How to Turn Instagram and Facebook Followers into Real Paying Customers

This content discusses the importance of building a conversion funnel to convert social media followers into paying customers.

By Jessica Miller-McNatt ・7 min read
Best Practices
Campaign & Contest Ideas
Social Media

Google “how to get more followers” and your search results will scroll for an eternity.Everyone’s writing about how to beef up your Facebook and Instagram following because the topic gets so many clicks. What does this boil down to? Business owners are clambering for their share of the follower pie. But is the size of your Facebook or Instagram following the key to having a successful business?The idea is that, the more followers you have, the more people will see your posts and the more brand exposure you’ll have. This is true, but not to the degree that one might think. Due to the changes in Instagram and Facebook algorithms, only a small fraction of your audience may see your posts. Plus, brand exposure is great, but driving traffic from social media to your website or online store where they can actually make a purchase? That’s no easy feat!Facebook and Instagram ad marketing is certainly one way to drive traffic, but this method is costly and the complex interface can be difficult to navigate for new users. Not to mention, if you don’t get that initial click, ads don’t offer a long-term solution for building a relationship.There’s a better solution out there for converting your social media traffic into real paying customers. In this article, we’ll look at building a conversion funnel to not only drive traffic from your social media profiles but to help you cultivate that audience in preparation for customer conversion glory.Let’s get started! But first…

What is a conversion funnel?

A conversion funnel is a series of steps or events that take people from point A, where they may be learning about your business, to point B, where they are converted to a customer.

You’ll be capturing the attention of the majority of leads at the widest part of the funnel called the “top funnel.” After entering the top, the ultimate goal is to qualify these leads as they pass through the “middle funnel” and then on to the “bottom funnel.” The bottom is where you convert your prospects into customers, i.e. where they make a purchase or subscribe to a service. You may have also heard the more amusing references to funnel sections as TOFU (top funnel), MOFU (middle funnel), and BOFU (bottom funnel).An example of a simple conversion funnel might look like this:Top funnel: Google ads deliver your website to those searching for relevant terms. This fills the top of the funnel with those looking for something related to your business.Middle Funnel: Clicking on your Google ad brings leads to your website explaining more about your product or service. Your site’s bright colors, optimized copy and bold CTAs compel the user to click to “sign up for a free trial” or to receive “20% off their first order.” They click the link. Hazaa!Bottom Funnel: They opt in to a free trial, or are now at your online store adding products to a cart. This is the last stage, and your opportunity to show potential customers your ads, copy and CTAs weren’t just blowing smoke. If they enter their credit card to sign up or make a purchase, congratulations, you’ve successfully converted a customer with your conversion funnel.As I mentioned before, this is an example of a simple funnel, but your conversion funnel can look completely different. Your conversion events can range from visiting your booth at a tradeshow, to sampling your product at Costco, to a sign spinner tossing your company logo in the air on a busy street. Each of these events funnels prospects to your website, blog, ebook, online store, or your brick and mortar shop. Funnels can be as unique as the business they help convert customers for.In the case of converting your social media following to paying customers, you’ll need a funnel specific to the task. It isn’t always easy driving traffic off of the highly addictive, dopamine-releasing social media platforms of Facebook and Instagram, but I have a few tricks up my sleeve. ; )

How to build a follower-to-customer conversion funnel

Top funnel: drive your fans and followers away from social mediaThe secret to a good conversion funnel is giving the prospect incentive to move to the next stage. If your goal is to turn Facebook and Instagram followers into paying customers, your followers are already sitting at the top of your funnel. They’re aware of your brand and primed to go on your conversion journey. The tough part is finding an incentive juicy enough to convince them to click out of Facebook or Instagram. After all, both sites are claimed to be as addictive as painkillers. One tried and true method to drive even the most addicted scroller to the next stage of your funnel is to offer a contest or giveaway.

Contests and giveaways are major incentives and hugely successful in driving traffic.

