Want Customers To Friend You, Reach Out!

One of the questions I get most from small business owners is, How do they get customers to engage with them in social media? For example, once they’ve taken the time to build and create their Facebook presence, what’s next so that customers find them and begin to interact? Often we talk about how to drive fans to your Facebook page in terms of offering exclusive content, hosting giveaways, and leveraging other activities designed to increase engagement and awareness, but it seems we forget one thing:

If you want your customers to engage with you on social media, you have to ask.

eMarketer shared a survey done by DDB Worldwide and Opinionway Research and found that three-quarters of Facebook users worldwide who had “liked” a brand did so as a result of an invitation or advertising from the brand that they followed. Only 49 percent of all Facebook users said they had friended a brand after doing their own research.

Yes, you need to create a page that users will want to join and one that will bring value. But once you do so, you have to make sure that they know about it. And sometimes that’s as simple as letting them know that your page exists.

You have to use self-promotion to get the word out about the social account you’re trying to build up. As a small business owner, that may mean:

  • Sending out personalized Facebook messages to those in your hometown network.
  • Creating a street team to spread the word in their own networks on your behalf.
  • Putting a call to action in your company newsletter.
  • Promoting the accounts on your Web site or in your company blog.
  • Listing the accounts in all printed company material.
  • Linking all of your social media accounts together to make them easier to find.

Whatever you do, you have to do something. The research by Worldwide and Opinionway Research illustrates that just because a customer knows you exist, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll track you down in social media to friend you. If you’ve moved in next door, sometimes you need to ring the door and let them know.

Also stressed in the survey was the importance of keeping a customer’s interest once they do become a fan. According to the research, 36 percent of users who “like” a brand will eventually unsubscribe. Reasons for unsubscribing include losing interest in the brand (32 percent), the brand publishing too much information (27 percent) and not being interested in the information published (27 percent).  These numbers drive home the importance of being in tune with your audience and knowing why it is they’ve connected with you. What information/experience do they want and how can you offer that to them?

For small business owners on social media, the secret to success is to learn why your customers would want to interact with you via these new channels (what can they get on Facebook that’s not on your site?) and then making sure they’re aware it exists. It sounds simple, but sometimes it is. Because sometimes it’s simply about giving people exactly what they want.


Lisa Barone Lisa Barone is Vice President of Strategy at Overit, an Albany Web design and development firm where she serves on the senior staff overseeing the company’s marketing consulting, social media, and content divisions.

6 Reactions
  1. Thanks again for another wonderful post, Lisa!

    Our experience definitely confirms what your research has uncovered. We recently mentioned the benefits of liking us on Facebook in one of our email promotions and saw likes skyrocket. Sometimes, it is not enough just to have the icons on your website; you actually have to go out there and beat the bushes.

  2. I ended up on this article because a local Chamber of Commerce posted it on their Facebook page. As the webmaster for a couple chambers, I have been pushing these same suggestions to my clients and fellow chamber members. Thanks for confirming and spreading the word on the relevance of social media for today’s small business owners!

  3. I just heard Scott Stratton speak about this topic during a stop on his “Unbook” tour. He set up the entire book tour, 30 stops in all, entirely through Twitter. He spoke about how he has sent over 60,000 tweets, yet 75% of them have been @ replies. You have to reach out because many people are willing to interact with you, but they need you to make the first move.