How to Create a Social Media Conversion System

People often complain that social media is a giant time drain, but one that they know they must dive into because everyone says they must.

Of course this is exactly the kind of thinking that makes social media, or any business or marketing activity, a giant time drain.

Social media participation and integration is an important aspect of marketing and while the names, technologies, and tools may feel foreign, the fundamentals involved in making them pay are the same.

Marketing is about building trust and these days any effective conversion approach is steeped in building trust through engagement. This is true of selling, advertising, lead generation, and customer service – and it’s certainly true when it comes to building trust using social media platforms.

The trick, like all good inbound marketing, is to create value and a reason for someone that might encounter your business to want to know more.

Below are seven steps that can help you create your own social media conversion system. (Warning, these are pretty much the same steps I would recommend for engaging any prospect, online or off.)

Put content out strategically

The first step is to create and optimize content that can live in social media outposts such as Facebook, YouTube, Slideshare, Flickr or other social media community. You can also use ads placed on Facebook or LinkedIn as ways to drive attention to your content, offer, or other call to action.

Use landing pages for every choice

The next step is to build a series of unique landing pages for each community. In other words, create a page for your Twitter call to action, your Facebook call to action, your LinkedIn call to action and so on.

The difference in these pages may be subtle, but this is an important part of the personalized engagement. You can build these pages yourself, but using a landing page service, such as SiteTunersunbounce, or FutureNowis a great way to keep track of and measure results from lots of pages.

Make the message match

It’s important that the message on each page matches whatever your content and call to action in social media is. You can start by identifying that the visitor followed a link on Twitter and that they are indeed in the right place.

Think about using widgets that place a live twitter stream or Facebook Fan box on the page for visitors from these sources.

There are many other elements to good landing page design, but my main point here is the personalized page that matches some element of how the visitor got there. Here’s a good article on improving your landing page results.

Create a get to know more call to action

The real point of your engagement on your landing pages is to capture permission to share even more. The simplest form of doing this is to offer valuable information in exchange for an email address. (You can also offer following you in other social media platforms as an alternative to those that don’t want to give up an email address.)

Your PPC ads and ads on platforms like Facebook can point directly to their own landing page promoting your free information or offer. In some cases this may be a direct product link, but this will be far less effective.

Test every element

Landing page design and conversion is a bit of a science so you need to test every element – headline, call to action button, social media connection, message, offer, and even video and audio appeals.

The good news is that you can create what are called A/B tests using a tool like Optimizely or Google Website Optimizer or any of the landing page services mentioned previously.

Enable sharing

Since you’re playing in the social space here make sure that people can tweet that they just got your awesome information or that they “Like” your landing page. You can use social media plugins to make this easier on WordPress or static pages and most of the landing page services make this available as well.

Personalize follow-up

Once you’re captured permission you can really ramp up the personalization by using a service like Flowtown to add in lots of social media data about your landing page visitors.

Flowtown can integrate with many form, email and landing page services to create customized follow-up based on the email address and social media graph of each person that signs up for your free information. Flowtown uses Klout scoring data to rank the social influence of each person.

You can create campaigns for people that are most active on twitter or Facebook or you can also create a scoring system that notifies you when a particularly active or influential social media user enrolls. This type of approach might kick out a list of prospects for a live sales person to follow-up with.

While set-up of this system may take a bit of work in the beginning, once you have all the moving parts automated, you can focus on content creation while using social media sites as both an inbound and outbound lead generation and conversion platform.

Image credit: anitakhart via Flickr