Social media success is like trying to channel your inner Leonardo da Vinci – it requires a balance of art and science. Most marketers are well aware of the art – create compelling content to engage users, share beautiful imagery, stand out from everybody else, and ignite conversations.

But what about the science behind success? How do you fix your conversion strategy if it’s broken?

Social media marketing is an important part of your conversion optimization strategy. In addition to driving brand awareness, social media should move prospects through the sales conversion funnel.

It lets you build engagement, pay attention to key consumer touch points, and inspire your audiences to do business with your company – again and again.

It’s hard to believe that after half a decade, companies are still skeptical about whether or not social media generates ROI. They’re hesitant to commit branding dollars because they want proof of success. So, they jump in half-heartedly, and what do they accomplish?

Absolutely nothing.

The way to succeed on social media is to make your strategy part of your company’s conversion optimization framework. Make sure to avoid the following deal-breaking (but common) mistakes.

Mistake #1: You don’t understand your audience

Social media can help your company find highly engaged audiences online. More often than not, however, brands will chase follower and fan counts without fully qualifying who’s there.

You need to make sure that you’re (1) speaking to the right audiences and (2) that those audiences are actively engaged.

Buffer’s Belle Beth Cooper points out, for instance, that the fastest growing demographic on Twitter is 55- to 64-year olds. These individuals are likely discovering new conversations and brands to follow. Your company can gain a clear competitive advantage by reaching this audience first – before your competitors can jump in.

Cooper also explains that hashtags will amplify engagement levels for content shared on Twitter. That’s because hashtags will connect your content to new audiences, beyond your community of followers.

For instance, Clarity is a matchmaking network that connects business leaders with subject matter experts. New entrepreneurs are a key audience segment for Clarity. One way to reach new entrepreneurs is to promote content to Twitter’s #entrepreneurship channel, which is updated throughout the day.

 

clarity twitter

 

Using hashtags and 1:1 relationship building, your social media strategy should connect your content to the audiences most likely to do business with your brand.

Mistake #2: You’re pushing a sales pitch

Many marketers and business owners are obsessed with direct response marketing. They think that the success of a marketing channel is measurable through in-session conversions.

Following this mindset, business owners will craft every Facebook status update or Tweet to be an aggressive sales pitch. It’s just too easy not to do when you’re thinking about revenue and profits all day.

But here’s the thing about that – how do you feel about ads on social media sites? Take your business hat off for a second, and start to think like a consumer. When you’re on Facebook, you’re trying to kill time and catch up with what your friends and families are up to. When an aggressive sales pitch comes your way, you’re instantly turned off. It’s human.

A common mistake that marketers make, then, is treating social media like a direct sales channel. It’s not.

Social media is one of many touch points as part of the overall conversion optimization process. Focus on building trust and sharing interesting content – not selling.

Consider Audible, a subsidiary of Amazon that sells eBooks. The company relies on social media to drive conversions and sales. To that end, some of the company’s Facebook updates are promotional in nature.

 

Audible

 

Conversion optimization is about the sales journey, not instant gratification. Building consumer trust is an integral part of the sales process.

Mistake #3: You’re ignoring distribution

People are the heart of social media. Simply posting a status update is not enough to bring visibility to your brand.

Behind every viral video or blog article  is a carefully planned distribution strategy. Marketers are paying close attention to user behavior patterns before they write blog posts or curate content to share.

Take a look at the following blog post on Clarity: a roundup of advice from 23 entrepreneurs. This blog post generated significant sharing activity. Why? Because the people mentioned in the blog post shared the content with their own networks. Every quote also includes a clear “tweet this” call to action.

 

clarity blog

 

Web traffic is a prerequisite for conversions. If you’re not looking for ways to reach new audiences, you’ll stifle any growth in sales activity.Social media should help you grow your audience  – not just connect with your existing one.

Final Thoughts: Prioritize Data

It’s easy to track on shares and retweets.

Whatever you do, however, don’t assume that those are the same as success. When you fixate on shares as the be-all, end-all outcome to your social media strategy, you risk developing an unhealthy obsession with vanity metrics: numbers that look great but demonstrate little connection to your company’s bottom line.

Go ahead and measure leads, email sign-ups, and long-term revenue. Shares and retweets are important to this process. But remember that they’re only a part of the conversion equation.

At it’s heart, social media is about connecting with people.

And the better you do that, the more likely they are to buy from you. Keep in mind that you’re there to help people solve their problems. Focus on understanding and helping them, and you’ll be on your way.

Social Selling

Social Media eBook

Now that you know what you shouldn’t do, check out our B2Best Practice guide for ideas on what you should do to. Find out how to integrate social with your marketing model.