Google got a whole new look this week! I think he's jealous that I've been spending so much time with my jumpoff, Facebook. As the guys battle for my heart, I wrote this piece on how to engage a social media audience. It's all about being a good girlfriend.
I akin an admin/fan relationship to a courtship. You must woo your fan in order to spark interaction toward complete engagement (much like you must woo a boyfriend in order to spark a love connection toward an engagement ring). Here are my four steps to social media engagement:
1. Quality - Be Pretty and Witty
You must begin with the right voice and the right content for your audience, much like a pick-up line. You must not be too specific in your target nor too broad – you have to find that sweet spot. This is mainly done by trial and error, seeing how your fans respond (or don’t) to certain updates. This is also done in a cautious manner, as to not bore or scare off new fans. Using analytical tools, like Omniture tracking codes, allows one to know if people are visiting a page in response to messaging. Media, like pictures or video, is a good way to test the waters – it is visually appealing and will draw attention. You’re not going to attract a quality mate if you aren’t dressed well. Put on that freakum dress!
Correct spelling, grammar, and presentation (that is the right avatar, formatting, and linking correctly) is essential. You don’t want to have any gaffes – much like a first date. If you can present a quality product, people will be glad they initially followed you and may respond in a positive manner. Quality content and branding leads to a strong connection with your followers. You have to be relatable. Being cute never hurts!
2. Customer Service - Buy A Round
Customer service is necessary and plays into the quality of your product. Your followers may have questions or a bad experience. Here is where the admin can play an important role in assistance. Depending on the issue, the admin may respond directly to the fan or open up a discussion for multiple viewpoints. Interaction between fans creates a sense of community. It's like suggesting a microbrew for your new friend at the bar and casually buying a basket of tater-tots for everyone to share. His friends will automatically love you.
Timeliness is also key. You have to have the ability to monitor the site several times a day to avoid a PR nightmare over a long weekend. Having multiple eyes on a certain account to pick up any slack helps in this effort. No one you’re dating wants to wait days for you to return his call! Monitoring your buzz via Nielson Buzzmetrics or a Twitter search and being on the inside loop of what is new with your brand will give your voice authenticity.
3. Express Interest - Ask First Date Questions
People like to feel valued. They want their story to be heard; they want to voice their opinions. Polling your audience and asking open-ended questions in status updates will increase your interaction rate and allow you to get to know your fans. Just like being on a date, you don’t want to do all the talking! There are several ways to do this. You could ask a direct question or a hypothetical question - it may bring a whole new insight of who your audience is.
Speaking of, not many brands allow fans’ posts on their walls to display by default – but I like the practice. It aids in the sense of community – the walls are filled with fans’ comments, pictures – not just the brand message. Anytime I see a bedstand with a framed photo of only the person who lives there - it's a red flag. Narcissism is not cute.
It never hurts to make your audience feel needed. Having a fan go out of their way to post a comment or a picture makes the brand feel special in return and lets one know she is on the right track, like returning a kiss.
4. Incentives - Give it Up
The most basic way to keep your followers' loyalty is to offer something. This may be a sweepstakes, a service, news, even a special offer. It’s not necessary to be promiscuous – you can do a little at a time or after you’ve built up a base of fans. Some pages might not need to do it all. Some fans expect it; some don’t (just like a man!).
Showing appreciation of their loyalty with a gift will have a positive reception. It will encourage them to remain your fan and listen to your message.
Fan engagement is a tricky game of voice, service and PR and is different from client to client. Being authentic and listening to the needs of your audience is the best practice to convert a new follower into a committed relationship with your brand. Get your followers to put a ring on it!