Like other areas of marketing and digital advertising, social media follows a similar pipeline concept. Experts and industry professionals may have slightly differing views on how many stages there are and what they should be called, but there is always an overarching basic framework in which they all follow, outlining the customers route from discovery to conversion and on to continued brand loyalty.
Our social media marketing funnel consists of six possible stages. In this article, we will explore each one in turn – exploring what the customer is experiencing and discuss how you can adapt your social media activity to hit your audience at these crucial moments to produce the most engagement and ultimately move them further down the funnel to conversion. 
The social media marketing funnel stages for the purpose of this analysis are:

  • Awareness and discovery – seeking to gain attention of those currently unaware of your brand or business. 
  • Interest and desire – sparking curiosity of those who have discovered you, presenting your product or service as desirable.
  • Consideration and intent – making your product or service valuable and attainable to your customer so that they intend to purchase. 
  • Conversion – The customer acts on intent and becomes a conversion through purchasing your product or service. 
  • Loyalty – The customer has had a good social media driven shopping  experience with you and will go on to purchase again.  
  • Advocacy – The customer had such a good social media driven shopping experience, potentially multiple times, they become brand ambassadors and recommend your business to others. 

Social media for brand awareness and discovery

At the very start of the social media marketing funnel, the user is being exposed to your brand – possibly for the first time. But how do grab the attention of a proportion of the billions of social media users who frequent and use the platforms daily? 

Top tips for generating brand awareness on social media 

  • Optimise your social media profiles Re-visit your profiles and conduct a social media audit. Check if your channels are set up correctly and if you’re using them to the best of their functionality and potential. Are you adhering to best practices and where are the quick wins? This will provide the best environment for any further social media activity. 
  • Post consistently – Success on social media requires dedication. Posting regular content across your channels instantly grants you more likelihood of being seen. Once people become aware of you they can look to you for reliable updates.
  • Inject personality – Create posts which are unique and capture your brand’s tone of voice. Your audience wants to see authentic content which sounds human, not like a robot. You want to be noticeably different from other businesses on the feed.
  • Adhere to social media best practice – When crafting your social media posts, pay attention to best practices in terms of format, frequency, timing and character length. Remember these differ between platforms and can differ over time so be sure to stay on top of social media best practices. 
  • Tactics to maximise reach – As well as all of the above; make it a habit to adopt ways to maximise your post’s reach. Tagging other accounts – both people and businesses – as well as using industry hashtags will get you seen in more places around the channels. Utilise other functions such as Instagram Stories and Reels, so that you have a greater chance of being discovered. 
  • Be active on social media – Not only do you want to share original and engaging content but it’s important your profile engages with others and takes part in discussion. It’s an unrealistic expectation to think just posting out on social media will get you new followers: build your audience through interaction and being active on the channels. 

Best social media post types for brand awareness

  • Video – Video and animation posts are still favoured by the social media algorithms, being presented to more users. They are engaging and captivate your audience. Make sure they follow the right specifications for the channel you’re working on too to give them the ultimate opportunity to thrive. 
  • Scroll stopping visuals – Creative images that pop will grab user attention. Ask yourself, would you stop scrolling if you saw this image on your timeline?

Social Media to spark interest and desire

Once you’ve managed to initially capture the attention of some potential customers, now is the time to get people excited about your product or service. This stage of the social media marketing funnel is the really fun part – showcasing your offering to invite curiosity and demonstrate desirability.  

Top tips for sparking interest on social media

  • Premium photography – You want to show your product or service in the best light possible and one of the most effective yet simple ways of doing this is through the use of quality imagery. Allowing some of your budget to go towards a professional photoshoot, stylist or creative direction will make for a worthy investment. A set of polished and beautifully edited photos are an essential part of the social media toolkit.
  • Sell the brand – Although great product photography is essential, remember the road to conversion is through selling the brand as a whole. Think about the lifestyle that pairs with your service or product and represent that in both your copy and creative.                                                               
  • Reflect your target audience – Visually, we react to and engage with those images in which we can identify with the subjects. Seeing people like ourselves, that is, representation, is an influential tactic to get your audience really thinking about how they would use, interact or pair with your business.  
  • Offer a solution to a problem – It’s not just about saying ‘look at this thing’ when trying to spark interest. Desire comes about from looking to satisfy an instinctive need. Offer value and support, then in turn present your business as a solution to their challenge or problem. 

