Turning a Real Life Audience Into a Social Media Following

Acquiring followers is a particular challenge for businesses on social media. People tend to freely follow other individuals, but are wary of following businesses for fear that their timelines will become filled with promotional content.

If you’ve recently created a social media presence, or are looking to expand it, one promising source of followers is the people who already interact with you! Customers, clients, even potential customers you meet during real life outreach efforts. The trick is getting them to remember you for long enough to check you out on their mobile device or computer.

Rule Number One: Create Great Content

Your social media channel shouldn’t look like a feed of constant marketing material. It needs to mostly be made up of valuable content for a user. It’s time to start filling your feed with funny quips, memes, and useful content (write up some super blog posts and share them out!). A healthy feed with an abundance of fun and learning makes its own case for earning a follow.

Jeff Bullas published a post outlining the reasons why people share, and tapping into the inherently personal, definitional, and relationship focused psychology of social media is how you attract and retain followers. Remember those keys. People are on social media to define themselves, to cultivate new relationships and keep connected with old ones, and to share passions with others. Create content that helps them do those things.

Collect & Analyze Data About Who Interacts With You, How, and Where

Collecting and analyzing data on the locations, reasons, and ways in which people interact with you will determine which strategies work best to target them. This applies for social data when people interact with you online, but you can take the same mindset and apply it to real-world interactions.

What is the point of contact? Is it someone buying your product off a shelf? Meeting a representative at a convention or trade show? Interacting with a street team? These types of information are extremely informative.

If someone meets your team members at a trade show, they likely visited a great many booths that day. So in order for them to remember your company, your team has to make an impression. And they need to walk away with more than a business card — something useful, that they will look at again.

On the other hand, if their interaction with you is primarily through purchasing a product on a shelf, things become a lot more complicated. Without that personal interaction it can be very difficult to get them looking at your social media accounts, let alone following them.

Once your customers and prospects are on social media, it’s getting a lot easier to manage their data. Facebook recently updated their tracking metrics to become more transparent with advertising partners. That’s the rub. Once you’ve got some following you, and interacting with you on social media, the marketing process gets a lot easier. Getting them there is going to take some legwork, and brainwork. Take the spirit of these metrics — working out who people are and why they do or don’t interact — into the real world.

Promotions, Packaging, and Incentives

Attracting followers takes more than just sharing your social media handles. You need to make sure that people have a reason to look you up on Twitter, or snap your QR code. Packaging is a great start, but effective product packaging and labeling of goodies does more than provide the most basic information. The first step is making your packaging stand out, which you can do in a number of ways. Running a personalized campaign with differentiated packaging for certain demographics, like recent Coca Cola campaigns, is one way to stand out. Mostly, this will come down to market research in your area of operation. Making your packaging stand out to customers doesn’t just encourage them to purchase, it draws their eye after the purchase is complete.

Integrate social media into your packaging design, not just for products but for giveaways, swag at trade shows, employee t-shirts, anything you can think of. Just remember that posting your handle isn’t enough. Provide people with a reason to check you out. Contests, giveaways, raffles, and limited time offers can all be great ways to get people from real life looking at your social media, as long as following you is a condition of winning. Many people will simply follow for the prize and then unfollow afterward, which is why it’s vital to have your content strategy set up and running before you start using these tactics. Once they’re looking at your handle, there needs to be enough substance there to keep them around.

The golden rule about social media is that people are getting pretty sick of being advertised to. Big platforms like Facebook and Instagram are changing their algorithms to de-prioritize business pages and focus on family, friends, and organic content. This makes your life on social media as a business extremely challenging. Keeping up with algorithm and policy changes can hurt your head as well as your wallet. So start making memes, writing blogs, and clapping back in style!

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