Engaging your audience

Katie Taylor, Social Media and Marketing @ Viapoint

You’ve got a pristine Facebook page, you’ve got an ample number of followers on Twitter, and your blog stats are looking as healthy as a pre-Christmas goose. You’ve made excellent headway in giving your company or organisation a running start at a successful social commerce campaign – but what now?

It’s easy to sit back once the hard work of laying your social media foundations is over and done with, but this is a dangerous period of transition. It’s important to remember that although you’ve done a fine job in pushing your company into an important network of tools and ideas, the hard work doesn’t end there. Your fans, followers, clients – however you’d prefer to address them – are now expecting you to become engaged with them.

This is the blessing and the curse of social commerce; your beloved customers are connected to you for feedback and reassurance, however they also demand a similar exchange of communication from you. They want their social loyalty’s worth. They may not have paid for the privilege of hearing your latest news or seeing your latest videos, but they are offering you a like, a follow, a quantifiable piece of evidence that you are connecting with your clients or customers. In the social age, this is priceless.

There are many companies out there using social media in ingenious ways, and for a campaign to truly capture the imagination of your customers, I have invented three rules to live by:

1. Your campaign has to have a point. To post an inspiring picture or a funny quote every so often is a great addition to your campaign, but it can’t be all of your efforts. Think about why you’re doing it, and make sure all your efforts go into achieving this, whether it’s raising your brand’s profile, changing your company’s brand altogether or just simply using social media as a way to inform. Changing the message every week will leave your followers and fans confused, and your hard work will go unheeded.

2. Encourage your fans and followers to take part. By all means push out information that might be of use to them – after all, they wouldn’t be following you if you didn’t have anything to offer them. It’s of mutual benefit for you to get everybody more involved, however. I always maintain that a social media user’s most useful asset to the company or brand is their boredom. Give them something to engage with, whether it’s a poll, a competition or something more creative.

Companies like Cravendale and Skittles have been gaining thousands of followers in recent weeks simply by increasing the level of activity fans are encouraged to take part in. Other organisations are using twitter to get their followers involved in more ingenious ways: “National Media Museum Turns Fans Into Permanent Exhibit”. This isn’t to suggest you should also craft statues to commend your beloved fans for all eternity – it just stands to prove that rewarding fans and followers’ loyalty can go a long way, and there are hundreds of creative ways of doing this.

3. Do not, under any circumstances, spam or beg. This is bad etiquette no matter what platform you partake in it on. Your folowers may have ‘opted in’ to your updates, but this doesn’t mean you can then fill their timelines with repeated information. Once a day is more than enough for most purposes – by all means tweet and post on your facebook multiple times a day, but make each post interesting, or at least relevant. The more something is repeated, the less relevant it becomes.

Followers and fans are far easier to lose than they are to gain, so it’s always favourable to avoid the risk. If you think it could be misconstrued as spam, do not post it. Also be aware that by asking facebook fans to “like” or comment on a post in order to enter a competition goes against Facebook’s Terms of Use. Yes, everybody seems to be doing it, but you need to be aware that it is risky, and your page could be taken down without notice. Read the full Facebook Terms of Service here.

    If you have any further additions to these rules, I’d be very interested to hear them! Comment below or email me at [email protected]

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