If you’ve got a Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest account, one of your goals is likely to build as big of a following as possible, whether or not you believe that there’s a lot of value in having high numbers of online fans. But don’t forget that those who have decided to like, follow, or pin your brand aren’t yet customers. And those who aren’t “liking” you may still be watching you closely. These are just a few of the types that make up your online audience.
Online marketing firm ReachLocal created a graphic (see below) showing the various types of social media “fans” your business might accrue, how best to make use of them and, in some cases, how to mollify them. ReachLocal may be slightly off-base in calling them all fans (case in point: the ranter) but where it gets it right is in pointing out that not all of these types can be dealt with in the same way.
1. The Quiet Follower
They know your business, but may not be a customer (maybe they follow you because a friend does). The way to use these lurkers is to create content they can’t resist: polls, images, videos: make them engage until they become a customer.
2. The Casual Liker
These fans know your product or service and genuinely likes it. What’s more, they want to be the one who recommends something useful to their friends–70% of consumers trust brand or product recommendations from friends according to ReachLocal. These guys are your low-hanging fruit; don’t waste them. Make sure you always create content promoting anything new and ask for likes, retweets and shares.
3. The Deal Seeker
These fans are all about value over brand loyalty. They’re the ones buying no-name brands at the drugstore. According to ReachLocal, almost half of people active on social media are there for the deals. What to do? Give them deals. Consistently offer specials and customer appreciation promos.
4. The Unhappy Customer
This follower share their bad experiences online–and according to ReachLocal, 42% of consumers who contact brands on social media expect a response within the hour. There’s no shortcut here: monitor your social media pages vigilantly and respond to negative posts with helpful, polite feedback.
5. The Ranter
These disgruntled fans may or may not be customers. Often, they can’t be pleased, so it’s not always worth trying. The must-do here? Keep calm and avoid an epic brand meltdown.
6. The Cheerleader
These fans are on their smartphone all day, entering contests, liking your posts, retweeting your tweets, leaving super supportive, positive comments on your content. Since they like and share everything you post, your only challenge here is to make sure you keep creating quality content or products, so that the other (less devoted) users who see it become converts, too.
7. The Loyal Fan
More cool-headed than the cheerleader, the loyal fan provides both praise and constructive criticism. They will also (thoughtfully) defend you against the ranter. Use their positive comments in marketing materials if you can, and don’t forget to show some appreciation for their loyalty with customer appreciation gifts.
In the end, building a following on any social media site means nothing if you can’t leverage those fans to help grow your business. Even the followers who don’t love you can be valuable if you manage them the right way. In fact, negative feedback can help you create a stronger product or service in the long run. A lot of businesses now see social media as a source of free market research (read: 6 Powerful Ways to Use Social Media).
Have you recently been able to turn an unhappy customer into a superfan? Scroll down to the end of the graphic to leave your story in the comments section below.