We can all agree that social is extremely important for modern business in 2012 and beyond. It's fantastic for building natural links (and thus great for SEO), it's great for reaching customers and expanding brand reach and it's a great way of providing customer support. But one of the traps many businesses fall into is an obsession with new followers.
A Business Problem, Not Just a Social Problem
This isn't a problem that's exclusive to social media of course. An obsession with new customers at the detriment of current customers is a common business fault. How many businesses, banks and organisations offer new customers special rates, discounts or offers? Current customers can rarely take advantage of these deals, leaving them feeling neglected and happily leaving to move to another company that's offering equally attractive deals for new customers, only to repeat the process in a years' time.
New customers are important, but are they really more important than your current loyal customers?
'Please Follow me!'
Twitter is particularly rife with people and companies desperate for more followers. Constant tweets like 'We need 9 more followers to reach 2500', 'Only 100 more followers to go!', '25 more followers….. RT PLEASE?' Are not only annoying, they're pointless. Why would people follow just because you asked them too? Without an incentive these sort of social messages just come across as desperate and spammy. You're more likely to annoy (and lose) your current followers than gain new ones.
What's The Obsession?
As a business (or social manager), you have to take a step back and ask 'what's the obsession with more followers?'
Yes, having more followers is obviously good as you have the potential to reach more people and therefore more chance to turn those people into customers. But desperately seeking followers the wrong way will do more harm than good.
If you have a good product/service and use social media properly, with good, useful social messages that are interesting, insightful or helpful, then you're likely to build followers naturally.
A company providing a good service might even find customers going out of their way to socially interact with and promote the business without any encouragement. And this is why it's important to treasure your current customers and treat them properly.
Give Them An Incentive
If you're desperate for more followers or struggling to build a following that's worthy of your brand then you need to consider giving people an incentive. Particularly popular at the moment is the 'Follow and RT to win' competition. Choose a prize and offer it out to get new followers, don't forget to include current followers in the list of potential winners as they're likely to be the ones helping you spread the word!
Choose a good prize. Obviously a popular prize is a new iPad or something similar, but it's better to choose a prize that's relevant to your business. Otherwise you risk gaining new followers just for the sake of the prize and losing them again once the competition is over. A relevant prize might encourage people who are actually likely buy your products/services to follow and interact with you. If you can afford to give away some of your stock or a free service, then it might make for a fantastic prize.
Give away multiple prizes to multiple winners and you've also got the potential to encourage word of mouth (and link building) naturally. Excited winners might blog about their prize or share it socially, giving you extra links, further reach and potentially more followers.
Regular competitions are a good way to build followers and expand your reach, but it's important to have a good social practice and keep up with regular social messages broadcast at the right time to get the best traction and the right results.
Don't bombard your followers with new product announcements, self-serving tweets and desperate pleas for new followers. Think about the sort of thing that would interest your customers and share things they'd be happy to re-share. Interact with them and embrace social to increase your visitors.
Why not get in touch and discuss how social can work for you?