Social Media Engagement 2-01

For numerous businesses, the world of social media is a noisy and jam-packed place to try and build brand awareness. The idea of social media engagement is overwhelming for some organizations because there’s simply too much that goes into targeting the right audience on each social network.

By now, you know social media can work in your favor, but the problem depends on how well you’re using these tools to create authentic social interactions and engagement. When it comes down to it, pushing your brand starts with successful engagement strategies.

Even though your great-grandmother is probably aware of social media, there are several businesses still left in the dark with effective customer engagement strategies or even with the actual definition of engagement altogether. In fact, a report from Thunderhead said only one in four businesses feel confident in their customer engagement methods.

If you fall into that category, don’t worry–we won’t tell. Instead, we want to make sure you’re fully knowledgeable and comfortable with your next steps toward engaging with customers.

What is Social Media Engagement?

When you think about social media engagement, it’s smart to break it down into something tangible, such as a long-term relationship. In this example, you can imagine a committed and lengthy relationship takes dedication, readiness to adapt, the ability to think about the future and ensure the other person involved is happy for years to come.

Engagement is not just a single interaction with one of your customers, but a open line of communication over a period of time. While the term “customer relationship” may come to mind, engagement is still slightly different and on it’s own level. When we think about social media engagement, it’s about how you use networks like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to create a great customer experience. You want to be there there for your patrons through the thick and thin of it.

As soon as customers decide to engage with your business over social media, they put their trust into your company that you can solve their problem.

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As Tarnish successfully showcases, reaching out to your customers when they have specific questions can increase brand loyalty and possibly spark the chance of a future purchase.

In the past, customers had to go to great lengths to get ahold of the brand to be heard. While the days of “we’re sorry–all of our customer service representatives are currently busy” still exists, businesses are getting better at making those troublesome interactions a thing of the past by enhancing engagement through social media.

A whopping 88% of customers do not want to engage with brands, which means you need to ensure every time you communicate with your customers, they leave the conversation satisfied. It would be easy enough to think since customers don’t want to talk to your business, why should you spend time interacting with them?

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The question we here at Sprout Social then ask is what value does your business gain by avoiding engagement?

A survey from Venture Beat, which reached out to 11,000 respondents, showed 17.4% of Internet users complain to brands through social media.

Further, a Dimensional Research report found customers who encounter a poor customer service interaction were 50% more likely to share the bad experience on social media.

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Even though you can’t really measure being nonexistent on social media, you can certainly see the positives through customer interactions when adopting each social network. With helpful Engagement Reports, you can see how customers interact with your brand and what they are saying in real time. This gives you a better opportunity to know if your team is responding quickly and effectively.

Not only that, but with the right tools, you can visually see the potential reach of your product on social media and how well your marketing team is engaging with customers.

Know Your Networks & How to Measure Them

As a social media manager, it’s absolutely critical to understand each unique social media network. We’ve outlined some important first steps and crafted a social media manager’s checklist to make sure you’re getting off on the right foot.

In the beginning, it’s helpful to know social engagement is exactly that–social. You want to benefit from the massive audience on the Internet, but ensure you’re not biting off more than you can chew.

Know that each network is different and could affect your business in its own unique way. Facebook will define engagement as Likes, comments, shares, stories and impressions, while Twitter sees communication as @mentions, Retweets, hashtags and direct messages. Even networks like Instagram give you the chance to interact with customers through @mentions, comments and hashtags.

Try not to think of social business or social branding as something new. This type of marketing has been around for decades, but now there’s a whole world out there you can explore through social networks. The important thing is to know what steps to take to get your engagement off the ground and running.

Here are four tips to improve your social media engagement:

1. Start the Conversation

Again, think about the example of the long-term relationship when it comes to starting a social media engagement campaign. Every great relationship needs someone to initiate the conversation to get things going.

Try hosting Q&A sessions on Twitter or the ever-popular AMAs (ask me anything). This could open the door to communication by showing your customers you’re a real human being as well. The best way to get interactions with social media engagement is to post thoughtful and enthralling content.

When your potential or current customers see your engaging content, they immediately become more inclined to reach out to you. Your content shouldn’t only promote your product, but instead, be an area to participate, interact and communicate. This will help drive your company toward being a thought leader in your industry.

2.Promote Your Brand Enthusiasts

Another great way to show you’re willing to get the conversation going is by promoting your brand enthusiasts’ content. For example, if you’re on Instagram, you could ask for customers to @mention or hashtag your company using your product. Posting user-generated content is a great way to give a shout out to your customers and to further your social engagement. This also helps push others who are on the fence to interact with your brand by being open and relatable.

Pro Tip: Make sure you are completely transparent with your intentions and how you plan to use customers’ content if you do so. Try using social media contests to give away t-shirts, swag gift packs or your actual product. Encourage your audience to share your material and to use specific hashtags.

Why do you want people to use certain hashtag? It’s all about tracking.

Through Sprout Social, you can track how well one of your giveaway promotions is doing through our Brand Keywords feature. This allows you to choose specific keywords that are used about your company or your contest.

You’ll be able to see all the @mentions and Hashtags from your audience through a single platform to make your social media management easy.

3. Intertwining Current Events With Content

When something is trending, going viral or simply in the news, you can use these topical events to bring new traffic to your social networks. You can cater it to holidays, major sporting events, events or live shows in your area.

At the same time, you need to be highly sensitive with this marketing tactic. All too often, we see social media crises where a company used an inappropriate or untimely current event to promote their brand. Follow our social media policy guide so you’re not only prepared, but educated on what can cause a problem.

4. Be Attentive

An issue that many businesses have with social media engagement is being able to respond in time to answer questions. It’s always sad when you see a business’s social network having gone years without any new content or customer interactions.

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If you’re going to invest the time in social media engagement, you have to be active or else people will think you don’t care. Your goal is to get as many eyes to your brand as possible, along with a positive interaction.

Providing your customers with quick and timely answers shows you’re fully invested. Additionally, providing “yes” or “no” answers is not enough to truly engage anyone.

OK, So How Do I Manage All of This?

We feel you–it’s not easy managing Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn accounts for a single business. It doesn’t matter how big or small your company is, you need a way to manage your customers’ inquiries without staring at your social networks and hitting refresh all day.

That’s where we come in. Sprout Social has an easy-to-use Smart Inbox to help manage in-bound messages, @mentions, new followers and brand keywords. To make your engagement strategies form a long-lasting relationship with your customers, ensure managing your social networks is a high priority.

One interaction will not always change the view of those seeing your company. Instead, you have to take action and be ready to give insightful information when customers reach out to your business on social media.

If you have any engagement tips, feel free to comment below!