The goal of marketing online is to generate leads. Done correctly, it can be a gold mine. One of the most effective strategies used by companies large and small is using existing social media networks to increase referrals. This is done one of two ways:
Getting a referral is the act of getting your name and/or business in front of an unknown audience by the use of influence of a third party. Increasingly, social media users not only use platforms like Facebook and Twitter to connect with friends and families, but also to find services and products. 71% of consumers turn to social media for recommendations about a product or service before actually purchasing it (Forbes).
Your name and business will gain credibility when an existing client gives you an endorsement. This is called having social proof.
Firsthand referrals means you or your company’s information is directly shared by an individual to their friends, family members, co-workers, etc. They make your company or any content from your company’s website known to their circle of acquaintances, thus growing your audience without you directly marketing towards said audience.
Until you are referred by someone or directly market to an audience, you remain a stranger to your target client.
Indirect referrals happen in a situation where your existing followers comment and like your status and posts. They may not directly share the content with their own followers but they add a reason for your content to circulate around the web and get more eyeballs to it.
There are a lot of ways on how to engage your audience to refer you to their inner circles.
- Social sharing widgets are an easy tool to add referral traffic to your website. Widgets are meant to perform actions with just a click. Giving them an option to share your article with only a click away is the best tool you can add. You can use “Facebook Anchor Text Share links” to have followers directly share your webpage on their Facebook newsfeed.
- People are more inclined to share your message when you make it easy to do so. Post consistently and make sure the content adds value to your follower’s lives. Great content gets shared. Average content gets ignored. Post great content and post regularly so that your followers will have a chance see your posts and share them.
- Allow commenting on your social media platforms. Monitor commenting activity and respond in a timely manner. Whether it’s negative or positive, engaging with your audience is a must. This not only positions you as a reliable authority regarding a certain topic but also it lets your readers’ friends see who they are talking to. Conversations are seen in newsfeeds, thus gaining you additional exposure.
- Be creative. Add a “share it to a [specific friend]” button if you want to. Your imagination is the limit. You can run a promotion and offer incentives for your followers to share your content (i.e. 10 friend shares = a $20 Amazon gift card). This is a good way to increase your audience quickly. But we only recommend this when you have your messaging in place and your USP is strong.
With creativity, consistency and some social media savvy, you can dramatically increase your referrals.