Finding clients and customers is often the most challenging aspect of running a business. Prospecting is a helpful way to look for and communicate with potential new clients and customers. Once you determine who is a good fit for your products or services, you have the opportunity to get to know them, bring them into your sphere of influence and begin to forge a connection. A great place to spread awareness about your brand and begin prospecting is on social media.
First you’ll need to figure out what social media channels your ideal client is using so you can meet them there. Then once you have your social media accounts set up, follow these five steps for successful prospecting on social media.
Step 1: Search social media hashtags
In order to attract your target market to your posts, you need to determine what hashtags they follow. You can start discovering this simply by guessing. Search for hashtags you think would appeal to your target market. Then, look at the people who are engaging with those hashtags. When you find hashtags with which your target audience is engaging, begin making a list of them.
After you’ve formed a list of hashtags that are popular among your target audience, take a closer look at the content that’s generated around those topics. Look at posts using those hashtags and start a second list containing any other seemingly relevant hashtags. Eventually, you should look up these hashtags, as well, and if they’re just as popular with your target audience, move them over to your primary list.
Step 2: Determine which accounts are using popular hashtags
Look at the accounts posting the content that use the hashtags on your primary list. Make a list of the accounts run by people or businesses performing the same or similar work as you, paying special attention to the popular accounts run by leaders in your field. Some of those leaders will probably be your competitors but it’s more beneficial to think of them as your peers. Also, don’t be afraid to gain a little inspiration from their posts that you can use in your own posts!
Step 3: Figure out who engages with those accounts and reach out to them
Now that you have a list of primary hashtags and secondary hashtags, as well as a list of associated accounts and leaders in your field, look at who engages most with the content posted by accounts that are similar to your business. If you see someone engaging with posts by asking questions that you happen to have the answers to, don’t hesitate to message them and say, “Hey, I noticed you’re interested in learning some social media tips. Tell me a little more about your business!”
If you choose to do this, slide into those DMs nicely and easily. Don’t reach out and say, “I saw you commenting on my competitor’s post and wanted to let you know I also teach what you’re asking about. Only, I’m better.” You don’t want to come across as an adversary of someone that person follows. And you don’t want to start the conversation by trying to close a deal. Instead, you want to look at the person’s profile, learn a little about them, and then reach out in a way that will encourage them to respond.
Step 4: Make an offer or send an invitation
Once you begin messaging with a potential client, keep the conversation going by asking questions. You should message back and forth at least three times before you make an offer or invite them to anything. You might say something like, “How are you currently using social media to promote your business?” or “What is your biggest challenge?” Maybe they’ll reply, “I’m really new to social media, so I don’t do much.” To which you might say, “I see you’ve been pretty active on Instagram. Have you sold anything through the platform?” You could even say, “I saw this post that you did — I thought it was really good.” After their third reply, tell them you have some insights you’d like to share with them about more they could be doing to gain business through social media. Then, invite them to have a 15-minute virtual call or meeting and ask for their email so you can send them an invite.
Step 5: Give free advice
During your meeting with the potential client, present three quick pointers. Don’t overdeliver by laying out an entire strategy but do provide value. Once you share your pointers, the person will be excited because you’ve given them clarity or a perspective they didn’t have before. They will be in a zone of appreciation and reciprocity. That’s when you mention you have a Facebook group they can join for free in which you discuss social media strategy. Then ask if they’d be interested in joining. They are 99.9% more likely to say yes when you ask them verbally than if you invited them via Instagram message. You also now have the person’s email because you used it to schedule the virtual chat with them, so you could also say that you’d be happy to add them to your email list so they can receive more marketing tips. At this point, you’ve changed that person from someone you found through a hashtag to someone with whom you share a genuine connection and the real possibility of a working relationship.
This potential client is now in your sphere of influence. Whenever you’re ready to launch something, they’ll be aware. If you host a workshop or teach a course, you can invite them to participate. Just remember: Don’t try to sell them on being an official client unless they initiate that conversation, or you could lose the progress you’ve made. All you need to do is educate them on what you have to offer and wait for them to come to you the rest of the way.
Following these steps is a great way to engage with prospective clients by identifying where they’re searching for the information that you provide, and it works on most of the popular social media platforms. So get out and get active prospecting on social media. You can gain inspiration, showcase your expertise and connect with new clients.