One of the complaints I hear most about social media -- especially from businesses -- is that it's too quiet or that there just isn't enough conversation happening.
I've had clients tell me they didn't think it was worth their time because no one was talking or engaging with their posts, which is uber frustrating. No one wants to feel like they are shouting at a brick wall on social media. That's not why we're here at all.
Today, I'm sharing one of the engagement methods that I use on all of our social media sites, as well as the sites we manage for our clients. This is something you can do as often as you like -- just remember that consistency is key and you want your audience to feel like you care.
What I'm going to teach you today is super simple, effective, and it's a fantastic way to add value for your customers, clients, or audience.
We all know we should be interacting with those who engage on our platforms, but how often are you working to further the conversations that happen on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram? How often do you move that conversation from one quick comment into an entire value-packed thread of information and connection?
Whether your business is service or product based, online/offline, brick and mortar or from your living room, there is SO MUCH VALUE in creating community and making your customers feel special. Without the people we help, our businesses cease to exist. Take this helping notion one step further than most do, and engage with them meaningfully via social media.
The method I want to share with you is all about continuing the conversation to add value and build community.
While this method is simple, you don't see as many brands engaging in a meaningful way once their content is out in the social media world. For instance, when you leave a comment on a Facebook post from a brand you admire, in most cases, you're not expecting a personalized response back. However, think about how you'd feel if you DID get a response.
What if Coca Cola liked your funny comment?
Or what if Nike commented on the Instagram photo you tagged them in?
I bet it would make a difference in how you perceived that brand and the next time you spotted them, you'd remember that experience.
Your view of the brand has shifted because someone took the time to treat you like a human and to give you that interaction that we all crave.
It's no secret that we like attention on social media. We want to be heard and we want to be recognized. There's no shame in that at all, my friends, and the brands who know how people want to be treated, are the brands that push their way to the top.
So how can you utilize this in your own business?
The next time someone leaves a comment on one of your social media networks, respond to them in a way that keeps the conversation going, as organically as possible.
Let's say you've shared a snapshot of a new clothing line that you just brought into your shop.
If someone writes "I love that dress!" on your Facebook page, instead of writing "Thanks!" in response, you're going to take it one step further.
You could write:
"Thanks, [insert @name here so that you tag them]! Would you wear it somewhere special or just for fun?"
"Yay! We're so glad you like it, [name]! We are obsessed with the designs from this company. Did you know they are handmade in Canada?"
You don't have to be cheesy or awkward or fake, my friends. You don't have to beg for the sale. You can take simple interactions (the comments that say "cool!" or "can't wait to try this!") and turn them into full-on conversations that will:
- Boost your engagement (especially on Facebook where every single like, comment, and share counts)
- Help you to form relationships with your audience
- Make you stand out from the competition
- Not come off as icky and sales-y.
- Show your customers that you customers that they are VALUED by you and your business.
Trust me, not everyone is doing this and not everyone will take the time. But you can and I promise you it'll make a difference.
"But what if no one is engaging with my posts at all? How do I get them to START the conversation?"
Ok, I knew you were going to say that. There are a TON of different ways to get people to engage with your content, so I'm going to give you a list of a few quick ideas that'll help you get started RIGHT now, without getting too complicated and time-consuming. Sound good?
- Tweet more than you are right now. Way more. You can schedule out shares, pictures, quotes, and more using Hootsuite, Buffer, or Edgar.
- Ask questions relating to your industry. (This is a great way to get ideas for blog posts too!)
- Search for other users who are in your target market and engage with them. Favourite and RT their tweets. Answer their questions.
- Post valuable content -- don't just sell. Share advice, information, and blog posts that fit your niche.
- Use relevant hashtags in your posts aka tags that people are actually using and tags that are popular within your niche and among your customers. You can search hashtags to see which ones are being used more often to help you decide.
- Be active and like/comment on other posts from your audience and others in your niche. You'll show up more in the recommended section when you're active and proving your value in the community.
- Again, ask questions! When in doubt, just ask a question, share your response, and encourage others to join in the fun!
- Share AWESOME images. Instagram is all about the visual experience, so don't allow blurry, crummy pics in your feed.
- Just like I mentioned for Twitter, I can almost guarantee that you're not posting enough. Double the amount you're posting right now and start sharing super valuable content!
- Ask questions, especially when you're sharing an interesting article or blog post from another source. If you're posting an article about cool skincare hacks for beach season, ASK your audience what they've tried or what their favourite hacks are.
- Use slideshows to expand your reach!
Bam. Once those comments start rolling in, you'll be ready to rock so you can build meaningful relationships with all of the awesome people you've attracted to your brand! Yes!
Quick Tips For Continuing The Conversation
- You can tag names on Facebook by typing @ and then their name, then hit delete to take away last and middle names so you are just addressing them by "Jim" instead of "Jim Brown".
- On Twitter/Instagram, you can usually find their actual first name on their profile page. Reply using their handle, but as an added touch you can use their actual first name to show that you're not a robot and that you're actually paying attention to them.
- On Instagram, if several people have commented, be sure to reply individually. I know it's easier to reply to everyone at once with a hearty "Thanks so much!", but it makes all the difference in how your response is perceived when you take the time to reply individually.
- Ask follow up questions to keep the conversation flowing! This is key! If they are asking YOU a question, answer, then add a question to move the conversation back to them. You might be surprised how effective this for creating lasting relationships with your audience.
- Reply regularly (check accounts 1-2x day if you're busy -- set an alarm on your phone so you don't forget) so that your audience feels heard and valued.
- Use emoticons, Facebook stickers, and GIFs to add humour and personality IF this feels like a good fit for your brand.
Not only does furthering the conversation help you to get to know your customers better -- it also helps them to know, like, and trust YOU and YOUR BIZ.
You'll often hear me say 'you can be personal without being unprofessional'. Put the human side of conversation back into your community and you'll reap the benefits while helping your audience. Trust me, they'll love you for it!
Bonus Tip: On Twitter, you can keep a private List of all your customers or clients. Check in with this list a couple times a week and RT/Like or reply to posts. Be genuine, don't sell. Just stay connected. This personal touch will keep you front of mind.
Sometimes I feel like we forget about the social part of social media. We post content, we hope for likes, shares, comments, favourites, and whatnot -- but we forget to really dig into the social aspect, the community building, and remembering that every single person on our page is exactly that... a person!
Think about the responses you've seen from other brands who are rocking this strategy. You know you feel good, you feel valued, and you're more likely to interact with that brand in the future. Give the same awesome value to your own customers and watch how it changes your community from the inside out.