The amount of information available today is unprecedented, and it only continues to grow. In October 2012, Twitter processed over half a billion tweets a day—up from a paltry 200 million a day in 2011 and an embarrassing 50 million a day in 2010.
These days, social media is an extension of our consciousness. When making social media updates, we’re not carefully composing eloquent thoughts and putting them through an editorial process before publishing.
Instead, we’re broadcasting a thought that used to exist only in our head to the world. Thoughts such as “I’m hungry for some Thai food” or “I hate (any product/service in the world), I really need to find something new” or even “Thinking of ideas for my next marketing blog, any ideas?”
These are buying signals: social updates that show intent, need, or desire for a product, a service, advice, or direction. If responded to appropriately, buying signals allow marketers to connect directly with a customer or prospect.
But once you locate a buying signal, what should you say? There’s no magic formula. Each industry, each product, each service has a distinct customer.
As a marketer, you should understand how your customers and prospects like to be talked to, how they like to be approached, and what kind of response you should have. It’s also important to remember to be human and understand what is going on with the person you’re reaching out to.
For instance, responding to someone’s tweet of “My house just burnt down, I lost everything” with “We have a special on furniture this week, stop in” probably isn’t the wisest move. Responding to “Blew my putts on the last 4 holes, chucked that putter into the woods. Good riddance!” with “Whoah there Happy Gilmore. You should take a look at our new putter, which is guaranteed to shave 3 strokes off your game” is a much better idea.
There are ten types of social media buying signals that fall in three major categories. Here’s what they are and how to respond to them:
1. Fact Check, Advice, Referral, Brainstorming, Recommendation: These types of buying signals bring you people generally seeking information. If someone seeks information about your area of expertise, it is a perfect opportunity to engage them, share your knowledge, and grow your reputation. Respond with valuable information and become the expert.
2. Desire, Shopping, Seeking: These are people who are interested in purchasing or have an imminent need. Engage them and bring them to you.
3. Broken, Stolen: These buying signals show someone who has recently lost or broken something. While they definitely will need to replace what they’ve lost, be sensitive – if your car was just stolen, do you want a car company tweeting their latest model to you? Probably not.
As our thoughts and desires continue to amalgamate with social media, Buying Signals offer marketers a new opportunity and more efficient way to connect with their customer on their own turf. By identifying and engaging a customer, or potential customer, who is telling the world of their need, you are in effect, connecting with one of the most relevant and highly engaged leads ever known to the business world. Understand how and when to respond and you’re well on your way to delivering new customers right from your Twitter account.
About the author: Brendon O’Donovan began his career at Vocus as an account manager, providing guidance, best practices and customer support to clients. Brendon is now the Product Marketing Manager for Vocus, providing training and education for the sales teams and launch guidance for Vocus’ array of marketing and PR solutions.