July 18, 2013

4 Ways To Turn Your Social Followers Into Interested Prospects

Leads FunnelThey like you! They really, really like you! You have followers! So how do you turn those Facebook friends and Twitter followers into paying customers? Bribe them!

I’m kidding… sort of.

The first thing you need to focus on is turning community members into real prospects. I’ll call these interested prospects “soft leads.” Every business defines a prospect (or “soft lead”) a little differently, but for the purpose of this article, a soft lead is someone that chooses to give you their email address in exchange for something they value.

There is a key difference between a soft lead and a hard lead—both of which are potential prospects for your business. The main difference is in how close they are to the decision making or buying stage of the sales funnel.

A soft lead is someone who has merely shown an interest in your content or area of expertise—not necessarily showing that they are in an active buying mode. A hard lead on the other hand, has shown a strong interest in or consideration of purchasing your product or brand.

Essentially, you want to convert your social media followers into a marketable database of email subscribers (aka “soft leads”) so you can use email marketing campaigns to push them further down the sales funnel and closer to a sale.

1Turning Social Media Followers into Interested Prospects Starts with Great Content

So how do you start building this email list? Well, stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Content is King. Great content is the difference between a huge list of eager prospects and customers, and crickets chirping in the background. For content to be considered great, it must be informative, quality information – not filler or junk or worse, pure advertising. Remember that you are essentially conducting a business transaction in which you’re ‘selling’ your community useful information in exchange for their contact information. Valuable content can come in many forms: educational videos, downloadable resources, educational articles, auto-tuned “cat-rap” videos and on and on.

So how do you know if the content you create is valuable enough to earn you some emails? Ask yourself these 3 questions:

  • Does your content meet the needs/ concerns/ interests of your target demographic?
  • Is the content so good that your audience would be willing to pay for the information?
  • Does the content approach the subject in a memorable way?

We’re looking for Yes’s to all 3 questions.

Here’s a quick example of valuable content: a North Carolina community bank posted a small ebook titled “10 Tips for Vacations under $500 for North Carolina Moms.” It was a big hit with their target demographic (families with budgets) and provided real value in exchange for the readers contact information.

Even just being clever, funny or fun can be meaningful to your audience, as long as it stays on-brand and in your voice. Old Spice has released a series of desktop backgrounds that are thinly veiled advertisements for their product – but they’re done in a fun and creative way, and that makes them desirable.

Old Spice Wallpaper

2Turn Social Media Followers into Interested Prospects by Getting Your Gate On!

How does that popular Beyoncé song go?

If they’ll like it, then you shoulda put a gate on it!


Even if that’s not the final lyrics that made the radio, I’m pretty sure that’s what she was thinking when she wrote the song. Either way, her point is a good one – you should gate all high-value, long-form content. Gating your content is as simple as asking for an email address before a user can download the content. Just remember that the content has to be something exceptional if you want people to provide their email address in return.

So here’s the secret: Don’t just ask them to sign up for a newsletter. Tell them what they’ll actually get.

For example, the local North Carolina Bank in the example above would not say, “Check here to subscribe to our newsletter,” (*yawn, then uncheck*) they would say, “Check here to get other budget-friendly secrets from NC moms and expert tips from our blog!” (I can use that, send ‘em on!)

3Turn Social Media Followers into Interested Prospects by Giving Them More

You’ve got their email address – Mission Accomplished!

Not so fast there Speedy McSpeederstin – Once opted-in, you want to continue to send other information-packed content. We’ll talk in another article about moving these folks further into your sales funnel, but for now the rules for this content are the same as above – it MUST be useful.

Remember the clever phrase you used to get people to opt in to your list? Now it’s time to live up to that promise.

4Turn Social Media Followers into Interested Prospects by Optimizing Your Blog

You spend a lot of time creating great blog content and getting your social media followers to read it. Now it’s time to turn readership into an email opt-in. You probably have a blog full of great content. You probably do NOT have a blog full of great content that asks people to opt-in to have it delivered right to their inbox so they don’t miss a thing. You just need to set it up so that your great blog content allows for you to easily collect email addresses as well.

Make sure that your blog is designed so that each article page has a registration form on it that allows readers to subscribe by email. Additionally include a clear call to action for that gated content we talked about earlier to drive additional email subscribers.

Rignite Insight: Do you love filling out long registration forms? Welcome to the minority. This isn’t the right place to gather everything you could imagine wanting from your prospects. Keep your form short.

Social media is crawling with people who you can turn into real prospects with the right content, the right call to action, and the right gate. We have to protect our investment in social media from the ever changing ebbs and flows of which networks are popular. Remember Myspace. Converting fans and followers into soft leads allows you to create a marketable database that your company owns. Using the advice above, you can move your audience into the sales funnel and start them on the road to enjoying the awesome products and/or services you provide.

Tell us…do you encourage your social media followers to subscribe to your awesome content?

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About the Author
Glen Kosaka

Glen Kosaka is the CEO and Founder of Rignite. He’s the guiding force behind Rignite’s mission to help businesses grow through social media.