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Converting Facebook fans into paying customers

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After all, what’s the point in having 100,000 likes on Facebook if you don’t know how to turn a fan base into a customer base

Social Media Marketing and Monitoring 2011, a conference held in London on September 19, helped to shine a light on how to turn communities of fans into buyers.

Chris Howard, head of digital marketing at Play.com bought this week for £25m offered his advice on using engagement in order to drive sales. 

The cornerstone of Howard’s strategy is to hook fans with rich content and exclusive products. Does it work” You bet it does Play.com’s Facebook fans increased from 35,000 in March 2011 (when Howard joined the company) to over 86,000 today.

What’s more, the 50,000 new fans are significantly more engaged; active users on the page have doubled and daily interactions have tripled over the same six-month period. But creating an engaged community is just the first step on the road to riches. 

The way to convert fans into buyers, says Howard, is to give fans a taste of exclusivity and urgency around both the page and the product. It’s very clever marketing visitors to Play.com’s Facebook page are regularly offered discounts in return for “Liking” the page.

Play.com now regularly gives its Facebook fans 24-hour advance access to deals before they become accessible on the main Play.com site. In doing so, Howard has doubled the click-through rate from Play.com’s Facebook page, while also doubling the conversion rate. 
EngageSciences ” to power its internal interface. This allows Play.com to monitor conversations taking place on social media, as well as map and execute social campaigns. 

Brands shouldn’t just aim their efforts at existing fans, however. Targeting friends of those users is also a key part of increasing leads from Facebook, adds Howard.

For example, posting unique content such as exclusive film trailers from partners like Warner Brothers has seen Play.com’s community expand drastically. Why” Because people are natural “show offs”; they will share exclusive content with their friends, who then become engaged with Play.com as well.

There’s no silver bullet for converting fans into customers, but engagement comes close. Offer exclusive deals, use interesting and rich content, create a sense of urgency and most importantly, don’t be afraid to experiment. 

It’s only by engaging with your community that your Facebook fans will become major contributors to your bottom line.

Social Media Marketing and Monitoring 2011, held in London on September 19, was organised by social media events company Our Social Times

Ian Power is amongst many other things an Irish social media geek and freelance writer. Why not follow him on Twitter?

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