The Funnel and Social Media

I’ve been in several presentations and meetings lately where there has been an inordinate amount of discussion and focus on Conversion and the role of social media and social networking.  I’ve heard phrases such as ‘it’s not about content for content’s sake, it’s about content that leads to conversion’ or ‘your goal should be conversion or the attainment of some action from the user that can be interpreted as a conversion’. 

Both of these statements, while true to a large extent, oversimplify and marginalize the opportunity with social media for marketers.  There are three major components to the funnel (some marketing literature highlights four or five but for simplicity I’ll focus on the major three funnel sections).  These are Awareness, Consideration, and Conversion. 

Social Media and Social Networking can play a major role in the Awareness part of the funnel.  This section is about creating content that is appealing, worth sharing (viral), and has value for the readers/viewers/consumers, whether the value is for laugh and entertainment value, such as the video or an Infographic on Security from a security vendor.  These are general content that are worth sharing and help bring potential customers into the top of the funnel.  Measuring this may be as simple as measuring views, clicks, or tracking as a campaign component through Google Analytics.

Consideration is also an important component of the funnel.  Creating content specifically for users that have already ‘opted in’ through Facebook Pages, Twitter connections, or other methods allows the marketer to tune the message to a much more focused ‘sales’ message with the intent of deeper interest.  This content may be things like offering webinars, whitepapers, or Hangout events on Google.  The goal of these would be to move customers into the true conversion phase.  Connecting with the users individually at the end of this process is critical to really driving conversion.  Tracking things such as the collection of contact information, a request for more information, or a user opt-in for additional contact are all ways of measuring whether the consideration methods are working optimally.

The final phase is the conversion phase and this is the ‘rubber meets the road’ phase.  This is the conversion of a prospect to a sale, the conversion of a casual reader to a committed follower, the conversion of a passive user to an active user, etc. 

When people talk about focusing on conversion the risk is missing the optimization and opportunity offered by providing content and interacting with the community to drive awareness and encourage consideration.