Yesterday we had the amazing Sujan Patel contribute a guest post to our blog all about how to get your first 10,000 social followers. We loved the article so much that we decided to write a follow-up all about how you can engage with all of your newfound followers.
So whether you’re working on your first 10,000 followers—or are safely in the millions—we’ll discuss why you need to, and how you can, better your social media engagement strategy.
The Importance of Social Media Engagement
Though social media can play a big part in boosting brand awareness, generating leads and driving revenue for your business, it should first and foremost be considered a channel for providing online customer service. Data we’ve found at Sprout shows that customers are increasingly reaching out to brands across social networks for customer care. In fact, over the past year the number of social messages sent to brands requiring a response increased 110%.
But brands have just not been able to keep up with the increase in messages, and the sad truth is that seven in eight of the messages sent to brands go unanswered in the adequate timeframe.
Ignoring the messages customers send you on social is tantamount to ignoring the phone calls coming through to your customer service team—except social channels are much more visible. That’s why we at Sprout Social believe engaging with customers is one of the most important things you can do across your social networks.
Seven Ways to Better Your Social Media Engagement
No matter what the size of your social following is, these strategies will ensure that you’re keeping your entire community engaged.
1. Use a Social Media Management Tool
The first piece of advice—as I’m sure will come as no surprise given the site providing this article—is to test some social media management software to see if it can help you manage all of your social conversations. Sprout Social has created one such platform that is totally focused on opening up engagement between brands and their customers in order to build lasting relationships.
The Smart Inbox is just one of the tools available in Sprout’s platform, and it’s perfect for ensuring you never miss an important customer interaction.
2. Monitor Social for Un-Tagged Brand Mentions
Not every person who mentions your brand or products on social media will tag you in the post. In fact, many social posters may assume that you’ll never even see the posts they create mentioning you. If you keep your eyes peeled for these types of mentions you can join the conversation and provide pleasantly surprising customer engagement. Here’s what to monitor.
Your Own Brand Terms—Make sure to monitor for all variations of your company’s name, including nicknames and common misspellings.
Your Own Product Terms—A less frequently used strategy involves monitoring social for some of your popular products, as well as the common nicknames and misspellings.
These may not seem like game-changing social media posts, but they are all working toward creating a solid community of engaged customers.
3. Keep an Eye on Your Response Speed
Not only is it important to respond to all of your messages, it’s important to do so in a timely manner. In fact, 75% of people using social media as a channel for customer service expect a response in one hour or less.
If you’re using a social tool like Sprout you should be able to see exactly how often and how quickly you’re keeping up with your inbound engagement.
4. Get Your Team on Social Media
If the last strategy showed you not responding to customers as fast as you’d like, look into getting some help. If you can’t convince your company that you need more people to join your social media team try to get colleagues in other departments to join you in responding to your customers.
- Research & Development
- Customer Service
All of those departments have a place on social and various customer queries could benefit from a custom response from their areas of expertise. It’s important to find some people to help you man the social ship.
5. Respond While on the Move
You can’t spend every waking moment at your computer—even though many social media managers may feel compelled to. That’s why it’s important to find a way to bring your social media profiles with you when you’re taking care of other things.
Find a social media tool that also has has mobile application, and make sure that mobile applications has push notifications to alert you whenever someone sends a message to your company social page.
That way you can actually spend some time outside of the office while never being far away from your customers.
6. Create an Internal FAQ Document
After managing your company’s pages for a while you’re bound to notice that some questions come up more frequently than others. Consult with everyone who manages your social pages and build a document that houses all of these questions and some solid answers.
Though you should never simply copy-paste those responses over to your customers, you can use this document to quickly guide your response.
7. Set Customer Expectations
There’s nothing worse than waiting around for a response that may never come. In fact, not knowing whether or not a company will reply may even be even worse than knowing you won’t receive anything. One way to help your followers cope with that feeling of the unknown is by setting an expectation for them.
For example, Royal Dutch Airlines updates its Twitter header image every five minutes to show about how long a customer should prepare to wait for a reply. Though this may be a bit cumbersome for smaller teams, the idea of keeping your customers informed is a great strategy.
Whether it’s bringing on some some new team members or just learning how to hustle, make sure that you’re doing everything in your power to engage with all of your social followers in order to provide a great customer experience.
Learn more about Sprout Social’s social media engagement features here.
Michael Patterson: Michael enjoys writing about all things social media, and his insights can be found on Adweek's SocialTimes, Social Media Today and Social Media Examiner. When he isn't pouring over blog posts he can usually be found exploring Chicago's unique neighborhoods and breweries.
Thanks for interesting and helpful tips! What do you think about buying followers in the social network? Is it a helpful practice? Will my account be banned for it? The pages with thousands of followers look bossy and trustworthy, I want my start up page to look the same)
@HelenEvans Thank you for reading and for the kind words! I definitely would not advocate buying followers. Though I don't know for certain, I'm pretty sure the social networks will see the sudden spikes in follower-count and know something is amiss. Not just that, but I truly believe social media is more about engaging with your actual fans than worrying gaining followers that really interested in your product. Try creating and sharing some great content to gain more qualified followers!