I’m also looking for a real estate agent, and in addition to combing through Zillow for neighborhood experts, I found myself searching Facebook as I recalled a friend endorsing an agent that he really loved. Problem was, I couldn’t recall which friend.
The sum of these and other experiences leads me to believe it’s time to broaden our search horizons to include social platforms. Social networks aren’t just for audience targeting or stoking demand; they’re also useful for bottom-of-the-funnel direct-response campaigns.
In the first example, it’s reasonable to assume from my Twitter search that I might want team merchandise (true: my son IS begging me for a new hat), and that I occasionally buy tickets on the secondary market (also true). In the second example, I’m not only looking for a real estate agent, but I might also be on the market for a mortgage broker and a builder. And chances are good that I’ll be reconsidering my TV service, selecting movers and even throwing a housewarming party.
In fact, the preceding paragraph has summed up most of my major purchases for the next 30-60 days, which is very similar to the scenarios we observe as search marketers.
So how can you make direct response work well on social? Here are some recommendations:
1. Have a compelling offer. We’ve noticed that on Twitter or Facebook, consumers are slightly higher in the purchase funnel than on Google or Bing. For instance, a consumer may have been thinking about changing his mobile service for a while and is deciding between two options. A standard service offering won’t get someone to jump off a timeline or news feed to engage. But a compelling offer – such as a free night’s stay, a BOGO deal, or even a $100 gift card – could be the game-changing incentive for that consumer to act. Actually, the unsure consumer is exactly who you want as part of your marketing efforts. That’s because your advertisement could be the one that nudges her over the line.
2. Use visuals that are honest brokers of your brand. There are images that will get consumers to click – and we all know what those are. If you can, use a logo or product image that consumers will immediately recognize, since they scroll quickly. They’ll stop if your product is in their consideration set. In cases like this, it’s OK to sacrifice click volume for click quality.
3. Think deeply about whom your customers follow. You can start with general lifestyle or audiences, but go further and identify the people or pages consumers follow when they begin a new purchase process. Using my own examples, if you want to show up on social streams to sell the products I’m searching for, it would make sense to target the followers of newspaper/TV beat reporters for the Seattle Mariners or Zillow’s fans on Facebook.
4. Move beyond likes and follows as your primary metric of success. If you’ve captured consumers’ attention by understanding their searches, they will fill out a form, watch a video or place a phone call – all from their social stream. That indicates high consumer intent, which ultimately drives purchases.
There’s been a lot of discussion about the bottom-line value of social channels. Search really hasn’t been part of this, but it absolutely should be. When it comes to search and social, I believe we’re really just starting to tap the potential of reaching users who are demonstrating very specific areas of interest.