Everyone talks about social media. But how can you turn those likes and follows into sales? Here are five ways you can use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest to quickly direct users from your social media page to the checkout line.

Be Smart About Your Audience
Before you can start converting followers and fans into paying customers, you need to know who your audience is, what they like, and where they’re coming from. You’re probably tired of hearing this by now, but we can’t overstate its importance. Your strategy will depend on if your users are arriving to your site primarily via a Google search for a specific term or liking your page because you mentioned their favorite hiking spot or sport.

Tap Into User-Generated Content
If you browsed Twitter during the first week of May, you probably heard the buzz about the Nature Valley Anime Fan Art Festival. How did it happen? Nature Valley responded to an anime fan’s tweet and used the positive buzz to create the art festival. In less than a week, Nature Valley won the love and loyalty of a tight-knit niche community, receiving invitations to several anime conventions around the country. This is all because it was friendly and respectful, embracing the audience that reached out.

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Use Instagram to Make Your Business Look Awesome
Want to engage the user base of Instagram and turn that attention into an online purchase or a visit to your shop? Instagram is the perfect outlet, especially as it just branched out to include mobile devices that run Android. Wishpond Technologies recommends using Instagram to show off your awesome crew of employees or the view out of your office window. If you have a storefront, you can even show how much fun you had rearranging the window display.

The key to success with Instagram? Do your best to be authentic. Keep things closer to the “a day in the life” attitude and further from anything promotional. And embrace the Instagram culture of editing your photos. Use a filter, pick an interesting angle, or change the lighting to create pictures that are unique and vibrant.

Embrace Pinterest for Consumer Products
No, really. Embrace it. Wholeheartedly. Why? Because, as New York Magazine so elegantly put it, it’s an “interactive catalog, where users can browse and buy your products, and share the ones they like with their friends.” The article goes on to explain how Pinterest users are much more likely to buy something than people on other social media sites, and how they’ll spend twice as much money as their Facebook equivalents.

However, it’s not only that Pinterest is practically designed to sell things for you. It’s also about how the “promoted pins,” Pinterest’s just-launched ad program, look just like other pins and get just as big a response as other pins. So if you want to market a new product, Pinterest is the perfect place to do it. Users don’t care if what you’re putting up is a consumer product. In fact, they appreciate it. What more could a business ask for?

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Offer Coupons on Facebook
Did you know the main reason social media users ‘like’ a brand is so they can receive a coupon, discount, or other promotion? So offer a coupon with free shipping, 25 percent off, or a free gift. These kinds of deals encourage people to take a look at and purchase some of your offerings, generating some buzz about who you are. Remember to not overdo it so that your followers feel like you’re spamming them. If done right, it’ll be one of the things your fans and followers will hope to receive so they can spend money at your store.

What social media platform have you tried? Which strategy do you think would have the best conversion?

About the Author: JT Ripton is a business consultant and freelance writer who enjoys writing about a variety of topics, including business and technology. You can follow him on Twitter @JTRipton

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