Social media marketing and specifically Facebook have become key tools in expanding a business audience and engagement with new and existing customers online. We're all familiar with the "Like us on Facebook" sticker plastered to the window of many stores and businesses. Social media has become an inexpensive, flexible and exciting way of interacting with our customers.
There are pitfalls though. Similar to the swagger of SEO companies that have sprung up in the last decade promising a massive boost to organic web search results, outsourced email marketing companies offer the same promises regarding increasing our social media presence, likes and followers. On the surface, seeing the amount of people "liking" you double and triple can be an exciting prospect, and seemingly a very worthwhile investment, but it is interesting what we find when we scratch a little deeper.
An outside email marketing company may increase your social media reach but what does a bike shop in Boulder, Colorado really gain from being followed or liked by "Bbwaddene from Uganda" or "Batman Par Suparman from the Philippines"? Are these people important to your business and are they truly interested in your posts and engaging with you? The answer is, of course, no.
In fact it goes further than just picking up unnecessary followers and likes; this number may have increased, but if it is made up of people who will never interact or return to your page their lack of engagement will harm your business. It is often the case that people who are paid to like you don't engage, even if they are interested in what you are doing.
As a result of how Facebook works, if it sees a large following that are not regularly engaging, (i.e. they're not really interested in you and are only there because they were paid or coerced), it will substantially decrease your overall reach to the people who actually want to see what you are doing.
How do I get liked?
The best way to create a loyal and interested following with integrity on social media, is to build your audience slowly and locally. These are the people who really care about you and your business and who will also be self-motivated to interact with your online presence.
One easy method to market your presence is by asking customers to like your Facebook page at the point of sale, or even to give a small discount if they like you on the spot. An important part of any marketing campaign is connecting with people; if the customer likes you then there is a greater chance they will like you and be keen to interact in the future.
“Put people before programs!”
But as is often the case in a retail business the most effective path to attracting interaction from potentially paying customers is to offer incentives; for example "social media only" deals and discounts. Everybody is looking for a bargain so these are a great way to build an audience and are often shared, increasing your reach even further.
This is the tip of the iceberg to what is possible with social media. Next time we will look at ways to specifically increase interaction, create more functionality or "calls to action" in the online environment and hopefully increase sales.