social media as it is to search marketing. Driving people to a site where calls to action aren’t clearly laid out will only make your efforts in social media fruitless and more often than not, make your bosses believe social media “doesn’t work.” This is why it’s important to decide what goals you are looking to attain before you start your efforts and test whether or not those tasks can be clearly completed.

Social media marketing isn’t always the magic cure businesses hope it will be. Just because you started tweeting about your special deals, doesn’t necessarily mean people are going to buy more because of what’s being put out in your Twitter stream, especially if you have a usability problem with your site. In fact, if you have a usability problem with your site, social media marketing efforts might even compound your problems, more than just applying search marketing tactics.

In search, people don’t really engage. They put a word into Bing, Yahoo, or Google and are served up a bunch of results. They go to the sites and see if it matches their criteria and based on what they see, they perform an action – either it’s your call to action or they leave. If they leave, your business never hears about it. With social media, people have a place to voice their opinions and a lot of times they do just that. If you are sending them to your site and your site is tough to navigate and find content, the people you are sending there will let you know, thus letting their own networks know, thus compounding a frustrating situation.

Here are a few tips to help your social media strategy incorporate usability and conversion from the beginning:

  1. Define what your conversions are. Conversions can be a lot of different things for different businesses. It could be signing up for a newsletter or leaving a comment, or it could be purchasing a product or service from your site. Whatever action you’d like to have your audience eventually do, set that as a conversion goal and measure against it.
  2. Do the “grandma” test. You may get a chuckle out of me calling it the “grandma” test, but if your grandmother cannot easily find your call to action or do the conversion goal that you have defined without being prompted, most of your audience won’t either. Remember that you know what the goal is, you know your site, and you can’t be impartial. Get a brand new set of eyes on your site and test it a few times.
  3. Measure and put value to your goals. Whatever your goal is, make sure you’re measuring it and putting some sort of monetary value to those goals. Whether it’s a mention you pick up through buzz monitoring or a comment on your blog, by adding a monetary value to it, the action of your customer becomes more concrete to you and your business.
  4. Avoid the HiPPO thinking and test both your site and your engagement tactics. These days, everyone’s got an opinion about what companies should be doing in social media. The “Highest Paid Person’s Opinion” (HiPPO) usually wins out. Unfortunately, that’s why most social media plans fail. Companies have gotten into the mindset of testing their PPC and SEO strategies, and social media needs the same scrutiny. When you set your conversions goals in place and you start measuring, you can benchmark your tactics and really see if they are working, even the HiPPOs.

At the end of the day, let the data tell the story of success or failure with your social media strategy.

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