Running a Shop Sales+Marketing Online Marketing

Social Media: The New Word of Mouth?

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Does your shop have raving fans who, because they like you or your team so much, would be willing to regularly promote your shop to others? Is your shop’s social media presence fairly passive with not a lot of current activity? Would you like to the raise the visibility of your shop quickly?

If you answered “yes” to all three, you might be ready to have a team of social media ambassadors.

Social media ambassadors are people who are willing to regularly “like,” share and comment on things you post online. (For my shop, that occurs primarily on Facebook.) The most important word in that description, though, is “regularly.” Once each week, we send out an email reminder to our ambassadors with a link to one specific post we would like to promote and ask them to like it, share it, and comment on it. Often times we will boost that same post for $5 or $10 to extend its reach (you can do this by clicking on the blue “Boost Button” provided by Facebook).

In that email we try to include a few other things, as well. First, we thank them on a weekly basis for their willingness to help our shop. Second, we try to make it clear why what they do is so important to us. We tie their simple efforts to greater visibility for our shop, which leads to more sales for us, which allows us to provide more jobs and be generous to our team and the communities we serve. Third, we share things that are working from their previous likes and shares, and give them actual stats on how the post they promoted last week performed. The stats are provided by Facebook underneath the post.

So, how do you get started?

Start by asking yourself, are there friends of yours who have become customers? Or the other way around: Are there customers who have become friends? Another good place to look is among those who have recently left you positive online reviews. That shows that they are active online and have a favorable view of your shop already. Of course, the absolute best place to find them is among anyone who is already a fan of your shop on Facebook and “likes” or comments on your posts from time to time.

Once you’ve identified a handful of good candidates it’s time to reach out to them with an email and ask them if they would be willing to help promote your shop on social media.

I have a friend who likes to say “Do what’s doable; it’s all you’re going to do anyway.” And at this point, it’s important to keep it very simple and doable. A social media ambassador for your shop has only one major task each week: to “like,” share or comment on a single post. That’s it.

When I first started the ambassador team I used to ask my ambassadors to “like,” share and comment on several different posts. But this created confusion and too much effort. It also made it seem like everything was just as important as everything else and diluted what could have been a more focused effort on one post.

If you would like some templates and examples of the email we used to gather our team and a few weekly examples of what we ask them to do, please let me know by emailing. I’ll gladly send those your way.

Hopefully, like me, you will be surprised by how many people are actually willing to promote you online. One crucial way to get more people to want to share your content is to make it about something other than your shop. In other words, it’s important to avoid using social media to sell, sell, sell. Much better uses are simply to entertain, to tell a story, or even to educate consumers on things that matter to them.

In his book on social media strategy, Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook, Gary Vaynerchuk writes that social media is like boxing: “Jabs are the lightweight pieces of content that benefit your customers by making them laugh, snicker, ponder, play a game, feel appreciated, or escape; right hooks are calls to action that benefit your business.”

So it’s important that you don’t always go for the big knockout with the right hook. Instead, have fun posts that allow you to jab and move, and jab again. Then only occasionally go for the big right hook and talk about your business. 

“If you have a shop that is run with integrity and something that others would be happy to talk about ... you will easily find fans that can become ambassadors for you.” —Kevin Rains, owner, Center City Collision

If you have a shop that is run with integrity and something that others would be happy to talk about and you commit to a social media strategy that is not all about how great you are, but instead focuses on entertaining and educational content, you will easily find fans that can become ambassadors for you. And it all starts by simply asking them for that help. Go for it!

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