Monday, October 8, 2012

Looking For More Engagement From Social Media? Be More… (Guest Blog)

As we move closer to Ektron's Synergy Conference next month, and my session on social media, I thought I'd utilize this space to feature guest blog posts from some of the most influential social experts that I've connected with. I hope to see you at Synergy and encourage you to learn more about these guest bloggers too.

This post is from Suvonni, an innovative digital marketing and brand strategy consulting firm in Chicago. Darcy Schuller is the Founder and President of Suvonni, and is passionate about helping clients build stronger brands through elevated customer engagement, social media marketing, content marketing and integrated marketing communications. You can find Darcy on Twitter, , Facebook and LinkedIn. Enjoy!

Looking For More Engagement From Social Media? Be More…

One of the biggest benefits of social media is the ability to connect with others. It’s no surprise that social engagement is one of the biggest goals for companies looking to connect with their prospects, customers and advocates. With social media, the opportunity to establish relationships with your audience and turn casual contacts into loyal customers is at your fingertips. But, being effective at developing meaningful relationships requires effort. And, as in the offline world, the most successful relationships are based on trust, two-way conversations and a sincere interest amongst the parties involved. It takes time, effort and a lot of creativity to establish and execute a social engagement strategy no doubt. But with the right mix, smart companies can deepen their customer relationships with the help of social media. Here are 12 tips to help you increase your online social engagement.

1. Be More… Interesting
Take the time to understand what interests your target audience and what matters to them the most. Then deliver relevant, timely and valuable content to them. Keep in mind though, that it isn’t simply the content you deliver, but the method in how you deliver it. Keep it interesting, fresh and exciting so that your audience stays in tune. When you provide intriguing and must-read content, your audience will want to engage with you as well as share your content with their own networks.

2. Be More… Visual
Speaking of changing up how you deliver information – videos and pictures are known to increase social engagement significantly more than text or links alone. With the rise of visual sharing sites and apps (Pinterest, YouTube, Instagram, etc.), we are able to express ourselves much more creatively. Images catch the eye and cause us to pause and take a look. Adding visual content to your social mix, either as a stand-alone or as part of your content, is a sure fire way to increase comments, likes and shares… and thus your overall engagement and reach.

3. Be More… Curious
One of the most obvious ways to spark engagement? Ask for it! Asking your audience to participate is a great way to encourage social engagement. Ask relevant and/or entertaining and fun questions, take polls, ask for “likes”, ask for input on new product ideas, etc. By asking a question, you are conveying that you are interested in what your audience has to say. Just be sure to acknowledge and provide feedback on what you are asking for after you receive input.

4. Be More… Timely
Integrating your content, contests, questions and other interactions with current events is a great way to increase social engagement. People love to talk about what is current (Olympics, Elections, Back to School, etc.). By tying your conversation starters to a high-profile current event, you will surely get more people talking. Just be sure that the tie-in makes sense and is still relevant to your target audience and your business.

5. Be More… Giving
Contests, promotions and giveaways can provide a big boost in your social engagement. Get your audience involved, whether it is a photo/video submission contest or a simple promotion for a discount tied to number of likes, for some quick engagement wins. The “what’s in it for me” mentality still drives people! So ensure you are giving your audience something that they will value and that is worth the time and effort they will put into the opportunity.

6. Be More… Interactive
Don’t “hit-and-run” or “post-and-ghost” on your social channels. Too many companies use engagement tactics like asking an intriguing question or posting content that draws a lot of comments… and then do nothing. Not a word back from the company. What’s the point? The premise of social is to interact. While it may not be feasible to respond to each and every comment you get, you should make a point to respond to your audience as much as possible when they comment or mention your company. It shows that you are monitoring comments and are genuinely interested in what your audience has to say. Remember, relationships require 2-way conversations to grow and prosper!

7. Be More… Flexible
Social media is not a 5-day 9am – 5pm and then TGIF! Test different posting times to determine when your target audience is most likely to engage. It may very well be a Saturday afternoon when you get the most responses to a question while sharing a video gets the most activity on a Tuesday at 3pm. You won’t know unless you try and test different scenarios. Be flexible and adapt your strategy to your audience needs. The ability to schedule posts makes this incredibly easy to do.

8. Be More… Fun
Put on your social smile. It’s not all about pushing out content, selling your products or services, or ultimately getting people to your website. Add an element of humor and quirkiness to your engagement every now and then. Make your content more engaging by making it fun. Content, pictures or videos that make people smile will be shared… and your reach will be greater.

9. Be More… Proactive
Don’t wait for comments or shares or likes to engage with your audience. Be proactive and give a shout out to your new followers, to your most loyal customers, or to those who engage with you the most on social platforms. What a great way to surprise and delight your target customers by giving them a social mention to let them know you appreciate them. And the result is a positive perception of your brand with the high likelihood of repeat engagement from your target audience.

10. Be More… Polite
Manners still matter in social media. A simple “please”, “thank-you” or “you are welcome” can go along way… especially in social media. Thank, acknowledge, and be kind to your social audience (even when they are not being kind to you!) – it will keep them coming back for more. This is a simple element in your social engagement strategy that absolutely cannot be overlooked.

11. Be More… Human
Don’t be a social robot! People like to engage with and do business with people. Moreover, they want to do business with people they like. Be human in your social interactions. Add faces and names to your social presence and let your audience know who they are talking to. Engage in conversations and be personable.

12. Be More… Social
The bottom line… be more social. Don’t come to the party and be a wall-flower (presence is not a social strategy!). Think about your social “being” from multiple angles and always strive to be more.

Thanks for reading! I would love to hear your thoughts on how to best increase engagement via social media. What strategies are you executing to be more?
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