Everyone wants followers.
Followers on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc… not only lend legitimacy when potential customers are checking out service providers, but they are also an amazing, and largely free way to exponentially expand your audience. One share may yield thousands of new connections between your content and customers.
Yet, many businesses try to trick people into following and sharing. Don’t get me wrong, at ISC Media Group we love a good contest and we are certainly not above bribing people with the chance to win in order to get our name out there, but contests alone cannot bring the kind of following that you need…the kind of followers that don’t unfollow as soon as the contest is over…the kind of followers that not only become customers but become fans and advocates, what we like to call fanvocates, for your product or services.
Four Steps to Cultivate Fanvocates
1. Be good.
Provide a product or service that is consistently good. Getting reviews is awesome unless you’re bad at what you do. In fact, if you aren’t getting this one right, please don’t follow the subsequent steps. It will hurt your business.
2. Be notable.
Being notable really falls into two categories. Companies can be notable in their usefulness or they can be notable in their cleverness. You can do one or the other but the greatest reward will come when you do both.
Clorox is a great example of being notable in their usefulness. Clorox designed a free app to help consumers know how to treat stains on the go. And, in a shocking turn of events, they don’t always recommend Clorox as the best way to remove a stain because…drumroll please…it isn’t. Yet, they provide information to customers that is incredibly useful and notable in that it is service-oriented, rather than sales oriented.
Being clever can also be notable. Viral videos provide an incredible example of this type of cleverness. Funny is something that people love to share. The following Snickers commercial went viral with 187,237 shares. This didn’t educate anyone about snickers, but it used humor to reinforce the brand’s claim that Snickers satisfies.
3. Tee it up.
Once you are providing a great product or service and sharing notable information to get your business to the forefront, you still have to set yourself up for cultivation of followers. Teeing it up is really the difference between having people that love your business and having customers that are willing to share and advocate on your behalf.
We recently spoke with a local company that frequently asks for Yelp reviews on Facebook and Twitter with very little success. In fact, of their very few reviews, a negative one sticks out like a sore thumb. This business provided a great service (step one, check) and acted on step four by asking for the review (spoiler alert) but they skipped steps two and three. How would their outcome be different if they were to tee it up and be notable in the process? What if this were the scenario?
Imagine scheduling an appointment with a service provider. A day or two before the appointment a representative contacts you to confirm that the date and time still work for you and says something to this effect, “At (insert business name) we work hard to provide a five-star product and service. Would you please let us know at any time during your service if you feel we are delivering anything less than that? We want to make sure that you are completely satisfied.” That, in itself is notable. You have given the customer an outlet for any concerns to give you the opportunity to head off any issues before they really become an issue. Imagine if that business followed that call with great service and a note left on your countertop. They thank you for choosing their service and ask for a review on their platform of choice (Yelp, Facebook, Angies List, etc…). Add a quality piece of chocolate to that quick note and they are set. Would you take a picture of the note and chocolate and post it or tweet it? Would you be more likely to actually complete the review? Well, it can’t hurt, right? And the best part is that the investment in this is only a few minutes and some stationary. The ROI might be astronomical.
4. Ask. Then ask again.
So, you’ve provided a good service, been notable, and done your best to tee it up. You ask and don’t get a response. What next? Many businesses are hesitant to ask in the first place, not to mention asking again, but sometimes that is exactly what is required to get results. Now, let me clarify, we do not advocate annoying or bothering your customers. Don’t become a business where people avoid your calls or cross the street get away from you. However, if you recognize that people digest information differently, a reminder isn’t a bad thing. In the situation above, would a follow-up call or email to check in on how everything is working be annoying or simply helpful? Could it also be an opportunity to respectfully ask if the customer would complete a review? “Thank you again for choosing us. Is everything working for you? Would you mind sharing your experience about our services? We’ve built our business on referrals and would be honored if you would refer us.” We’re all busy. Sometimes a reminder gives a customer the opportunity to do what they wanted to do all along.
We recently visited a restaurant that made asking over and over again a humorous and notable situation. There were signs every few feet asking customers to check out their social media outlets. Even the drink machines made the pitch. As a result, this small, college-town, quick-service restaurant that seats maybe 50 diners has over 2,500 Facebook likes and more than 300 reviews, with an average of 4.6 out of 5 stars. In fact, as life-long restaurant goers in this town Ben and I both heard about this restaurant separately from people posting about it on social media. Their strategy is working.
Of course, these are unique examples that might not translate directly to every business. Yet figuring out what those four steps look like for your business has the potential to grow your following, translating into a growing group of fanvocates and THAT can make a huge difference.