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Turning Followers into Customers
Instagram has long been touted as a numbers game: Grow your following and you’ll grow your business. Of course the game’s rules are ever changing – you just need to post great photos… no, stories…no videos…make that 15-second reels. You need content that will go viral, you need to understand the algorithm, but it changes without warning. And what good are followers if your posts aren’t showing up in their feed?
Keeping up can be exhausting, and it seems to get more complex each day. Too often, the “game” of chasing followers and algorithms becomes the purpose, instead of a means to an end. That’s why it’s important to remember that social media started as a way to build and grow relationships.
While social networks have become more sophisticated, the basic premise remains the same – the real winners are those who can successfully navigate the platform to connect with others in an authentic, social way. And those who feel a genuine connection to your business online are more likely to become customers in real life. So how do you turn those online followers into real time customers?v
- The number one purpose of social media is to It’s easy to get caught up in being clever, inspirational, entertaining or even educational. And none of these things are wrong. But communication is a two-way street. That means not just posting, but encouraging engagement, responding to comments and connecting with followers on their pages as well. Use people’s first name – it makes a difference. And ask your followers questions. See what they think about a new product or design feature, find out what they love and hate about their homes, ask what they worry about when planning a remodel. Find shared experiences and commonalities. Have a sense of humor. No matter how much technology evolves, people still buy from people they like. So more than being edgy, smart or entertaining, your Instagram page should show followers that you are someone they would like and enjoy doing business with.
- Consider doing a livestream on a hot design topic. Be sure to respond to users’ comments by tagging them in answers or giving them a shout out during your livestream. This forges a connection that can take the relationship to the next level.
- You can also connect with complementary local business owners to do a live joint chat or Q&A session – this will introduce each of you to the other’s followers, potentially doubling both of your audiences. As an added bonus, doing a joint session with another business owner creates a sense of trust among their clients – the association will be viewed as akin to a referral, and homeowners are more likely to hire a design professional who is referred by someone they know and trust.
- Contests and giveaways are a fun way to engage with followers while also building your email list. Have several prizes and ask each entrant to mark which prize they want if they win. Letting people choose from among several small prizes can give you important clues about your followers. Do they want the cookbook, the tech gadget, the painted wine glasses? Seeing what they gravitate toward can help you target future promotional campaigns based on their interests, which will enhance your odds of turning them into customers.
- While big numbers are exciting, local followers are more likely to become your customers. To draw them in, talk about (and hashtag) favorite local hangouts: restaurants, theatres, wineries, cultural centers or sports event. Take photos of local architecture, parks or beaches and ask your followers to share photos of some of their favorite local hotspots. Connecting over your love of a favorite ice cream spot or smoothie cafe can start the conversation that leads to a sale.
- Planning a talk or event, either live or virtual? Get your followers to help you refine your content by asking what topics are most interesting to them and what they’d most like to learn. Making them part of the process will make them more likely to tune in (if you’re doing a virtual event) or show up (if you’re doing a live demo, talk or showroom event). One designer who regularly teases her local home show appearances on Instagram asks her followers to share their top five kitchen complaints in the comments. She then invites them to visit her at the show. She reviews the comments before the show and uses many of them in her presentation. Those who attend are excited to feel like they are “part of” the presentation, and amazed when she remembers their names from their online exchanges. From there, converting followers to clients is easy, as they already feel connected to her!