The Rules of (Social) Engagement

November 16, 2016: Tina Mortimer, Senior Writer

If your social media efforts seem to be falling flat lately, you may need a change of perspective. Many marketers make the mistake of approaching social media as just another platform for pushing their content and brand messaging. But social media has always been about two-way communication, and consumers expect no less than real-time, organic interactions.

It helps to think of social media as less of a marketing venue for your products and services and more as a brand experience itself. So if your focus has been on pushing your brand rather than engaging your audience, it may be time to review these three rules of engagement.

1. Embody your brand

It’s not enough to simply be present and responsive on social media. You need to establish a clear and consistent voice for your brand and use that voice in all your interactions. Is your brand’s voice witty, helpful, funny, serious, sweet? Once you’ve determined the personality that best aligns with your brand’s promise and values, it’s important to use that voice in every social interaction.

How do you ensure your voice is consistent when you have multiple social media managers working across a variety of online platforms? Creating brand guidelines and a social media strategy can help keep everyone on point.

2. Join the conversation

It’s easy to engage with consumers who follow you on social media and post directly to your Facebook or Twitter feeds. It’s not as easy to interact with those consumers who don’t connect.

This is where social listening tools such as HootSuite, Klout and TweetReach can be extremely helpful. Monitoring the conversation about your brand can help uncover negative experiences and address consumers who may have complaints. It can also be a great way to gather feedback on what’s working and what’s lacking when it comes to your consumers’ experience both online and off.

3. Be real

Ever receive an email or social media response from a company that was clearly snipped and pasted from a template? Maybe the giveaway was a generic greeting or the font size or color was off from the rest of the message?

When a consumer takes the time to contact you online, the last thing they want is a canned response. What they do want is to feel A) heard, B) appreciated and C) respected. More than anything, consumer engagement is about building relationships, and to do that you must be genuine. There’s nothing genuine about a boilerplate message.

Take the time to write a thoughtful, personalized response to consumers’ inquires, comments and complaints. Show them that you care and they may just reward you with their loyalty.

How do you approach social media engagement? We’d love to hear your tips below.
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