You don’t need 1,000,000 followers on Facebook/Instagram/social media to succeed in business as a service provider.
Sure, it FEELS good to have the numbers ticking up, but it’s not (always) better for your bottom line.
This is *especially* true for service providers where social media is more about telling your story over time than it is about a ‘quick sell’ buy now button, making it even MORE important that your followers are the right ones.
I’m not saying numbers don’t help at ALL.
Because, let’s face it – they can.
For one, they can do wonders for social proof. Potential customers usually conduct a digital interview with a service provider long before they do business with them, and having a good following can act as ‘proof’ that you’re trustworthy and that others have enjoyed working with you.
What’s NOT helpful, though, are followers that aren’t potential customers themselves (bots, people trying following you for follow backs, competitor businesses, people in other states/countries when you are a local business, etc).
Chasing followers like these will boost your ego, but end in tears. They’ll follow/unfollow, they won’t engage in a meaningful way (hello, random bot comments), and at the end of the day they aren’t gonna do business with you.
So if it’s not about chasing followers, what IS social media all about?
In a nutshell? WE think it’s about chasing business, NOT (just) followers.
You can do that MUCH BETTER by attracting and adding value to, say. 300 super engaged followers than you can with 1000 spammy or non-relevant followers.
Are you catching our drift?
Luckily for you, we have also put together a three step plan for helping you to do just that.
1// Find where your ‘ideal clients’ hang out online and make sure you are putting your content there.
2// Then, get them interested enough in you (by providing value through good content!) to like your page.
3// And THEN, continue to serve them content good enough to make them want to do business with you at some stage down the track.
Let’s break each of those points down some more.
1// Find where your ‘ideal clients’ hang out online and make sure you put GOOD QUALITY content THERE.
Did you know that over 53% of all Internet time on mobile phones these days is spent on one of the top 5 social media platforms? FIFTY THREE PERCENT. Which means that there’s a bloody good chance your potential clients are spending a fair bit of time scrolling through social media throughout their day.
That’s a VERY GOOD THING. Why? Because it means that you know where their attention is, and now you just need to go and find them and serve them content.
To do that, you need to figure more out about which social media platforms they are on, where they are hanging out within those platforms, and when. And then, you need to show up there and starting producing great content.
Here’s a few good places to start.
// FACEBOOK AND INSTAGRAM ADVERTISING.
Are you familiar with the Facebook ads manager? Because if you’re not, you should be.
Facebook (and Instagram) advertising is the most laser sharp, targeted way to find your ideal clients. Full stop.
It. Is. Amazing.
Don’t believe me? Here are just a few things that you can do:
- Target people who like the pages of your competitors.
- Target people within a one km radius of your local business.
- Target people within a certain income bracket, within a certain age group, with an investment property, with a certain number of children, and/or within a certain age group.
- Target people working for particular companies or in particular industries.
- Target people in relationships, or single, or recently engaged, or recently married.
- Target people with similar attributes to the people who have visited your website in the last 180 days.
- Target people with certain buying behavior, based off their actual recent credit card purchases.
I could go on and on. There’s literally hundreds of interest, behaviours and the like that you can target through FB ads.
Facebook literally allows you to find your exact ideal client, and then serve ads to them. And for now, it’s still incredibly cost effective (as demand goes up, it will be less so – another reason to get in now).
If that isn’t good for your business, I really don’t know what is.
// FACEBOOK GROUPS.
Facebook business pages can feel like a bit of a graveyard these days. You post an update, and *crickets*.
There’s a reason for that.
Facebook organic reach for business pages is now down to just 2%, meaning that for every 100 people connected to your page there’s usually only around two people that actually see your posts. Facebook has it’s reasons for this sharp decline – it’s a business for one, and it needs advertising through content amplification to make money. It also needs to prioritise the sheer volume of content its users see when they log in and so prioritises content from family and friends first. When you’re trying to use Facebook to help your business, neither of these points help you much.
So – where can you find your ideal clients on Facebook AND actually reach them without paying to advertise?
Enter Facebook groups.
Facebook groups are communities of people that all interact within a group environment inside of Facebook. Groups can either be public (for all to see and join), closed (requiring a member to approve a request to join) or secret (members must be invited by an admin or another member depending on settings, and people aren’t about to search for the group).
And they’re completely different to business pages.
Here’s a few of the Facebook groups Stevie Says Social is a member of.
