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102 - How to go from social to sales

How to get people off social media and onto your customer list. Social media is a fantastic tool for your business, but there’s no point in putting all that work into building up a social media following if none of it results in new customers.

In this episode, David shares the strategies you need to use to get your social followers to step out of the virtual world and embark on their customer journey with you!

With huge thanks to our amazing vegan sponsors:

Vegan Accountants
Use an accountant that understands your ethics and mission as a vegan business. The team at Vegan Accountants help ethical businesses with their accountancy and tax compliance.

The Vegan Publisher
A 100% vegan publisher who transforms vegan, ethical, sustainable and responsible business owners or entrepreneurs into bestselling authors.

MAD Promotions 
Dedicated to helping companies of all sizes to get noticed. Working with SME’s, charities, influencers, writers and more who are Making A Difference.


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Episode transcript:

Hello and welcome to episode 102 of The Vegan Business Tribe Podcast with myself David Pannell, co-founder of Vegan Business Tribe. And if you have a vegan business, or are thinking of starting one, then Vegan Business Tribe is here to support and inspire you not just to build a vegan business, but to build a SUCCESSFUL vegan business.

And today I’m expanding on a conversation that we had in one of our vegan business clinics. And our business clinics are where we come together in small groups on Zoom with our Vegan Business Tribe members and everyone gets 15 minutes to tell us what problem they have at the moment in their business – then we do our best, as a group, to give our advice and solve it. And the problem that someone brought to the clinic this week was that they were building up a good following on social media, but that following wasn’t translating into paying customers. They didn’t know how to get people off their social media and into sales conversations, so that’s what we’re going to be talking about today – how to get people off social and onto your customer list!

Before we go into that though, first I have to start by mentioning our three amazing podcast sponsors, Keith Lesser from Vegan Accountants, Mitali Deypurkaystha from The Vegan Publisher, and Karin Ridges from MAD PR. And all three of these companies are wholly 100% vegan and share your ethics… AND you would not be listening to this podcast if it wasn’t for their ongoing support, so it’s only fair that you give me the next 60 seconds to introduce them to you.

So first, Vegan Accountants, and Keith has been a long-term supporter of Vegan Business Tribe – in fact, Vegan Accountants are our accountants at Vegan Business Tribe, so if you are an established UK business looking to grow, especially if you already have a team, then that’s where you will get a lot of value out of working with someone like Vegan Accountants. They are looking for those businesses with a ‘growth and abundance mindset’ that are looking for both quality advice and tax savings! Just go to to find out more.

Our second sponsor is Mitali from The Vegan Publisher, and I’ll be mentioning Mitali a few times in this episode actually, but if you are a business founder who wants to be seen as a thought leader in your industry, then The Vegan Publisher will lead you through the entire process of becoming a published author to open up doors you never even knew existed. You can either sign-up to Mitali’s group coaching, or you can engage Mitali and her team to work with you one on one. Sign up at if you think you have a story that is worth telling and need someone to help you tell it.

And our third sponsor is Karin from MAD PR which stands for ‘Make A Difference’ and that’s what Karin does. She is our PR partner at Vegan Business Tribe and has more connections in the vegan and plant-based sector than anyone else I know. If you need to get your business in the news, and by that I mean either the national papers or the hard-to-crack vegan publications like Plant Based News and Vegconnomist, then go have a conversation with Karin. Go find out more at

As I said, I know and work with all these people, they share your vegan ethics and they work with a lot of our Vegan Business Tribe members too. So please do go check them out and let them know that you heard about them through Vegan Business Tribe.

OK, so let’s get onto our topic today which is how to get people off your social media and onto your own communications channels. And social media is an amazing tool for your business, but I think it’s fair to say that a lot of us just ‘do’ social without really having a lot of strategy for it. In fact, I think sometimes we do social media just because everyone else is doing it – is that fair to say?

Well, last week I ran a marketing workshop with the companies that are currently going through the ProVeg Incubator – and these are all the future stars of the plant-based sector, so many successful vegan companies were graduates of ProVeg, and one of the main themes of that workshop was that the goal of any marketing plan is to get people to give you money for whatever it is that you do. It’s not just about visibility, your marketing can’t end there – you get nothing for a social media like, and there’s no point in having a huge online following if none of those followers convert to customers at some point.

