A funnel by any other name

Few people know the ins and outs of Facebook better than Nick O’Neill. In fact, his blog AllFacebook now attracts hundreds of thousands of readers each month looking for resources and news regarding the world’s most popular social network.

Recently, O’Neill wrote a wonderful post offering advice to readers on how they can leverage Facebook to increase their reach and generate sales. The end result was this funnel you see on the left that he dubs “The Facebook Sales Funnel.”

Look familiar? It should.

Look closely at each segment of the funnel and you’ll notice that each of these phases can be applied to just about any marketing scenario whether it’s inside Facebook or not.

Unless you’re selling widgets, where his alternative 3-step sales process of click, learn and purchase can be applied, you’re probably going to be looking at similar funnel as the one O’Neill created.

As he highlights in phase 5 of his article, Facebook marketing (much like the marketing of higher education) is all about relationship marketing.  It’s not so much the initial purchase that matters, but the long-term value of retaining that customer and earning their loyalty. As defined in Wikipedia, “Relationship marketing differs from other forms of marketing in that it recognizes the long term value to the firm of keeping customers, as opposed to direct or “Intrusion” marketing, which focuses upon acquisition of new clients by targeting majority demographics based upon prospective client lists.”

Across all of your relationship building and recruitment efforts, you’ll have periods of discovery (students find you or you find them); education (students seek out more information about your offerings or you offer them resources for to learn more); engagement (there’s now a mutual interest between student and institution so you find ways to connect on a deeper level); action (application, admission and enrollment); analysis (see what works and what doesn’t).

O’Neill takes this methodology and applies it specifically to Facebook, but you could and should give thought to how each of your marketing channels can help you navigate through each phase of the relationship.

In a previous blog post that included another funnel created by Brad J. Ward that touches on this notion, we spoke about social media as a channel.  O’Neill’s marketing funnel not only serves as great advice for leveraging Facebook, but as a reminder that social media may just be a new way (that works in concert with other media) to tackle an old problem…moving constituents from the discovery phase to the action phase.