In the film, Costner plays an Iowa corn farmer. Hearing voices, he interprets them as a command to build a baseball diamond in his fields; he does, and the Chicago Black Sox come.
Unfortunately however, life’s not so simple in the social media world. If you want to attract friends and followers, you need to do so much more than just build a Facebook and Twitter profile.
Since I built Flagship’s Facebook and Twitter profiles in August 2010, we’ve gained over 680 and 480 friends and followers respectively. In this post I’d like to share some hints and tips for how I managed this.
Twitter – my top 10 tips on how to get followers:
- Follow follow follow! This can’t be stressed enough. Housing associations, journalists, charities, industry bodies, local authorities. A good tip is to look at who they are following and follow their followers.
- Tweet often. Short, interesting, funny, quirky messages get noticed. Tell people what you or your organisation are up to, even if it’s saying you’ve got cakes in the kitchen!
- Tweet links. If you see something of interest on the internet, tweet it. News, developments in the industry..if you found it useful, so will your followers.
- Tell people about events – open days, new development handovers, charity fundraising…whatever is happening, shout about it!
- Ask questions – this encourages debate and interaction.
- Get involved! Speak to other tweeters, respond to their questions and give feedback.
- Retweet – if someone you follow says something or post something of interest, be sure to retweet it.
- Say thank you – if your tweet is retweeted, drop the retweeter a message saying thanks, a little courtesy goes a long way!
- Build lists – It makes sense to put the tweeters you follow into lists. This not only helps you make sense of what’s going on in different sectors, it helps keep track of your close friends and lets other followers find other people to follow (hope that makes sense!).
- And finally – make an effort on a Friday to do a spot of #FF (Follow Friday). Mention those tweeters who you think deserve to be followed – this helps them out and with any luck you’ll be tagged in an #FF post yourself.
Facebook – my top 10 ten tips on how to get friends
Unlike Twitter, Facebook is a completely different kettle of fish. It takes more work to get someone to like you – after all, you are a business. It’s a Catch-22 situation – people need a reason to like you and become your friend, but they won’t do that if you don’t have any friends…so where on earth do you start?
- Set your stall up and sell your wares. In the first few days, post interesting things about your organisation. Stick up photos, ask questions on your wall, welcome new friends and thank them for liking you.
- Ask questions. Ask your initial friends what it is they want from your Facebook. Is it to report repairs? Is it to find out what’s happening in their area? Is it to chat to other customers? Be interested in their conversations, and if you can – hold a few early competitions and prize draws (more about this later).
- Advertise! Advertise! Advertise! Write a news piece that you are now online and advertise this on your website, in your newsletter, on your company email signature. We asked our web company to design us Twitter and Facebook buttons for the Flagship homepage for easy access to our profile.
- Design a poster. By designing an eye-catching poster you’re killing quite a few birds with one stone. Not only is this displayed in our receptions, on our community notice boards and community centres, we’ve also used it within our quarterly newsletters.
- Footnote your Facebook. Whenever a customer reports a repair, applies for a job, submits a contact request, I made sure the thank-you message that pops up once it is submitted includes the line: “Did you know we’re also on Facebook? Why not become a friend of ours today by clicking the blue Facebook icon at the bottom of the page!”. You’ll start to see an increase in friends if you do this I can assure you!
- Respond quickly. When your friends start to arrive, they will start asking you questions. Be sure to reply to these as quickly as possible – adopt a friendly tone and address them in the name they use. We always say “Hi XXXX thanks for your message. I’ve passed this on to your community manager who will be in touch with you soon.”Nine times out of 10 you will get a “Thanks”, which other friends and potential friends see. If they feel you’re giving good customer service you can bet your bottom dollar they’ll feel more inclined to like you too.
- Give exclusives. As Facebook is a personal space, your friends want to feel appreciated. With that in mind, give them exclusives. This doesn’t have to cost anything…why not give them the opportunity to decide on the front cover of your newsletter or annual report? Release these a week or so early for them to download, or give them a sneak peak at a page on your website for example.
- Hold competitions. By far and away the most popular part of Flagship’s Facebook is when we hold competitions. If you can afford it, the odd £10 shopping voucher here and there goes down well. Whether it’s a prize draw when you hit a certain amount of followers (we did it at 250 and 500), or for finding a hidden easter egg or member of your executive team on your website, you can be sure you’ll get a few thumbs up and likes from this. Also, remember to namecheck the winners after your competition on both your Facebook profile and in your newsletter – this encourages more people to click ‘Like’ and become your friend.
- Plan ahead. If you can, hold a competition at special times of the year. Ask your friends to upload pictures such as their Christmas tree in December, or their garden in the spring and reward the winner with whatever you can. We held a ‘find Santa David’ on our website (our chief executive in a Santa hat) and saw an extra 30,000 pageviews on our website between November and December (and again namechecked the winner in our newsletter). You could hide other images such as an easter bunny or easter egg, a firework or a poppy – just make sure it’s relevant to the time of year and you’ll be rewarded with extra traffic and more engaged customers.
- Team up with other organisations and grab freebies when you can. On World Book Night I managed to secure 50 copies of Agent ZigZag to give away to our Facebook friends. I also managed to secure some family day tickets to the local family attraction BeWILDerWood and Bressingham Steam Museum. If you don’t ask, you don’t get! Contact places in your local area, sell the benefits of advertising their services to both you and their organisation and hopefully you’ll be rewarded with a few tickets or cut-price admission.
I hope you agree that you can’t just build your Twitter and Facebook profile and hope to become the ‘coolest kid in the playground’. It will take time – don’t be downheartened if you’re not swamped with friends for a good few months. Hang in there, keep plugging away and make an effort and before you know it you’ll be the kid everyone wants to know.
Good luck 🙂