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5 Ways to Get Customers to Promote You for FREE on Social Media

Social media has radically changed marketing and advertising. Before, good advertising meant interrupting an unsuspecting audience with your message. Today, it means finding a way to get that same audience to advertise for you. Because a customer’s authentic message has more impact than almost any advertising campaign, social media is arguably the most valued medium for any brand.

Though social media is widely used, getting customers to promote your store or restaurant is anything but commonplace. The rules are ever-evolving along with the technology, which means much room for error. Investing in social media indeed is a risk as you have less control over the message compared to traditional marketing.  But if done right, your customers can transform your product into a trusted brand.

Here are five ways to get you started in this critical new channel.

Blogger outreach. A fundamental place to start is by identifying bloggers who are already speaking to your audience. This strategy worked wonders for the later books in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, which were exclusively announced to bloggers who spread the word.

Of course, this should always be done with the expectation that bloggers will be honest. If you are not confident your product will impress, this strategy could hurt your brand.

#PoignantHashtags. Have you noticed there is a hashtag for everything?  It is because hashtags create movements. Consider Ferguson. The hashtag #blacklivesmatter was used to make a statement and start a conversation. Whatever you might feel about the movement, one cannot deny that a simple hashtag brought this  conversation to the national stage.

Brands are constantly trying to replicate this same phenomenon by coming up with simple, relatable, and poignant hashtags that can be expanded for other topics. A good example is Nestlé Purina’s #Petsatwork. Not only does it start a conversation with Nestléat the center, but it also promotes the brand outside of the digital space. Consider using a service like Hashtags.org to find relevant conversations to join.

DIYs. No matter your products, people need ideas on how to use or engage with them. For example, if you own a frozen yogurt restaurant, try sharing flavor and topping combinations. If you’ve patented a special material lunch box, share interesting ways to use it. What you do will depend on your product or speciality. The important point is to share ideas that people need can use…given that they have become customers. Pairing a good DIY with interesting images is a smart way to ensure your post will get shared and seen by your target audience.

Hire a photographer…and a writer. The more beautiful and high quality an image is, the more likely it will be seen and shared, which means the highest quality content is what gets noticed. Even Google prioritizes well-worded  content with many images. The days of excessive links and SEO keywords are fading. Today “Quality is king.” And with technology being more accessible, there is more competition. But with a little investment, your company’s content can surely stand out.

Timing. On the other hand, if no one views your work, its quality will never be appreciated. Try an app like Buffer which analyzes the best times to automatically post your content. After you post content to Buffer, the app automatically re-posts that content to the social networks of your choice, determining the ideal post time for getting the maximum number of people to see it.

Even with an app like Buffer, there are no shortcuts to knowing your own market. Sometimes it is by trial and error that you discover the best time to post. So long as you are able to stay tapped-in to what your market is saying and add value to the conversation, your brand will stand out.
With great opportunity comes great risk. Putting your brand out there on social media takes the control of the message out of your hands…but your company also stands to gain a solid customer base. It just takes a little authentic engagement.

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