Best social media post types for sparking interest 

  • Images – The basis of most social media posts, we’ve talked about how images must be high quality and lifestyle focused, but what formats and types of images work well at this stage of the social media marketing funnel? Try and test multi image albums, which give the opportunity to be served up several times to the same follower. Take advantage of any user generated content too – seeing others use or interact with your product or service makes it instantly more desirable as well as you being able to cash in on the additional reach and engagement UGC brings with it. 
  • Video content – will always be a staple to your social media content. But think further than the feed and look to use additional platform functions like Reels and Stories on Instagram for example. Seeing your product in use, in real life situations with real people makes it look attainable. Not only this, you’re also ticking boxes when it comes to varying your content and increasing the opportunity of being seen by more people. 
  • Blogs, guides and articles – Another means of connecting with your audience is through educational content such as blogs, guides and articles. Think how you are looking to solve a problem for them, how you can add value, give advice or be of assistance. Top tips, how to’s and step by step guides are a good way of presenting this information – then link out to them on social media or break up the pieces into bitesize posts fit for specific channels. 

Social media for consideration and intent

At this point in the social media marketing funnel,  the user is deciding if they wish to purchase your product or service. You’ve already got their attention and made your brand attractive, now you need to really prove your worth. Your audience will be asking, is this worth my money? Will this product bring something to my life?  

Top tips for pushing consideration to purchase on social media

  • Features and benefits – Now is the time to really shout about your product and its details. Focus on showcasing its particular features and how they benefit your customer. 
  • Unique selling points – There will be ways you stand out from your competitors and things which make your brand unique. Drawing attention to these at this point highlights worthiness against other potential options for the customer.   
  • Value for money – Aligning the above points particularly against value for money goes far when pushing the potential customer down to the next stage of the social media marketing funnel. Cost is often the last hurdle a customer needs to get over when considering whether to purchase something – so demonstrating it is good value is key. 

Best social media post types for consideration and interest

  • Single image posts – Single image posts are a great way to further promote your features or USPs, by showing the product in the image and utilising the copy for the USPs – just make sure to include a CTA for the user to learn more.
  • Lead generation ads – Lead generation campaigns allow you to collect user data without the user having to leave the social media platform. 
  • Traffic to site posts – Driving traffic to site won’t just increase your website visitors, it will allow for a deeper user journey when consumers are learning more about your product and services. When running this style of post, you just need to make sure that your website is optimised for conversions.

Social media conversions 

At this point, the user has been exposed to your brand, and decided that they have the intent to purchase, so it’s your job now to show them how they can do this quickly and easily. This stage of the social media marketing funnel is all about user experience. 

Top tips for converting customers on social media 

  • Be e-commerce ready – Sounds obvious to point out, but it’s not something always considered by businesses to take advantage of the in-built e-commerce functions on social media platforms. They can often assume a user will find their way to a website to purchase. But making this process happen all in one application, shortens time to convert and makes for a smoother and more enjoyable user experience. Optimise your shop fronts to get across all the relevant information in a concise and accurate way. High quality photos, bullet points and clear pricing ensures your social media product pages are best set up to convert.
  • Discounts and offers – now also may be a good time to talk about any offers you have relevant to your users or any discounts they could make use of. You’ve spoken about value for money, but any reservations can be eased through a strategy like this. 

Best social media post types for conversion

  • Shoppable posts – There’s no point in being e-commerce ready if you don’t remember to make your social media posts shoppable. You’ll have set up your catalogue of products or services, so make sure you tag them correctly in any posts to make it easy for the user to go on to purchase. 
  • Promotional ads – Use paid social media advertising to offer a promotional code, giving the user that much needed incentive to convert.
  • Purchase/conversion ads – Most social media platforms will now allow you to set up specific conversion-based campaigns, allowing you to optimise the ads for increased ROI.

