For a business, engaging your community is the primary way to build a bigger business and gain new customers. Keeping their attention, as well as being attractive to new potential customers, is the focus of most social media strategies. This methodology is known as a community engagement strategy.
The big question for many is how to keep a community member (or customer) engaged so that when they have a need for your services you are the first place they go.
The goal is to be engaging, attractive, fun and thought-provoking. If you are a brand that might sound difficult, but it's just a matter of these great tips being applied to your strategy.
- Be Enthusiastic
"Monkey see, Monkey do" really does apply. If you don't love your product, why would you expect your customer to love it? Make sure you use it, believe in it and know a helpful way that your product can be used. For instance is there a charity or cause that you product can help promote, or fund? People love to help others, and altruism is hard to say no to.
- It Has to be a Conversation.
If all you are doing is broadcasting information about your product - essentially spam selling, then no one is going to be attracted to that, in fact it will drive way your existing audience.
Have you listening ears on, monitor your company name and product, as well as peripheral topics, start conversation with people you discover, ask questions and engage in real two-way conversations. This is how you start to gain traction and build your presence resulting in finding more potential clients.
Listening is also important because it can help avoid a major PR crisis due to your company not paying attention to the conversations happening about them.
- Attitude Matters Most in Communications.
There is a fine line between being assertive and being aggressive. The line is even finer in social media because of the lack of tone or tenor in the written word.
Ideally you want to be confident in your communications without compromising your ability to be empathetic as well as apologetic when necessary. Listen, acknowledge and apologize if necessary to win over a detractor.
- Know Which Channel for Which Kind of Content.
Be sure that you understand what your community is seeking on different platforms and tailor the message appropriately. Sometimes it is ok to disseminate information via a share to all your platforms, but not very often.
What goes on Twitter doesn't really belong on LinkedIn, but what goes on LinkedIn can easily go on Twitter. The nuances and etiquette are well documented, be sure to take the time and be familiar with them.
- Show Interest and Be Interested in You Community.
What do you really know about your customers? Have you thought of the simple act of asking them what they want? Is there a topic for content they have more interest in, is there something you are doing they don't enjoy?
Take notes, and keep a good database to track those interactions, using a CRM of some sort is ideal for business purposes. Then adjust what you need to, add where you should and be certain to acknowledge and appreciate those that helped you get that information.
- Promote Others Before Yourself.
The tried and true rule of social media has always been that you want to promote others significantly more often than you promote yourself. Some say 12:1 for a ratio, but it is all over the place. You do want to promote yourself as well, but in a more informative and shareable way than pushing a product or service down their throat.
If you promote others before yourself you will find that others will then promote you. If you make them feel good, they will want to make you feel good. Share their passions, whether it is a blog, an Instagram account, Pinterest board or a charity they support, if the community member feels like they matter through your actions then you will also matter to them. The rule of reciprocations.
- Be a Real Person.
Auto-responders are a big no-no. Be a human, don't be a robot. Never send automated messages of any kind, especially if you are working social channels as part of a customer service effort. An automatic reply will escalate the aggressive mindset of a customer at least five times more than it was before that.
Take the time to reply personally to as many inquiries as you can, even to say "Hey, got your message. Will get back to you asap!" so they know you are acknowledging them. Ideally in a company there should be a person/people dedicated to this taste, monitoring all the social channels via brand listening is time consuming but has proven over and over again that the investment is well worth it in the higher retention levels those companies doing so have seen in the results.
- Your Employees Should be Engaged.
No matter the size of your company, everyone from the CEO to the maintenance tech, should be showing support for the company's marketing and PR efforts, if they are not they certainly are not doing anything to help guarantee they have a future paycheck.
Every employee should be encouraged to support and participate, especially when company strategies require a little additional leverage. If the customers can interact with the CEO or the CIO, and so on, they feel even better about the product or service, and will recommend it more often to others. It's a feel good kind of world and you get a great ROI on the "warm fuzzy" moments people get via the simple things.
If your employees and team aren't engaged, well what do you think your customers will think about that? Not to mention it saps the energies of the person/people in charge of maintaining those channels and interactions. Having multiple cheerleaders is useful, the voices carry further when they are working together.
If your community engagement strategy is properly focused you will see a greater return on the time invested in building and nurturing your community. Another result will be an increase in customer satisfaction and attraction of new customers. To learn more stop by the Community Managers Community and learn from some of the top community builders in the industry.