Are you earning the right to be followed online?

Loyal communities trump followers

You want a loyal community, not just followers.

Too many businesses are looking for more followers.

Instead they should be looking to build a community.

In 2012 and beyond, the importance of earning a “like” and a “follow” will greatly increase.

Consumers still have all the power online. They choose who they follow and what content they want to engage with and share.

Every business has been told they need to be using social media. As more and more businesses are jumping online and asking for likes and follows, people’s news feeds are becoming bogged down.

They’re seeing less status updates from Pam White and how awesome her tofu McNuggets are. Instead they’re seeing updates from Mashable talking about some Tech startup that’s going to kill it in 2012.

Because of this people are becoming more protective of their social networks and who they follow. It’s going to take a lot more to get people to follow, like and engage with your business online. Especially compared to the early days of social media when everybody was liking and following everything in sight.

So what exactly does it take?

Shifting focus

People are generally pretty selfish by nature even though they don’t want to admit it. You have to think of this when trying to build a community around your business online.

By adding value and improving people’s lives you’ll see your online community grow massively. But growing your community isn’t the be all and end all. You still have to build strong relationships with those in your community.

If you want to build stronger relationships with your followers you’ll want to join my newsletter for free updates on that topic and others.

Inspiration Time!

One example that I can talk about is Wine Library out of New Jersey. Wine Library happens to also be owned by Gary Vaynerchuk who has risen to internet fame with his take on social media and technology.

Last year they had a client from Chicago who’s first two orders were worth $20 000. Obviously they wanted to say thanks for the order but how could they do it?

Now most businesses have and would still send that customer a nice coupon for a discount to their store. This is a nice gesture but when the business benefits, it’s still a self centered thank you at its core.

So instead of sending a coupon for say $400 worth of free wine, they shifted their focus to the customer and a more meaningful thank you. Here’s the part that gets me really excited!

They had been following him on Twitter and they found out he was a huge fan of Jay Cutler who is a quarterback for the Chicago Bears.

Through caring about this customer more and shifting their focus, they sent him an autographed Jay Cutler jersey! The customer was ecstatic to say the least and he tweeted about it for days. Pretty good word of mouth advertising wouldn’t you say?

The pool is crowded

The question is, what are you doing to earn that like, that follow or that click through right now? I want that question to deeply resonate with you. What are you doing online that warrants someone becoming a follower?

If you haven’t given that last question any thought, you better quickly or you’ll end up in the pool of businesses who said they tried social media but they didn’t see a return. That pool will begin to grow deeper over the next two years.

That does mean opportunity for those businesses that offer value for their followers online and start earning the right to be followed.

Those businesses who stick it out and start marketing with meaning will gain more loyal followers. They’ll build stronger emotional relationships. Their customers will spread word of mouth faster than Usain Bolt. Why? Because that business improves their life through its marketing.

I hate to use the phrase but marketing is everything. It’s just that some marketing is more beneficial than others. Your marketing must be created with new and potential customer’s lives in mind.

Break through & stand out

It’s becoming ever so difficult to break through on any social media platform with customers. Sometimes it’s that the business isn’t using the social platforms to the fullest potential.

Other times the business is still pushing its messages.

The answer to standing out is improving people’s lives through your marketing. People will begin to take notice shortly that you actually care about them and their lives.

You can’t just be there anymore hanging out hoping for people to follow your business. You have to be marketing with meaning to your followers. If you’re not offering any value and are marketing without purpose for your followers, then how you do expect to build a strong relationship with them?

Remember it’s not about you, it’s all about them.

Think deeply about that. No matter if they’re a customer or not your marketing needs to improve other people’s lives.

So what does your business provide online that warrants people to like your page? Does it involve something that improves their life?