Think of a Facebook business page as giving a client a business card, and a Facebook group as sitting down and having a coffee or a beer with them. In a nutshell, it’s more personal and there’s there can be a much greater sense of community interaction.
And the great thing is, reach for posts in groups aren’t affected at all – so if you post something, people are gonna see it.
Facebook groups can be pure gold for service-based businesses, if you use them properly.
You can create one yourself – but that’s a whole topic in itself and I’ll save it for another time. For now, let’s concentrate on growing your followers by seeking out groups where your ideal client hang out.
Here’s a few examples of ways to do just that.
// Find the right groups. You can search for public and closed groups using the Facebook search field and then navigating to groups. If you’re a marketing consultant looking to work with start up businesses, you would search for groups where those people would be most likely to be hanging out – for example, local business groups, closed groups belonging to others with a similar target audience and the like.
You should also ask around, because sometimes the very best groups with the highest engagement levels aren’t easy to find. Remember that the number of people in a group isn’t always the best indicator of how good they are – some of the biggest can get too spammy, whilst some with 1,000 members are super close, tight knit and frequently visited.
// DON’T SELL. Rule number one of Facebook groups is that they are all about adding value to each other. People come to them to participate in relevant and interesting conversations. That DOESN’T include people coming in, talking about themselves and their service or dropping a link to their Facebook group, and bailing.
// Build authority and add value. Find Facebook groups where your ideal clients hang out. Start hanging out there, and interacting with people. Answer their questions. Cheer them on and support them. Celebrate their wins. If you do this in a natural way, people will start to like and trust you, and to see you as an authority in your field. One that they might like to do business with one day.
* Trust me, this works. To use a personal example, I grew the first 1,000 email subscribers and 600 social media followers across Facebook and Instagram for Stevie Says Social in a week by providing relevant Facebook groups with valuable content (a free 20 page e-book which took many many hours of work) for free to those that were interested in it.
// Test out content and ideas: By joining Facebook groups relevant to your industry, you’ll get a great insight into your ideal clients and what questions they have, what content resonates with them and the like simply by listening in. Use this info to create awesome content.
Note that at this stage, you are only able to comment and post within groups from a personal profile, not as a business page. Not a deal breaker – using your personal profile gives your business a face and allows you to develop direct relationships.
It’s no secret that Instagram is super hot right now.
With 700 million users – a number that is rapidly growing – there’s a very good chance that the people you want to do business with are hanging out here.
The downside is that Instagram is one platform where it is really bloody easy to end up with lots of the wrong followers, if you get your strategy wrong.
Because you can’t ‘buy’ genuine followers in the same way as you can on Facebook, people resort to all sorts of tactics to try and increase their following – auto-commenting bots, follow/unfollows, random liking.. the list goes on.
There’s four (main) ways that people can find you on Instagram other than specifically search for your name.
It’s super important to make sure that you are adopting the right strategy in relation to each of these, to make sure you are getting your content in front of the right people and not ending up with shady followers.
Let’s break them down:
1// Someone sees your content on another Instagram page, with you tagged in it.
In this example, @thedigitalpicnic have shared a post from our @steviesayssocial account, and tagged our account in it for their followers to see.
The right strategy: Create amazing content that people are likely to want to regram. Seek out influencers with the same ideal client market as you, and high levels of engagement, and seek to work with them. Consider working with someone in a field with similar ideal clients and a strong following and offering them an Instagram takeover of your account.
The wrong strategy: Creating average content that’s all about you and which people won’t want to share.
2// Someone looks up a location and see your post tagged in that location
At the top of this post, ‘Brisbane’ is tagged as the location. Anyone who searches the ‘Brisbane’ location will see this post in the feed.
The right strategy: *Especially* if you are a local business, always tag your posts with a location so that people searching that location on Instagram find you.
The wrong strategy: Not using location tags at all, because *crickets*. Using location tags that are too big, for example, ‘New York’ rather than ‘Upper Manhattan’ or ‘Starbucks East Village’. Your post can easily get lost.
3// Someone has liked one of your posts and a connection sees it in the ‘following’ activity feed.
The ‘following’ feed gives users a feed of the interactions that the accounts that they follow have had with other accounts.
The right strategy: Genuinely engage with other accounts to encourage others to do the same for you. DON’T just ‘like’’ every single post you come across, but follow the accounts you’re interested in and which have a similar ideal client base and comment/like their posts over time so that you develop a bit of a relationship. They will start to do the same for you, and you will benefit through increased exposure to their followers in the ‘following’ activity feed.
