Do you ASK your customers to share on social media?

Do you ASK your customers to share on social media?

Sharing on Twitter
This company asked me to share a photo, on Twitter, of our butterflies when they hatched. So I did.

It’s estimated that a third of the world’s entire population will use social media by 2020*.

Just think about that for a second. That’s 2.95 billion potential customers, all linked together, sharing information every second of the day.

And I’ll bet that the vast majority of your customers are among them. They're chatting to friends, writing witty comments on photos, reading blog posts and sharing information about products they like.

And it’s this last bit, 'sharing information about products they like' that should have made you sit up and take notice.

People LOVE to make recommendations to friends. They like to share examples of great service they’ve received or products they’ve used.

So what can you do to take advantage of this? I mean, your customer might think to share their experiences with your business. On the other hand they might not. They might be too busy walking the dog or changing the baby’s nappy. Stack the odds in your favour: give them a friendly nudge. Why not ask people to share pictures of themselves using your product or service?

I mean actually ask them. Directly. You've got nothing to lose.

Turn your customers into brand advocates

I’ve found a few examples of this lately.

I ordered some colourful name labels to iron into my son’s school uniform when he started school in September. On the bottom of the letter that came with them was a PS. It said quite simply, “PS. If you like these, share a picture of them on social media.”. I didn’t. But I did have a look on Facebook and Instagram and a LOT of people had, sparking whole conversations about how great they were.

Remember this is conversations started by customers without any involvement from the business itself. What better way to get word out there about your products?

Later in the year I went to stay in a cottage with some friends. At the bottom of the email sent before we went, were the words:

How this business asked us to share on social mediaAnd so we did. We posted photos on Instagram using a couple of the hashtags.

Did this do the cottage owners’ business any good? Did it encourage more people to make bookings there? I’ve no idea, but quite frankly it can’t have hurt, can it? And the best bit for them was it cost nothing. It is FREE advertising.

And very powerful advertising, at that.

So why does this stuff work?

In his book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Robert B. Cialdini explored the idea of social proof:

Without question, when people are uncertain, they are more likely to use others’ actions to decide how they themselves should act…Social proof operates most powerfully when we are observing the behaviour of people just like us.

So, what he’s saying is that if our friends / followers (who by definition will have similar interests to us) are doing / using / buying something, we are more likely to want to follow suit.

You can find examples of this all over the place. It’s why TV Execs use canned laughter to make you think comedy programs are funny. It’s why buskers put a few coins in their hat even before they start fiddling, and it’s why Estate Agents like to tell you they’ve sold 3 houses similar to yours in your area.

In each case you are made to think, ‘Well if other people are doing this maybe I should too.'

Imagine you are heading out for dinner and come across two restaurants next door to each other. You know nothing about either of them, but you can see one is half full; the other is completely empty. Which one are you more likely to head into?

I assume you chose the half full one...Because other people had!

There is 'social proof' that one is better than the other.

How you can put social proof to work using social media

  1. Make your social media profiles easy to find in all your communications with customers.
  2. When you send an email to a customer to thank them for buying your product or service ask them (nicely!) to share their thoughts on social media. Or you could ask them to share pictures of themselves using your product.
  3. Suggest specific hashtags they should use.These could be individual to your brand and the thing they’ve bought. Hashtags should be the same as the ones you use yourself when posting on social media.
  4. You could offer an incentive to people who share photos. This could be 10% off their next purchase or a credit to their account.
  5. Don’t forget to respond. Thank the customer for taking the time to share their experience. Retweet any positive tweets and ask permission if you want to use photos elsewhere in your marketing.

This is a great opportunity to come across as friendly and personable, to allow customers to get to know and to create a little community around your business.

And it allows you to use the networks your followers have built up to attract new, similar clients.

Don't wait for your customers to share on social media.

Ask them to.