How do you get customers to go from "friending" to spending?

Recent research from Vision Critical entitled, "From Social to Sale: 8 Questions to Ask Your Customers" uses results from 6,000 survey responses on social purchasing over a 17-month time frame to offer insight into purchasing influenced by three major social networks: Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

The data sounds pretty promising. In fact, the study found that nearly four in 10 Facebook users say that they have gone from liking or commenting on an item, to buying it. And 43 percent of social media users have purchased a product after sharing or favoriting it on Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter.

Wonder what they bought? Here are the highlights:

  • Twitter users purchased a tech product
  • Pinterest users purchased a food or drink item
  • Facebook users are bought "other" types of purchases, followed by tech products and hair/beauty and apparel
  • Facebook led the pack with the most online purchases at 29 percent, followed by Pinterest at 22 percent and Twitter and 18 percent

So, were these folks already primed and ready to buy?

The survey participants responded that they were "vaguely thinking about" buying whatever product they ended up purchasing. To me that indicates we've got heaps of opportunity to further engage with our fans and followers. Tread this line carefully though; engagement isn't about a bunch of posts to buy, buy, buy. As Jay Baer is famous for saying, the difference between helping and selling is two letters, but it makes all the difference in the world.

So what does that mean? Simply put, when you offer your fans and followers real value on social networks through content that appeals them, you'll win time and time again.  And if you make your content easy to access, you can get even more people exposed to it and sharing it. In fact, we recently took down all the forms we required folks to fill out to get our guides, webinars and infographics and in less than a month we saw our downloads increase by 7 percent. So consider if you really need people to fill out a form or not before you make that a prerequisite.

So my advice? Spend time nurturing relationships on social media by offering your fans what they want, when they want it. And surprise and delight them from time to time with unexpected things that they'll love you for and you'll help them go from friending to spending.

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