How to Get Started With One-to-One Social Media Engagement
One of the big problems with social media today is that too many individuals and businesses are using it as a push channel. What do I mean by that? It means that rather than developing engaging content and talking directly with an audience, content is pushed out, often automatically, to social media channels without a thought for the person who may be reading it. Or, even worse, without also engaging the audience directly, in addition to one’s content strategy. B2B companies are especially guilty of this — but they don’t have to be.
Nicole Votolato Montgomery, Associate Professor of Marketing at the McIntire School of Commerce, University of Virginia agrees:
“The number one thing that brands are doing wrong on social media is trying to push product. In contrast to traditional media, social media is more about developing relationships and trying to identify how you as a brand can add value to your customers.”
Pushing out relevant content can be beneficial to you and your audience. But if it’s done in a vacuum, you’ll be missing out on what makes social media truly special and successful. Instead, you need to be hyper-focused on engaging with your social media audience.Christina Garnett, Community Strategist at HubSpot explains:
“Anytime you have a conversation with someone, whether it’s online or in person, there needs to be a give and take. Have you ever been on a first date where that other person just talked about themselves the entire time, didn’t care about you, and didn’t want to talk about you at all? You never want to see that person again. It’s the same thing with brands. If a brand is just talking at you and you try to talk back to them and the brand doesn’t engage with a like or a comment, then that’s a problem. It means that those people are going to stop engaging with the brand. Those likes are going to stop. Those comments are going to stop because they realize that the brand doesn’t care.”
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Benefits of talking directly with your social followers and prospects
First, you can build and grow your brand by having direct contact with your audience. In general, people want to interact with people, not brands. It shows you care and that you are interested in them. It gives your brand a human element.
Second, you can improve your reputation, especially if you are engaging with unhappy individuals. Show that you are listening, show that you care and that you actively want to improve their situation and make things right.
Third, you can answer questions that many of your prospects and customers might have. By responding to questions, other people with the same question may find the answer without having to reach out to customer service.
Fourth, one-to-one engagement helps you provide additional value to your audience. You can give tips and tricks to individuals directly, you can give advice, or you can share fun facts that your audience might not be expecting.
Fifth, you can amplify your reach. That may sound funny when we are talking about one-to-one engagement, but those direct interactions have a cascading effect, particularly when it comes to word-of-mouth. Excited and engaged customers may engage more often, share your material, and, most importantly, tell others of their positive experience. This is especially true if you turn a negative to a positive for a customer. Check out this great exchange between T-Mobile and a customer–a customer that loved the brand so much that they asked for magenta (the brand’s color) hair advice:
All those hearts on her post go a long way for the T-Mobile brand.
That brings us to the sixth benefit. You can increase customer loyalty. I just mentioned how powerful turning a negative experience into a positive was, and in fact, according to Statista, 47% of US consumers have a more favorable view of brands who respond to customer service questions or complaints on social media. The converse is true as well. Sprout Social found that about 50% of consumers stated they would boycott a brand due to a poor response on social. Additionally, 41% of consumers will share bad experiences with a brand with their network.
Marketer Jay Baer said it all when he said:
“When customer service becomes public, it becomes a spectator sport. If you are really good at public customer service, then your social care can become a new form of marketing.”
So now the big question I’m sure you are asking is, “How on earth do I get started?”
Simple. By diving in.
Tips on how to create an engaged social media audience
- Respond to comments, even if it’s just with a like or a smiley face. You can even be snarky–if it’s part of your brand’s voice
- Be honest, transparent, and personal. Have a personality and be truthful in your dealings with customers and prospects.
- Be funny. Use humor thoughtfully. For example, an upset customer may not appreciate a joke, but for the most part, humor makes a brand seem more real, more in touch. JetBlue is known for their helpful customer service. In addition to providing help, their exchanges with their customers show their personality and their love for what they do.
- Offer additional value. Consider how you can surprise commenters with a coupon code or access to supplemental material. When someone is rewarded for their engagement, they are more likely to continue engaging.
- Ask for reviews. If you’ve helped someone, ask them to do you a favor and give you a review. When people are happy about the work you do they sometimes just need to be told how to share that love.
- Ask for product commentary. If you are implementing a new site feature, see what the audience thinks before you move forward. Or how you can tweak it after it goes live.
- Conduct polls. This is an easy way to show the audience you are listening and that you care about their opinions. The key here is to follow up and demonstrate the outcome. Share the results, deliver on their opinion.
- Respond to comments in real time. This is a great tactic for any company, but especially for B2B companies with products that may be more complex. Invite special guests, conduct live demonstrations, host your own live shows on a specific topic. Have someone feed you questions coming in from comments and address them in your live show.
- Tag guests so they can help extend your reach. If you have a guest blogger on your site, or your podcast, or videos, tag them in the content so they can help share it. Thank them for their participation.
- Reference the amazing content of others. If you are a team of one or just a few people, this is something really easy you can do to drive engagement and interest from other influencers, to build relationships and to extend your reach. To learn more about how you can maximize content curation, check out this video.
- Encourage readers to comment, like, and share. This is a simple ask, but it can be very powerful. According to Buffer, your tweets have a 12x higher chance of being retweeted if you ask for it, and 23x higher if you actually spell out the word “retweet.” Use this tactic sparingly so as not to seem too self-serving.
- Consider starting a Facebook or LinkedIn group. What a great way to really engage with your followers! You’ll need to be able to dedicate the time to moderating and participating in these groups, but the power of doing so is so worth it. Online magazine The Cook’s Cook was looking for a way to reach more individuals and started a Facebook group. Their main page, as of this recording, has 8,500+ followers, but their Facebook group has over 89,000 members! Sounds like a great reason to consider a group, right? Facebook also gives brands the option of creating groups that require a subscription which gives the option of offering exclusive content for fans. Want more inspiration? Here are 9 of the best Facebook groups HubSpot has seen.
- Ask a question and respond to the answers. This seems so simple, but few companies take advantage of this easy way to drive engagement.
- And finally, use emojis. It’s a fantastic way to put a personal face on your brand content. And it works! For example, social analytics firm Quintly, found that the use of Emojis Can Lead to 47.7% More Interactions on Instagram. Check out this Valentine’s Day example from Major League Baseball (MLB).
Even just adding a few of these tactics into your everyday strategy will help make a big difference. You’ll have better connections with your audience, greater reach and improved brand awareness and loyalty!