As a business owner, why are you using social media? What do you hope to get out of it, and how will you know if you’ve succeeded? Most businesses hope that using social will increase their bottom line—yet few really think about how that happens. If lots of people follow your page or profile, does that mean a certain percentage of them will always buy from you?
Not necessarily—you have to earn their trust as a brand first. Here’s an excerpt from my upcoming book that addresses this issue:
Contrary to popular opinion, your goal for using social media should not be just to get tens of thousands of followers on Twitter, or “likes” on your Facebook fan page. Those numbers aren’t as important as the relationships you establish.
It’s much more desirable to have a few loyal followers who comment, re-tweet and recommend you to their friends than to have thousands who follow you once and then never interact with you again.
In fact, Nielsen Wire reports that their research shows 90 percent of consumers surveyed noted that they trust recommendations from people they know while 70 percent trusted consumer opinions posted online.
Is this really surprising? We ask for recommendations from our friends all the time for plumbers, doctors, day care providers and so on. This was going on before social media even existed; we’d probably call or email our friends for this information. But now it’s even easier. All we have to do is post a question on Facebook or Twitter, or search the internet for reviews and blog sites and review sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor and Angie’s List come up to help us make decisions.
People don’t give out recommendations lightly. Trust is a big issue online, so you want to outline goals that include creating long-term relationships with your customers so they pass on the good news to their friends and followers.
But how do you do that? What kind of engagement has to happen before followers of your social profiles open their wallets?
Well, a lot depends on who your audience is and why they hang around on a particular social platform to begin with. Are they in it for entertainment? Are they looking for deeper information? Are they seeking faster customer service?
Once you know the answer to why your audience frequents a platform, you’ll have more ammunition for creating the kinds of posts that move your followers to trust your brand. Remember, they’re not in it for the same reason you are, (Hint: It’s NOT about selling).
So think about your posting strategy carefully. What kinds of things can you offer your followers that will compel them to recommend your page to their friends? Thinking about using your social platforms to build relationships, rather than just sending messages to people, is a good start. Here’s a list of some things others have used to engage their followers:
- Sharing other people’s content (posts, links, etc.)
- Inspiring photos or videos
- Customer appreciation awards
Can you think of others? What kinds of things motivate YOU when you’re interacting with a brand, either online or face-to-face?