Social Media Brand Loyalty

For many brands, the effort seems to stop after the conversion stage of the social media marketing funnel. But it’s important to continue to nurture the relationship between brand and customer after purchase has taken place. You can use social media to keep your consumers loyal. This increases the chances of them entering into the funnel again, or certainly encouraging those around them or in earlier stages of marketing journey to do so.

Top tips for nurturing brand loyalty on social media

  • New products – Just because someone has already purchased from you, doesn’t mean they won’t do so again – and you want them to! Keep them interested by continuing to talk about your great products, specifically new ones which they don’t own or haven’t tried before. Perhaps there are products which complement those in your key range which you could feature on your feed. 
  • Interaction – once someone has purchased from you – providing you have made your social information obvious and encouraged sharing on social media – you may receive tags and mentions from your customers online. Keep on top of these, making sure you interact with them by liking, commenting, sharing and even archiving them as user generated content. Content from real customers tends to outperform brand created assets – but you’ll also be showing your appreciation for your customer posts, further boosting their loyalty.  
  • Branded hashtags – consider starting the use of a social hashtag specific to your product or brand. Not only does this spark curiosity from those further down the social media funnel but also makes it easier for you to find content which relates to your brand. This can also be a handy mechanism to deal with and process any user generated content.
  • Community – Buying a product or service from your business automatically puts people into an exclusive group of people. Foster this group by encouraging them to come together and share their experiences. Using a community hashtag can further elevate the privilege and create a thirst outside of this group for buy-in; it’s something they want to be a part of. 

Best social media post types for brand loyalty

  • Testimonial posts – Utilise any great feedback you receive from happy customers, allowing you to link your product or service with a positive sentiment.
  • Engagement posts – It’s crucial to keep your current customers actively engaged with the brand and your social media channels by continuing to share creative and interesting content that adheres to best practice. 

Social media advocacy

This is arguably the most critical point of the social media marketing funnel. 
You’ve bought your customer on an incredible journey, turning them into loyal consumers and beyond and now they’ve reached an invaluable level as they’re actively recommending you to others: this is being a brand advocate. 
Extend your social media marketing efforts to this group too.  

Top tip for nurturing brand advocacy on social media

  • Discounts and promotions – offering discount mechanisms to this group for exclusive use or recommendations to friends which can be done as personally as dropping them a message or commenting on their posts. This continues to encourage them to buy from you or influence those around them to do so too. 

Best social media post types for brand advocacy

  • Case studies –  Play up to the excitement customers get when being featured in your social media content. Showcase your customers and their interaction with your products or brands. This can be through user generated content, or going a step further and creating content with or for them. Who wouldn’t appreciate the sentiment behind this and share further with their following?
  • Human stories – Human stories are a sure way of resonating with any audience. A classic marketing tactic, telling stories through blogs or social media series is sure to both engage existing followers, loyal customers and brand ambassadors themselves. 

Using your social media marketing funnel

The social media marketing funnel works holistically as individual stages as well as alongside other digital marketing activities. 
It’s important to have an overarching digital marketing strategy which can be broken down into channels as well as showing where connections can be made and areas can support one another. Importantly for social media, a content marketing strategy enables you to create content for each specific stage in the funnel which you are able to then further break down into socially shareable pieces. 
Other things to consider when using your social media marketing funnel: 

  • Think about the creative assets you’re putting in front of the user too, in relation to where they are in the funnel. Does this creative provide the user with the right information they need at this point in their journey?
  • Don’t try to rush a user down the funnel. Every person will have a different journey which will happen at a different pace – it’s your job to understand that.
  • Make use of wider digital marketing tools such as Google Analytics where you can look at your attributed conversions to understand the user journey of your previous customers.
  • Test your social media marketing funnel and really get to know it and how your audience reacts and interacts with it before pushing any big budget campaigns behind it.

Key takeaways

So, we’ve established what a social media marketing funnel is and explored each stage from brand awareness through to conversion and further. Take away our top tips and remember:

  1. Make use of the suggested formats for every step of the marketing funnel and customer journey. 
  2. Critically, remember how this activity fits in with your wider digital strategy, seeing how you can further support or create additional content to boost your social media marketing efforts.

Have another question? Get in touch with our team here.