The Other Half of Social Media Marketing: Replying
You know the importance of engaging social content. You know how a great Tweet, Facebook post or Instagram photo can lead to greater brand recognition, and ultimately, to greater sales numbers.
But when this content gets noticed—and gets a reaction—will you be ready to respond? It’s important not to forget or underestimate the other half of your social media marketing strategy: responding. Oftentimes, responding to comments, likes or shares is just as important for a social media management as creating something great in the first place. This emphasized interaction, appreciation and the creation of a connection between the brand and the audience. This post will provide some advice on the best practices for your social media management responses.
Spiderman sits atop the city using his “Spidey-sense” to find bad guys and swing in to save the day. Superman can fly out into space and listen to millions of voices all at once, before zooming down faster than a speeding bullet to save the next innocent civilian in danger. Batman can… well, Batman just always seems to be in the right place at the right time. Nevermind, that’s beside the point. The point is that, without a great method of listening, it is hard to know when to act.
In order to identify the right people and posts to reply to, you need an effective way to listen to your social channels. In an age where social media marketing is, perhaps, the king of audience interaction, brands are utilizing numerous channels and creating hundreds or thousands of individual posts a month. Each of these has potential to be liked, shared, or commented on. It’s a lot to take in—and none of us are Superman.
Utilizing a platform like Oktopost, brands are able to monitor, organize and listen to all of their social media interactions. For example, no other B2B marketing platform has the ability to engage your organization in social listening in LinkedIn groups, as Oktopost does for you.
Using live monitoring streams, Oktopost lets you track Twitter favorites and retweets, search by keywords, monitor Facebook and LinkedIn likes and much more, all from a single location. In order to maximize your social media marketing presence, interacting and replying with your audience is crucial, and seeing when and where to do that is the first step. But enough about us, let’s get back to some tips on responding.
Once you have identified posts that you can engage with, your replies should be relevant, regular, and should start or continue a conversation. Don’t make the mistake of underestimating social media interactions. This seemingly simple process should be treated as more of an art form in the B2B marketing process. That said, it is difficult to definitively say there is one right way to do it, but here are some tips to help.
Understand the Different types of Engagement
With the growing number of social media platforms used by businesses, it becomes pretty important to understand the potential interactions your brand can have in your channels of choice. Not only will the interactions vary from channel to channel, but there are even multiple ways to interact with followers in any particular social network. Retweets, favorites, likes, comments, private messages – using these elements in a business setting can all be a bit overwhelming, even to those that are already familiar with them. To make it a bit easier, let’s break it down to a few categories:
Public Facing “Appreciation” – These types of interactions quickly and easily show appreciation for a particular post, picture or comment. Facebook likes, Twitter favorites and Instagram hearts are all examples of this type. While still important to consider responding to some these types of interactions (ideally there will be a LOT), most people do not expect a response from a simple “like.”
For new followers, especially, a simple and quick “Thanks for the follow!” or “Glad you liked the post!” can go a long way to initiate a relationship. And consider checking out their personal page and liking some of their posts as a thank you.
Public Facing “Conversation” – Conversational interactions on social networks are far more important to keep up with consistently. As followers comment on posts, the way a brand responds and interacts is immediately visible to not only the commenter, but also anyone else that views the page.
Responses to comments will of course vary depending on the style and tone of the comment, however it is crucial to always be aware that any response is acting as the voice of the entire brand and company. They should be professional, yet friendly and interactive. Never get drawn into a negative conversation via social media – drive the conversation to the positive aspects of the brand, without ignoring or skirting the issue mentioned.
Also, be sure that responses are carefully crafted. Far too many brands have responded to social media with seemingly innocent replies, to have their statements twisted in a way they did not expect. This can be hugely detrimental, even if the mistake is corrected. If possible, run social statements and replies by a few people in the office if there is ever any question.
Private “Conversation” – While not as directly impactful as public facing conversations, private comments or direct messages are also very important to address. Responses should have a similar tone and style to a public message, and address the comment or question posed. Being thorough with replies will show individuals that your brand appreciates and cares – and while not public, remember that word of mouth is a powerful thing.
The goal of replying and increasing engagement with your audience and industry is to build relationships with your social following. This is why it is “the other half.” Posting and publishing creates awareness, while replying and interacting builds relationships.
Relationships with prospects and customers create a sense of involvement. People enjoy feeling part of something bigger, especially when that something bigger is also something they are interested in or passionate about. Social media relationships often end up resulting in new business. As your current followers like and share your content, new potential clients they are connected to will see it.
The same goes for potential partnerships. If similar agencies or companies appreciate what you do via social networking, it can open doors to partnership opportunities, which can lead to exponential business growth.
Finally, there are always thought leaders and industry experts in the social networking spheres. Building relationships with these types of people (i.e. influencers) opens the door to potential articles, blogs and media stories (by these experts), which will be outstanding PR for the brand.
After identifying a specific person, company or industry expert you think your brand would like to build a relationship with, do a little digging. See what social platforms you both use regularly and begin to interact across all of them. It’s important to do this organically – don’t approach it as a young, smitten boy falling for a girl (or vice versa). When appropriate, comment on their posts and/or favorite their tweets. Try to initiate meaningful and informational conversations via the platforms. This will get their attention, but also provide useful discussion for all the other followers paying attention.
Oktopost’s listening tool is a great way to help you manage these types of relationships. Rather than logging into each individual network, it pulls all of your social interactions and combines them in easy to view, unified feeds. Everything you need to build social relationships on one screen!
Ultimately, of course, the goal is to move the relationship from a social media one, to a real life one—whether that be as a client, partner or advisor. The best way to do this? Simply gauge when the time is right, then ask! A simple direct (private) message explaining that you think you both could benefit from a more formal business relationship and asking for a quick meeting or phone call can do wonders.
Two Halves Make a Whole
Social media has grown by leaps and bounds since its inception. Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, etc. are all amazing and powerful business tools that marketers literally have at their fingertips. But, it’s important to remember the social aspect of social media marketing. It’s not just about creating content. It’s about creating relationships. And, to do that, you have to be ready to engage in conversation.
What’s your strategy on social media management responses? Let me know (and I’ll be sure to respond).