How To Design A Social Media Referral System

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social media system

Social Media = Online Business Networking 

It’s not about the cool tools. It’s about the people using the cool tools.

Social networks are networking events that go on 24/7. The “media” is the content (blog posts, articles, flyers, handouts, etc) you bring to the networking event. If the “media” you bring to the event sucks, you aren’t going to make many friends, and they aren’t going to share your “media” with their friends.

You can’t spam people into friendship with your “media.” If they do not trust the source of who is handing out the “media” at events, the “media” doesn’t matter. What matters is the trusted source… the person who is handing out the “media.”

We buy from those we trust. We can know and like people all day long but we aren’t going to give them money if we don’t trust them. Social networks help you build trust, which is what you need in order to sell products and services.

Whether you like it or not, people make decisions based on what they see about you online, regardless of what the real picture may be. Since most of us don’t have time to attend every event in town so we can “build relationships,” we need a system that helps us blend our offline business development activities with our online behaviors.

Here are 5 things that make up a good social media system:

1. Focus on your very best clients. They are the hero – How can you be useful to them?

You cannot be useful unless you first know what keeps your hero up at night. Spamming them online with features and benefits about your product or service does not solve that problem. Your job is to find out what does keep them up at night so you can help them solve that problem. This involves research.

  • Where do they spend time – both off and online?
  • What social networks are they in – and not in?
  • What live events do they attend or sponsor?
  • What organizations or groups do they belong to?
  • Do they sit on any boards or advisory panels?

You cannot approach a hero unless you first know WHY they are heroes. All heroes have problems and worry about maintaining their hero status. Do not be a yes-man. Look to solve problems with your blog articles and other content and you will be more respected.

2. Your website must be useful 

Is your online location useful to your best clients? Even if you are not selling a product online, you are selling a buyer on something, even if it’s just information, and this is critical to your whole social media system. What products or services are they looking for? If you do not show signs of a solution on your website that appeals to them in the first 5 seconds, they will click the back button and be gone. Give them a reason to stay.

People are information buyers, which means you must educate them on how your product or service will solve their problem in order for them to care. Your website doesn’t have to be fancy to solve a problem and it doesn’t have to break the bank to be useful for visitors. That’s the key – your website has to be useful or people will not care. There are too many other useful websites they could spend time visiting so why do they want to waste time reading your brochure? You can do better than a brochure. Even though we are grown-ups, we are 9-year-olds online and we like to push buttons and “do” things. Especially salespeople… we are doers, not readers. Give us something to do if you want us to spread your gospel.

Since we like to click, give us something really useful and/or entertaining to click and download, or click to join your community on Facebook. Or click to learn how to solve [insert problem you solve]. You get the point. Give us something to do and we might want to talk to you at a later time.

TIP for “hunter” salespeople: The later time would NOT be 10 seconds after you receive a notification that someone has downloaded your 10 tips. That will freak information buyers out and will most certainly NOT build trust. Remember, the goal of all this social media hoopla is to build trust, not sell.

3. You must recognize Google as a client

The modern day phone book is Google+ – even if the majority of us don’t understand it. We don’t understand it because we know Google as a place to find things, but they keep trying to convince us they are a social network. Google is not a social network. They are the world’s largest, and most useful directory on the planet. Their website has the best user interface of any website on the internet because it is the most useful to the client. It gives us EXACTLY what we want from them – to search for something. When we go to, we get a search bar…. exactly what we wanted. That’s it. Nothing fancy. Nothing popping out at us. We know we can always trust Google to give us exactly what we want so we return again and again and again to get what we want.

Remember that Google is a for-profit business and they want to give their clients the best possible result. In order to do that, they must navigate through billions of web pages to find the ones relevant to what it is you are searching for. They only want to show you results that truly help you because they know if they don’t, they will eventually lose your trust, and you may go over to Bing or Yahoo to do your searching.

Your job is to help Google help their clients. Google is also a client for you. If you do not tell them exactly what problems you solve for companies, and present it in a way that helps Google help their clients (searchers), they cannot help you sell anything because they don’t understand what you sell and/or who you sell to. You have to tell them.

How do you tell them? Keywords and Activity (or you can pay them money to buy ads). Google doesn’t see photos. They only see text and the real-time activity around the text. Knowing that, what does your site tell Google you are? Who does it say you help? And is there any real time activity going on around your text that shows you are legit? Social networks and blogs provide real-time activity but if you have no doorways going back and forth to your website, you aren’t telling Google anything.

4. You must be present

How will you provide ongoing value to your best clients so they return to your online location and bring their friends? They will most certainly not care to visit if you are never there. Social networking is social by nature. You cannot post and run – that’s equivalent to advertising and spamming, not networking.You must give people something to share at least once a week – every day if you are on Facebook and Twitter.

Networking online in places like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn should mirror your live networking behaviors as much as possible. You are a human off-line so it’s best to act like one online as well. Remember, people buy because they trust you – the person, not the coolness of your posts. They need to know you exist sometimes if you want them to write a check. 

5. Interpret analytics in terms of “shares”

Does anyone ever share your posts? If not, you may not have the right fans. If you don’t have the right fans, it doesn’t matter what they share because it’s not being seen by the right eyeballs. People who share are your “free salespeople” and their reputations matter as much as yours. If you do not have the “right” free salespeople sharing your posts, you are spinning your wheels. What’s the point of someone sharing your posts if they are retired in Russia and few of their friends speak English? Unless you are selling “how to speak English” software, this share is irrelevant and does not help you. If you want a system that works for you, focus on the “who” behind the post – not on “what” to post, and you’ll find more of the right people to collaborate with.


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