How to Use Social Media to Get Referrals
Getting new clients can be tough when you first start your business. Although social media is an amazing platform to reach people outside of your circle, it’s also highly competitive and saturated. This is where word-of-mouth marketing can help leverage your business!
Referral marketing can grow your business faster than posting on your social media hoping for a new client. Although there are a lucky few who’ve blown up from a single post, waiting to go viral is not a great marketing strategy; it’s through mutually beneficial relationships and fostering authentic connections that growth happens.
Remember: don’t network just to help yourself—have something of value to offer others as well. Unless it’s an agreed-upon arrangement or mentorship program, a one-sided relationship may leave the other person feeling used.
Why do word-of-mouth referrals work?
When I say I use social media to get clients, I don’t always mean I post and clients immediately book with me.
Yes, I post to provide tons of value and to gain trust from the people who follow me, but nurturing trust is a long process. On the other hand, with referral partners, it’s easier to get referrals because you can create that level of trust quicker by fostering the relationship 1:1.
And because they know and trust you, and their referees trust them, you get clients.
Compared to social media posts where you need to build trust slowly post by post, referral marketing can be done quickly by creating trust with a handful of people who send you lots of clients! So if you thought word-of-mouth marketing or networking is a dinosaur technique, think again.
Think about how powerful a recommendation from a friend is. Who would you trust more? A a random person telling you how good their products/services are on social media OR a friend/colleague recommending someone to you?
A recommendation is more trustworthy to your desired client than you singing your own praises.
There are a few steps to network on social media:
1. Finding referral partners
Social media is a pool full of competition, but also fellow business owners who have clients asking them for recommendations all the time! There are two types of partners you can look for:
A. Complimentary service: Look for people offering a complimentary service to your own. For example, as a marketing coach, a good person to network with is a website designer.
B. Similar audience: Look for people with similar desired clients to yours. Do you both offer holistic services, are you both offering services to a specific demographics, or are you both looking for people with a certain interest?
2. Make a Connection on Social Media
Before jumping directly to a DM sending a message, take the time to follow them, look at their content, and engage. Don’t randomly mass-like all their posts and immediately DM (direct message) them. Engage with some of their content ahead of time and show genuine interest in their business. This allows you to see what they produce, get a better feel for who they are, and creates a point of connection.
Once you’ve authentically engaged, reach out to them via DM and ask if they’d be interested in meeting with you so you can learn more about their business and they can learn about yours. Frame it from a place of “I have something for you” rather than “I want something from you”.
Remember, you have value for them as much as they can offer value to you. When pitching, you can say something like “I think I have clients that could use your service, and I’d love to learn more about what you do to see if we can be great referral sources for each other”.
If they say yes, then you ask if they want to meet on Zoom or video chat through Instagram. That is your opportunity to get to know them outside of their social media and create trust.
3. Get to know them
Once you’re on a call with them, it’s time to talk business. Showcase your personality, but also keep an ear open for the things that’d make them a quality referral partner. Listen as much as—and perhaps more than—you talk.
Tell them what you do, who you do it for, "how can I help you/how can I help your business grow", and then ask them if any of your services would be appropriate for their clients. Then, get to know them, how they operate their business and see if you’d feel comfortable sending business their way.
If it sounds like they like they'd be a good fit for you, ask if they'd like to be a referral partner.
4. Stay in Touch
The biggest mistake you can make is agreeing to be referral partners and never communicating again. First, it feels disingenuous. And secondly, you aren’t top of mind.
Here’s how to stay in touch:
Email or message ahead of time if you have a referral: "Hey! I have this client who I think would be a great fit for you. They are looking for [ex. specifics about a new website]. Would you like to be introduced to them?"
Send referrals their way.
If the time has passed since you've met, ask to meet again. "I'd love to learn more about your business again, just to clarify some things about if I have referrals for you"
Make sure your interactions are genuine and meaningful. There's nothing worse than spammy DM's and disingenuous engagement; interact with their content when it resonates with you. Every engagement matters and they’ll greatly appreciate it, trust me!
But why else is word-of-mouth marketing beneficial?
A really good referral partner may have multiple people to send over to you. Once you’ve gained more clients, your clients can also become sources for referrals! Rather than trying to gain followers one by one, you’ll have access to quality leads who are personally vetted by people you trust!
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