As businesses, we all want the same things when we build our online presences: better engagement, customer retention, innovation, and being able to build a better reputation in the market/s that we choose to serve.
If you have been reaching out to customers through the years through banner ads, interstitial ads, PPC, and the like, the idea of using social media marketing, and social media engagement may sound foreign to you – and it may sound like a lot of work, truth be told.
To engage a person online means you have to be “in the know” about how potential/actual customers are interacting with you online. This means you can no longer rely on just paying for ads and waiting for the money to roll in.
Traditional marketing was highly business-centered.
Social media marketing is all about audience response, and the adjustments you have to make in your campaign/s are sometimes microscopic, though sometimes the entire system has to be scrapped in favor of a better one.
But in the end, it all boils down to the question: how social is your social media presence?
To be social in this day and age means you are not just communicating directly to people through private messages, tweets, or comments, you are also making an effort to produce content that people would want to read and share.
Some thirty years back, companies could be really picky as to how their content can be shared by customers.
It is different now.
Businesses now have to let people share their content the way they want, with the medium that they choose. You can still protect your branding and copyrights online, but the method of distribution is wild, to say the least.
So how do you get started on the upward journey toward better social media engagement? Here are a couple of strategies, from us to you:
1. Know where your market is hanging out.
Your market is not composed of abstract numbers and other figures.
Your market is comprised of at least one segment of the population, and represents at least one type of community with a particular need.
Different segments and communities “hang out” differently on the Internet. The million-dollar question now is: where is your market, exactly?
Are they on Twitter? Facebook? Instagram? Or do they spend time on all three platforms equally?
Finding out this vital bit of information is essential because then you would be able to:
– Create the right type of content for your readers.
– Know where to actually catch up on what your market’s interests are now.
– Communicate with people who are using your product and service and respond to both praise and criticism quickly.
You cannot engage people if you do not know where they are, in the first place.
Of course, with effective engagement, people will be able to flock to your social media presence and engage you directly.
But this will only become feasible after a time, when your business has become fully integrated into the textured online landscape that your market inhabits on the Web.
2. Listen and respond properly – as a business.
Catching up with the latest trends has never been as important as it is now, simply because a large percentage of willing and able customers have embraced social media and technology so much that they cannot imagine their lives without these.
The previous generation (millennial) is growing up, and the youngest generation (generation Z) is even more entrenched in the latest trends in technology and the Internet.
So how can you cope with this sudden need to interact with the people who might be interested in your business, or have already purchased/paid for something by you?
Accept both negative and positive reviews. – We love watching TV shows where business owners lash out at people online when someone puts a bad review of their business.
People still believe that only positive stuff should be posted online.
But the fact of the matter is that people will feel equally inclined to write about both bad and good experiences when dealing with any kind of business.
Your task would be to learn to listen more to people, not to mechanically follow their assertions or anything like that, but to learn more about how crowd psychology works on the Internet.
And remember – you are getting valuable feedback from the very people who are willing to spend money on your business.
Before, businesses had to rely on paid surveys and other pricey methods for getting market feedback.
Now that feedback can be acquired freely, but not in the way that some businesses are prepared to receive – out in the open, with other people being able to read the feedback.
Be responsive and provide forums for your market.
Responsiveness is actually replying to queries online, or at least providing a response through your social media platform about specific issues that arise from you doing business with your market.
When a customer connects with a business online, that person expects the business to respond – quickly, if possible.
While it may sound that customers are becoming more demanding, they are not.
It just so happens that they know that the same technology we are all using allows for quick responses over the Web. In short, there really is no reason for a business to not respond to an online query.
What about phoning in?
Customers tend to phone in when they need to verify their identities, as is the case with businesses like PayPal that require a voice call if an account has been blocked for some reason, and they need the user to provide proof of identity.
But as for other concerns, such as returning a defective product, inquiring about the availability of products/services, there’s the Internet for that, and real-time chatting or quick responses to instant messages has become the norm.
And remember that the new norm is that people want to communicate with businesses publicly now.
This new method of communicating actually makes people feel more secure, because other people will be there to witness the response of the business.
Or, a private conversation through email or instant messaging can easily be made public over a social network like Facebook, if the results of the interaction are unsatisfactory.
Finally, it is never a bad idea to offer your customers or clients different methods for contacting you.
While a large percentage of people might air their grievances online (or praise you, if your business really did well), others may be more inclined to phone in or email you, instead.
These alternative methods of communication should be available, and are considered an integral part of the machinery of your social media marketing efforts.
3. Humanize your brand.
No one likes to feel like they are talking to a machine. Out in the cold recesses of the Internet, it may feel that way if the presentation of your social media channels has not been humanized.
One easy way to humanize a Twitter account, for example, is by putting a face to the name.
Big brands like Samsung have been doing this for years.
In addition to their main Twitter accounts where they do constant promotions of new products, Samsung also has customer support Twitter accounts where people can just tweet at customer care agents who will then access the Samsung global knowledge base to find answers for queries about television sets, DVD players, and other Samsung appliances.
The concept is at least a decade old, but businesses develop at different paces when they go online, so this may sound like a radical new development to some.
4. Know how to knock on their doors.
While the technology and speed of interaction have changed, we as businesses are still pretty much like roving salesmen, with our wares up for sale.
How exactly do we “knock” at people’s hearts on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram?
Here are some ways you can achieve that:
- Use strategic words to grab their attention. Social media users tend to skim content on their newsfeeds, and if the headline of your post is not attention grabbing, do not expect people to give it a lot of love.
- Let them come to you. An enticing lead is just the beginning. You need to get your customers to click, so they can view the rest of your content from its actual source. The actual source can be your Facebook page, or your main website.
- Without action, entreaties on social media are meaningless. In short, there always has to be purpose in your posts, and if your customers can take action, then your formula is sound.
On top of paying for your products and services, you can also ask your audience to respond to a tweet or Facebook post, or share your content to their own networks.
Always figure out the necessary action that will make the post relevant to your customers before actually posting it.