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The Step Between Friends and Customers

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When it comes to social media, we have friends whom we know personally and we have customers who we can always count on to buy our products. But how does that jump from friends to customers happen? Declan Dunn presented “How To Turn Friends Into Fans And Customers” at BlogWorld 2010, and he made some super important points about how we categorize our interactions with others. This is the new media game.

“Fans are people who raise their hands and say ‘I want more.'” – Declan Dunn

When you meet someone new using social networking, it is easy to become fast friends. “Oooo, he replied to me on Twitter!” “Wow, someone liked something I said on Facebook!” “Yay, he wants to connect on LinkedIn!”

The problem is that often, people don’t foster that relationship and instead hit people with a hard sell. Woah there, buddy. I just met you. I don’t want to buy your product yet. Relationships take time.

This is where Declan has come in with the concept that you have to move friends into the “fans” relationship level before they can become customers. Fans are people who are opting in to support you. This might mean a literal opt-in by signing up for your mailing list, but it could also be another kind of opt-in.

  • Friends who refer you to others are opting to become fans.
  • Friends who become a part of your blog community through comments, forum posts, etc. are opting to become fans.
  • Friends who promote your stuff on social media, without prompt, are opting to become fans.

That still doesn’t mean that they’ll buy something from you – but what it does mean is that you can approach them without worrying so much about offending them. Defining your fans means a lot less work to chase down those dollars. If you try to sell something to friends, few will make the purchase. They aren’t emotionally invested in supporting you or in need of the information you’re selling. They just like interacting with you. Fans, on the other hand, do want to support you, which often grows from a strong need for the information you’re selling.

The bottom line is this: If you try to sell your products to friends, you’re going to do a lot of work for little reward and possibly even offend a few people. If you try to sell to fans instead, you’ll see much better results.

Thanks, Declan, for a great BlogWorld presentation. His session covered a number of other topics, of course, and if you missed it or opted not to attend BlogWorld this year, consider picking up a virtual ticket to see his session.

Allison Boyer freelance writer and content marketing consultant. She also runs the food blog The PinterTest Kitchen with her mom and sister. You can follow her shenanigans on Twitter (@allison_boyer) or contact her at allisonmboyer@gmail.com.


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