Say ‘no’ to buying fake followers, and ‘yes’ to building customer relationships

build customer relationships

*Edit: I’m not saying “no” to targeted Facebook ads, just “no” to purchasing empty likes from fake followers!

I get it. You’re a small business owner with virtually no likes on your Facebook page, a handful of Instagram followers, and your Twitter followers are few and far between. After seeing other businesses with thousands of followers who seem to be doing very well, it can be tempting to go the easy route and just “buy” followers and fans.

Don’t do that.

Not only do you risk getting caught (i.e., the Instagram purge of 2014), it’s just way better to cultivate relationships with your readers/customers then it is to have a bunch of empty likes from people who aren’t passionate about your brand or interested in your product…

Trust me, those big companies that you admire have hired a team of people to make their brand look personable and relatable. There’s a reason that Ihop is now insisting that their pancakes are “on fleek”. Which I think is very lame…

nene leakes

…but I’ll save that for another post.

The reason some major brands seem so desperate to be funny or cool is because they’re lacking something that you have. You have an opportunity to connect with your customers/readers on a more intimate level. You can create long lasting relationships that lead to repeat sales. Yes you, small business owner, have an advantage over bigger brands when it comes to accessibility.

Now you may be wondering how you can build relationships with customers/readers from behind the veil of your brand. Well, that’s where social media comes into play. Here are some tips that will help your business attract repeat customers instead of mindless ‘followers’:

1. Interact with people

Monitor what people are saying about your blog or business. Has anyone featured you? Linked to you? Mentioned you on Twitter or Instagram? Let them know you’ve seen what they’re saying and you appreciate it. A simple “thank you, glad you enjoyed it!” sent from your business (or blog) account goes a looong way.

And if you’re super new and no one is talking yet…join a conversation! Do you sell clothing? Join the #stylchat on Twitter. Beauty blogger? Find out when the next #bbloggerchat is going down and give your two cents.

2. Send a thank you note

thank you for your orderImage via Totally Design

If you sell products, always include a thank you note. It might even be worth going the extra mile and sending custom thank you’s to each customer. Every purchase brings you one step closer to the business of your dreams right? Let people know they’re appreciated!

Also, thank you notes are great for gaining new social media followers! I would leave instructions on my notes asking customers to share their outfits on Instagram, and to tag me so I could see how they “rock their new piece”. And guess what? They did it!

Learn from my mistake: I use to sign “-Jacque” on my thank you notes. If I could do it again I’d leave my name out of it, and just leave it at “Shop Lioness”. That way it pushes my brand instead of myself.

3. Feature customers

You can feature customers wearing or using your product on your social media pages. Not only does it make your business look more trustworthy and legit, but it’s also thrilling for customers and they’re bound to share the feature with their friends!

4. Answer questions/be helpful

When I ran Shop Lioness I received questions all the time from girls wanting to do the same thing and I answered every single one. I even wrote an e-book about starting an online shop and sent it to anyone who inquired.

Your first thought when you receive questions might be to scoff and think “why should I help my possible competition?” But if what your selling is as awesome as you know it is, you shouldn’t fear any competition. It should excite you! And it’s always great to help people out. In fact, the people I helped became some of my best customers!

Also, if you don’t have amazing customer service skills…learn them! Great customer service is crucial, and it’s one element that bigger companies struggle with. I know you’re busy, but be available.

customer service

5. Be genuine

Don’t try to use “corporate speak” on social media. Be casual and communicate via social the same way you would to your friends. Also, give your followers small glimpses into your life beyond your business. Keyword here is “small”. Don’t go overboard! Let people feel a genuine connection with you….but still always make sure everything you share is in-line with your brand. And if you are your own brand then go all out with the sharing!

6. Build an email list

What if every social media network went offline today? Would you still be able to reach customers? No? Then you need to think about building an email list and encouraging customers to join. That way every week (or every other week) you can personally reach out without the clutter of the newsfeed and send them tips, discounts, or any other updates they may find useful!

Now you have all you need to wine and dine your customers. So go forth and cultivate those relationships! As you do, the likes will come…no purchase necessary. (edit: But you should buy targeted Facebook ads!)

Running out of marketing ideas for your online shop? Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered! You can get ’63 Ways to Market Your Online Shop’ delivered right to your inbox. Check it out!

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