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Social media is great for building a following, but the biggest mistake entrepreneurs make is stopping its power there.

It’s nice to see your following growing, and receive likes on all of your posts. It truly is. However, likes won’t pay your bills, and a following won’t do much for your business if it can’t be monetized at some point down the line.

Contrary to popular belief, social media is still an incredibly powerful tool for actually generating future customers. However, it requires a strategy that helps to move people from one stage to the next. And if you keep structuring your social strategy to generate awareness, you’ll never get those people anywhere close to spending money with you.

Therefore, I encourage you to read through this article carefully. It is one of the most important articles on social media that I’ve ever written. By following the advice, you’ll learn how you can start generating real income from your existing following (even if it’s not very large) and grow your overall audience profitably all at the same time.

Let’s start with the first stage – the one most business owners never move far beyond.

1. Awareness

All interactions start with someone becoming aware that you and your brand even exist in the first place.

This doesn’t mean that they¬†stay¬†aware (you probably can’t even recall 1% of the posts you saw yesterday – I know I can’t.) However, for at least a brief moment, one of your posts has entered their feed, and you’ve been exposed to them.

Although no person can go to any further stages without first becoming aware of you, this unfortunately is the least valuable of them all. Most people will continue scrolling, and you’ll be out of their mind forever, unless you’re able to move them onto stage number 2.

2. Engagement

Engagement is key. Without somebody making a conscious decision to engage with you, you’ll never have the opportunity to move them further down your funnel.

In order to drive engagement, it’s critical that your content is of high enough quality to spark some sort of emotional reaction. Some of the most common include:

  • Appreciation
  • Connection / Relatability
  • Humor
  • Curiosity
  • Excitement

Likes, comments, shares, and clicks to your profile are all important engagement metrics.

The key to growing with social media is to focus on escalating relationships with potential customers. The first time somebody engages, the relationship becomes two-way, and the basis for any sort of connection begins to form.

Even something as simple as asking a question with your post can encourage viewers to engage for the first time.

See: 7 Tips To Foster More Engagement On Social Media

3. Expression Of Interest

Even if somebody engages with you, this doesn’t mean that you left a lasting impression on them.

Business is built on a fair exchange of value. This isn't just true with products, but with marketing as well. Therefore, to succed on social media, or any form of content marketing, you need to ensure your content provides enough value to make it worth the visitor's time!
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It’s critical that you’re able to get in front of people over and over again, so you can actually begin to brand yourself in their mind.

The same can be said with any sort of marketing, this isn’t strictly tied to social media. On my blog for example, I push heavily for people to sign up to my email list, because this is where I can actually grow real connections with them. I retarget visitors with ads after they leave certain pages on my site, and do everything in my power to retain them.

With social media, viewers will almost always browse your profile and make a conscious decision whether or not your content is relevant to their interests. This is why more content (simply for content’s sake) isn’t always the best idea – you want to make sure that you’re shaping your strategy around a specific type of person, and your page speaks strongly to that person.

Express yourself authentically and make your brand values known, but don’t be afraid to get rid of the types of content that aren’t resonating with anyone.

4. Inquiries

This is the stage when people are fully aware of the products you offer for sale, and they’re starting to feel the need for it. They begin to picture your product in their lives, and start pondering whether or not they should consider purchasing it.

Unfortunately, we rarely know when people will reach this stage. Depending on the type of product you sell, there’s a chance that there isn’t an immediate need for whatever it is that you offer. In this instance, your goal is to be top-of-mind whenever that time comes (and quickly close the sale when it does!)

One of my favorite strategies is to regularly share user-generated content – such as customer stories, reviews and testimonials – that highlight objections potential buyers may face, or common customer concerns. Remember, this is the stage where people start asking questions to themselves, and making a case either for or against the product. If you can address these naturally in your content, it will build confidence your offer and lead to more sales.

Publicly thanking someone for a good review in your Instagram Story not only provides social proof, but also encourages further positive reviews (who doesn’t love a shoutout?)

While I never recommend making the majority of your content promotional, this is never an issue if you genuinely provide value everywhere else.

[easy-tweet tweet=”Utilize user-generated content such as photos, stories and testimonials to address common objections, build community, and make more sales (without coming across as too promotional!)” user=”JamesMOnline” hashtags=”SocialMediaStrategy,SocialSelling”]

5. Conversion

You’ve done it! At this stage, the follower knows, likes, and trusts you enough to actually purchase your product.

There is not a whole lot to say about this stage. If you do everything right, it’s very possible that you receive an ever-growing stream of sales, all from people that initially discover you on social media.

However, there is more stage, and it is one of the most important.

6. Promotion

If you truly over-deliver with your product or service, and provide a genuinely fantastic buying experience, than people are going to share it with others.

Not just with anybody, though – with other people they’re already connected to them. People who are similar, with similar interests, and similar values.

This is insanely valuable. They bring in entirely new audience members, and these people are most similar to people that have already proven to buy from you.

Recognize and praise these people. Go out of your way to do special things for them. Shout them out, and make them feel good for the favor that they’re doing you.

Word-of-mouth marketing is even more powerful today than it was in the past, since it’s so hard for new brands to build trust. Leave people incredibly happy with their purchase and cherish your brand’s biggest fans – they will do a lot of the heavy lifting necessary to grow your audience further.


There is nothing wrong with wanting a large following – but if you aren’t able to utilize your following to actually grow your business, than there isn’t a lot of point to it.

Most marketers focus only on stage one, and never develop a strategy to move people through the other stages.

It takes a careful strategy, but it truly pays dividends when you manage to implement it.

I hope that this article has been helpful for you. Despite declining reach, social media is still extremely powerful. Considering that utilizing it is free, it’s an incredible asset for smart marketers to take advantage of.

I’d love to hear more about how you’re shaping your social strategy going forward. Please do us all a favor and share it through a comment below.

I look forward to hearing from you!

To your success,

– James McAllister

About the author 

James McAllister

James is the owner of He started his first blog at the age of 11, and has since gone on to start several successful businesses. In total, these businesses have sold hundreds of thousands of units and have touched millions of lives. Here on, he shares his knowledge that brought him to where he is today. If you want to connect with James, follow him on your favorite social networks!

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  1. You made valid points especially in your conclusion about not being able to turn your following into growth.

    I believe brand awareness and engagement is the vital 2 early stages that everyone should pay more attention.

    Thanks for sharing this.


    1. Those stages are definitely important, although unless you also have a strategy to move people throughout the others, the work in the first two stages ultimately does not matter much. Unfortunately, so many marketers measure their success in terms of number of followers, rather than what their following is actually accomplishing!


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