To have followers on social media implies that you are a leader. But have you ever wondered where you are leading them to?
When it comes to building a strong following on social media, there is no better example than Canadian Geese (not a company, I mean actual geese). Twice a year, tens of thousands of Canadian Geese migrate to warmer climate, traveling between 2000 – 3000 miles, in a V formation.
The V formation means that there can only be one bird leading the flock.
The lead goose has to be a strong flyer and must break the wind to make it easier for the other birds to follow. Without the leader, the geese won’t fly.
Most brands want to have many followers on social media without necessarily thinking about why they want them.
I know it seems easy – you want many followers so that more people will hear about your product and buy. Okay. But is that a good enough reason?
To build a strong following, you need to provide more than just a product to buy. You have to meet a real need – physical or emotional. You have to make your followers feel like an extension of the company, not bags of money.
They should feel free to interact with you and have their comments responded to with friendliness and sensitivity. They must always feel wanted, appreciated and loved.
If you haven’t been doing it so far, now is the time to make a change.
To build a strong following (a high number of enthusiastic followers) you need to learn a few lessons from the Canadian Goose.
Lesson No 1 – Give your followers something to look forward to
Geese migrate because they are looking forward to a better life. If they stay, they might starve or be gobbled up by prey. Your followers also need a better life. Give them something to long for.
Give them a reason to want to come back to your page day after day.
This could be:
- Massive deals
- A place to connect with other great people
- Tools that help them make the most of their lives
- Ways to save money (not necessarily from your product)
- An actual reason to live – motivational materials
You will find that the best brands on social media are doing at least one of these. This list is a stark contrast to what most companies think social media is for: self-promotion.
Telling us how you are the best baker, cleaner, insurance provider or lightsabre designer does not make us like your company. It could be a reason for us to buy your product, but it is not a strong enough reason to make people follow you.
Droning on about your accolades might impress your competitors, but it does nothing for your followers.
People won’t follow you to make you have better sales than last year. But they would gladly follow you if it would help them see an improvement in some aspects of their lives.
By putting them first and giving them a reason to live (be excited, be happy, be motivated), you make them love themselves and then love your brand, not the other way around.
Lesson No. 2 – Have a plan
Before the lead goose takes off, it has a plan: a flight path and a destination. It isn’t going to figure it out when it is in the air – it is not winging it.
You should also have a plan for your social media marketing. You need to know what you are trying to accomplish and how that aim will be achieved.
To give your customers something to live for, you need a plan. The plan will dictate when, how and what you post.
To create this plan, you must understand what social media is about, who your ideal customers are and how you can help them maximise their resources and ensure they have great experiences with your products and your company.
Lesson No 3 – Speak their language.
Geese are not the only migratory birds, but you would never see them following other species. It’s not just because they look different, but because they communicate differently.
Geese communicate by honking at regular intervals. The leader honks, the followers honk, everybody honks and they understand each other perfectly. The flock won’t follow a leader they cannot understand.
Hands up if you have ever subscribed to a legal or medical journal and you weren’t in the field. I’m guessing very few people have. Not because we don’t like or need legal and medical advice, but because the language is limiting.
The content might literally be life-saving, but because we don’t understand what they are saying, we ignore it. After all, information that cannot be understood cannot be used.
You might actually have the best business in your industry, but because you have not been able to communicate effectively, the followers aren’t there.
Lesson No. 4 – Don’t Give Up
Flying in an airplane for hours can be exhausting, even for passengers. So you can imagine how geese feel.
No in-flight entertainment, no comfy seats, no mid-flight snacks, no warm blanket and no Wi-Fi. And forget about trying to get some sleep! But on the plus side, there is plenty of leg room 😊.
Despite these obstacles, the birds keep pushing, because they are looking forward to something special and they have to get there on time.
Your first few posts might not get any love, but don’t stop trying. The more you do it, the better you become. It might be rough at first, but when you reach cruising altitude, you’ll be glad you stuck it out.
Even the best social media strategies can’t promise you immediate followers unless you buy them, and that is always a TERRIBLE idea. It takes patience, dedication and a willingness to succeed against the odds.
One more thing about geese I should mention – the goose that begins ahead of the flock doesn’t end up that way. At some point during the flight, the leader will get tired and will have to be replaced.
Lesson 5 – Just because you don’t start in the lead doesn’t mean you won’t end up there. So, keep on doing the best you can (with our help if needed) and soon enough, you’ll be Number 1. And once you get there, make sure you stay there.