Engagement with your audience is one of great advantages of social media marketing, but creating meaningfuland advantageous conversations is as much an art as it is a science. Engagement increases brand loyalty and public conversations can serve as free advertising.
The team at Awareness, Inc. reviews proven steps and real world examples of how to ignite the social spark with your fans and followers from our recent whitepaper 11 Strategies to Increase Engagement with Social Media.
Contests and Promotions
Know your audience and provide content that is valuable, useful or interesting. One of the best ways to get the social customer engaged with your brand is to give something they want away through contests, promotions or coupons. 65% of people who follow brands on Facebook are looking to score a deal. When considering your own contest or promotion, think about these two cases and how you can model your own promotion with the least barrier to entry.
Example #1: Healthy Choice, they took the common task of offering a coupon and made a game out of it. Healthy Choice introduced a coupon on their Healthy Choice Facebook Page. With each new "Like" on Facebook, the coupon, first valued at $.75, gradually increased to a "buy-one-get-one-free" deal. In just a few weeks, Healthy Choice's fan count grew from under 7,000 to over 60,000. More importantly, 60% of new fans subscribed to Healthy Choice's newsletter, generating fresh new leads for the company.
Example #2: USA Today used a social contest to gain recognition and reposition its brand as the "everyman's" paper. They created a contest called "What America Wants." Using the hashtag #AmericaWants, USA Today asked fans to win free ad space in the paper for their favorite charity retweeting the following post: "#AmericaWants (insert charity name) to get a full-page ad in USA Today". The charity mentioned the most in retweets over a three-day period would win a full-page, full-color ad in USA Today, valued at $189,400. The campaign generated over 60,000 tweets in support of more than 500 organizations with an estimated reach of 67 million users.
Ongoing Social Engagement
Contests and promotions can serve your social engagement well, but variety is essential for a successful campaign. Special promotions need to be balanced with interesting and useful content - only then will brands see the lasting power of the meaningful social conversation. Asking questions, doing the unexpected, and empowering your most passionate followers are three ways brands can enhance ongoing social engagement and loyalty, which eventually leads to more customers and increased sales.
Engagement Trick #1: Keep Asking Questions
This may seem obvious, but many brands continue to post about their products and services without asking for feedback. Asking your audience questions not only shows you value customer feedback, it is also a great way to learn insights from and about your fans. For example, Rue La La, the members-only e-commerce powerhouse, and posts questions daily on both their Facebook page and Twitter feed. Their questions relate to top fashion statements, trends, and users' favorite fabrics or designers, keeping their brand top of mind and offering the company a stream of real-time insights on people's "likes".
Engagement Trick #2: Do Something Unexpected
Few brands have the guts to try something unexpected and even fewer can be successful at it. Which reminds me of Ann Handley and C.C. Chapman's talk at our Awareness Exploring Social Media Business Summit this past October, when they shared inspiring case studies from their book Content Rules. Meet one "Do-Something-Unexpected" superstar - Magic Hat. They sent out a newsletter via email to promote their Number 9 beer for the brew's sixteen-year anniversary. The email was written from the point of view of a proud parent, poking fun at the beer entering into adolescence. The email was so bold, funny and captivating, Handley actually read the entire newsletter from start to finish.
Engagement Trick #3: Empower Your Most Passionate Users
Empowered fans will boast of our brand and spread the word and are ultimately your number one asset. Rewarding fans for their passion needs to be a staple in every marketer's toolbox. Discover your what it is about your brand that ignites your fans' passions. By fueling the fire you can build a loyal following - exactly like what Fiskars did not too long ago. Fiskars, a scissors manufacturer, discovered most of their customers were avid scrap-bookers. The company saw an opportunity to build a community and launched a new community site Fiskateers. Fiskateers empowers passionate scrapbookers to blog, connect in real-time via chat forums, and share creations online. And in the process Fiskars has helped build one of the most vibrant online scrapbook communities, the success of which has been widely published and followed as a best practice of how a brand listened to its followers, saw a need, and created powerful toolset to benefit their most loyal fans.
For more social engagement tips, download our whitepaper on the 11 Strategies to Increase Engagement.
We welcome your thoughts, reactions and feedback. Let us know how do you engage with your users? What are some of your engagement tricks? Share your successes, hiccups, and proven practices on this blog, on Twitter at hashtag #AwarenessSMM, on Facebook at Social Media Marketing Best Practices, or LinkedIn at the Social Media Marketing Mavens Group.