Using Social Media To Support The Purchase Process

5 Social Media Tips for Small Business [Infographic] 

Shopping cart For many businesses, especially small ones, social media is a time-suck. Being active and creating relevant content has a way of unintentionally consuming precious time. Added to this, businesses can’t easily track or attribute social media activity to sales and profits. In fact, more often than not, social media incurs hidden costs. So what’s a business to do?

Despite these drawbacks, your small business can leverage the power of social media to get prospects, customers, fans and the public engaged with your brand and content by being selective and targeted in your use of these platforms based on the different phases of the purchase process.

Social Media Impact on Purchase Process

Purchase Phase 1:  Research product/services

Customer Information Need: Seek product alternatives and information
Marketing Goal: Enter consideration set
Social Media Activity:

  • Publish blog posts answering customer questions.
  • Show products on Pinterest boards.
  • Style products on Tumblr.
  • Place presentations on Slideshare.
  • Build corporate presence on LinkedIn.
  • Hold hangouts on Google+ to provide product information.
  • Promote company presence on Facebook (including advertising)
  • Answer questions on Quora.

Purchase Phase 2:  Engage

Customer Information Need: Assess options and reduce alternatives. (Understand new alternatives may emerge during this phase.)
Marketing Goal: Build relationship and persuade prospect to buy from your firm.
Social Media Activity:

  • Provide customer ratings and reviews.
  • Share patterns and recipes on Pinterest.
  • Show videos of products in action and 360° views on YouTube and blog.
  • Answer customer questions on Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms

Purchase Phase 3:  Buy

Customer Information Need: Check best price and delivery details. (New alternatives may emerge based on price and mobile search.)
Marketing Goal: Close the deal and make the customer happy.
Social Media Activity:

  • Incorporate contact information on social profiles (including physical address, phone number, email and business hours)

Purchase Phase 4:  Support post-purchase sale

Customer Information Need: Get help using the product/service. Facilitate returns.
Marketing Goal: Keep growing relationship. Get customer to share experience via ratings and reviews.
Social Media Activity:

  • Provide how-to videos on YouTube.
  • Answer customer questions on social media platforms.

Purchase Phase 5:  Fans

Customer Information Need: Share product/brand experience
Marketing Goal: Get positive word of mouth and additional sales. This in turn supports brand building and lowers sales costs. (Syncapse research shows this is where Facebook has the biggest impact!)
Social Media Activity:

  • Spotlight photographs of customers on Facebook.
  • Share images on Instagram
  • Gather customer stories on Facebook, blog and other platforms.

5 Social media tips for all phases of the purchase process

To maximize your social media time investment, follow these five social media tips.

  1. Skip the promotions. Remember social media is about paying it forward, not marketing.
  2. Use a human voice. Avoid corporate-speak. Talk like you were having a conversation with a friend. The goal is to sound authentic.
  3. Think customer needs. Customers can smell a sales pitch a mile away so focus on answering their questions with quality, non-promotional information. Show how your products solve your prospects’ needs.
  4. Be active on a variety of social media platforms. You need to be present where your prospects are. In today’s social media world, this translates to a variety of social media platforms. The key is to limit your time on each. Where possible, schedule your interactions.
  5. Include a social media call-to-action. Make sure that you guide your prospects to act. Don’t assume that they’ll know what to do after reading your content. Use a contextually relevant call-to-action. Also, understand that this doesn’t necessarily mean that prospects are ready to purchase.

 

The bottom line is that social media can effectively support the purchase process by exposing your small business to a large potential audience and by providing the information prospects and customers need at every phase. The key for small businesses is to schedule your time on social media and stick to a schedule so that your use is targeted at activities that drive your business. (Still need help? Here’s 31 social media tips based on research.)

What other social media tips would you add to this list and why?

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen


Heidi CohenHeidi Cohen is the President of Riverside Marketing Strategies. You can find Heidi on , Facebook and .

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Return on Authenticity:
Making Effective Storytelling and Content Performance Align

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According to research by Nielsen, 70 percent of global consumers trust online consumer reviews and rate reviews as the second most trusted form of advertising. And according to BazaarVoice, when it comes to trust, marketers may as well eliminate their own brand websites as a fountain of customer trust as only 16 percent of US consumers said they trust the content on a brand's website compared to the 51 percent who trust content generated by other users.

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  • Avin

    I like the detailed breakdown analysis in involving social media on purchase process.

    From our experience with fashion retailers, we have observed Pinning products on Pinterest, sharing sale offers and new products on Facebook and Twitter drives sales effectively.