Social media allows you to directly connect with your customers, prospects, and brand representatives about everything from products to challenges. But do you know how to use engagement to solidify these relationships?
Here are 10 Best Practices for Engagement:
1. Follow Back and Interact
If you’ve got a healthy number of social media followers and you’re only following a handful back, that tells everyone that you’re not interested in what your community has to say. Follow back and interact. This will help grow your overall following and create goodwill within your community.
Plus, when you follow back, you may receive some public thank-yous, which will give you an opportunity to chat with your community members, learn more about their interests, and deliver on their needs.
2. Keep the Social in Social Media
It seems like this one would be obvious, yet many brands and individuals using social media don’t actually get social with their followers. Should you engage with your influencers? Yes! Should you engage with your customers? Absolutely! Should you engage with everyone who reaches out to you? Indeed, with a few exceptions (Avoid trolls and spammers). Social media is about relationships, first and foremost. Step outside your comfort zone and expand your horizons. Not everyone you connect with has to be like-minded. Diversity breeds inspiration!
Don’t overlook social media monitoring and engagement platforms, there are plenty out there like SproutSocial, Sprinklr, Hootsuite, and Salesforce Marketing Cloud. They’ll help you find brand mentions across the social web to connect you with people who are interested in your product or industry.
3. Determine Your Voice and Tone
Is your voice very corporate or is it a bit more casual? What you’re sharing says as much about you as it does your audience. Does your voice represent your brand? If it does, is it representative of the demographic you’re trying to reach? If your tone and voice aren’t appealing to your prospects, then it’s time to change it up. Though it’s important that your social media engagement be as unique as your brand, it’s also important not to stray from your brand’s image. Let your corporate culture be your guide.
4. Keep it Short
According to Strategies for Effective Tweeting: A Statistical Review, “Tweets containing less than 100 characters receive 17% higher engagement than longer Tweets.” While Twitter limits your messages with its 140 character limit, Facebook, Google+ and other networks don’t heed the character limit. Sometimes, the shorter, the better!
5. Create Brand Awareness
Social media platforms offer the potential to increase your public profile. You have the ability to create grassroots campaigns, engage with influencers in your industry, share content from them and stay active in conversations. If you create and share worthwhile content, you’ll be ready for the time when industry influencers send a flood of new followers your way.
6. Don’t Over Share
“Sometimes being able to publish every whim that scans across your brain is the best thing in the world. Sometimes, it can become a real problem. The killer is this: when it is a problem, you’re usually the last to know and the damage is done.” - Mitch Joel
While it’s important to stay in the loop and maintain social relationships, posting too often, whether it’s photos, status updates or frequent Tweets, can turn off your audience. Focus on sharing items that are of value to your community and reflect your brand. Creating a content calendar can help you with this.
7. Don’t Always Feel Compelled to Jump In
Much like oversharing, you don’t have to be a part of every conversation mentioning your company. In fact, sometimes it’s better to let your employees, influencers, and other members of your community interject before, or instead of you. Determine what types of posts you want to respond to and which ones you want to sit out. Having a social media playbook will help to define when and where you should be a part of the conversation.
8. Be as Transparent as Possible
Openness goes a long way in social media. It’s a big part of building trust with your community. Give your customers behind the scenes access to your business by creating videos, live-streaming meetings and internal company events, and introducing your team through Google Hangouts or creative employee profiles with links to connect.
In turn, prospects will take more of an interest in your brand, and stay in touch when it comes to updates.
9. Be Proactive, Versus Reactive
Monitor general feeds in your industry; for instance, at Salesforce Marketing Cloud, I monitored “social media marketing” to pick up a variety of posts that didn’t mention the brand but were still valuable. This strategy reveals new conversations you may wish to take part in and enables you to establish new relationships. It’s also a great way to catch any issues before they become a potential crisis.
10. Respond to Negative and Positive Feedback
Though it may be tempting to respond to positive feedback and delete the negative, don’t. Instead, respond to positive feedback, thank your community for sharing your content or recommending your products, and invite members to share their stories through interviews or as guest bloggers on your site.
If you receive negative feedback, consider looking at it as constructive criticism and an opportunity to improve. If someone is complaining, it’s more than likely they’re looking for a resolution from you. Very rarely do people merely want to complain. Therefore, respond as quickly as possible and avoid the urge to purge.
What tips do you have for engaging with people across social networks? What best practice would you add to this list? Do you think brands should follow everyone back and interact? Share your thoughts with me in the comments area below.
I originally published a version of this article titled “10 Social Media Best Practices for Brand Engagement” on the Salesforce MarketingCloud blog on Jul 12, 2013.