It’s one of the frustrations we hear from businesses new to social media: “Where do I get started? How do I get people to follow my page?” Interestingly, we hear the same from social media veterans with the goal of trying to grow their social media following. Here’s our answer to their common social media marketing question (only longer and more in-depth).
Have a plan.
Don’t just tackle social media without a plan. We’ve given you step-by-step directions on how to draft an online marketing plan in our recent post; for social media, make sure you have a set plan that follows your sales cycle (i.e. what events or products you sell at different times of the year) without bashing your followers over the head with “buy, buy, buy!” posts. Instead, ask yourself, what’s going on in my followers lives? What do they want to know? What do they want to see in their feed? From there, draft a customer-centric plan that follows your sales cycle and gives your followers what they want.
Make sure you’re on the right social media site(s).
Don’t think you have to be on every social media site to get results. Target your efforts at social media sites where your customers are based on their demographics (or what they tell you!).
Make your social media marketing a team effort
If you are a real estate firm, ask your employees to follow your page and share information with their friends. That doesn’t mean they need to share everything, but, as powerful advocates, they can share posts they feel are relevant and expose your business posts to a new audience.
If you (and your managers and employees) don’t have time for social media (you know what we’re talking about you only post every once in awhile or when you have time), consider outsourcing your efforts to experts that keep up with the latest practices and information. To get best results, schedule regular contacts with your marketing firm so they have insight about your business and customers.
Give your followers a reason to follow you.
The proverbial social media love is not given, it is earned. Give your followers a reason to want you in their feed with the inside scoop (pictures of workers, problems, and finished products), information, and entertainment (if appropriate). On occasion, you can add a social media contest to the mix, but make sure you give your followers a reason to share the contest—and your new followers a reason to keep caring about your profiles even after the winner is announced. (More social media contest tips here.)
In addition to posting relevant information, make sure your two-way social media conversations are not one-sided; respond promptly (within 1-2 hours) to all messages, reviews, and comments so your customers know you care about them. Don’t leave them hanging. If you do get a negative comment (one of the risks of social media), use these tips to respond to an angry customer. For comments that require customer service, invite them to send you a private message so you can resolve their issue.
Invite people at the counter, in sales meetings and when you provide customer service.
We know, in the digital world we live in, it seems counter-intuitive that spreading the word via mouth is still one of the best ways to draw people to your social media sites. It’s also one of the easiest. A simple, “Don’t forget to check our Facebook page for discounts” when you check out a customer or ending a client meeting with “We’d really appreciate it if you’d check out our social media sites for more information” is a personal invitation. In today’s world, many of your customers and clients can find the site right there—and continue the connection that you initiated in person.
Integrate your social media and blog into your marketing materials.
Producing a brochure? Add your Twitter profile address. Sending out a direct mail piece? Don’t forget to add a QR code they can scan with their smart phone that takes them straight to your Facebook page.
This tip comes with a caveat: make sure that you use hashtags appropriately and on the social media sites where they should be used. Don’t use too many; usually, 3 to 5 hashtags can be used on Twitter and Instagram to get results. Too many hashtags can actually sabotage your results and—if used on a social media site where hashtags usually aren’t—make you look like you don’t know what you’re doing.
Here’s how to use them right: scout out other users and see how they use hashtags successfully. Research hashtags before you use them instead of just blindly jumping on the bandwagon. Don’t try to use a hashtag to promote your product if the hashtag is related to a tragic event. This tactic can backfire and cause your business to be seen as insensitive. Feeling like you’re over your head? Hire experts who know the ins and outs of hashtags on social media.
Connect your social media pages to your website.
If a customer is on the verge about buying your product, the “tipping point” that influences their buying decision may be a discount or promotion. But how will they know about it? Add links to your social media sites to your website. Today’s consumers not only research your website, but your social media sites as well—and you need to make it easy for them.
Add the social media addresses to your email signature.
This is one of the simplest—and most overlooked—way to spread the word about your social media sites. You send emails to your customers with quotes, product information and customer service inquiries. Why wouldn’t you want to continue to connect with them after they’ve read your email?
Don’t give up.
Social media is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. Set your expectations accordingly. No matter the results (or lack thereof), don’t abandon your social media efforts. To the contrary, use the two R’s of social media marketing to grow your follower base: relevancy and regular posts (so they don’t forget about you). Then, test out different ways to connect with them—and you’ll see your followers start to grow.