First and foremost, they offer a free shot at winning a cool prize. Even those “I never win anything” people can get excited at the possibility that your contest will potentially make them a big winner.The prize you’re giving away should be something closely related to your business. For example, if you’re a massage therapy practice, don’t give away a cash prize or an iPad, give away free massages! Not everyone enjoys stripping to their skivvies to get rubbed down by a stranger, so make sure you’re only targeting those who love a good massage and could potentially become future clients - not those who will claim your prize and never look back.You can even sweeten the pot by offering extra chances to win to those who get referral entries to your contest (this means they’ll be sharing your contest and you’ll get more participants). Another option is to include an Instant Win component so prizes will be distributed at random leading up to the big prize giveaway. Or, you can send a discount code or coupon to all those who participate, giving everyone an incentive to enter. With all of the excitement, your FB fans and Instagram followers could be navigating to enter your contest or giveaway in droves.On Facebook, link directly to your giveaway from within a post, so when clicked, your fans will be directed to your giveaway.

On Instagram, you’re only given one live link to use in the bio section of your profile. Direct traffic from your posts to your bio by saying “link in bio.”

Middle funnel: collect entries into a contest or giveaway to build your email listYou may have seen Timeline contests on Facebook or Instagram that say, “Like or comment on this post to enter,” but the point of driving traffic from social media to a landing page or website is so you can collect your contest or giveaway entries within an actual entry form.In your entry form, make sure you collect an email address and also include an opt-in to join your mailing list. You can include the opt-in right from the form, or send an autoresponder with an opt-in included. Either way, these two things - an email address and mailing list opt-in - are crucial to your funnel because email is a key component to cultivating and converting customers. We’ll talk about this more in the next section.

Instant Win Giveaway Template

Instant Win Giveaway TemplateView and Create Your OwnLower funnel: send an autoresponder with a discount code or coupon to invite participants to make a purchaseIf you collected an email address in the middle part of your funnel, you’re in good shape to send prospects to the next stage. Once again, use an incentive to drive traffic. This time, you can use a discount code or coupon that can be redeemed on your website, in your brick and mortar, or online store. Set up an automated email to go out immediately after they enter your giveaway, or schedule it to go out after the winner is announced with a message like, “You didn’t win :( We hate delivering bad news, so use this discount code to take an additional 30% off any product in our online store.”

Don’t forget to track your conversions!

Understanding how your conversion actions performed is important for later analysis and optimization. If you received 500 entries in your contest but only redeemed 20 discount codes, try a slightly larger discount, or change the subject line or copy in your autoresponder email. It’s important to identify simple flaws in your funnel that can really hinder conversions.

When the fun(nel) has ended, keep the conversation going

Even on your best day, not everyone who enters the funnel will come out the other end as a customer. Otherwise, we’d call it a conversion tube. No matter how many people went from follower to customer through the steps in your funnel, there’s still more work to be done. Use your beefed-up email list and keep the conversation going by sending coupons, discounts, news, and invitations to participate in future giveaways.You can segment your marketing to make your email campaigns a more personalized experience. You can even trigger automated email campaigns to retarget those who have interacted with your business in some way. I know I’m a sucker for those pesky abandoned cart emails - reminding me of that gorgeous bag I thought I had the willpower to walk away from. With an additional 15% off, who can resist?

As I mentioned in the beginning of this article, paid Facebook and Instagram ads can help you target and reach an audience with coupons and discounts, but in comparison to email, they still don’t measure up. You’ll pay (a lot of) money to run the ad, but when your ad campaign is over, it’s really over! With email, you can your keep brand in your audience’s periphery - send prospects a link to a monthly giveaway, a discount on their birthday, and news that your location is moving - all for no added cost.The personalization and flexibility of email as a marketing medium is why it continues to reign king in the world of customer conversion. So, let’s take a little emphasis off of the race to gain followers and look at what’s truly important - getting customers. Having an Instagram and Facebook following is great, but it’s not the holy grail of growing a successful business. Instead, take the following you’ve built and put your efforts into cultivating long-lasting customers - the real foundation of your business’ success.

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About the author

By Jessica Miller-McNatt ・7 min read

Jessica Miller-McNatt has been with ShortStack for over a decade and has served in every role from Marketing Team Lead to Customer Success. Her journey in martech continues to fuel her fascination for what drives growth. Jessica's favorite weekends are spent in the North Georgia mountains, chasing waterfalls and exploring with her family.

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