By Michael Alter
Followership is the key to leadership. In the past, the culture of being a follower was falling in line, which was interpreted as being quiet and doing what you were told. Today, organizations that seek followership do so for much different reasons – they want followers to get things done, to participate in an ongoing conversation or community, and evangelize as active members of a group. At the most basic level, getting "likes" on your Facebook page is a way to nudge your customers toward additional sales. The more "likes" you have, the more socially credible your offerings are.
Building followership on your social network company pages is about inviting your community of customers and prospects into a social setting (e.g., LinkedIn, Facebook) and fostering a culture where the followers are consistently encouraged to be active participants.
It starts with creating a customer-centric profile that focuses on the value you provide clients. Develop a routine to post a variety of content (e.g., images, videos, text) then moderate posts and monitor group activity. The key to successfully moderating is to make it a daily habit and be consistent. You might use your commuting time every morning thinking about what you should post for the day. You might also commit time at the start of your workday to review responses from the previous post, approve new members, and create your new post for the day.
Consider these tips to inspire followership:
Send a hyperlink to "like" your Facebook page. This is considered a nonintrusive way to encourage customers and prospects to opt in to your message. Send those who "like" your page a message to opt in to your e-mail list where they can be kept informed about offers, discounts, and events.
Check out your competitors' social business page or group. Note what they are doing and whether they have a lot of participation from their followers. If you notice something is getting a lot of action, experiment with the competitor's tactic on your page.
Add social icons to your website and social links to everything you use for business. From e-mail signature lines to business cards, letterhead, and brochures, make sure your social links become a part of everything you do.
Be consistent and post five times per week. Create posts that inspire people to share your content; they may even "like" it. By posting interesting content frequently you will encourage followers to check on you regularly. Power users may spend six hours per week posting; we recommend getting started by developing a routine where you post one time per day. You may decide to expand and add more postings later.
Post a variety of content (e.g., images, videos, text). According to Facebook, images are most widely shared, which is why sites like Pinterest and Instagram have become so popular. Consider posting lists, such as "Top Five Tips to Improve . . ." or "Top Ten Reasons Why Small Businesses . . ." – something that will appeal to and educate your target audience.
Get followers involved. Increase the engagement of your followers by posting a question and ask for answers. Ask followers to share their insights and make comments. Consider creative ways to get people involved, such as asking followers to submit their photos or running a photo contest.
Keep posts short, relevant, and of value. Your posts should be between 80 and 150 characters and relevant to provide value to the audience you are trying to engage.
Be authentic and true to your brand. If you are speaking to small business owners, make your posts interesting and sound like you. Speak through your posts like you would speak face-to-face with a small business owner.
Include a call to action. It is okay to ask for those following your posts to "like" and "share" with others. Any posts they make on your Facebook company page will appear in their newsfeed for others they follow to see, increasing your exposure to their network of connections.
Be sensitive to the season. Your posts and images could be relevant to the season or upcoming holiday to catch the attention of followers who are keenly aware of it.
- Using Social Media for Business Part 1: Facebook vs. LinkedIn
- Using Social Media for Business Part 2: Setting Up a Company Page on Facebook and LinkedIn
About the author:
Michael Alter, payroll expert with an MBA from Harvard Business School, is a nationally recognized spokesperson providing thought leadership and sensible advice to help accounting and payroll professionals build deeper more profitable relationships with clients. Alter, president of SurePayroll, writes the Trade Secrets column on INC.com and is frequently published in Bloomberg TV, Wall Street Journal, and Entrepreneur Magazine.