How To Turn Your Social Media Followers Into Customers

You’ve just received thousands of likes and new followers! What will you do now?

If you’re like far too many businesses…that was the extent of your plan. The standard mantra is on growing followers on social media, engaging with them and building an audience of loyal fans.

But loyal fans don’t pay the bills. Actual customers do. All of the social media followers in the world won’t help your business unless you can turn them into actual paying customers. Here’s how you do it.

Put Free WiFi In Your Store

If you have a brick and mortar store, make wifi freely available and encourage patrons to use it. What better way to encourage your social media followers to talk about you online that to give them the wifi to do it?

Along with the idea of making your actual store more social friendly, throw in other features that would encourage word-of-mouth advertising from your customers.

  • Hashtags. Get control of your message by creating a custom hashtag for your store, your event, your sale, or your seasonal deals. Place signs around and encourage customers to use them.

  • Display profile name. Nothing is as frustrating for a customer who wants to tweet about a business only to see a generic “we’re on Twitter!” sign that doesn’t tell them what your Twitter handle is. Make it easy, and display your Twitter handle readily.

  • QR codes. Use QR codes to direct customers to mobile friendly web sites. You could even make a game out of it, advertising “hidden” deals that are revealed via QR code. Make coupons or discounts available to those who use the QR code on a rack and show you the results on their smartphone.

  • Selfie opportunities. A local sporting goods store set up an area where people can use their own smartphone to take a picture that makes it appear as if you’ve caught a huge fish. They also have a fixed iPad available to do the same, allowing you to email it to yourself. Encourage people to get involved with your products or service by setting up a fun place to take a selfie.

Why bother with all of this?

Because people are more likely to patronize a business if a person they know tells them to, and that includes online reviews. According to information gathered by Hubspot, 71% of people are more likely to buy if a product or service is recommended online. In contrast, 75% of people don’t believe advertisements. How much money do you pour into advertising? It’s clear some of that should be going to encourage online word-of-mouth.

By making it easy for people to talk about your business online, you’re turning those online readers into real life customers.

Take Your Social Media Followers’ Advice

Not every complaint or suggestion your social media followers give you is worth adhering to, but there are times when you might pick up on ideas for sales, product changes, seasonal or temporary product availability, and so on.

If you come through for your social media followers, let them know! Tell them you heard them, and that you wanted to make it available.

  • Be personal. This is not the time for a canned response. It’s always a good thing to have your social media responses be unique each time, to each person. If you have a social media team, have them end their posts with their initials so your followers can see it was a person that they were talking to, not just a brand.

  • Let them know. Not all social platforms allow you to tag or mention individuals, but networks like Twitter allow it. If @yourcustomer suggests an idea and you follow through with it, be sure to let @yourcustomer know in a tagged social post!

  • Monitor. Monitoring what your followers are saying, not only about you and your products but also about topics related to your industry, will help you understand shifts and changes to what people want. In the past you had to do intensive market research and surveys, but you can get so much information by watching trends, shared images, etc. Set up your social monitoring software to look for key industry terms.

  • Give back. Have you noticed your social media followers talking about a particular charity or cause? Consider giving to that organization, and let your followers know. People like to think that they can make a difference, and they are happy to buy from a business that they know will use some of that money to support a good cause.

Do all of this, and you can be sure they are going to tell others about it and, likely, purchase what they said they wanted.

Use Exclusive Deals And Opportunities

Exclusivity is a powerful marketing tool. People are highly driven by the need to fit in, and exclusivity prods them to action if they sense they might be left out or missing out. How do you create exclusivity for your product or service?

  • Limited edition. Make only a few available. Once they’re gone, they’re gone.

  • Sign up and wait. Hint at something new and exciting that’s coming, and have people sign up and wait. You’ll have a direct line to their email as you build up the fervor for what’s coming.

  • Not available elsewhere. Offer a product or service, or even a coupon code, that they cannot get in the store or online, that is only available through social media.

  • Special events. Host a special event that requires an invite, and make them available to your social media followers. Or, reward followers that have been actively sharing or promoting your content. It might be a sale, a wine tasting, sampling a new product — anything that sounds exclusive.

Scarcity goes hand-in-hand with exclusivity. Scarcity tells people that there is a limit to how many are available and if they don’t act quickly, they will be excluded from having access. QuickSprout talks about exclusivity and scarcity in regards to copywriting, listing the words and phrases that get people to buy. Use language that prompts your social media followers to act:

  • exclusive offers

  • become an insider

  • last one

  • be one of the few

  • get it before everybody else

  • double the offer in the next hour only

  • be the first to hear about it

  • limited offer

  • today only

  • only 4 left

  • only available to subscribers

Reward your social media followers by offering exclusive deals and opportunities only to them. And be aggressive in letting your customers know that they can get some great deals if they follow you on social media. While the goal is to get social media followers to become customers, turning current customers into social media followers will help. Again, word-of-mouth is vital to turning followers into customers. You need some real customers to help spur it along.

