When to Stop Socializing and Make the Sale

When we're using social media for business, it's easy to forget the fundamentals. Know when to close the sale.
Founder and Chairman, Palo Alto Software, Inc.
April 19, 2012

In the social media environment, we're all in danger of thinking too much about buzzwords like followers, engagement, re-tweets and likes. Sometimes we forget the important fundamentals.

For example, do you keep engaging a customer who wants to buy a product or help that person buy the product?

Suppose your company has software that's downloadable from the Web or available on store shelves. The customer asks you where to get your software. How do you answer?

  1. "You can get it at [store name], but call first to make sure it's in stock."
  2. "Let me just take your order, and you'll have it downloaded in 15 minutes."

That's a no-brainer, right? The second answer is better. You are helping people get what they want fast, and helping your business in the meantime.

I need to remind myself not to get out of balance with interacting too much. I think maybe we should remind each other. So, I've compiled these four suggestions.

1. Sort and select

Not all updates, tweets or posts are equal. To conduct business effectively through social media, we need to sort the different kinds of engagement and behave selectively, depending on what's happening.

We can ask for the order sometimes, but not always. Some people are just chatting, some are recommending, some are complaining and some want to purchase.

They're all individual cases, so you can't generalize.

2. Provide different landing pages

After sorting your social media, you need to send people to the correct next step. You might engage them in more chatting, or you might want them to get an answer or place an order. Online landing pages can be helpful in providing the next step.

Your landing pages should be like stairways, guiding your customers. And—going back to fundamentals—one of those landing pages should just shut up and take the order.

3. Use shortened links for landing pages

It's only a matter of hours, not days, to set up shortened links you can use to help track how people got to the landing pages. I use bitly for this, but you have many options.

Using different shortened links on various social media sites can track people who arrive at landing pages through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Google+. You can also provide different shortened links for various landing pages and use those to track which social media person or account sent the person to your landing page.

All it takes is some cataloging and organization to keep track.

4. Use analytics to track effectiveness

With a simple system of appropriate landing pages and shortened links, you can track the flow of your business social media. Tracking leads to analysis, which leads to metrics and, in the end, management.

Conclusion: Yes, social media is fun. But if you're in it for business, don't forget your business fundamentals.

Photo credit: Thinkstock

Founder and Chairman, Palo Alto Software, Inc.