Lee McQueen is a marketing coach specializing in helping the smallest of businesses to find their own unique voice and to shine on social media. With a growing Library of workshops on every possible marketing and small business topic, Lee’s Learning Lounge is a fantastic place to surround yourself with everything you need to succeed in your small business, at affordable prices that make sense to small businesses who are just trying to find their feet.
Without a doubt the number one question I get asked as a marketing coach, is ‘How can I find more customers on social media?’
It’s a loaded question, because there isn’t just one method or trick to solving this problem: There are many ways to find customers, but it’s about finding the one or two ways that suit who you are and what you’re all about.
Of course, the simplest way is a well structured marketing strategy and advertising campaign, but if you’re reading this, I’m guessing you don’t have the budget for that, and you’re more about finding those customers organically, for free.
Here’s one way that we see every day: Spam people with 1000s of cold DMs a week, telling them to buy your things.
Or, you could hire someone to message 1000s of people telling them how great you and your products and services are.
But my guess is that neither of these methods will sit well with you, because you’re not just building this business to make money at all costs – you’re also trying to build a life you love.
One filled with a purpose and passion that can only come from creating a business that fulfills you. And a big part of that comes from filling your business with customers you enjoy working with, who love what you do, and are eager to support you.
Working with real humans
To me, the first rule of finding these types of customers on social media is to remember this simple fact: There’s a real human behind every profile picture. A real person with a real life, with hopes and dreams just like you, that you get to build a relationship with, so that you can help them decide to buy from you.
Many small business owners struggle to understand this bit. They’ll say, ‘But Lee, isn’t that a bit icky. To make friends with someone, to build a relationship with them and get to know them, when you know deep down that the only reason you want to make friends with them is to sell them something?!’
Well yes, that is a bit icky. So what we need is a little mindset shift.
What you’re trying to build is a community. In your community of real life friends, you have all kinds of friends for all kinds of reasons. You might have your close friends that you turn to for support, your fun friends, your friends you go walking with or to gym with, your casual ‘have a chat’ friends. This variety of friends are what make for a full and interesting life.
If you think of your social media in the same way, it means you can take away that almost desperate feeling that you have to turn everyone you meet into a customer.
Some of your community will become fans who tell their friends about you. Some will share all your posts. Some will cheer you on. Some might be connected to someone else who can boost your exposure. Some you might be able to collaborate with. Some may end up being close confidants who walk this journey with you. And yes, a percentage will end up becoming customers.
Of course, with each of these types of followers in your community, you’re going to think about building a real, two-way relationship, so you need to give as good as you get: share their posts, support their endeavours, buy from them if you see something you like, and so on. It’s a social platform, so get social in every possible way!
Working the numbers
Any marketing or business coach will tell you that finding customers is just a numbers game. You have to work out how many customers you need in a month. Then you have to work out your conversion rate, which means of all the potential customers you meet, how many of them are likely to become customers, based on your past efforts? And lastly, based on your conversion rate, you need to work out how many people you need to meet in order to find the number of customers you need in a month.
For example, if you need 10 customers a month, and your conversion rate is 10%, it means you need to meet 100 potential customers in order to find 10 actual customers.
Now, I’m guessing you don’t know your conversion rate, but did you know this: Industry standard conversion rates on the online space are around 1%!
Much lower than most people expect, right?!
Why do you think this is?
One reason is that we’re all taught to just meet as many people out there on social media as possible, to build a big following, and then some of that following will buy.
What do you think will happen if we see each profile picture, each number, each email address, as an actual human that we have the pleasure of getting to know?
I’m willing to bet that that conversion rate will be going up quite dramatically! If you build a community, manage it carefully, and keep nurturing those relationships, even if it takes your conversion rate to 10%, that’s 10x the industry average! Worth a try, right?
Ok, you get the picture. It’s all about relationships.
The Step by Step
So let me round this up by telling you step by step how to build relationships, so that you can improve your conversion rate, build a loyal customer base of raving fans, and create a fulfilling business working with the kind of customers you’d love to work with.
Step 1: Make sure the right people are following you. Forget about the vanity metrics. 100 real, engaged followers who care about what you do, is a lot of actual people who could buy from you. Quality over quantity, every time. Remove any followers who don’t fit the profile of ideal community member.
Step 2: Meet the right people.Get in front of your ideal customer, every day of the week. There are loads of ways to do this: spend time engaging where they hang out. Collaborate with people who have a similar target market to you. You could even advertise using targeted ads. I have a list of over 80 ways to meet people – there’s no one size fits all, it’s just about finding the way that works for you.
Step 3: Make sure your bio and profile says all the right things.Your bio and profile are the first snapshot of what you do. Make sure that it tells your ideal customer exactly what’s in it for them if they follow you. And make sure that your bio matches your feed – the two should connect to each other seamlessly.
Step 4: Spend time getting to know your people every day.Don’t just post and wait for them to come to you. Especially in the early days. Take the party to them too – go and engage on their profile. Build the relationship by being proactive about it.
Step 5: Make or sell things that your people want to buy.Listen to what your community is telling you. Talk to them, ask for ideas, ask for feedback, keep an ear to the ground. The only way to be sure that you’ll be successful in business, is to sell things that people want to buy.
There’s no ‘one size fits all’If I can leave you with one piece of advice, it would be this: whatever ‘method’ you choose for finding customers on social media, make sure it suits who you are.
Finding customers takes time, especially in the beginning. If you do it in a way that makes your perfect customer feel seen and heard and blown away by the delight of buying from you, you’ll build loyalty that will blow your mind, and over time those loyal customers will tell their people, which will be immensely helpful in building your business for you.
That kind of loyalty all starts with enjoying your time on social media. I don’t believe that you can successfully build a community of raving fans who love what you do, if you’re hating the time you spend connecting every day.
So you have to pick a way that works for you: that fits with your values, that suits your lifestyle, that makes you feel good.
Stop listening to the ‘hacks’ and the ‘one size fits all’ methods. Sure, listen to all the advice and tips and tricks, but go out there and make it your own.
And most importantly, find a way to enjoy it. Embrace your time on social media, and be open to it being something uplifting and fun.
You didn’t go into business to spend your time doing something you hate, so whatever your personality or natural inclination, if you’re using social media to grow your business, find a way to enjoy it.
Most of all, embrace the process.I know you’ve probably been led to believe that social media makes business easier, but to be honest, unless you have a big marketing budget, meeting people takes time in a crowded marketplace.
Luckily it also gives you access to loads of resources like the Support Small UK platform, and marketing coaches like me!
I’m always ready and willing to answer questions or help you figure something out – my DMs are open on Instagram, and I guarantee you I’ve heard it all before and I either have a resource to help you, or I can have a quick chat to help you feel more clear and confident.
Now go out and start meeting people! Start with your existing followers, and once you know them a bit better, then you can move on to new followers.
Good luck, and let me know how you get on.