By: MJ Pedone
We’ve always trusted family and friends to give us recommendations. Now, marketers are finding ways to combine this age-old referral process with social media. It’s also called crowd-sourced marketing. This is where the social media “crowd” shares your content and conversations for free on a global web. According to a report by Nielsen, 77 percent of consumers are more likely to buy a new product when learning about it from friends or family as those are their trusted resources.
Use these social media tactics to reach prospects through digital “world of mouth”. This will amplify your leads, prospects and sales by tapping into the power of the online crowd.
- Go above and beyond realistic expectations
Exceeding expectations will always be the best way to earn referrals. Focus on establishing clear expectations and blowing them away before you dive into social media. Don’t promise anything that’s out of your scope or processes. A dedicated customer support staff is one way to communicate expectations. A personal connection is the best way to earn trust that will last after the buying process. Getting to the point where you discuss interests or even spend time together is the goal. This type of connection will make them feel comfortable with referring your service to others.
- Add Rich Pins on Pinterest
Tap into Pinterest’s 70 million users to increase referrals. Target added Rich Pins to their strategy and within the first six weeks, they had a 70 percent Pinterest referral increase, according to the Word of Mouth Marketing Association. Rich Pins allow additional information to be included with a pin. The most effective Rich Pin for businesses is the product pin, which includes real time pricing and availability information, interested pinners get notified if a price drops. Follow the 80/20 rule, 20 percent of pins should be products. The other material should be inspiring and useful information for your audience. These pins will be shared at a higher rate and increase word of mouth marketing.
- Implement a Facebook referral promotion
Facebook has implemented changes to increase referrals with the popularity of mobile usage. The changes have been effective, a report from Shareaholic revealed referrals from Facebook have grown 48.85 percent since September and represented 17.41 percent of all website referrals in November.
A Facebook referral promotion is a strategy leveraged by companies to earn referrals. A referral promotion is created by offering a base reward, like a coupon, for any user who completes a sign-up process. The user then earns credits toward a greater reward, like a gift card, as he refers more people to enter the promotion. This earns word-of-mouth referrals as people discuss the prize at hand.
- Share industry insights on LinkedIn
Social Sharing Platform Buffer experienced a 4000 percent increase in blog referral traffic from Linkedin over the past year. This is credited to Linkedin being the third-fastest growing social network and Buffer’s update and sharing strategy. Linkedin reported 6 out of 10 users are interested in industry insights. Offering original research and industry wisdom will get people talking about your content. This conversation drives people to your website and locks in loyal readers. A customer is much more likely to use a service if they get value from the company’s blog and social pages.
- Create and promote giveaways and contests
Ask customers to provide leads in exchange for raffle tickets for a gadget, tablet or industry tool. This leads to referrals from customers familiar with your service and product. A Facebook contest is another great way to create buzz and bring in leads. Dove created the Real Beauty Should Be Shared contest where entrants shared stories of people who represent real beauty. User-generated contests take away the cost of a prize item and get people talking about your brand in a positive light.
- Create an internal sharing network
According to Jack Morton Worldwide, 49 percent of U.S. consumers say friends and family are their top sources of brand awareness. Employees often have more robust and active social accounts than employers. Encourage employees to share company content with their personal network. This comes back to that 80/20 rule, don’t expect employees to share content if it’s constant promotion. An organized system for internal sharing is the social tool Addvocate. This makes content sharing user friendly and more effective with analytics.
- Update in time of crisis
The social media platform Buffer, faced a social-media crisis when their system was hacked in October. The company had to put their own social media advice to use. Users began tweeting and posting about spam and other issues. Buffer responded with a support tweet 16 minutes after the initial complaint. The reaction from customers was overwhelmingly positive and earned Buffer some positive press. When mistakes happen, be prepared to update customers of exactly what happened and what you’re doing to correct the situation. This creates a positive memory despite a negative circumstance.
- Ask for referrals on social media and return the favor
It’s essential to consistently ask for referrals. This seems obvious but 72 percent of marketers still don’t recognize and leverage the value of customer referrals, according to research by Loyalty 360.
Asking over social media takes little time and clients will feel more obligated to respond to keep their account looking fresh. A referral request can be attached to any email or built into a PPC ad. However, offering an incentive will increase the conversion rate. Similar to a Facebook referral promotion, offer discounts or rewards for referral traffic. Think about colleagues and friends that could benefit from your client’s services. This quid pro quo effect increases the chance of a referral. 85 percent of fans of brands on Facebook recommend brands to others. Use Facebook as a medium to promote your clients to others and the same will happen in return.
- Follow and engage in social conversations
You should already be engaging with the social media audience. Positive feedback is easy to handle, but responding to negative comments is warranted if validity is there. Companies like Zappos and LifeLock make a point to promptly respond to users on their Facebook pages. This strategy provides consistent customer service while increasing the brand’s buzz.
Fans recommending brands on Facebook do so because of either the quality of the product or based on the customer experience.
10. Identify influencers
Reaching out to the influential figures in your customer circles is the best free promotion available. Tools like Topsy and Followerwonk show the most-shared tweets and bloggers or executives with the largest social following. Make a connection with these influencers and show how your product provides value for their followers. This will provide target audience exposure that can’t be duplicated by another method. Pinbooster allows marketers to analyze their Pinterest campaign, identifying the most shared pins and highly influential pinners.
What have you found works for you to date? Have you been researching other social strategies? As always, I welcome all feedback and if you like what you read, be social and share.