The wrong strategy: Ahhh, there’s so many. Using automated bots to auto-comment on posts en masse. Randomly ‘liking’ hundreds of posts even if you have no idea where they are the right people.
4// Someone looks up a hashtag that you have used and your post appears
This is the feed for the hashtag #businesschicks. Anyone who searches this hashtag will see this feed.
The right strategy: Ahh, hashtags. I have a love/hate relationship with ‘em. They’re important because they are one of the only ways for people to find you on the gram. But, for the exact same reason, they can be bloody annoying. In my own personal experience, hashtagging just about *never* results in the right followers because so many people use them to try grow their own account with follow/unfollows, but there are some things that you can do to improve your chances.
You can use up to 30 hashtags (it’s a good idea to put them in the first comment so that it doesn’t look too spammy). But, for gods sake make sure you only use RELEVANT hashtags. And be specific. Instead of using, say, #marketing, use #brisbanemarketing if you are a local agency looking for local clients.
The wrong strategy: Using spammy hashtags which are full of people just trying to grow their own following – for example, #love or #happy or #socialmedia or #entrepreneur. You grow the wrong type of followers and attract bot comments – and you’ll lose those followers just as fast.
2// Get them interested enough in you (through good content that talks to them!) to like your page.
Generally, people are on social media for one of three reasons – to be entertained, to be educated or to be inspired.
They are attracted to content that adds value. On the flip side, they are NOT attracted to content that sounds salesly, or promotional, or just talks all about you and your business.
At all times you need to be mindful of, and filling your social media channels with, content that has your ideal client in mind. Add value by entertaining, informing or inspiring. It’s not all about YOU.
Here’s a few suggestions on the type of content that you could think about:
Social media is a marketing platform, with storytelling at its heart. A good way to do this is to ask yourself what you’re really in the business of, and then create content about that. When you’re thinking about this, it’s important to consider not the service itself, but rather the outcome it provides to your potential clients.
For example, a tax return company might post pictures of happy clients and tell the story in the caption of what they did with the extra money they received through their tax return.
Make a list of all of the most commonly asked questions people have in relation to your business, create content around it and amplify it via social media. Generally, these questions are ones that companies don’t usually talk about, and they fall into one of five categories; cost, problem questions (what is the drawbacks to X), comparisons, best of questions (which is the best X) and reviews. Creating content around these questions sets you apart from your competitors and establishes you as a transparent, trusted source of information.
Here’s an example of a company on Youtube doing a great job of helping their potential clients with relevant, useful information.
By helping them with the questions that they have without expectation, you’re setting yourself up to be the service provider they go with when their research is over.
3 // INSPIRE
Inspiration and aspiration are two of the very biggest motivations for people being on social media in the first place.
Take Pinterest, for example. If a 45 year old woman is on there at 7 at night browsing with a glass of wine, you can bet that shes either actually looking to buy something, or aspiring to buy something that she can’t necessarily afford (yet).
Same goes with Instagram. A lot of the accounts followed by Instagram users provide them with content that either inspires them or is aspirational.
If it fits your business, I’d highly recommend producing content that fits this social media need. There’s a huge appetite for it, and it has the potential to do wonders for your business.
How? Startup Creative – a business coaching business – do a great job of this on Insta by creating inspiration quotes for people looking to start a business.
3// Serve them content good enough to make them want to do business with you at some stage down the track.
Step three is to continue with step two, over and over and over.
You see, the thing with service providers is that people aren’t going to show up on a page and book your service.
Instead, they’re gonna want to know what you’re all about. What other people think of you. Whether you are the type of person that they would want to do business with. Service providers enter into a kind of relationship with every potential client that they work with. And like all relationships, trust and repore are key.
You get that by giving more than you take, and you do THAT by consistently delivering value.
Over, and over, and over. Then, when the day comes that your followers need a service like yours, YOU are the obvious choice!
Turbo Tax are an example of a service-based business doing this extremely well.
So, there you have it. Social media isn’t all about attracting HEAPS AND HEAPS of followers. Sure, that’s an ego boost, and it can have certain benefits. But especially for service-providers, it’s much more about attracting the right followers and looking after them well.
Quality over quantity. Every single time.
It’s that simple, and that hard.