You’ve put in the work. You’ve followed and been followed, you’ve tweeted and retweeted, you’ve been charming, witty and informative. You’ve followed the advice of social media savants and engaged, and it’s paying off in the form of Twitter followers and Facebook fans. But now that you have all these new people watching everything you do, how can you start making some money off it?
The fact is that social media just does not work for in-your-face marketing. Your account will be unfollowed rapidly if all you use it for it is telling people to buy stuff. But if you already actively use social media to share fun stuff and original content, and to have conversations with people interested in what you do, then you’re ready to put social media to work for you. Here are some tips for taking your hard-won followers and fans and turning them into new customers.
Draw people with a promotion
Use Twitter and Facebook to promote special offers or contests your business is running. Create a sweepstakes or contest for something that will pique people’s interest– a free estimate, a free personal training session, a free manicure, etc–and have followers enter online. It’s also great to bolster interaction with your company by creating a contest that requires people to participate in an active way. For instance, ask something like “What’s your favorite Acme ice cream flavor? One respondent will win a pint of their favorite flavor!” or “Why do you love Acme Diner? Tell us, and our favorite answer will win breakfast for two!” It’s especially interactive to run promotions like this on Twitter, because you can give participants a hashtag, which they can then use to see what their friends and others on Twitter are saying. Twitter’s contest guidelines are also more permissive; see “Keep it legal” below. (No idea what a hashtag is? Check out out Twitter tutorial).
You can’t just flip a switch and start promoting your business left and right (sorry). Introduce special offers and contests gradually, and be sure that you’re staying engaged with your fans and followers on a personal level. The Red Arrow Diner, which has locations in Milford and Manchester, does a great job of this. Their Facebook page and Twitter account ask fans to send in recipes for a cookbook, name a new restaurant (with a $100 prize to the winner) and share their favorite comfort food. They also interact: congratulating newlyweds, thanking their vocal fans, cooing over cute babies, and, importantly, apologizing sincerely when someone complains. The car sharing service Zipcar has a university-specific Facebook page that is also a study in effective use of social media–they offer deals, get fans to post pictures, respond to fan queries and occasionally share a good old fashioned puppy pic.
Offer exclusive deals to your fans
Special offers can be as simple as this: “20% off all cupcakes today for our Twitter followers! Just mention you saw this tweet.” Easy, right? Plus, offering deals like this will keep your frequent customers tuned in to your Twitter and Facebook feeds to watch for deals. (But again, keep these thoroughly mixed with the chatty and/or interesting updates that aren’t trying to sell something). An awesome deal will get your followers through the door initially, but frequent, smaller ones may keep them following and coming back.
Keep people coming back
As much as possible, be generous with the small Twitter and Facebook offers like the one above–a contest might get someone in the door once, but if they can stop by and get 15% off their lunch because they saw the offer on Twitter, they’ll keep following you. Also be sure that your already established customers know that they can follow you for deals, news and updates about sales. If you have a retail location, a sticker on your door or a placard by the cash register can tell your customers that you’re linked in to the social media sphere.
Be sure you’ve got the right followers
Sure, you may have lots of followers, but are a lot of them spambots, competitors, or random, inexplicable dudes in Romania? If you find that your promotions aren’t getting the response you want, you may need to tweak the people who are following you. This means some more work for you such as finding the people you want to follow you, interacting and hopefully showing them that you’re somebody worth following. For more on this, check out our blog posts about using Facebook and Twitter for business, and our post about fine tuning your social media strategy.
Last but not least: keep it legal
Facebook prohibits most contests that take place directly on business Facebook pages. If you want to run a contest or sweepstakes, you’ll have to take entrants to a website separate from Facebook. Be sure to check out all of Facebook’s promotion regulations before you post. Twitter is less regulated, but there are still rules. Make sure your contest or offer checks out.
What do you think? What approaches have you used that have helped keep your social media accounts healthy with engaged interaction? Feel free to comment below.
Here at NH Web design firm Vital Design, our awesome developers and designers can help you set up sweepstakes on your website; and our social media experts can help take your social strategy from boring to buzzing in no time. Follow us on Twitter, “like” us on Facebook or contact us via our website to get connected with Vital.