It’s the holy grail for social media marketers – an enthusiastic base of followers. There’s a massive distinction to be made between the number of likes you have, and the quality of the people behind them.
Committed brand evangelists are golden. No matter how good your marketing copy is, you can always benefit from testimonials, reviews, and the viral spread of your brand. The question is: how can a company actually form these relationships?
Source: Pixabay (http://pixabay.com/en/social-media-blocks-blogger-488886/)
Find Your Focus
Staying up-to-date with content can be extraordinarily difficult. Constant engagement is key to increasing interaction with followers, but staying fresh with your topics and updates…oof. Think about it; a successful content schedule likely includes at least weekly blog and video postings, and near constant activity on Twitter and similar channels.
Some marketers take refuge in randomness. A sure sign of a B-level social feed is the presence of “Happy name-a-holiday” posts, where a media manager’s idea bank has run dry, and they’ve just resorted to a path of least resistance.
Don’t take that path. People follow your brand because they’re interested in your brand, not because they want you to tell them when it’s National Puppy Day (unless you’re somehow involved with puppies). Pick a few consistent focuses that you know your followers are interested in, then give them what they want.
Case in Point
Let’s take Mercedes-Benz. That’s a Twitter page with well over a million followers, many of whom directly engage with the company. Why? Because Mercedes knows what interests them. They post about auto racing, golf, travel, and occasionally philanthropy – all of those things fit neatly into the interests groups of anyone attracted to a luxury brand.
Heck, let’s talk bona-fide social media phenomenon Jaden Smith. He’s built an empire of over five million rabid fans, just by being himself. Gems such as “That Moment When Peeing Feels So Good You Start Crying” make little sense, but that’s why his followers love him. Generic content gets you nowhere; specialize, even if you find yourself moving in unexpected directions.
If you want your customers to engage with you, then you’d better engage with them. Brands are built off of public perception – if you make it clear that you’ll respond to messages and shout-outs, you’ll see more. These public interactions also offer an incredible opportunity to create a brand personality. Customers may buy from a retail site, and they might follow a blog, but it’s only via social media that they really get the chance to talk to a company.
Talk is cheap, or so the saying goes. And it’s absolutely true when talking about social media. Put some substance behind your words. Social media contests are a fantastic way to drive engagement. Promotions that require contestants to send in media are a potential source of valuable customer-created content. Not only that, but they’re a soft introduction to B2C interaction. Social media users who enter a contest suddenly have a stake in your brand, and will be more likely to interact with you in the future.
Even if you’re not interested in contests, you need to be responsive over social. More and more customers, fed up with traditional support systems, have started approaching companies with complaints over social (Twitter, Facebook, review sites, etc.) channels. This presents an opportunity for redemption; if you handle reasonable complaints fairly and generously, you’ll make a positive impression on anyone seeing the exchange.
Of course, there are limits. Look what happened to poor Domino’s Pizza. Every post on their Facebook immediately draws responses from unsatisfied customers. Domino’s in turn responds with apologies and public promises of coupons. You have to admire their commitment, but in reality, all they’ve done is create a system that generates a never-ending series of embarrassing conversations.
In the end, the best advice I can offer is to be genuine. Social media users can sniff smarminess or spam a mile away, and you’ll get nowhere by trying to push products onto people instead of talking to them. Engagement is a two-way street. Social is your chance to converse; don’t mistake that for a chance to sell.
Charles Dearing can lay claim to years of experience as a digital marketer and web guru. Also an avid writer for PatientSites.com , he now spends time producing articles for business and marketing blogs.