It’s no secret that influencers and online small business owners have some striking differences. While small business owners work tirelessly to market their company’s products online themselves, influencers like the Kardashians are paid, usually quite handsomely, to do a business’s marketing for them! Since the two jobs are fundamentally different, it shouldn’t come as a shock that everything that works for people like Kim Kardashian and Kylie Jenner might not work for you!
One perfect example? Instagram follow giveaways.
Why Follow loop Giveaways Are a Bad Idea for Small Business Owners
If you follow a lot of influencers online, you’ve undoubtedly seen those posts that advertise “follow these 80 accounts to be entered in a giveaway!” The giveaway prize is usually a pretty expensive and desirable item, like a designer purse or piece of jewelry. The potential to win such an exclusive prize entices many people to enter, and they start following the many accounts required for entry.
In theory, this sounds like a great marketing tactic for small business owners! Increase your engagement, get more followers for your friends or colleagues, and have the chance to give back to your loyal customers? What could go wrong?!
Unfortunately, these giveaways aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. Influencers are paid huge sums of money to do these giveaways, usually at the expense of the smaller companies included in the accounts people must follow to enter. Although this does give these companies a huge initial boost in their follower and engagement count, many don’t stay after the giveaway has ended! In the end, influencers are the ones who have the most to gain, and small businesses are the ones who have the most to lose.
Based on this information, we can conclude that follow loop giveaways probably are not the best way to gain followers and increase your engagement. Plus, if you look at the fine print in your contract, you might find that giveaways are actually against corporate policy! As a small business owner, it’s always in your best interest to grow your following organically.
Market Toward Your Target Audience
Every business has a target demographic. Consider the products you have to offer, then think about what kind of people would be the most interested in them. For example, maybe your business is all about age-defying makeup. In that case, middle-aged and older women may be your target audience. If you sell trendy yet professional women’s clothing, you might want to target women in the corporate world!
Knowing your target audience and marketing accordingly is the best way to build your brand. This way, you’ll be able to write your social media captions and choose hashtags that will reach the people who are most likely to purchase from you.
Build Relationships with Your Followers
As mentioned, people blindly following your account from a giveaway post won’t be the most active followers. Do you know what will create active followers? Building relationships! People love to feel like the brands they follow care about them, not just as customers, but as individuals.
One of the easiest ways to start building relationships with your followers is by enticing them to tell you more about themselves. Consider ending each caption with a question related to your post. For example, your post may discuss the upcoming summer season. A great way to end a post like this would be with the question, “What are you looking forward to the most this summer? Let’s discuss in the comments below!”
While not every person who reads the caption will comment, there are sure to be a few who are eager to discuss their next summer vacation or trip to the beach. When they do, write back! Show customers that you’re interested in what they have to say, and they’re more likely to stay loyal to your brand.
You can also encourage your followers to tag you in posts where they use your products! Then, ask them permission to re-share their posts on your feed or story. Most people will enthusiastically agree, and they’ll be happy to see that you appreciate their business. They may even post your products more often, exposing your company to their own followers, in hopes of being featured again!
Consider Offering Client Referral Gifts
You’ll want to check your corporate policy to make sure this one is allowed, but if possible, offering client referral gifts is an excellent alternative to giveaway contests! How do these work? Let’s discuss.
There are a couple of different ways you can run your client referral program. You might want to offer an incentive to existing clients who refer new clients, new clients who were referred by the existing clients, or both! While any one of these methods will work, you’ll see the best increase in engagement if you offer a gift to both clients.
Those who do the referring will be more likely to continue to do so if they know they’ll receive something each time. Similarly, new clients who are referred will be more likely to make a first-time purchase! Over time, these new clients may even refer some people themselves, creating a never-ending loop of more and more engagement.
The incentive you offer doesn’t have to be huge. Even a small discount of 15-20% off their next order is often enough to get the referral loop started. Just make sure any incentive you’re offering your clients is in line with your corporate policy, as you don’t want to cause any problems for yourself or your followers.
Ditch the Giveaways, Embrace an Organic Following
If you don’t know much about advertising and growing a following on social media, you may have fallen into the trap of paying to be included in a giveaway. While your initial engagement will skyrocket, you’ll soon be left with nothing but “ghost followers” who look great on paper, but really don’t do anything for your bottom line.
As a small business owner, building an organic following is always the best way to gain and keep active followers.
● Market toward your target audience
● Engage with clients on your posts
● Offer incentives for client referrals, if possible
Although this won’t create the sudden “boom” of followers that giveaways will, it’ll be much more beneficial to your business in the long run. Just be patient!