Last week, I had the privelege of speaking with Victoria Ransom, CEO and Founder of Wildfire Interactive. This is a small company whose genesis is directly tied with what social media is all about.
They began as a travel agency looking to use social media to expand their own business. One of the ideas they had was to hold a sweepstakes on Facebook to give prospects the incentive to Like them and Share with their friends, the winner of which would receive a free trip. They ran into so much red tape and it became such a complicated problem that it made them think: “Wow, if we’re having such a hard time figuring this out, other small businesses must be, too. What if we created a platform to make it easy to create sweepstakes that would help them out, too?”
And so Wildfire Interactive was born. They built a platform for sweepstakes, but that quicklly grew to other campaigns as well. Now they launch fan pages for other businesses with the approach of, “Why would people want to be a fan of us? People want to hang out with their friends.”
Their approach is exactly that: social media is about being social! They encourage businesses to act more like a person and less like a business when interacting with people.
“They think ‘quantity,’ but it’s all about interesting quality,” Victoria says. “What will get them to Like and comment?” She encourages her clients to think about how to get people to share content.
How do you share content online? Do you share something because it’s being promoted, or do you share something because your friend shared it with you and it looks pretty cool? Is it funny, or quirky? Unusual? Recently I saw a Tweet from a friend of mine sharing a link about a popular actress buying secondhand maternity clothing.
I clicked on the link because it seemed interesting; a well-paid actress who is still ‘real’ and environmentally conscious enough to purchase secondhand when she can easily afford designer clothing. If it had been an ad from the secondhand store saying, “Famous actress buys our maternity clothes!” I might not have been so eager to click on it.
This is an example of what Victoria means by “interesting quality.”
So if you were going to give my readers a few tips on things they could do right now to get started, what would your Top 3 be?
1. Planning out campaigns would be a very good idea, whether it’s broken up into quarters, first and second half, or ongoing. You can have all your promotions and campaigns planned, or just the big ones and make up others as you go.
What we see a lot of are businesses who create their Facebook page, put some effort, build a bit of a following, but have no continuity plan set in place. There are lots of things they could build campaigns around.
Use holidays or events that are upcoming, and create a theme around those events. One of our clients has “Win It Wednesday.” It’s something small, usually, but useful, and all their customers know to check on Wednesday to see if they won. It keeps customers engaged and coming back.
Or they could do coupons, weekly or specials or group deals monthly. The possibilities there are only limited by imagination. Many of our clients have referral deals or drawings where they pick two winners, so not only the winner gets something but the person who referred that winner. That really gets people bringing their friends to the site to Like and Share, and encourages them to bring their friends along.
2. The simpler the campaign, the more engagement you’ll receive. You can have a video comment contest, where you encourage your customers to create a video testimonial about your product, or how much fun they had at your restaurant, etc. versus handing out a short entry form for a contest.
With the video contest, you might get only a few entries but they’ll be very high-quality entries and enjoyable to watch. With the short entry form, you’ll have a lot more engagement, a lot more entries, which means a lot more people participating and wanting to interact with your business. So it’s really up to you if you want higher quality –which there’s nothing wrong with that– or more interaction and word of mouth.
People are busy, so make it as simple as possible! Make it really social! Encourage people to refer their friends by offering them prizes and things, too. Make it something that they’ll want to engage in, and then make it really easy for them to participate.
3. Patience! Social media is more about building incrementally. You’re not going to be an overnight success, but for some reason that’s what most people subconsciously expect.
You have to know that there’s a lot of time and effort that’s going to be put into your social media before you start seeing massive results. But if you continue to build your momentum and have a quality business that has something people want, you’ll begin to see your work pay off.
Victoria was amazing, and I feel so privileged that I was able to speak with her about how Wildfire helps with social media. She said a lot of things that were very helpful, and I wish I could have put it all in there; the woman is absolutely brimming over with ideas!
She also said a few things that Lindsey over at Evil Controllers had mentioned when talking about their contests and interaction on their blog: they encouraged a ton of interaction between themselves and their customers, and did a lot of social contests where people’s friends won as well. And both Lindsey and Goosie Girl talked a lot about being social and keeping it personal rather than feeling like talking to a business.
People want to feel like they’re part of your business, and they like feeling as if they’ve taken part ownership in their hearts. It becomes their business, and they like to see something of theirs succeed. If you can find a way via social media to invite your customers to take ownership and feel like your friend, you’ve made it most of the way!
Next in this series, I’ll talk about Klavon’s Pizzeria and how social media can be used to saturate your local market. Stay tuned!
[photo credit: Kirk Crawford at Flickr]
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