TOFU, MOFU, BOFU: Let's Change How You Think About Social Media

by Sarah Hayes on May 03, 2016

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Don't let those crazy acronyms fool you – we're here to talk about something very serious, a topic that we see frequent misunderstanding and confusion around: How social media affects different parts of your sales funnel.

 Many marketing leaders (understandably) want social media to like a very lucky slot machine. You put some coins in, you pull the handle, and a lot more coins come out. This leads to the mistaken belief that if social media isn't spitting out a lot of coins, it isn't working. But this is a fundamental misunderstanding of how the sales funnel and social media work – something we already touched on with dark social.

The point of the funnel is to carefully guide people along to a purchase. In that journey they pass through different stages, i.e. the top, middle, and bottom of the funnel. Kuno Creative created this great image to visualize TOFU, MOFU & BOFU. 

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Each social media site that you use has its own place in this funnel. Some may be the sites that spit out coins: Other sites may just be setting you up for a win. Here's what we mean.

TOFU or Top of the Funnel: Creating Awareness

At the top of the funnel, you probably aren't trying to make a sell except in the most ambitious campaigns. Here you are simply trying to raise awareness, and there are several social media sites that excel at this awareness factor. A great example is Facebook: You may put a lot of work into targeting Facebook ads and working on regular posts, without seeing a lot of direct results.

 This happens because, as AdEspresso infamously puts it, "People don't go to Facebook to make decisions. They go to Facebook to avoid making decisions." Your leads are surfing Facebook casually. They may see your ads or posts, but they probably won't do much about them (this is more true for B2B than B2C, at least for now). That doesn't mean Facebook – and related networks like Twitter – aren't doing any good. 

 MOFU or Middle of the Funnel: Earning Consideration

At this point, leads are aware of your company, and they are starting to consider buying from you. Certain social sites are particularly suited to this phase of the funnel. LinkedIn is probably the most familiar example. When your clients go on LinkedIn, they are in a professional frame of mind: They are making internal decisions based on what they see and what discussions they get involved in, and that's directly affecting their purchase decisions.

Another, more complex example is Medium, essentially a site for thought leadership (and a little bit of showing off) among several different industries. Medium, like your blog, can fulfill a number of roles but is very useful in both earning more awareness and helping your brand move to the front of the line when it comes to considering a purchase.

BOFU or Bottom of the Funnel: Enabling a Purchase Decision

At this point, leads are taking a hard look at your products or services and are on the verge of making a decision. Your job is to enable this decision, make it easy, and generally avoid scaring them off. It's easy to assume at this point that the work of social media is done, but that's not quite true.

 First, you will encounter many leads here who venture off sharply to get last-minute opinions from peers and friends on forums, via QandA sites, or through discussions on sites like LinkedIn, so these more intimate forms of social media remain important. Second, more direct communication here via IM, Snapchat, or other methods of answering specific questions becomes very valuable. Finally, you'll want to head back to social media and thank your new clients, then ask them for those valuable follows.

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Sarah Hayes

Project Manager at 21 Handshake, a strategic marketing company, driven to grow relationship-driven businesses. A self described life long learner that thrives on detail, I love bringing these skills to the table to help others succeed.

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