On Episode 66, Chris Dayley is back to discuss the dark arts of social media conversions. We start off our two-part chat with a discussion of what a company should expect from social media, the value of a two-way dialogue, and using tech like Facebook LIve. 

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Mark: Chris, it's great to have you back on Confessions of a Marketer. Welcome.

Chris: Thanks for having me back. I'm excited to chat.

Mark: Yeah. We're talking about converting social media traffic today. Let's start at the beginning. When a company posts something on a social media site, what in the best scenario should they hope happens?

Chris: Well, so here's one of the first fundamental challenges with social media is when most companies post on social media, a lot of times, they don't actually have any hopes of what's going to happen. They hope something happens, but they're not hoping for anything in particular, so they hope maybe people will share it, or maybe people will like it, or maybe people will comment, or maybe people will click on whatever is in there and click through on your links, but there's rarely a well-defined goal or objective, and so that's absolutely one of the first things that you need to make sure you do because a good social media strategy, whether it is posting on your organic social media pages or having a social media ad.

Chris: Now, usually, there's more defined metrics on ads, but even on an ad, there's going to be different types of ads. There's going to be ads or posts that are directing people to content like people that are at the very top of your funnel that are in the awareness stage and you're just trying to get in front of them. If that's your goal, then maybe all you should be hoping for is that someone will click, and come to site, and that's it. They're not going to convert, right, because in those cases, you're usually sending them to, like I said, high-funnel content like a blog post or something.

Chris: In that case, what you're trying to do is two things. Number one, you're trying to build some brand awareness, and number two, by getting them to your site, you're wanting to start retargeting them and remarketing to them, so you are getting them to your site just so that you can cookie them and now start serving up some retargeting ads whether it's through Facebook, or through Google, or whatever. But again, the fundamental... like the first step is, what are we trying to accomplish? Who are we talking to here? Where are they at in the funnel right now in terms of how ready are they to engage with our brand or not? If they're not ready, then maybe all we're expecting is a share or a click, and if that's the case, then that should be what you're optimizing for and tracking.

Mark: Do you think that sometimes it feels like social media from big companies is very one-sided and that there's really no discussion even from smaller brands where someone posts something and says, "Click on this link. Do something?" They're asking you to participate, and they're not being reciprocal. They don't participate in discussions. They just put their things out there. What do you think of that?

Chris: Oh, yeah. It's funny because I was speaking at Social Media Marketing World a few weeks ago, and one of the topics that kept getting brought up over, and over, and over again was the importance of engaging with your audience like you were just mentioning, and engaging is not posting. Engaging is what you just mentioned, which is starting a conversation, and in those cases, you're going to have completely different types of success metrics that you're tracking.

Chris: You might be tracking, in those cases, comments or direct messages, and I attended another speaker's workshop that was kind of eye-opening, so the speaker was talking about what you just said, which is if your only message to people is, "Hey, go check out my stuff. Hey, buy my stuff. Hey, here's a sample of my stuff so that you can buy my stuff," people typically get pretty turned off by that.

Chris: If you can have a conversation instead that is, "Hey, here is something that might be interesting to you," and it might not even be self-serving at all, it might not even be a piece of content that you posted, it might not even be a product that you sell, but if you can start some kind of conversation that's like, "Hey, I want to get to know our audience better, and we think we know who you guys are, and here's some stuff that you might find as interesting, here's some stuff that you might find funny," or whatever, but that's about building rapport. It's about building brand trust.

Chris: The reason that most brands don't do this is it's really hard to attach an ROI to. In fact, I would say it's impossible to attach an ROI to because you are engaging with people at the top, top, top, top of the funnel, and usually, if you start a conversation like this, they're not going to go and buy the next day, but what you're doing is you are moving them from the very top of your funnel to the middle top of your funnel where now they are somewhat warmed up to your brand, and now they will listen to some of your other top of funnel posts that you post like when you post your blog post or whatever, and so it is a very long-term strategy of conversion, but it's crucial that businesses think about this kind of a strategy. This is the relationship-building approach to marketing versus the hard-sales approach.

Mark: How can they do that? What steps can a company take to ensure social media is an effective channel for them? Having that kind of conversation is one way, but that's hard. Not only is it hard to show ROI from that, it's just hard to do because you've got to staff it and you've got to have people who are like customer service reps who can have conversations with people. There's nothing worse I think when you see a social media post and someone replies to the company saying, "Oh, what about this?" and it goes unanswered.

Chris: Yes. Yeah.

Mark: That just shows that that's a one-way channel for them. We'll put our staff out there and please click on it, but we're not going to acknowledge that you even exist until you go further down the funnel, right?

Chris: Yeah.

Mark: Some companies maybe shouldn't engage in social media.

Chris: Well, and here's what I would say about that is that... because you're right. It does take real-time human responses in order to have a real conversation that is building any kind of rapport with your audience, and so some suggestions that I have about that is if you have a limit on the amount of time that you can spend like engaging with people on social media, and most businesses will, just have a different kind of engagement.

Chris: Instead of sending out a post and replying to comments, you can do like a Facebook or Instagram live session and do real-time question and answer with people, and maybe there's only one or two people that join in and start engaging, but... I mean, you can block out 30 minutes of time and do a weekly Q and A session. That's something that we're starting to do over here at Disruptive is like a weekly Q and A session.

