This weekend I had an eye-opening experience as a customer of small businesses. I took it easy on working the last few days, and instead spent my time engaging with social media more as a consumer than as a content creator. Being a consumer is a fascinating experience. I learned so much more about what our customers are looking for and what we aren’t giving them. I learned why our customers often don’t engage, and what we can do about it. Below are 3 specific questions you can answer for your customers that will keep them active on your page and in your group.
1. Why aren’t you answering me?
I’m a social media expert, so I know people aren’t chained to their devices all the time. That said, when I go to a page and ask a question about a product, I’m just like everyone else. I swipe to refresh constantly to check for a response. And I keep swiping. I don’t know whether the retailer is there or not there, is out with her kids, or at protected family time, and it doesn’t matter. Because for me, as a consumer I’m wondering – where is she, why isn’t she answering?
I’m wondering this after less than 2 minutes by the way. Your customer wonders the same thing and is probably doing the same thing I was doing. Swipe. Refresh. Check for response.
Now, before you start to worry, this doesn’t mean you need to be available 24/7. It does mean though that your audience needs to know when they can expect you. Set open hours for your business and stick to them. If your sales are at 7:00PM every night, maybe your open hours are from 4:00PM-midnight. Perhaps you’re an early riser, so you do daytime sales and wall drops. In that case you may set your office hours from 8:00-5:00PM. However you do it, set hours for your business and stick to them. If you set protected time with your family – keep it protected. Showing up when you tell your audience you’re away or in protected family time doesn’t build community, it erodes trust with your community, yourself, and your family.
Why this works
- Human beings are programmed to feel frustrated when they expect one thing and get another.
- Expectations are created when you act a certain way consistently over time.
- If you respond to every comment at every moment of every day, then you set the expectation that you will always be there, so when you aren’t, your community feels and acts frustrated and then you feel chained to your business.
- People love to know what they can expect. So know your protected time, make sure your audience does as well, and you’ll avoid the disappointment on all fronts.
2. What should I be doing now?
How many times have you scrolled down your news feed, read an article or a post that you found entertaining, and simply moved on. No reaction, no comment, no share. You scrolled. You saw. And then you moved on.
You don’t engage with most of the content you see and you’re a social media professional! (I don’t either by the way) You’re very aware of the impact engagement has not just for the person who made the post, but for your algorithm as well. And even knowing that – you mostly scroll on without taking any action.
The good news is that there’s a reason for this, and a simple solution.
How this happens
The reason that most of us scroll on by is because most posts don’t tell us what to do when we’re done reading. Take this post for example:
Had such an amazing day today! Spent the entire morning hiking through New Hampshire on the Appalachian Trail. The treelines we stupendous, I felt so serene. #outdoorgal
How would you respond to a post like that? Studies show that you’re most likely to scroll right past the post, even if you read through it. Your readers are going to do pretty much the same thing. See. Read/Ignore. Move on. Sure! Some of your friends and family members might engage, and they’ll share responses like:
- You look like you’re having so much fun!
- A GIF
- I would never do that!
- More pics!
- Or you’ll get a story from someone who hiked some or all of it.
But you have no way of knowing who will respond, how, or what they will respond with. It’s unpredictable, and unpredictability creates anxiety.
Add a call to action button
Though you may feel like you don’t have control over who responds or what they say – surprise! You do! You can control how people respond to your content by telling them what you expect them to do next or inviting them to take the next step. Adding a call to action button is the single most compelling action you can take to get the response that you want from your audience. Make sure you’re telling them to share their stories with you, give you their opinion, ask if they’ve ever been hiking. Ask a question, so that your audience knows that the next step is to answer it. If you aren’t sure how to write a compelling call to action, Michele Bradley just launched her 2nd 511 5-day course that will teach you how to do exactly that!
3. I have no money, how can I support you?
The other day I bought a necklace from my sister. I wanted this necklace. I set an alarm so that I could buy it. It was $79. I only have $100 left in my discretionary fund to spend until
next Friday, so if I bought this necklace it meant that I couldn’t spend money on eating out, gas, snacks, a video game, or anything else I want to purchase.
It also means that I wont be putting money into my savings pot for my new phone. Which means that like most Americans, have to sacrifice things to buy that necklace. I had to make a choice.
I chose to buy the necklace.
That means that for the next 7 days, I can’t show her that I support her business anymore by buying products from her. She’s my sister, so I can always tell her in person. Send her a PM and let her know dude, that’s gorgeous.
But I might stay away from her page to avoid temptation.
I might not engage with her other items for sale because I don’t know that I can engage and not buy.
And as I went through that thought process I realized that this is another reason why small social businesses struggle
Knowledge is Power
- Our community members don’t know what they can do to support your online business if they don’t have money to spend
- People will avoid your page if you have stuff they want, but they can’t afford it or need to stay on a budget
- Most of the time when people are given information about how to support a small business its one post with a long list of actions
Lets assume you do have a crew who knows that they can help you by engaging with your content. And they do. Chances are those people are old hands at shopping in groups. They’ve been in your group for a while, so they know the process. This is the seasoned crowd. They aren’t afraid to engage with any piece of content you post because they’re kinda like cool clique in your group. But we all went to high school, and we know that the group of people who hides in a corner reading Nancy Drew books is much much larger than the bold crowd. You have a lot of lurkers in your group, and it’s your job to draw them out.
Work on engaging those people by posting relatable and useful content. Post stories about your life, fun things happening in your day, and invite your audience to engage with you using strong calls to action. Create a video or a post letting people know that you’re trying to fill their beauty and fashion needs, but you know they want to support you in other ways as well, and let them know how. Schedule a post once a week or once every 2 weeks with something new they can do to support you that has nothing to do with shopping. One idea per post. Don’t bombard them with a list of instructions for what they should do now to support your business. Remember, they’re doing you a favour.
Nothing that I shared just now was surprising. Chances are, you’ve had similar thoughts about your audience a bunch of times. But, its tough to figure out the problem, find a solution that you can implement while also trying to run your life and a business. When in doubt, always ask yourself, if the person on the other end was a complete stranger, would they know:
- What to expect?
- What to do next?
- How to support you even if they had no money?
Your content is what helps them figure these things out, so be sure to reinforce these ideas consistently in your group, and watch your engagement soar!