With many activity providers having long periods without running classes, or pivoting into paid or unpaid online classes, I’ve seen dramatic changes in the way people have been using social media.
In pre-Covid times (remember those?) I would often look at an activity provider’s page for and see sales post after sales post. “Our next class is at this town hall at this time.” “Here’s what we did in class today, book now for next term/ week.” There was little balancing content to build loyal followers and engagement before expecting to make sales. Scant thought given to the buyer’s journey of getting people to know, like and trust you before making that decision to purchase. And in a sector that offers services for children, this could not be more crucial.
Lockdown forced providers to analyse their content promptly. If they weren’t running classes, they couldn’t post about them. Even if they were – an online class doesn’t really present as many posting and photo opportunities as in-person classes.
As a result, I had a large increase in bookings for my content planning Power Hours for individual business owners and small teams. I also had a sudden rush of bookings for content planning and social media training webinars for franchisors who were keen to help their franchisees with their social media content at a time when the old “post about my classes a few times a week” would no longer work.
It has been fantastic to see standards improve all around as people are forced to think more strategically about their content and plan it more.
The buyer’s journey from social media post to sale
Nobody likes to be sold to constantly face-to-face and this is no different online! This will usually result in low engagement and even a high unfollow rate.
What you want your social media posts to do is to increase your brand awareness and take your customers on a journey from getting to know you, to liking you and then finally trusting you/ your business. Marketing coach, Claire Mitchell has a fantastic analogy for this “the sales train” Your customers might not get off at the first, second or third stop – but if they enjoy your social media content, they are developing their awareness and interest and might well come to you at the ‘consideration point’ at a station much further down the line. It is only when this final station has been reached that they are likely to consider a purchase.
Social Media’s role in the sales funnel
There is much marketing talk these days of sales funnels and it can sound very technical. A sales funnel is based on the age-old and very simple marketing and advertising model – AIDA (Attention, Interest, Desire, Action). It is just a way of explaining the customer journey and is highly relevant for both organic and paid social media.
The top of funnel (the wide part!) is the ATTENTION through to INTEREST stage. Your prospect is becoming aware of a problem or a need (e.g. childcare for school holidays, toddler bouncing off walls, child nagging to play football, or a holiday booked for next year). You can get their attention by social media posts in groups, paid brand awareness social ads, local or virtual events etc. You can get them onto your mailing list at this stage; as people, even nowadays, will usually part with personal data before cash.
The middle of funnel is the DESIRE stage – this is where repetition comes in handy and keeping visible, so that you are front of mind when they get to the final ACTION stage. Here lead generation and website traffic ads on social media start to become more effective and you might start to get more conversions from emails too. At this stage people are likely to look at testimonials and reviews, therefore social proof is crucial to convert them from desire into action.
The bottom of funnel (the spout!) is where people take action e.g. enquire or book online. For this part to work you need a high converting sales page. You can run the best social media ads and post the best content in the would but if they direct to a dreadful looking website which is a pain in the bum to navigate, your prospect is likely to start googling your competitors!
So hopefully now you can see that you need to think of the entire customer journey when planning your social media. Simply churning out random posts that lead to links to terrible sales pages is unlikely to get you anywhere.
Make sure your social media posts include a good balance of the following:
- Informative posts (show your expertise with articles/ tips/activity ideas/ quick wins)
- Inspirational posts (Interviews with successful people in your sector, quotes etc)
- Ask a Question (encourage engagement by asking for recommendations/ opinions)
- Surveys & polls or respond with option A, B, C/ emojis (make it easy for people)
- Company News/ Stories (share updates, share Covid-19 policies, go Live)
- Fun Posts (cheer people up during difficult times)
- Humans! (know/like/trust journey: show yourself + team e.g. behind the scenes
Author: Felicity Sandford, Amazing Futures & Children’s Activity Provider Support Group: LEAP Networking
Felicity is a Social Media Consultant, specialising in children’s activities and services and has worked with over 50 providers. She offers 1:2:1 training, Zoom training, online workshops for small and larger groups (both independent and franchised businesses) and social media management.