If you own or manage a local business, chances are you oversee a few social media channels. Businesses have traditionally used social media as a marketing outlet, and social networks have accordingly developed advertising tools and other features to serve these marketing needs.
A few of the more robust social media networks—Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter, to name a few—have taken the next step to support brands in their marketing and sales efforts. Now, followers can do more than just hear about marketing offers via social—they can act on those offers and make a booking or purchase directly from a business’s social media profiles. This technology has paved the way for social bookings—that is, appointment or class booking software that integrates with business profiles on social networks.
Why Bother with Social Bookings?
You’re probably wondering: Why should I go to the trouble of offering bookings via social media if I already offer them on my website? Can’t I just direct followers to my website to book an appointment or a class? The short answer is: Sure you can—but you’re guaranteed to lose people along the way.
Studies have shown that, without fail, the more steps you add to an online signup or checkout process, the lower the completion rate. It makes sense when you think about it. Web surfers are all about instant gratification—they want to be able to achieve their end-goal with the least amount of effort. So the more hoops you make a visitor jump through, the less likely they’ll be to complete the action you want them to take, whether it’s booking an appointment, ordering a gift certificate, or making a retail purchase.
Social bookings solve this problem by making it possible for networkers to discover a business, visit their profile page, read a marketing message, and then take action on that message by booking an appointment or signing up for a class. No clicking out to another website and hunting for the Book Now button, then clicking back to your social newsfeed when you’re done. It’s all right there for the user, which increases the likelihood of them actually completing a booking. This is especially nice for new customers who discover your business through a social search, since they’re least likely to put in extra effort to book with you.
Additionally, the Facebooks and Twitters of the world love social bookings because they don’t require visitors to leave their network during the process—which means more revenue for them. All this goes to show that social bookings are a win-win-win for you, your followers, and the social networks where you and your followers connect.
Word-of-Mouth Marketing—A Fringe Benefit of Social Booking
While social bookings in and of themselves can greatly benefit your business by driving more revenue, there’s another related benefit that you can potentially tap into as well: social word-of-mouth marketing.
Most business owners know that word-of-mouth recommendations are the most effective kind of marketing out there. These recommendations are happening less often in person and more often on social networks, where users can “crowdsource” feedback from their friends and followers in a single post.
Having Business Profiles on social media and providing bookings from your Profiles can help facilitate social word-of-mouth marketing from your followers by making it easy for customers to tag your business and direct their friends to you. Once they arrive on your social Profile, it’s easy for them to learn about your services and book an appointment or class. Again, the convenience factor works to your advantage here—while your customers may be doing the marketing legwork for you, it’s up to your business to take that spark of interest and quickly blow it into a flame of excitement before it burns out. Social bookings are an important tool to help you fan the fire.
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