Posted by Kyle Woolley, Internet Marketing Specialist on January 20, 2015
Imagine you are at a party. You are single and are looking for a relationship. You hear from a friend that there are going to be so many good looking guys (or girls) at this party, so you go. Sure enough, you see there are a lot of hotties there. All of them come in different sizes and have different faces, but they all look good. There is only one problem; none of them are talking to each other. In fact, it seems no one is talking to anyone at all. Instead, they are periodically breaking the awkward silence with an even more awkward declaration about how great they are or about something random they have done recently. Then it goes silent again. And they are all staring at you intensely. Before you even get a chance to talk with anyone, you are already weirded out by the deafening silence and awkward announcements that you want to leave.
Then you see him (or her). It’s that one person who is trying to mingle with the people at the party. Anytime someone says something that seems interesting, this person engages in the conversation. Not just putting in pointless fluff like “that’s cool” or “great job.” No, they are adding to the conversation, challenging statements and conversing with others in an enlightening and intelligent way. You are drawn to this person because they are ENGAGING with others. And not just other people, but with you personally. He/she sees you, comes over, gives an introduction in a non-aggressive way, and shows you around. You may have found your soulmate! Before you know it, you are in love with his/her sincerity, transparency and expertise.
This is how brands engage most of the time on social communities. One thing I have been noticing when I work online with clients is the inability for brands to play nice. I see it all the time, especially in forums and communities centered around topics like construction, engineering or IT services. All of these brands or companies join these social groups but never interact with each other. It’s like multiple islands within a island. I assume the reason is that neither company wants to acknowledge the other and appear weak. They do not want to engage with each other on their common ground, so these communities become silent. People come looking for a service or help, but instead of finding a thriving community with multiple options, they find a silent room full of brands all randomly yelling something about why their company is great. It’s awkward, and I rarely see any progress with my clients who refuse to engage with other companies.
Then there are companies that want to engage all the time, regardless of who it is with. When an opposing company makes a great article or infographic that is interesting and effective, they reach out and comment on how they like it or what they would improve instead of remaining silent. They are not spammy, but rather engage in an intelligent way.
New brands to social media frequently confuse asset promotion and social participation. They usually believe it is the same thing. It is not. Asset promotion is telling the world why you are special and what makes you great. It is selling yourself and your product. Social participation is engaging with your audience on a variety of things that may not be directly related to you. It is not selling yourself or telling the world what makes you special; it is adding to the conversation. It is pooling together knowledge to learn something new. It is shedding light on a discovery that will not just benefit you but everyone else. New brands have a hard time doing this because they feel that anything put online that is not directly praising their business is a waste of time. I assure you that’s incorrect. We won’t go into other aspects of social media marketing here in this article but if you are looking for more take a look at Netmark’s main SMM page.
Companies should not be afraid of interactions with their competition. Consumers these days are savvy. They will look up a brand’s history and see what they have been doing online. If they are just yelling alone on their own little island, they will be discarded and forgotten. People like the brand that interacts not just with them but with other brands. It shows that they are out and about and not afraid to be online and affable. I’m not saying that your brand should be spammy or purposefully aggressive to the competition. What I am saying is to be sociable. If the competition does something good, engage. Comment on it, congratulate, and then converse. Talk about what you would have done differently or the same. Add more to their content with your own perspective and insight. This is all part of the EAT principle from Mark Traphagensthe’s Google Quality Rating Guidelines article “Personal Brand Punch”— Expertise, Authority and Trustworthiness.
When you engage with everyone, including the competition, you show people that you are there. You are active; you are learning; you are growing. When people start browsing the community, they see that you are an active participant in these conversations and that what you are saying is intelligent. This makes people believe that you have expertise in your industry. You seem to know what you are talking about and join in conversations to enlighten others or learn something new.
Before long, you have engaged so much that people now believe you have authority in your industry. Not only have you been engaging, but you have been learning and adding new things to the industry like insights, articles, blogs posts, educational videos and creative content. You have included good, meaty content that you have put time into. Because you have been engaging, people now are listening to you because you are familiar.
Now that people are listening to you, you have slowly gained their trust. You have expertise and authority. Now use it to gain more followers and customers. Be transparent and honest. Don’t be offensive or boastful. Be down to earth, and keep being you. People can sense a fake easily online by the way you talk and type. Be genuine and you will continue to gain their trust.
This comes as no surprise, but everything in life is moving online. This includes almost all social interactions we have with each other. People are flooding the Internet for their needs. It is easier now than ever before to reach target audiences. Be sociable. Engage on things that relate to you. Just like at a hot, single party, be yourself. Talk to everyone and enjoy each others company; people will love you for it.