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Last month, one of our fitness franchise clients told his assigned team that he wanted to exit our 12-month agreement for paid social media marketing after only three months.

The relationship was strong out of the gate, we had just travelled across the country to meet the client in-person for the first time, and the account was far surpassing its initial cost-per-lead goal by more than 25 per cent. Needless to say, the team was caught by complete surprise.


“My franchisees are coming at me with pitchforks,” our client explained. “I know we are hitting our cost-per-lead goal, but none of these are good leads. Only 8 per cent have converted so far. We’re going to have to shut the ads off”.

Does this sound familiar to you? You partner with an agency or hire a social media manager that is supposed to generate leads from Facebook, you run your ads, and after a few weeks, you notice few — if any — of your leads converting, and you conclude that Facebook isn’t the right avenue to market your brand. “My customers just aren’t on Facebook”.

No matter your size or industry, that couldn’t be further from the truth. With 2.8 billion active users, Facebook trumps second-place Twitter by a wide margin of more than 18 per cent. However, at my company, Drive Social Media, we hear our new partners and prospects make this statement on a daily basis.

The problem is not that your customers aren’t on Facebook, or that Facebook ads don’t work for lead generation. It’s that you haven’t yet figured out how to use Facebook as a sales tool. And you’re not alone. One study found that as much as 62 per cent of small business owners believe Facebook ads are an ineffective channel. But how much of that onus is truly on the platform versus simply user error?

Most of the time, when we meet franchise partners who have struggled to generate a return on investment from their Facebook marketing, it’s because of three factors:

1. They chase the wrong metrics
2. They aren’t using their existing data to build an audience
3. They expect Facebook to sell for them

If you’re expecting to make non-paid posts, boost posts, and perform broad audience targeting on Facebook, you’re setting yourself up for failure from the get-go. Here’s three ways to start off on the right

1 Stop chasing vanity metrics

Here’s a fact that should be obvious to most marketers but for some reason is not: Facebook invented likes, comments, and shares. They did it so that businesses could assign some level of tangible results to their Facebook marketing. But that was before paid ads became king on the platform, and before Facebook had the ability to drive leads, track sales, and report on ROI. So those little thumbs and hearts
may give you a rush of dopamine, but they won’t do anything to produce revenue for your business. There has never been a correlation between likes, comments, and shares as they relate to purchasing intent. Stop chasing them.

So what is the right metric to track? Here’s the thing: there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to key performance indicators (KPI) on social media for every brand. Website traffic and cost-per-click might seem valuable. But if your website isn’t set up to convert, has broken links, slow load times, and shoddy navigation, your traffic won’t convert anyway, so you can’t blame the original source of your visitors if those visitors aren’t being taken to a website that makes it easy for them to buy from you.

On the other hand, it might make sense to focus on leads generated from social as a better KPI than web traffic. But if you don’t have a sales team in place that can effectively follow-up on those leads and keep them on a consistent, scalable process, then you can’t really set a lead goal as a KPI because your closing percentage won’t remain consistent either. In order to evaluate the ROI of social media leads, your sales funnel needs to be mapped out and followed to a T.

2 Utilize Your Current Customer List

Facebook allows you to use virtually any data you have to target potential customers. But most “social media marketers” that you can hire on a freelance basis will simply build audiences based on demographics and interests. That’s literally saying that you believe you’re smarter than the algorithm. Lookalike audiences allow you to use the power of Facebook’s Edgerank algorithm to target potential customers based on their behaviors, not just where they live and what they like.

You can get super-granular with this too. For our partners, we commonly use valuebased lookalike audiences that are built off the business’s current customers with a 1per cent variance. What that means is that we target people who walk, talk, and act just like our partner’s current customers, and we focus-in on the individuals in that audience who are likely to spend the most money.

You can also use your customer list to do things like exclude your current customers so that any campaigns that are targeted to new customers don’t spend money on advertising to people that are already in the ecosystem of your business. Customer data is king when it comes to advertising and Facebook allows you utilize yours more effectively than any other social platform.

3 Follow-up, follow-up, follow-up

Social media leads are naturally going to be colder than leads that come throughyour website or call your business. It might feel like they’re all in the same stage of the funnel, but on social media, you are
targeting people who have never had a touchpoint with your business, and possibly have never even heard of your business.

The people coming through your website and your phone line found you somehow — they didn’t just magically end up there. So they’ve actually been nurtured to some extent by your website, Google, word-of mouth, or some other form of advertising. They were actively looking for your product or service before they reached out to you.

The leads you generate on social media aren’t people in shopping mode — they’re people who are just trying to kill five minutes while they’re in the grocery line, stuck in traffic, on their lunch break, smoking a cigarette, etc., and your business caught their attention at the right time. They haven’t called you or been to your website or done any advanced research on you. So, they’re above your other leads in the funnel, which means you need to mine those leads like gold.

Our internal research shows that when a lead is called within five minutes of submission, they close at a 22 per cent higher rate. A fully developed cadence to work your leads is also necessary and needs to be followed verbatim every single time. Paid social media marketing is more than just picking an audience and uploading a picture. The more you understand the platforms, utilize your existing data, and treat social media like a sales machine, the more likely you are to get positive results.


Josh Sample is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Drive Social Media, and the creator of Marketing Milk. Josh is passionate about scaling businesses and bringing transparency to the digital advertising world.