You have to remember that social media also isn’t YOUR platform. You are building an audience on someone else’s, and sometimes those audiences can take years to build up. But what if something happens to that platform – you might say that Instagram is going nowhere, or YouTube will always be about, but since the start of my career I’ve seen Friends Reunited, MySpace, StumbleUpon, Google+ and Yahoo grow into huge online platforms where people built up massive networks, and then disappear.  Just look at the complete meltdown the online world had when Elon Musk bought Twitter. Audiences naturally migrate over time too, people who were active on Facebook and Instagram might now have moved to TikTok and SnapChat, but if you get people to sign-up to your mailing list or onto your own platform, then you have complete control regardless of any algorithm changes or policy updates on social media. By establishing your own channels with both your customers and people who might become your customers, such as a mailing list, you are creating a direct line of communication with your audience. You’ll always have a way to talk direct to your audience.

Getting people onto your own communication channels also allows you to deepen the connection with your audience. And I’m going to use Mitali from the Vegan Publisher who I mentioned at the start of the episode, she sends a really brief email out to her mailing list at least a couple of times a week. She’s a writer, so they are always interesting, but they are also just short snippets with a tip, or about a thought she’s had or an event she’s attended and what she learned from it. They take no more than ten seconds to read, and I read every single one of them. I’ve got used to seeing them in my inbox and I know that Mitali only sends them out when she has something to say, so it’s likely to be quite insightful or, if not, at least make me laugh. I’ve even started emailing Mitali back and responding to them. And what she is doing with these emails is perfect, I AM very much in her target audience, I am a vegan entrepreneur who wants to be seen as a thought leader in my field, and I suspect at some point I’m going to write a book to help cement that authority, and when I do I know I will turn to Mitali to help me to do it. And if someone is receiving her short insights several times a week and isn’t engaging with them or feel like they are hearing from her too much – then they are likely not Mitali’s future customers and that’s why there’s an unsubscribe link on the bottom. People will self-clean themselves from your mailing list if they are no longer interested, it’s only spam if it’s not relevant to you.

So I’m a huge follower of Mitali’s. But on social media, I rarely see Mitali’s posts because there she is competing with countless other accounts that I follow and other distractions even though she posts regularly. However, because she’s got me off social and onto her mailing list, she gets my undivided attention every time she shares a message. She can nurture a more personal and meaningful relationship with those in her audience who will later go on to become her customers.

If you also use a professional email marketing tool like MailChimp or Active Campaign, then this also gives you far more data about how the people on your list are interacting with your messages. If you have a link in your weekly email for someone to read about a particular service you offer then you can see who clicked on that link, meaning that you can send them a tailored follow-up message asking if they want more information. You can even automate that bit so that anyone who clicks on a specific link automatically gets a follow-up message the following day.

So, while social media is undeniably a valuable tool for expanding your reach and getting people into the top of your funnel, it’s essential to get those people to keep moving down your funnel, into the communication channels that you control. And I am talking mainly about your mailing list here, but it could be to sign-up to your WhatsApp group, or like at Vegan Business Tribe we have our Community Hub channel on Slack where our members all talk to each other and can DM me. Or it could be to get people to follow you in places where there are less distractions, such as to subscribe to your podcast. For example, I know that if I can get you to listen to me on the podcast, then not only are you getting some amazing advice, but it’s a place where I can build up familiarity with you meaning that you’ll be more likely to consider trying out our paid community too, over at

So how do we do this? How do we take those people who you have already attracted through social media and engage with them? Well, if you were to Google how to do this, you’d find a whole load of ideas and to be honest most of them don’t work! Or, well, they might work but they can be a bit slimy! All those posts offering free holidays, iPads and give-aways in return for people signing up to a mailing list. OK, they CAN work, and maybe I’m being a bit unfair here, but everyone knows what companies are playing at when they do this, and if you’ve only got a small following then you’ll find yourself having to give away a lot of stuff for not many email addresses in return.

Instead, think about a value exchange that works for you both. For example, you probably already know about the concept of a ‘lead magnet’. That’s where you offer something of really high value, such as a PDF teaching someone a valuable skill or providing a really useful template or guide, and in order for someone to get that information they don’t pay for it, but instead they give you their email address. And as long as you are following GDPR guidance, and you have to be specifically mindful of GDPR if you are selling to the general public, but as long as you are then that’s a good way to get a constant trickle-feed of people onto your mailing list.

For example, we’ve got a PDF guide on the Vegan Business Tribe website at the moment about how to start a vegan business, and we get a handful of people a week downloading the PDF in exchange for their name and email address. And you can extend the reach of your lead magnet onto your social media. Make sure you promote it regularly to your followers as a way to start capturing their details and identifying the ones who are actively interested in what you offer. You might even want to pay to ‘boost’ a post about your guide or templates so that all your followers see it, so that you can start getting some of them off your social platforms and onto the platforms that you own and control yourself.

