It’s 2nd to only engagement in the book of most used Social Media lingo. Content! Ah-ha, so that’s the remedy to disappointing page growth and engagement percentages? We just need to create some quality content that people will engage with and all our troubles will be resolved? Brilliant. Can’t wait to check our Klout score next week!
One saying rings particularly true in Social Media strategy. Get useful or get entertaining. Unfortunately a few only listen to the latter.
Through the use of Sysomos and Social Bakers I recently audited the online community landscape for a market-leading service brand and the findings were rather alarming. What was initially a brief to help Brand X better understand how to engage their audience soon shifted to a better way of servicing our customer’s needs through Social channels. Here’s some key points you need to absolutely think about when creating a community engagement strategy.
#1 Your audience is unique
Though all too easy to rush towards building dialogue take the time to truly understand who you’re talking to. These are real people. With real needs, opinions and expectations. If you think of your audience as digits and stats you’re going to struggle to grow any community of substance.
We all use Social Media in different ways, at different times for different purposes. Use one of the many free (or free to trial) Social monitoring tools out there to hear what people are saying about your brand. Pay close attention in particular to the sentiment, conversation themes & the frequency of all this chatter. Some companies who are worth reviewing include Sysomos, Radian 6, Social Bro & Social Bakers. All have there pros and cons so do your homework yourself!
#2 Listen & act on it!
If you’re reading this, you’re bound to have read a Mashable blog post on top tips for Social engagement. I’m pretty sure listen is on there though this gets over-looked. Typically a sign of crap community management. Some traits? Not acknowledging fan questions, hiding posts from upset customers or off-topic conversations.
Really dig deep into those conversation on and off your page about your brand. Understand key themes trending and make sure these are being addressed via your Social territories. If its about a recent product issue be pro-active and write a post clarifying the current issue and where to go if they want to know more. A constant question about service quality? Set-up customer service touch points be it a dedicated Twitter handle, a Get Satisfaction tab or sign-post peeps to your forum if you have one. Really make the most of your territories!
#3 Handle the rough before the smooth
Following point 2, it is essential to tackle underlying community issues before looking forward. This was particular true in a recent audit that found 44% of all user posts to be negative on their Facebook wall while over on Twitter 24% of mentioned tweets with a particular question were responded to. Rather worrying statistics!
But what this really means is something rather poisonous. If your conversations are being overrun by irate customers using your brand posts as a soap box to vent to the online world, what chance do you have of building a healthy community? What may begin as a pleasant conversation will shift dramatically once the thread floods with messages of disappointment and frustration. Now place this scenario on some pretty awesome content you’ve invested a lot of time and money in. You’ll still get decent engagement, but those comments run the risk of going off-topic pretty quickly! That’d suck huh?
#4 Your fans are fans of the brand, not you
There are so many confusing brand pages which seem to just want to strike up a conversation. If people want to have a conversation, 9 times out of 10 they will chat to their friends. This is not to say you can’t build strong relationships with fans through dialogue on your Social platforms. There just needs to be brand relevance to your conversation.
For example, a recent spoke about the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and how they had Pimms chilling in the fridge. Now that may work on a very good day, but for those fans who were also customers experiencing terrible service this is the last thing they want to hear. What does get your fans engaging however is content that is on topic and connected back to the brand.
#5 Acknowledge you fans
If a fan has taken their time to reach out to you, the decent think is to respond or at least say thanks! It probably won’t increase growth by all that much but it solidifies a good customer experience. This is about building valuable relationships and brand advocates. It isn’t a numbers game – though I sympathise your client or marketing manager may not see it that way!
What these points above aim to do is reinforce the importance of understanding your audience and how they use Social Media. Engage with tools they’re comfortable using in an environment familiar to their ways of working. Tick these boxes and hopefully this can go someway to influence the content you will be creating and the way you will be engaging! This is hygiene, but always good to start from a clean slate right?