We follow people on social media who entertain, educate, inspire, or inform. We follow brands we like, purchase from regular, or aspire to buy products from at some point in the future.
Rarely do we follow someone in the services industry, or agencies with the intent of becoming their clients.
“I want to buy services from this person, let me follow their social media accounts”, said no one, ever.
In my experience a vast majority of followers, specially in the services industry, are there to learn from you. They are probably a level below your level of knowledge and understanding. They follow you to get more insights and lessons. Learning from your experience and expertise. As professionals, there are few opportunities to learn new things, and upgrade your knowledge. Following an experienced person in the industry gives them the necessary insights in bite size chunks on various platforms. At least that is the hypothesis.
This hypothesis gets validated quickly in industries like Corporate Law, IPR, Finance etc,. Followers on social media are younger than the person who they are following, from the same field, and may even be part of the same peer group.
Observations are fine. Can we prove it?
Yes. Given below are two ways i found to measure if followers can become clients in the future.
The live event experiment
I ran a Linkedin event for a corporate law firm owner. The event topic was relevant to mid sized companies in India. And we even advertised the event to get more mid-size company owners to participate.
After the event, I analysed the data.
Industry: 70% were from law firms, 25% were from legal services industry, and 5% were from other industries.
Experience: Roles and titles of the participants showed that a vast majority were from junior to managerial levels. Very few were from Management roles.
The event attendee dates was a clear indicator of the following:
- People follow other experts in services industry to learn from them. From the live event in this case.
- Most times they are juniors in the industry who are eager to learn new things.
- Although the topic was targeted at potential clients, it still attracted people from the legal industry. Proving that the followers were eager to see new angles to subjects and new topics.
There was very little chance that the attendees would become clients, since majority of them were not decision makers, nor from the target group.
To validate these results, my team ran a series of Linkedin Live events. And we saw similar results over and over.
Analysing engagement data
We analysed Linkedin posts for a client from the wealth management industry, for a period of 12 months. The client is a prominent voice in the industry and is regularly featured in leading financial publications.
Engagement on the posts was done by followers of the client, mostly. And the engagement varied between clicking the like button to commenting on the post. We observed that:
- A vast majority of engagement (over 90%) was from Finance industry.
- Commentary and opinions were from finance industry peers.
- Less than 3% of the engagement was from existing clients and potential clients.
- A good number of Likes and other Reactions were from people who may be considered junior to the client, in the industry.
Again, it was clear from the data that the vast majority of followers will not become clients.
By now you may be wondering,” Is social media marketing a waste of time and money for service businesses?”
Followers may not become clients, but social media marketing does get you clients.
The two clients mentioned above saw their inbound leads increase by 300% over a 12 month period. Overall conversion from leads to clients doubled. And the time taken to convert leads halved.
Social media followers get you more clients
Followers may not become clients. But potential clients see the number of followers, and it signals to them that you are an expert in the field. And you are respected in the industry.
It’s not uncommon for people to check the social media accounts of someone they are about to engage with. Additionally, when looking for services, people tend to search on Google or other search engines.
A strong social media presence boosts your overall visibility, when someone googles the services that you offer. A strong presence signals to potential customers that you are a legitimate business, and a big presence attracts more visitors and customers.
Narrow down your focus when building your presence on social media. Doing so helps you become an expert in a few niches; this, in turn, leads to your peers and followers considering you an expert. When people trust you are an expert, they are more likely to refer you to new clients.
Finally, social media helps you keep in touch with your existing clients and customers. People love being acknowledged, and following you on social media is one way to do that. People are less likely to refer someone when they don’t have a personal relationship with that person.
So following people on social media can help you grow your business. It may not be easy to measure, but the results speak for themselves.
Social media does translate into future clients, if used correctly. It does take time to build an engaged following, but it is worth the effort. Followers are not clients, but their presence attract potential clients.