Another effective way to transition social media followers is to get them into a conversation through the use of semi-automated messages. Now, I’m being very clear on what I’m recommending here. You can automate a lot of things on social media, but the rules around what the platforms do and don’t allow change all the time and if you get it wrong you will find yourself blocked or even banned for life. As I’m recording this, most social media platforms don’t allow you to send an automated message to new followers, or even send a message to everyone who’s following you. They WANT it to be a manual process, they don’t want their users getting spammed! If you want to automate those kinds of messages, then you have to use third-party tools and then you’re playing the risky game of those apps trying to trick the algorithms so that you don’t get your account suspended! 

However, you CAN semi-automate messaging on social media and still have a real impact. You can have messages pre-written so all you are doing is copy and pasting them every time you get a new follower – so for example, if you have a business service like we do at Vegan Business Tribe, then you might send something along the lines of “Hey Shyla, thank you for connecting, have you got a website so that I can find out more about your business?”. And you will find, that when you ask a question like this, a lot of people respond meaning that you can get into a longer conversation with them – a bit like if you were to meet them at a networking event and get the chance to talk about each other’s businesses.

And once you get them into a conversation, you can then give them options to engage with you depending on their response. For example, we do this on LinkedIn. I have a standard message that I send to anyone who connects with me on LinkedIn and it’s got a pre-qualifier in it so I know where to take the conversation. It says that it’s great to connect, it asks them if they’ve got a website I can take a look at and it asks them if they are vegan themselves. I get a really high response rate to that message, and if someone replies that they do indeed have a business and they are vegan, then we’ve got a second copy and paste message saying that they might want to sign-up to our mailing list over at Vegan Business Tribe, or asking if they’d like a coupon for a free month trial.

If you have a similar process, then you are inviting a new contact you’ve made on social to take a step away from that platform towards your own communication channels. And because you are copying and pasting messages that you have tested out and that you know get a response, then you can actually get someone else to do it for you. It can be a member of your team, or you can get an online VA to log into your account a couple of times a week and send these pre-written messages to your new followers and reply to the ones who have responded. Your first message might find out why someone is following you, and the next message they get might direct them to a useful lead magnet on your website that relates to their answer or to make them aware that you’ve got a free seminar coming up. Remember, these conversations should never feel like a sales pitch so take it slow in trying to get them straight into a sales conversation. The focus should be on making the follower connect with you and establishing yourself as a trusted resource.

You should also go back through your recent posts and see which people are regularly liking and commenting, and if you don’t already know these people then use similar pre-written messages to get them into a conversation and move them over to your website or mailing list. And again, once you’ve worked out what pre-written messages get a response, give that job to someone else to do. Your work as the founder is done and someone else can keep on top of it.

Another way that we transfer people from social at Vegan Business Tribe is by running free seminars. We run free online events a few times a year. Sometimes I’ll do one on how to get more customers or how to scale-up a business, and in fact we’ve just run one with Mitali The Vehan Publisher on how to become a published author and had 100 people booked onto that one – so it was a really popular topic. And the great thing about free seminars is that even if someone signs up but doesn’t attend, then they have still declared that they are interested in what you do and so are a legitimate potential customer and you have captured their details, so now you can start to nurture those people through your own channels.

So, it’s important to have these constant nudges and calls to action to get people to take that first step and engage with you. Create a repeatable strategy, such as a quarterly free event that people can book onto or a new guide every quarter to download, to keep bringing people over to your mailing list from social media. And once you have this in place, then the larger an audience you can reach on social media, the more people you will be bringing over to your own channels of communication.

So when you’re regularly converting people over from social, it’s worth considering paying for social media adverts and boosted posts so that you can reach more of your target audience. Or link up with other people who are already talking to a similar audience to yours so that you can cross-promote and both find new potential customers from each other’s audiences. Just like the seminar we’ve just done with The Vegan Publisher: we both got to promote something to our separate audiences that we knew was going to be really valuable and at the same time that combined activity made more people aware of both Vegan Business Tribe and The Vegan Publisher.

And finally, the last point I want to make is that social is also a great place to create familiarity with your company or brand. And this is important, because no one will buy from you or your brand until they are familiar with you. It’s the first step in brand building: you need someone to recognise you and be familiar with you before they can trust you, and you need someone to trust you before they will buy from you. So if you jump straight on social and start inviting people to events and to enter competitions when they don’t really know you yet, then you are going to get a really low engagement rate! It’s a bit like a stranger in the street asking if you want to go to a party. Your audience has to become familiar with you before they will engage with you, it’s part of their buying timeline. So the people who do best on social are those brands and individuals who take people behind the scenes and invite you to get to know them. companies like Canadian vegan chocolate brand Mid-Day Squares who built their business in public, documenting all the ups and downs on Instagram. Followers who live in regions where you can’t even buy Mid-Day Square’s products feel like they know the brand and its founders intimately.

