How Do You Turn Online Friends into Customers?

We talk a lot in social media about building relationships with people online. And it is important. But truly, your ultimate goal is to turn those relationships into new customers and team members, right? So how do you do that? How do you go from “friend” to “customer”?

Here are some tips:

  • Create a place for people to “opt in.” This means they give you permission to send them business messages. So set up a Facebook Page. Write a newsletter to send out, and set up a form online where people can sign up for it. Provide some mechanism where you can capture email addresses. This is SUPER important.
  • Invite people to “opt in.” If you can’t send them business messages, they’ll never know what you have to offer, right? So in the course of your conversations with people, let them know they can “like” your Facebook Page or sign up for your newsletter.
  • Mention your business subtly in your non-business social media profiles. If you scrapbook, share your pages digitally. If you sell jewelry, share photos of yourself wearing what you sell. Put up photos of yourself at your latest vendor event. Talk about how much fun you had with your team at the latest meeting. Don’t beat people over the head with your business, but make it evident what you do by the way you talk about your own life. People who need what you have to offer will eventually ask you about it. (Need more info on how to do this? Read How to Write Status Updates that Don’t Cross the Line Into Spam)
  • Listen. This is THE most important thing you can do. Pay attention to what your friends are talking about. When someone has a need, be there. Don’t just hurl your website at them. But offer solutions when people have a need. Reach out to them privately. Reference things you know based on your relationship with them. Listening is the key to making relevant recommendations when the time is right.

There is no “auto-pilot” way to convert people you’ve met through social media. Nor should there be. Social media is just that…social. That means investing the time to build the relationships that count. It means cultivating word of mouth about your business, so people are willing to refer their friends. Yes, it takes time. But in the end, it can lead to new business.

How do you convert friends into customers? Would love to read your thoughts in the comments.

2 Responses to How Do You Turn Online Friends into Customers?
  1. Mary Hernandez
    March 22, 2011 | 11:15 am

    I have been able to convert friends to clients by doing a few things, being positive, letting them see my work digitally and helping them out with their business or personal needs. For example, helping them by sharing a link to their business with my friends, providing feedback when they ask and sharing information about myself. Then when they ask the questions about my business (which isn’t often through facebook, but through phone or in person), I am able to help them based on what I’ve seen them post and by asking them questions.

    I do believe this is a great tool in the box, but that phone, personal notes, email, networking and follow through are also important to the final conversion from friend to customer.

    • Jennifer Fong
      March 22, 2011 | 11:17 am

      I completely agree Mary! It’s often the relationship that goes from online to offline that yields the greatest results. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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