Creating good content is essential for social media success. And good content creation starts with a deeper understanding of the audience who will consume the content. This is where social media audience funnel can help.
What is a social media audience funnel?
Funnel visualisation is a proven model that has been used successfully by businesses in their sales and marketing departments to understand the audience or the end consumer.
When it comes to social media audience, visualising the audience using a funnel tool helps us get clarity on the type of content that needs to be created for each group of audience.
The top of the funnel represents the large number of people who will be exposed to your content on social media. Then, some of the audience will start becoming more interested in what you do and will get more involved with your content. They move to the next level of the funnel as they start interacting with you on a deeper level. As the funnel progresses, the interactions get deeper and more meaningful, but the total audience also becomes smaller and smaller. Finally you are left with only a fraction of the audience you started with at the top of the funnel, but they interact closely, communicate meaningfully, transact regularly, trust you completely, share your content widely and become a very precious audience who will stay with you for the long run.
How to use social media audience funnel for content creation
Now let us look at each part of the funnel and how you can create content based on the audience’s mindset and behaviour at each stage.
1. The Exposure Stage – Top of the funnel
At this stage of the funnel, the connected audience doesn’t know much about you, so your key objective should be to give them as much information as possible. But keep in mind that the web is growing, and thanks to social media, people are bombarded with tons of content. They don’t have all the time in the world to read your 100-page books and 30-minute sermons. The best way to engage with this audience is with short-form content -– snippets of your sermon in videos less than 2 or 3 minutes long, quotes from your sermon converted into graphic images, short blog posts (less than 200 or 300 words), short emails and the like.
The objective in this stage is to capture the attention of this audience. You can share the same short-form content from your social media channels available on the website or in your mobile app. Present a clear picture of your ministry in just a few seconds so that they don’t have to spend hours trying to understand what your ministry is all about.
Thinking about search engine optimisation is crucial at this stage, because most of the audience at the top of the funnel will find your website, blog posts or social media channels from search engine results. For example, if you are in the marriage and family ministry, you might write a blog post on ‘Ten ways to reduce fights in marriages’. When someone comes to Google and searches for the keyword ‘How can I fight less with my wife’, the search results will include your article, leading them to your blog page. When you give relevant content that ministers to this person and answers their question quickly, you have a good chance of moving them to the next part of the funnel.
2. The Evaluation Stage
In this stage, a portion of the total audience from the top of the funnel becomes more interested in your ministry and the type of content that they see on your social media channels. They start evaluating you. This is the stage where you give them as much information as possible in detail. With this audience in mind, you could prepare content about the values of your ministry, your beliefs, your vision, your mission, your plans, your strategy and how you would like them to be involved. This can be both long-form and short-form content. Since the audience is still in the top half of the funnel, I caution you about using too much long-form content. Some longer pieces are inevitable, but try to use as much short-form content as possible. Consider resizing your long-form into shorter versions. For example, instead of a 30-minute video on all the plans you have for your ministry, break it down into 10 three-minute videos, which are easier for the evaluating audience to consume.
3. The Engagement Stage
In the engagement stage of the funnel, your audience has started clicking, liking and commenting on your content. They have seen enough about you on your website or social media channels to know that they like you, and they have started engaging with you. The funnel gets a bit smaller in this stage because not everyone who comes across your content wants to interact or engage with you. So some of the audience ignores your content and moves on, but some will stay.
For the most part, the audience who has stayed with you in the engagement stage has done so not because they are being nice to you but because they find your content useful. Ministries that grow are those that offer value to the audience by giving them useful information. For the audience looking for value at this stage, you need not be so brief. Your content should be more detailed. But the keyword in this stage is ‘value’ and not ‘length’. Irrespective of the length of your content, at this stage you can provide immense value to the audience by sharing useful content that will make them feel blessed. Teach them, guide them, encourage them, thank them, ask them questions, give them opinions, share your expertise, give some freebies and make them happy. Reward them for their engagement. They will spend more time on your channels and websites consuming more content because they are eager to learn and they like what they have already seen. The longer you are able to keep them on your social media pages and website with your content, the better. This is the stage that determines how much lifetime involvement you will have with this audience. Reward them with free eBooks, gift coupons, webinars, podcasts and so on.
Also at this stage your audience is engaging with you by asking questions and commenting on your channels, so you need to be responsive. You should answer every question and reply to almost every comment – even the negative ones. If you do not respond to your engaged audience, there is a chance that you will lose them.
4. The Transaction Stage
Most organisations do a good job of finding and grabbing their audience until it comes to this part of the funnel. The funnel gets smaller, and the people at this stage are primed to start transacting with you and getting involved in a deeper level. They may be ready to start volunteering for church activities, signing up for seminars, buying your ministry products, giving donations and participating in your ministry at a deeper level. These are very valuable people. Think of them as your online church members. You need to minister to them, value them and help them the same way you would help and minister to your existing ministry or offline church members.
In fact, many of your existing ministry offline audience or church members may have become part of your online audience due to changes in circumstance such as relocation or travel, and their online behaviour will be similar to the rest of your offline church members. So any activity or preparation that you do online for your audience at this stage will also help your existing ministry members who have transformed into online members.
This is a good stage for you to consider creating exclusive communities or groups. You could open up a Facebook group only for this audience to share some special material and insights only with them. These are the people who would sign for a website membership or online subscription program if you have one.
In addition to being more detailed and potentially longer, the content you share with the audience at this stage should be personalised. For example, for everyone who buys a copy of your book online, you can send an email thanking them for their support (this is in addition to the automated email sent from your website) and sharing a few words of blessings. For anyone who signs up for a webinar, you could offer a special coupon code to use in your church webstore. You could also go a step further and organise a face-to-face event for all your online church members from one particular area. For example, if your church is in the US but you are visiting the UK for a conference, you could email your online members and ask them to meet you in a coffee shop. Or you might even organise a free speaking session in a hotel conference hall exclusively for them. At a small cost you are enriching and rewarding the people who have travelled three stages in the funnel and are making a special effort to stay connected to your ministry. They will appreciate this gesture, and it will also encourage some of them to move to the next, most important stage of the funnel.
5. The Advocacy Stage
This is the most important stage for any online (or even offline) audience. A small portion of your audience has become brand ambassadors for your ministry. They start talking about your ministry among their friends and family, and they introduce more people to your church website and ministry social media channels. They answer questions on social media on your behalf, they defend your doctrine and your belief system, they send emails to their personal contacts about your Sunday message and they post a Facebook status testifying how your sermons have touched them and helped them. They are valuable. This audience may be small in number, but they are the influencers who will help your ministry grow in the long run.
At this stage you need to provide tools to help your audience be advocates for you. On your website, make it easy for them to share your blog posts, and provide clear links for them to connect easily with all your social media channels. As in the previous stage, create personalised content for this audience and give them some very special privileges. Treat them like VIPs online, because that is exactly what they are. Sharing is the ultimate act of loyalty and trust. When your audience chooses to share your content with others, they are choosing to put their reputation in your hands. Create content that will reward them and keep them connected to you.
Stay connected. Stay blessed.