You invest time promoting your freelance business, but have you asked your friends, family and customers to do the same? Social proof has become so influential that a glowing review of your service can quickly lead to more profitable and loyal clientele. How can you increase social proof’s effect online? By asking for social referrals.
Why Should You Ask for Social Referrals?
Increase Word of Mouth
Word of mouth is arguably the most powerful influence in the buying decision. Just consider its impact:
- 92% of consumers trust referrals from people they know (Nielsen).
- 81% of U.S. online consumers’ purchase decisions are influenced by their friends’ social media posts (Market Force).
- People are four times more likely to buy when referred by a friend (Nielsen).
Increase Customer Value & Loyalty
Referral customers are more profitable and loyal. A study by the Wharton School of Business found that the lifetime value of a new referral customer is 16% higher than your average customer, and they are 18% more likely to stay a customer.
Build Your Personal Brand
As a freelancer, you may not think of yourself as a brand, but with consistent messaging, your name can become your personal brand. Your social followers also play a part in brand awareness. According to Jack Morton, 49% of U.S. consumers say friends and family are their top sources of brand awareness. When you share your Moonlighting post and connections recommend your service on social media, you continue to develop your personal brand and increase brand awareness.
Expand Your Reach
Posting to your social profiles will reach many of your followers and users searching for related content, but you can expand your reach even further when your connections share with their followers. Depending on the platform, privacy settings and engagement, friends of friends may even see your Moonlighting post in their feeds.
Establish Social Proof
Social proof occurs when your audience forms or validates an opinion of your brand by reading the opinions and experiences of others. You can use social proof as a marketing tactic to reinforce your credibility and value by asking your customers to post positive reviews and recommendations on social media.
Create Brand Advocates
Friends, family and customers who are passionate about your brand are natural brand advocates. You can cultivate their passion and give it direction in the form of social referrals. Unlike most referral marketing, you rarely need to incentivize these fans to advocate your brand. It’s like having a sincere, impassioned sales team at your side.
Visualize Your Service
When you connect on social, you have the opportunity to tell your story in a whole new way. These visual platforms enable you to visualize your service, engage your viewers longer, and make a greater impression.
Facebook posts that include images receive 2.3 times more engagement than those without. Images can also help improve retention rates: When people hear information, they tend to remember 10% of it, but when you pair it with an image, they remember 65% of it.
Better Understand Customers & Target Market
What do your customers say when recommending you on social? You might discover a new customer pain point that your service helped solve and can use this newfound insight to appeal to potential customers. Testing a variation of messages and referral incentives can also help identify what is most effective.
How to Ask for Social Referrals
Select the Right Networks
Before you approach your selected advocates, make sure you (and they) are using the right social networks. Where are your target customers most active and engaged? Don’t spread yourself too thin by promoting on too many platforms. Start with just a few and then evaluate which ones are bringing you the most and highest quality referrals.
Use Social Demographics
Based on your industry and target market’s demographics, some social channels may be more effective at reaching them than others. View current social demographics to see which channels will likely work best for you.
Share Your Moonlighting Post
Sharing your Moonlighting post with your friends, family, customers and social followers is the first step to promoting your services on social. You and your followers can share your post directly through the Moonlighting app or website—
log in to share yours now.
Leverage Customer Reviews
Bring your social proof to social media. If a customer writes a wonderful email or review on another platform, share it on social in the form of a screenshot, Facebook note, LinkedIn article, etc. With permission, further engage that customer and expand your reach by tagging them in a thank you post. This will increase the likelihood that they share the review with their network.
Ask the Right People
While you can ask your entire network, you should consider building a list of connections that you believe will bring you the best social referrals. This could be based on your relationship, a positive customer experience, their social influence and reputation, or their overall social reach, among other factors.
Consider asking the following people:
- Friends and family
- Social followers
- Social influencers
- Current and past customers
- Email contacts
Mind Social Policy
To expand your reach to friends-of-friends and users searching on Facebook, set your privacy settings to public. Ask your friends, family and customers to do the same before posting their recommendations. If you use a Facebook Page, your request may not be as effective. Asking Page followers to share a social post is against Facebook Page guidelines, and doing so will negatively impact your reach in the News Feed.
Provide an Incentive
Incentivizing customers and followers can increase your chances of social referrals. More than 50% of people are likely to give a referral if offered a direct incentive, social recognition or access to an exclusive loyalty program. Monetary incentives, such as discounts, free swag or gift cards, greatly increase their chances of referring a brand. Test different incentives to see what is most appealing to your audience.
Guide Your Advocates
To help guide the messaging, offer a few examples that your connections can use. Social post templates will make sure your advocates post a clear, concise and effective message.
Consider including the following in your examples:
- Copy optimized for various social platforms—see optimal post length here
- A call to action to ensure the “ask” or next step is clear
- Broad and specific hashtags–don’t shy away from a hashtag because it doesn’t get a lot of eyeballs. You’ll want both volume of impressions and a targeted audience. Use ritetag.com or a similar hashtag research tool to identify the perfect combination of hashtags.
- Vivid images–you only have eight seconds to grab and hold attention. Use visual posts to grab attention, support your messaging and tell a story.
Evaluate What Works
Learn from your efforts by evaluating your social analytics and which referrals brought you customers. If you are curious to see how many people click through to your Moonlighting post from a specific referrer, such as a customer or social influencer, you can create a unique link to view traffic analytics.
Are you ready to generate some new social referrals? Log in to share your Moonlighting post now.