So the more your followers get to know you and your brand, the more likely they are to interact with you. The more likely they are to reply when you or your team reach out to them with a personal message. And you can also use this familiarity-building to create champions for your business, and you class someone as a champion when they tell other people about you all the time on your behalf. We have them at Vegan Business Tribe. Jai Street from Mindful Wealth, our vegan independent Finacial Advisor, he’s introduced more people to Vegan Business Tribe that any other member. Shabari Das from World Vegan Market is a close second behind him and in return, we champion the work that both Shabari and Jai do.

Another example I use all the time is Viva La Vegan clothing, and the reason I shout about them so much is because I follow them on social media and I see what they actually do with the money I’ve spent buying their clothes. I can see the work they do with Camp Beagle and Beneath The Woods Animal Sanctuary, even using their delivery van to pick up waste food collections to help feed the pigs at Beneath The Woods. So that means when I see Jay and Luke on the Viva La Vegan stall at my local vegan fair, I want to buy something from them because I know what me being a customer enables them to do. I’ve become a champion for their business and, in fact, I’m paying them for the honour by buying hoodies and t-shirts from them!

And that’s the core of this process. Social media is a great tool, but it’s what we call top-of-the-funnel activity. Use it to find new followers, and make those followers feel like they really know you, but you then need to then ask them to take the next step. Using these strategies to get them onto your mailing list, or to attend one of your free events, means that you are bringing that relationship off social media and starting them on a path towards a sales conversation.

OK, so let’s go back and do a bullet-point rundown of everything we’ve covered in this one on how to get people off your social media and onto your customer list.

  1. The goal of marketing is to get people to convert into paying customers, not just to gain visibility for your company. You get nothing for a TikTok like!
  2. If you build an audience on a social media platform, then you don’t own that audience. Platforms change or disappear all the time – just look at the meltdown that the online world had when Elon Musk bought Twitter and brands were rushing to get their followers to join them elsewhere!
  3. Transferring your social media followers onto your own channels, such as a mailing list, allows for direct communication where you’re not competing with everyone else. And if you use professional email marketing tools, then you can also see how your audience interacts with your messages highlighting who might be ready for a longer conversation.
  4. Offer high-value lead magnets to create an exchange and to capture the details of your social followers, such as a PDF guide or run free events that they have to book on to.
  5. Semi-automate your messages with copy and pastes, and use them to engage with people directly and guide them to take the next step. And once you have worked out what messages work and have all your copy and pastes, then delegate that work to someone else in your business or use a virtual assistant to message each new follower or connection.
  6. You need to create familiarity on social media before expecting engagement and conversion. Would you say yes if a stranger walked up to you in the street and asked if you wanted to go to a party with them? It is perfectly acceptable to build your business in public these days and the more your audience feels like they know you, the more likely they are to accept an invitation to take the next step.

And that is it!

So, remember, the reason we’re talking about this topic is because it came up in one of our business clinics, and if you are not already a member of Vegan Business Tribe then I’m going to invite you to take the next step too. By now, hopefully I’m not a stranger asking if you want to come to a party, but we have the most amazing community of hundreds of vegan business owners from around the world. And if you are looking for help and support, you can come to a business clinic, you can DM me with a question through our Community Hub, and you can even get access to all our online courses and member-only content.

Especially, we’ve got a brand new video-based course on How to get customers that is about four hours long, but broken down into short videos, that teaches you everything you need to know about how to get people to buy from you and how to understand why they are not!

So to get access to everything, just head over to the website and click on the big ‘join’ button on the homepage, and that will show you everything you get when you join us as a member. And also, we are funded by our membership, so everything we do to champion the vegan business scene and help vegan businesses start-up and scale-up, we couldn’t do without our members. So, and I do occasionally get messages from non-members asking how they can help support us, the best way to support us is to just sign-up to our £18.99 a month membership through the website.

You can also become a Vegan Business Tribe sponsor, and I would like to again just mention our three sponsors – Vegan Accountants wo you can find at, The Vegan Publisher at, and MAD PR who will get you in the news at

So thank you so much for giving up your time to join us, it’s quite a fun time at the moment juggling our two-month-old baby Awen with recording podcasts, fortunately I’ve got a studio that is almost sound-proofed! But Lisa and I, we really appreciate you giving up your time to listen every episode, you really are our tribe, and I will see you on the next one!

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