Promote Customer Testimonials On Social Media

Use the testimonials you get on social media to promote your business to others. No need to waste that tweet or Facebook comment that speaks positively about your product or service. Use these testimonials on your website and on your social media platforms.

You may also want to feature your biggest fans in blog interviews as a way to generate testimonials and reviews of real customers talking about how they use your product or service. If you have an exuberant social media follower, ask them if they’d be interested in being featured.

This is yet another way of you showing your social media followers that you are listening to them as individuals, and that you want to reward them as such, too.

Go All In With Content Marketing

One of the reasons content marketing has become so popular in recent years is that it is one of the best ways to be found online. It’s inbound marketing, where your content brings people to your site because they are looking for information. Some businesses, though, have forgotten that the focus isn’t search engine success, but helping people.

Be honest. What kind of content are you putting out there? Are you only talking about sales and new products and focusing solely upon keywords that bring traffic? Because that won’t turn followers into customers.

Ask your customer support staff what the most common problems, requests, and complaints are. Query your social media followers about questions they have about your industry. Then, create content that answers those questions. Figure out what the content core for your business is, those things you do every day. Then decide what topics are related to that.

For example, let’s say you are a greenhouse. Your content shouldn’t just be about sales or plant accessories — things people can buy. You should talk about how to grow plants, what to do about sick plants, plants that are pet-safe, or downloadable plans to landscape a yard. Then, offer a deal or incentive with each piece of content that would encourage people to come to you. You are the expert they want to hear from, and would buy from. Not wikipedia. Not some website from a company thousands of miles away. Be the helpful expert for your followers.

Above all else, prove you want to help. Not that you are trying to bait a search engine. Make sure you get your content marketing right.

Create Custom Landing Pages For Social Networks

You may be on several different social networks. Not every audience is the same. Or, you may want to do some research to determine which social network gives you the most results for your time.

Create a custom landing page for the various sales and coupons, one for each social network. Change the coupon codes for each landing page, or in some way make the options vary from one page to the next. Track in-store and online purchases to see which landing pages provide you with the most sales.

Do this several times, and carefully track the data. Which social network is returning actual customers from followers and which ones aren’t? It is possibly that you don’t really need that Pinterest account that you’ve been spending so much time building. Perhaps Facebook is returning more actual customers.

Testing the return on your time and money investment in social media is vital. Landing pages are just one way. Other analytics you’ve set up may provide additional data.

Understand Your Sales Funnel And Brand

Without a serious understanding of your sales funnel, you may be throwing money into the wind. In theory, according to marketing blogger Nichole Kelly, social media adds three extra levels in your sales funnel. These levels all pertain to brand awareness, and include exposure, influence, and engagement.

What is your brand about?

Have you spent time to solidify your brand? Is it cohesive? Can your social media followers easily sum up who you are and what you are about, or are they a bit confused?

Social media is all about building brand awareness and exposing your brand to new people. If your brand is weakly put together, your followers will have difficulty becoming paying customers because they won’t know who you are.

Have you built up influence?

Influence is built up by connecting within your industry and with other brands that your followers identify with. Have you done the work to be influential in your industry? It may take some time, but influence inspires confidence, and confidence reassures people to purchase.

Are you engaging?

Do you talk to your followers, or treat your social media profiles like a digital coupon distribution center? Talking to people and being kind is, above all else, the way to turn a social follower into a customer. You can even turn a disgruntled customer into a loyal one simply by engaging them immediately and kindly in social media. Who is happier, a customer who had no problem, or one who did who had it solved quickly with much attention?

Don’t Be Afraid To Push For A Sale

Now, this isn’t permission to be a huckster, but it is OK to share sales and purchasing opportunities once in a while. I’ve seen some brand social media feeds that, while delightful and engaging, don’t really give me the opportunity to buy.

There’s no link to an item, to their website — they make me work to find a way to buy.

If you’ve done your work and have a great group of social media followers, make it easy for them to buy. Use apps that allow you to sell easily through social media, or share links that go directly to specific product pages. Put share buttons on your product pages so your followers can show others what they bought.

Social media followers are your fans. Turning them into customers is all about showing them they matter to you, and reducing the barriers to buying.

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