Winning new customers on social media can be difficult; if ever there was a platform that suffers from information overload, its social media. Think of the reams of Tweets that pour out when a major event takes place, or the amount of status updates that are published on a daily basis on Facebook. Getting attention and earning trust in an environment where your content is swept away almost as quickly as it is published is extremely difficult.
Winning new customers and keeping them on social media, I’d argue, is even harder. Loyal customers are defined by their affection towards you, and a simple like or follow isn’t necessarily indicative of this. No, to gain real benefits from your following, you need to earn their loyalty and affection rather than having them see a couple of your posts, get bored and then move on to the next brand.
This was a distinction I once struggled with. As a relative newcomer to social media marketing (I found my first job in the industry in 2012), I still consider myself a relative novice and would have once considered gaining a like or follow as a ‘done deal’; it’s not. In fact, it’s the beginning of a long relationship. And, like any relationship, you need to frequently check your behaviour to make sure you’re keeping the other half on side.
So, inspired by Mitt’s previous post on ‘11 Ways to Stop Bleeding Social Media Followers‘, I’ve come up with four more things to think about when trying to win the undying loyalty of new followers…
#1. Don’t be banal
My personal social media pet-hate (trust me, I rant about it a lot) is banal content. You know the kind; a brand will post a picture of a sandy beach somewhere with a brief instruction to LIKE if you like holidays or SHARE if you LOVE holidays. It’s meaningless, it serves no purpose and, over time, it’s bound to lose you followers.
Without wanting to pick on a single brand for doing this, the Condescending Corporate Brand Page on Facebook is pretty much the ‘what not to do’ guide to social media, and collates the ‘best of’ banal content from around Facebook and the wider web. This little gem below is the perfect example of social media content that might get engagement, but not the kind of engagement that’ll drive conversions or provide you with any return on investment.
Instead, focus on topics that bear some semblance of meaning in the lives of your followers. It could be a debate regarding an important issue relating to your industry, links to interesting posts (some of your own, some from other sources) or even just a funny yet relevant picture.
A brand doing all of the above exceptionally well at the moment are BrewDog, a Scottish company who craft beers and lagers. Take a look at their page and you’ll see behind the scenes pictures of their brewing process, a few posts and stories on the beers themselves and a generally feel-good community willing to respond to the company. I feel like having a beer just by looking at the page!
Part of this is down to the exceptional company image BrewDog have crafted for themselves over the past year or so, proving the effectiveness of getting your company image and tone of voice finalised before you start hitting social media!
A good general way to approach social media content creation is to question whether you’d share the same information with a personal friend face-to-face. Would you really ask them whether they like holidays? You might, but it’d probably make you the guy everyone tries to get away from at parties. I suppose the short version of this, really, is to be interesting and be entertaining!
If you’re struggling to come up with a content plan for social media, these ten questions to ask when creating a social media plan from Entrepenuer are pretty useful!
#2. Be personable
Social media is frequently touted as a customer service channel, and while it undoubtedly does serve this function, it has arguably led to brands being unable to communicate with their fans on a personal level. Instead, they resort to comments and messages that read more like pre-prepared press statements rather than something someone would say in the real world.
While anything you choose to say to a follower on social media should be considered in advance, the actual conveying of that message should be done in a personable and relatable way. Be warm and friendly, don’t be afraid to crack a joke every now and again – just act like a human interacting with another human face-to-face would.
One of the best examples of a big brand doing this is, surprisingly, a brand account dedicated specifically to customer service. ASOS Here To Help is a dedicated customer service channel for ASOS and is easily one of the best examples of brand customer service I’ve seen on social media. Check out the tone they choose to use:-
Every response is tailored specifically to the customer they’re addressing and frequently uses colloquial language; it’s a real life approach to dealing with real life people. Check out the timestamps on those tweets too; ASOS are getting messages at an extremely frequent rate yet still don’t resort to pre-prepared responses. A testament, if one was needed, to the power of being personable.
One technique I really like using for social media content is to directly engage with customers in the first person rather than referring to the entire company in the second person. There’s something about using ‘I’ that disarms a customer and allows you to engage on a more personal level.
For more guidance on coming up with a tone of voice on social media, I recommend checking out this post from Marketing Land, which outlines 20 great examples and some guidance on developing your own tone of voice!
#3. Don’t be afraid of debate
This is related to point one; don’t be afraid to instigate some debate around your brand and related topics. The example in point one is the perfect illustration of the type of question you want to avoid asking your followers; everyone likes holidays, so there’s nothing to be discussed. It’s a shameless vanity metric builder that provides no real value.
A real debate, however, can help to build your brand as an authority in your field. Pick out some interesting topics that you think might interest your followers and pitch them out; ask questions and encourage people to share their views. Just make sure to properly manage any debate you instigate; anyone expressing hateful or potentially controversial views needs to be managed (via blocking or otherwise), as does anyone sending out abuse to other followers.
‘Debate’ is quite a daunting term, what with all the political connotations the word throws up. But debates can be fun and thought-provoking without having to have much gravitas; in fact, I’d say that fun should be the first objective when instigating a debate on Facebook! One of my favourite brands doing this at the moment is American Soda, a small British company who import American candy. Here’s an example of one of the many debates they instigated; Red Vines vs. Twizzlers. Simple, but it gets people talking…and probably sold a few of each product too!
A bit of healthy debate on a post can add some personality to your brand’s social presence and draw more engagement. Crucially, this engagement is more likely to lead to conversions and traffic to your site in the future as the debate you’re instigating is relevant to your brand.
#4. Don’t lose focus
This is possibly more focused on the marketer rather than the fans of a page, but it’s something that’s worth bearing in mind. There’s nothing quite like a like counter or follower count spiralling upwards to get to the head of a social media marketer; this can lead to the marketer losing focus and treating their brand’s social presence as a vanity project.
By doing this, you risk running into some of the issues discussed above by publishing content solely designed to draw in likes without any consideration paid to the ‘end game’ of social media marketing; increased brand awareness, traffic and conversions for your brand.
Success can also lead to you resting on your laurels and ‘churning’ out new content similar to previous posts on the basis that it worked before. This leads to a repetitive experience for your followers and is one of the surest ways to start losing followers.
So, stay focused, have a content plan and never let success get to your head!
Content plans can be difficult to come up with from scratch; this great (and free!) template from Hubspot is a good base from which to develop your own.
Winning and retaining new customers is hard, but not impossible. By being personable, interesting and keeping your content fresh and focused, you can maintain a social following that’ll bring innumerable benefits to your business.
How do you win customers with social media? Are there any tips you like to share with us? Please leave your comments below.