By Dave Avran
October 10, 2017
SOCIAL media engagement (SME) is about people, and about connecting and having meaningful interactions with those people.
To manage your content, conversations, and community, you need a plan which should highlight a series of social media engagement goals that you want to achieve as you engage with your social media audience. Start with this list:
Establish the framework for trust. Be consistent and trustworthy. Determine what your brand messaging should be and stick with it.
Interact authentically with your audience. You will need to earn their trust. Being honest, upfront, and transparent with them is the first step toward accomplishing that goal.
Your presence is the key. Few things are more important than letting your audience know you are there — accessible and listening.
Your fans want to be heard, and they want to know that it’s you who is doing the listening. Yes, you can have a representative for your brand, but everyone needs to be human in their approach in social networks.
Form relationships. Genuine social media engagement involves give-and-take. You talk, your fans talk back, and you respond again.
Your fans ask a question, you respond. Your SME efforts should inform and educate but also connect with others on a personal level.
Don’t delve into people’s privacy, but do add a personal touch and responsiveness.
Stimulate communication. Start and join conversations online. Incorporate trending topics. Look for ways to inspire your fans. Touch their emotions. Use humor appropriately and to your advantage. Show your audience that you are human and interested in them.
Drive interactions. Motivate others to act. First see what motivates your fans. Notice what they respond to when you post online.
Ask them questions or survey them to make sure you’re on target. Then provide them with VIP treatment and with access to special deals and promotions, celebrate them and encourage them to act.
Remember the important call to action, whether it’s to share information you’ve posted or to sign up for an event or to buy a product.
An important part of running a business is engaging your customers (and potential customers) to turn them into a community of people who share common interests. Having a community focused on your business doesn’t mean every conversation has to be about your brand.
However, to get your community talking with you and with each other, you’re going to have to engage.
Ask questions. It’s up to you to invite community members to engage. However, saying “Comment, please” looks like you’re begging for interaction. Instead, ask questions. Find common ground and invite them to share thoughts and ideas.
For example, if your brand is made up primarily of moms of elementary school-aged children, ask questions about kids’ habits or discuss something that all parents go through.
Use humor. Everyone responds to humor.
Don’t be afraid of being witty and making jokes and creating fun interactions, without being too slapstick or insulting.
If you have a good sense of humor and a reputation for make people laugh, yours will be a very popular community. If you talk only about serious things or topics half your community finds boring, you’re going to lose people.
Avoid negativity. Community managers have to deal with many different types of negativity. Negativity has no place in an online community.
Allowing members to snipe at each other, swear, troll, and insult will split apart your community.
Soon, the only people who show up are those who thrive upon negativity. Set clear guidelines and let it be known that certain behavior will not be tolerated.
Spotlight members of your community. Your best content should come from the people who make up your community.
While you’re there to help the conversation flow and make sure that no one is crossing the line into negativity, the members of your community are the ones who should be doing the bulk of the talking. Indeed, the best communities are the ones where a community manager’s presence is noted, but not “in your face.”
When you allow your members to create discussion topics, you’re inviting them to bring their personalities into play and interact with each other.
Get the ball rolling by introducing members of the community who have cool achievements. If a member of your community was in the paper recently, post the mention.
If another member won an award, offer a congratulatory comment. When you shine the spotlight on them, it encourages them to take it a step farther and come out in to the open.
Use different social networking tools. Many tools and networks are available to community managers nowadays.
Your content should cover a variety of ground, including (but not limited to) digital newsletters, Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, Pinterest, Youtube, LinkedIn, blog posts, forums, and Google+.
Each platform allows for a different type of content and different types of discussions. Take advantage of each and every one to grow a lively community. They’ll all prefer to follow your brand on their platform of choice, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
Create open ended content. Post the type of content people respond to. If you’re just making statements but not inviting conversation, this won’t happen.
Content should relate to everyone and invite discussion. Avoid questions requiring a short yes or no response and create the kind of content where folks want to read and respond, instead of simply reading.
Be careful about bringing too much of yourself into it, though. That’s not what community is about at all. Here are a few other common mistakes to avoid:
Don’t hard sell. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that the purpose of your online community is to drive sales.
Being pushy with sales tactics will clear out your community lightning fast. Its fine to mention products or drop discount codes once in a while, but don’t spam your community every day, or you won’t have a community anymore.
Don’t force the conversation. If you drop a topic and no one responds, move on to the next topic. Constantly asking your community to comment on the same thing only draws attention to the fact that no one is interested in that particular conversation. Move on.
Don’t complain. When you complain to your community, you’re not only spouting negativity, but you’re also inviting them to complain as well.
Even in a discussion about current events, avoid complaining as it only serves to set the wrong tone.
Don’t overshare. Your community has no business knowing certain things.
Do be careful about giving out too many personal details. It’s inappropriate as you’re representing your business, and also because too many details may make the members of your community feel uncomfortable.
You can find plenty of topics to discuss without getting intimate.
Don’t be mundane. If you post “I had a cup of coffee” on Facebook each morning, you’re not being engaging. You’re making a statement that isn’t inviting conversation, and worse, you’re being boring.
People don’t care if you had a cup of coffee. Also, when you centre your community discussions around things that you do, you’re not making it about your community anymore.