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.
Here at Moonlighting, we know a thing or two about how to freelance well. That’s why we’ve put together a list of 6 steps to help you maximize the power of social referrals.
1. 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 your connections recommend your service on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, you can continue to develop your personal brand and increase awareness.
Additionally, friends, family and customers who are passionate about your brand are natural 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.
2. 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.
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).
3. 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.
This also means loyal customers. 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.
4. 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.
One great way to present your service is through Moonlighting. By creating a service post, complete with photos, pricing information, and your personal profile, you can actually create a stunning visual representation of the service you have to offer. Share this service post on social media and let the responses come to you!
5. 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.
Based on your industry and target market 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.
6. 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.
This article was originally featured in the USA Today.