You’re probably familiar with the benefits of social media. Sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram allow you to build a following of current and prospective customers, interact with them, tell your story, and ultimately grow your brand awareness and business.
Realizing those benefits though requires more than a few posts or tweets. You need to be active, engaged and authentic (a fancy word for be yourself). Just like in our analog world, being social requires connecting, listening and two-way communication. You need to be accessible and responsive to your audience.
Here are a few tips we feel are important to keep that social line of communication flowing:
Solicit feedback. Social media engagement shouldn’t be a passive experience. Ask your followers open-ended questions in your social media posts. Your followers will appreciate the opportunity to share their opinions and converse with you and other followers.
Share, don’t sell. No one likes people who only talk about themselves, so don’t be that person on social media. Following someone is a sign of interest and trust. Your audience considers you someone worth listening to and engaging with, so offer up information that will interest them. We typically follow the 80/20 rule for our clients’ social media accounts. While there isn’t a magic formula to successfully engaging with your audience, the 80/20 rule should be an integral part of your social media strategy.
80% of your posts should be interesting, shareable, engaging content
20% of your posts should be directly related to your brand and include persuasive call-to-actions
Whether the content you’re posting is part of the 80 or part of the 20, it’s important that the content be engaging. For example, if you’re an online boutique posting about a new sale on your site, you can promote the sale, but also ask your followers which item they’re most excited about buying. If you’re sharing an interesting article on the latest fashion trends, ask your followers’ opinions on the trends.
Be available. A major benefit of social media is the instant responses your followers can receive. Whole Foods’ Twitter account is a great example of a brand responding to their followers in an authentic and timely matter:
They do a great job of replying to their customers’ tweets whether they are negative or positive. However, many businesses will post great content and not follow up on the comments or mentions they receive – that’s a big mistake. Be sure to check your social media sites often and set up alerts so you can respond to your followers’ comments and mentions in a timely matter. You would never ignore a customer or potential customers emails, so why would you ignore their social media outreach.
This is especially true when it comes to negative feedback. The way you respond to negative feedback can play a major role in the perception of your company. While your first instinct may be to ignore negative feedback, resist that temptation. It’s important to reply to all feedback, but especially the negative type. Keep your cool and don’t get defensive. Simply help your customer in any way that you can, even if it means taking the conversation offline. Not only will the customer who left the feedback appreciate your effort to help resolve their issue, but potential customers will also be more likely to view you as a company they can trust if an issue arises.
Make sure your customers know how to reach you. Maybe your customers don’t want to reach out to you on Facebook, maybe they want to read your blog, and maybe they want to see if you’re on Twitter. Whatever the channel, make sure your contact information is included in all of your social media profiles.
Include your basic contact information including your website URL, email address, phone number and links to your other social media pages in all of your social media profiles. If you don’t make it easy to contact you, customers may become frustrated and go elsewhere.
Monitor your engagement. To really succeed at social media engagement, you need to be listening. It’s important to know what type of content is most successful in garnering interaction, the best time to post that content and what social media channels to post it on.
We provide analytics reports to our customers which include a unique engagement score based on their brand mentions, their highest performing posts, their overall engagement, and other key pieces of their social media presence.
Proactive listening allows you to gain an exclusive perspective into your customers and industry influencers. You can build a better relationship with current and prospective customers, and make your social media accounts a two-way street.
Remember social media is one of the many things you can do to make your customers’ lives easier, so take advantage of it! How do you get your customers to engage with you on social media? Please share!