smb-tech-trendsThe idea that social media is a fad is long gone. In fact, social media is now the number one activity we do online, according to 2013 social media stats.  If you’re well engaged with social channels as part of your small business marketing, you’re among the 93 percent of marketers who do as well. Still despite the enormous popularity and importance of social media, some small businesses are unsure how to convert those “likes” into customers or repeat customers.

If you aren’t satisfied with your sales conversions, ask yourself the following two questions: How well do I understand my followers and their needs? How connected am I to each of my followers?

When it comes to knowing who is following you and why, you need to do your homework. Carefully monitor comments and see if there are common threads that indicate trends or concerns that your small business can address. Check out the social media activity of your competitors to see what they are posting and how followers (many of whom may be yours as well) are interacting.

Also engage with followers on a one-on-one basis. Try sending a note to new followers to thank them for being part of your network. If you have a special promotion going on, include a call-to-action to encourage new followers to take advantage of it. Suggest that they check out your products or services on your website or point them to new content you’ve posted you think will be of interest. The goal is to start the engagement on a personal level and keep it that way by answering comments or questions as soon as they appear on your social channels.

Like ButtonOnce you make a strong connection, here are some other things to do to help turn followers into customers:

Convey your brand:  Your social media posts should be consistent with the elements of your brand identity. Also be sure your social media pages present the same look and feel – colors and design elements – as your website and other marketing materials.

Leverage the opportunities of each medium: While you can cross pollinate your social channels with the same content – Tweet a blog post and also post it on Facebook – consider that different channels offer different capabilities. Facebook is very effective for conducting a poll or posting a YouTube video, while Instagram is going to be effective for images of your products and Twitter a great way to announce a one-day sale.

Offer special or exclusive deals: Make it special to be a follower of your small business by offering exclusive deals. Make it very clear that the opportunity is only for members of your network.

Ask for a share: Don’t be shy about asking your followers to share your content, whether it’s industry information that helps position your small business as an authority or news about your products and services. Just make sure that the content has the level of interest that followers would be happy to share among their social media friends.

Employ testimonials: Include customer testimonials as part of your social media content strategy. You can provide quotes from customers or link to case studies. You also can create videos of customers using your products. While you don’t want to overdo the self-promotion on your social media channels, take advantage of the third party validation for your small business products and services you get from customers.

Be consistent: Keep up the engagement by being consistent in your postings. Decide on a schedule and keep it – three posts a week on each channel, for example – so that your followers know what to expect and that you are committed to maintaining a connection.

These are just some ways to turn your small business followers into loyal customers. Any other tips you can provide?