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Thoughts on the Social Media Marketing Funnel

It’s often the simplest things that leave the biggest mark on what they touch. Looking at it from another angle, we can break down any large, complex system and discover that it consists of nothing more than a handful of simple building blocks providing a few basic functions. Take DNA, for example. At its core the stuff of life can be reduced to four protein substances assigned the codes A, T, C and G.

How these four distinct substances are put together determines the species of the resulting organism, its characteristics and its behavior. This kind of simplicity built into complexity happens abundantly in all aspects of human existence -- in nature, in human culture, in the dynamics of social interaction--and even in business. Take the lowly funnel as an example.

Every single business uses the concept of a funnel in order to succeed. A funnel is nothing more than a pipe with a wide opening at one end that tapers off into a narrow stem. Its main purpose being to simply prevent substances -- often liquids -- from spilling out while being transferred to another container. There’s not much more you can do with a funnel.

But you could build upon it and use its inherent functionality as the engine to drive whatever process you design around it. Funnels exist in many areas of any business. These are sets of procedures through which you drive your customers and your prospects. The marketing emails you send out to your prospects is a good example of a funnel. You send out a marketing message to thousands -- maybe even millions -- of prospective customers.

From this huge number of prospects a small percentage will be curious enough or (hopefully) compelled enough to take action and click the link back to your website. Of these initial respondents, a small percentage will actually read your sales letter and a small percentage of those who read will take action and try your product. Of those who sample your product, a small fraction will be satisfied enough to actually decide to purchase your product.

So from the initial deluge of prospects, you have ended up with a trickle of actual customers after pushing them through a series of conversations and calls to action. This is a funnel. This kind of funneling action can be found all throughout your business. Besides email marketing, you have funnels working in your trial offers and product samples; the sales cycles you have established are built atop a funnel, as are your checkout procedures.

Even the core use of your product is a funnel. The point is, they are there whether you are aware of them or not, and your business will thrive if you execute these business funnels correctly. On the other hand, poorly designed funnels will kill your company. These funnels enable you to influence people’s behavior over a series of steps. If the funnel executes this poorly then the company will not succeed.

There are three things you need to do to make sure your business funnels are working the way you want them to.

  1. Describe it. As prescribed by Stephen Covey in his “7 Habits of Highly Effective Persons,” you need to begin with the end in mind. Describe in detail what a specific funnel needs to do for you. Without a clear picture of how the funnel should work, how can it deliver what you expect?
  2. Measure it. The proof, as they say, is in the pudding. The only way you will ever be sure if your business funnels are delivering is by analyzing the numbers. As they say on CSI: the evidence cannot lie.
  3. Optimize it. Once you have measured the results of your funnel, you now have the basis for tweaking, improving, adding, removing and all other kinds of optimizing.

So knowing what you now know about business funnels in general, it is time to turn your attention to your company’s social media marketing funnel. The first thing you must note is that this social media funnel does not function by itself; it sits on top of the traditional marketing and sales funnel that your business has been using thus far.

It is important to remember and understand this distinction in order to set correct expectations about how social media marketing can work for you. The social media funnel’s job is to first initiate, identify and capture market interactions across your social media channels. Then it pushes this information further down the line into some mechanism that categorizes these interactions and mines them for insight, allowing you to deliver relevant and timely content to your prospects and customers.

An effective social media funnel lets you differentiate prospects into specific market segments, helping your traditional marketing funnel function more efficiently down the line. A well-designed and well-oiled social media funnel will also allow you to establish top-of-mind positioning in the relevant categories and help you become more responsive to cues from your target audiences.

Given the prominence of social platforms such as Facebook and Twitter and the increasing attention given to these and other social marketing channels, defining, measuring and optimizing your social media marketing funnel should be top priority for your company.


Edwin Huertas - Isis CMS

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