Part 1: Driving followers
(If you’re only working with online businesses, skip this post.)
If no customers follow a business’ social channels, your efforts as a social media manager will be futile and businesses will not be willing to pay for your services. It is imperative that you get followers for the business’ social media channels. Not only that, those followers need to be relevant for that business. This means they should come from the local community where the business is based (although for businesses catering to many tourists that’s not always the case).
So how do you get followers?
1. Get existing followers to engage with the content you post so that their engagement is shown to their friends and followers. This requires posting great content as discussed in Creating and Posting Compelling Content.
2. Ask customers to follow you while they are in the store, enjoying the service. This post is about that.
3. Invest in online advertising. We’re going to table this discussion for a later section about promoted content.
Connecting offline and online
What’s a better opportunity to solicit follows and likes than when the customer is already at the business enjoying great service? This is the perfect time to let a customer know the business is using social networks to connect with customers. To do this, all the customer-facing materials the business is using need to mention social media and encourage following. Signs, displays, business cards, receipts, invoices, menus, even the wash hands sign in the restrooms are all an opportunity to message customers.
Whenever possible, you should give customers a reason to follow the business. Research has shown that when given a reason people are more likely to comply with requests. For example, follow us on twitter to get our surprise coupons. You could also offer an incentive for following the business. For example, get a free glass of wine when you follow us on Facebook or get free wifi for checking in on Foursquare. Keep in mind the customer could later unfollow the business, however they could also stay or simply forget to unsubscribe. Regardless, a message has already been sent out to that customer’s friends so there’s still something in it for the business.
In your messaging you want to steer customers to the right places. If what’s most important to you are Facebook followers, then place that network’s icons and links in a more prominent place. If you want to drive reviews and check-ins on Foursquare, highlight that network more.
How do you know which network is most important?
Sometimes it’s hard to tell, but often you’ll know just by being a local yourself. Whichever network most people are using in your area is the best one to highlight. If the business already has some existing profiles, you can compare the number of followers and engagement levels in the various networks to understand which resonates best with customers.