In this hectic paced life, it is often hard to take the time for true ‘engagement‘. Family, friends, followers and fans!
So many people to talk to!! When we talk about social media, we often measure how engaged our fans and followers are…but have you stopped to ask yourself how engaged YOU are with them?
Social media is about building an on-line community of ‘like minded’ people. No, that doesn’t mean we are all clones and we all think alike. Think about it…these people are following you for a reason! It could be they liked what they saw in a tweet or facebook post, it could be they like your brand and want to associate with it. It could be a personal friend who wanted to help grow your base. One of the most important things you can remember is they chose to follow or fan you. And as quickly as they choose to follow you….they can choose to unfollow you. So how do you keep that loyalty going?
As a non-profit, I do not have anything to sell. I don’t have a special of the week to offer to keep them coming back for more. That leaves content and engagement as my tools of choice to keep people coming back. Again, that is a fine line since too many posts can be a turn off! So what can you do to keep them coming back for more? If you are not engaged, you are not interested, if you are not interested why are you in Social Media? And why would anyone want to talk to someone who is not interested in them?
Here are some thoughts I hope you will find useful as I work through strategies to keep ’em coming back for more.
Engagement starts at Hello.
When someone follows you, do you thank them? Do you make it personal? We all get very busy and it’s easy to get in the habit of just doing the customary ‘Thanks for the follow’. I actually go to their page and read a bit about them. Using their first name in the thank you is a good start. And including something about the person in the thank you helps. We had one follower who indicated they were expecting their first child soon. The thank you included a good luck wish on the pending birth! Often a ‘welcome to our on-line community-hope you’ll join our conversation‘ works if the bio reveals nothing. I do not auto-reply. Those are so easy to see through and takes the personality out of it. Looking at the bio also helps you decide if you should ‘follow-back’. I do not automatically follow everyone. Remember you are building a community of like minded people. Read their tweets. See if they fit into what you are building. It’s not just a numbers game but quality should come into play. People look at your followers to decide if there are people there who they should follow. Do you want someone following someone who has tons of swears in their tweets? As a professional organization, you have to make the choice between numbers and quality. And remember, those swears could be unleashed at YOU! Spammers also pick up on your followers. You don’t need to be associated with spammer accounts!
Find Out What They Want!
Have you ever asked your friends and followers what they are looking for in your pages or tweets? That’s part of the conversation. You want them to interact with you. If you are not giving them what they are looking for, why would they come back? Think about it, how many pages have you fanned and you never went back to it? You want people to keep visiting which means giving them something to visit for.
Content is King
We’ve all heard this phrase before. So what does it mean? Are you always talking about your own business? Do you give your readers something other than you own news to read? It’s a big world out there and you can certainly find news articles, publications, blogs, that support your mission, provide education, give just pure reading enjoyment, without spouting off the goodness of your own brand! We want our donors healthy so providing information on foods that build iron, exercise that builds a healthy heart, ways to reduce stress and lower blood pressure, all support our mission because a healthy donor can keep donating! It’s subtle but it fits in with what we do! Mix that in with some fun posts and you are on your way to conversations.
Respond Respond Respond
Follow back on Twitter (you can’t have a conversation if you are not following!), and respond to questions and posts on your page! This sounds basic but there are pages I have left comments or questions on and never heard back. Sometimes I see a lunch menu fly by the twitter feed and just have to comment…’Oh that sounds delish…’ because it GENUINELY does! I have made some contacts that we have done business with doing exactly this! And if you are on the receiving end of a comment like that, do you respond or just chuckle and let it go? Slow down, take the time, take interest in your followers! Now I am certainly not saying say something just to say something…but if something catches your eye, then by all means respond! Yes, you may be a large organization, but I look at social media as an opportunity for an organization to show there are people behind the façade of the organization! Caring human beings who are interested in the rest of their community. So let your personality come through a bit and bring the conversation off the corporate image and into the human realm. Most of all don’t be false. People can see right through that. One of your followers is sick? Send them a get well tweet! Better yet, and depending on the business you are in, take the time to look that person up and send a get well card (they may be in your customer database!).
Provide EXCELLENT Customer Service
Have you received a complaint from a customer? Chances are if one if complaining there are 10 who feel the same way and haven’t said a word. Even if you don’t have an answer right away, if the complaint came through your social media, all your fans and friends may have seen it. Respond that you will look into it AND THEN DO SO. Follow up and get back to the person. You may choose to do this offline and make it more personal (1 way to avoid social media fires). But then you may want to create a post about the issue, and how it was resolved; what did you do about it as a company. This gives a satisfaction to your customers that you are responsive and willing to work on problems. That you care. Do you survey your customers (most companies do to get their finger on the pulse of customers). Take one point every time you survey, investigate it, then create a post on the issue and what you are doing to make it better. No one is perfect and people like to see you are making improvements.
Make It About Them!
People like to see themselves recognized. Our highest rating weeks were when we did pictures at an event, told people we would have them up that evening and suggested people tag themselves that night. We also ran photo contests where we asked people to send their own pictures of themselves with their gallon mugs, offering a prize to the most creative picture. it’s all about building your community! When I fan a page, I like to see who else is on the page that I may know. Or I am going to that page because I saw a post in my feed where someone else ‘liked’ the page. I want to see who is there and what it’s about. I like to talk with others who have that same interest that I do!
I believe in the end, the most successful social media marketers will be those who can make connections and build relationships. Perhaps Social Media Marketer is the wrong name for this position and Community Manager would be a better fit. This media is how our younger generation communicates. They seem disconnected yet they are wired …this is their world and we have to learn how to function in it without driving them away. They are intelligent, technologically savvy and it’s up to us to find how to make that connection with them. Do it right and you won’t have to toot your own horn, they will do it for you! The old adage word of mouth is the best referral still applies!