Chris: Jump on. Tell us your concerns. Tell us your questions. Bring up a cool experience that you had or whatever, and let's discuss it, and that is... Again, you only need really one person to do that. Maybe two if you're having like a professional film crew, but a lot of times, these things are even better if it's just really raw, and just jump on and engage with people for a little bit of time. You just block out some time to be engaging, and then you can focus on some of your other kinds of marketing efforts.

Mark: Yeah, and it's simple things like that. It's essentially viewer mail or digging into the mailbag and handling questions, and I think that engages people.

Chris: If you just make an effort, again, just blocking out 30 minutes to maybe an hour of somebody's time, and just making effort, especially with a large brand. Like if you have a large brand, you have a lot of customers, you have a very loyal following, you're never going to be able to engage with every single person.

Mark: Right.

Chris: I mean, if you can make an effort and say, "I'm going to jump on and engage with people live, and if I have somebody that has the time, maybe I'll also have them spend an hour replying to comments throughout the week," at least it is something that shows, "Okay, this brand is making an effort. It's not completely one-sided. Maybe it's just 90% one-sided."

Mark: A 90-10 relationship with a big company is not bad I think.

Chris: You're right.

Mark: You advocate split-testing. Can you explain that to me, how it works?

Chris: Sure. Split-testing is something that you should be doing everywhere in your marketing efforts, so the idea... What the idea of split-testing is, is basically testing one concept against another. You have two different versions of a post, for example, on social media, and one of them is flashy image, attention-grabbing type of a post, and version B is just content like some ideas, some thoughts, some... Whatever. A quote or something, and you test these against each other to figure out, "What does my audience respond better to?" You want to do this in your ads, especially when you are spending money, and I mean, everything that you do in your marketing efforts is spending money whether it's paying a full-time person to do it or paying for a click.

Chris: When you're doing like paid social ads or Google ads, it's really easy to do this kind of things, and again, the idea is, "Okay. Hey, we want to figure out what headline is the best for my ad," and so I'm going to have an ad that has an image, and a headline, and a description, and I'm going to keep the image and the description the same, and I'm going to have two different headlines on two different ads, and we'll see which one gets more clicks.

Mark: Yeah.

Chris: The idea here and the most important thing for... When you're doing split-testing, whether it's on a social media page, whether it's on an ad, or whether it's on your website, the most important thing that you do is have a question that you are trying to answer, something that you're trying to learn about your audience because, again, this all comes back to building relationship with your audience.

Chris: What you're trying to do as a marketer, what you should be trying to do as a marketer and as a business owner, you should be trying to figure out, "What does my audience care about, and how can I deliver that to them?" With a split-test, again, what you want to do is you want to have a question in mind. Again, your high-level question might be, "What headline will resonate best with my audience?" Then, you're going to start drilling into that, so that's what you're trying to find. You're trying to find the ideal headline, right, which is kind of like an endless search. It's like a needle in a haystack.

Chris: So then, what you need to do is you need to break it up into smaller questions, and so you might say, "What information should I have in the headline?" If I'm selling a product, there's lots of stuff that I could put in a headline, so it might be... I might have version A that is just the name of my product.

Mark: Yeah.

Chris: I might have version B that is the name of the product and the price. I might have version C that has the name of the product and a benefit, so like, "Bluetooth headphones. 24 hours of battery life," or something like that. You know?

Mark: Yeah, yeah. Yeah.

Chris: Some kind of a value proposition or something that you've got in there.

Mark: Yeah.

Chris: Then, what you want to start doing is testing like combinations of these things to go, "Okay. Well, when I add some of this information, what happens? Do people like that? Do people not like that?" If people don't like it, then what I want to ask is, "Why? Why did they not like it? If I put the price in my headline and my click-through rate goes down, why is that?" Because then, you'd start digging in.

Chris: You're like an investigative marketer. You go, "Why is that? Well, let me go and start exploring. Oh. Hey, look. The competition also shows their price and their price is cheaper than mine. Okay. Well, it makes sense why people stopping clicking on my ads then, so maybe instead of showing my price, maybe I need to show a differentiator. Why is my product better than theirs? Why is it worth spending more money for my product?"

Chris: That can be the next approach that you take if you find out that you've got stiff competition, or if showing your price leads to a dramatic increase in clicks, you're going to want to do the same thing, "Why? Is my price cheaper than my competitors?" If it's not, if I have the exact same price as my competitors or maybe even a higher price and showing my price leads to a higher click-through rate, then I get to dig in and explore even more. "Huh. Well, maybe showing a higher price leads people to believe that I have a better quality product, so let's dig deeper into that rabbit hole. Can I say even more about the quality of the product that will drive more clicks?"

Chris: Again, the whole idea behind split-testing, and this is where people a lot of times fall short when they are doing split-testing in their marketing is because a lot of times, it's just some random idea. You're not trying to learn anything, and when you find something that works, you just go, "Awesome, this works better. Okay. That's our new headline. Let's move on to something else."

Mark: Without understanding why.

Chris: Yeah, yeah.