If you’re a typical marketer, your tendency will be to use Facebook, Twitter or Google Plus for a one-way stream of information about yourself and your products. #socialmediafail
Umm — they’re called “social networks” for a reason. The idea is for you to ENGAGE with your connections, not simply pour out your own thoughts and ignore them.
In fact, Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm — which determines how visible your postings are to those who say they “like” you — gives priority to posts that are two-way in nature. In other words, the more engaging your content — the more your posts turn into conversations — the more visible they are to your fans and followers.
So, what can you do to engage more effectively through social networks in 2012?
Apart from the obvious — LISTEN to what your connections are saying and RESPOND in a timely manner — here are 20 ways for you to engage more, by constructing relevant, valuable, remarkable content designed to cater to the needs, wants and interests of your audience. Your aim is to add value to your followers, including outbound links to areas that could help them with their goals and purposes.
These are the criteria you need to use to shape the content:
- Your message needs to be relevant to your audience — and to their audiences as well, if you want the content to be shared beyond the initial recipients
- It needs to be fresh — stale news won’t get past the Delete key
- Your news needs to be worth buzzing about
- It needs to be exclusive — those potentially sharing the information want to be seen as ’in the know’, ahead of the pack
- There needs to be an element of scarcity involved to drive urgency (’only 150 made’, ’only until [date]’)
- It needs to come from a credible source
- Your product or service needs to be the right stuff (inherently valuable)
- Helpful – Does your content help solve problems? “Always be helping” is the new “always be closing.”
- Timely – Can your target audience relate to it?
- Targeted – Is the content intended to inform those “just looking”, “close to buying” or in the post-purchase phase?
- Interruptive – Is there a captivating element that grabs and sustains attention?
- Entertaining – Is there a novel or enjoyable aspect that is well-conceived and engaging?
- Illuminating – will it lead to “A Ha!” moments for recipients?
- Shareable – Does it have a viral quality? Would an influencer want to forward it, or post it?
- Progressive – Is there a call to action or “next-steps”?
- Versatile – Can it be leveraged across media channels?
- Crowd-sourced – Does it involve customers or partners in the spirit of cooperation?
- Efficient – Is it concise, perhaps in an effective list format, to offset diminished attention spans online?
- Attractive – is it graphically interesting and will it stand out?
- Integrated – Does it fit with your existing or upcoming marketing pieces?
You should also regularly ask questions of your constituents, seeking their opinion or input (and responding to them if they give it).
Don’t just treat social media like advertising, you won’t like the results.
PS If you need guidance in how to engage, may we direct you to our social media courses, all of which include a healthy focus on tools of engagement.