We came across an interesting article in Entrepreneur magazine which outlines 5 Ways to Use Your Network to Grow Your Business The article lists 5 tips that you need to keep in mind when you ask your network members for advice. Below we try to look at these tips from a social media perspective to grow your fan base and build an engaging network.
1. Before you ask for something, give something
It’s no secret that today many brands seek consumer opinion through social media. While this is a good strategy to reach your consumers and get their feedback, it is important that you build an engaging network by offering giveaways and promotional deals through social media pages. It’s not a good idea to expect something for nothing. To better solicit feedback from social media users, first offer them a reason to do so. Let’s consider a hypothetical situation. Serene is a boutique hotel which maintains a Facebook page, a Twitter account and a Foursquare place to reach their consumers and create a fan base. Serene can offer, 20% off on ‘Breakfast all day’ for their Facebook fans and Twitter followers or 10% off on drinks for Foursquare check-ins. These giveaways can be tied to landing pages to track their performance using an analytics tool. Once they have acquired a considerable number of followers in their network, Serene can post questions for users to give their feedback in order to better their service.
2. Restrict your requests for advice to a person’s area of expertise
It is crucial that your social media posts are appealing to your network. When you ask for advice or opinions, make sure that the question is understood and is in the area of expertise of your network. Identify you network’s most engaged and influential users, find out their interests and expertise and make sure you address and focus on them when posting content or promotions. Always take their opinion into consideration and thank them for the valuable feedback. It’s important to stay within your network of verified customers to get feedback. This is better than trying to send blanket requests for feedback from any social media user.
3. Don’t have hidden motives
Transparency is a key factor when it comes to social media as it is a platform where good and bad sentiment can spread at the blink of an eye. So whenever you post content, be transparent and to the point. Being transparent includes, divulging who you are and your intent with any given post that requests action from social media users. Hidden motives can discourage users from giving their feedback. For example, let’s say you are a high-end spa who just hired a new manicurist and is eager to know what your consumers think of her services. You could post on you Facebook page or Twitter account, “Anne recently joined us as a manicurist. How do you like her signature manicure? Please give your feedback to help us train her”. Also, in such situations, you could offer promotions like 50% off a manicure with Anne.
4. Avoid potentially controversial and sensitive issues
Like the article says this is pretty much common sense, yet needs to be carefully adhered to as this can lead to social media disasters. When you are posting content stay focused on what you provide as a company rather than ideologies, political statements, etc. that can lead to hurtful social media posts.
5. Don’t ask for advice people would normally charge you for
Again, this comes down to staying on topic about your products and services. When you post content make sure it is to build awareness about your brand and gain more impressions. If you do want to ask for advice that needs to be paid for, offer a reward. For example, you could be the newest pub in the town and you want to introduce a new beer. So, perhaps you put out a call to beer specialists to come in and rate your beer. If you’re asking for specialists, they’ll likely need to be rewarded more so than a typical customer. Here, a free beer may not be enough. Consider something of more value, such as naming a beer after them.
Social media continues to press new boundaries for companies, small and large, to develop more direct relationships with potential customers. Done right, social media can also be a platform to learn what to do to improve your product or service. Just be careful to stay on task, be transparent and to measure results so you can improve them for the next campaign.