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How to drive the best engagement with customers and encourage conversations via Social Media

It’s safe to say, that more than ever, creating deeper, stronger customer relationships is becoming imperative to a business’ survival. Because of this, many businesses are looking for affordable, quick solutions to engaging and conversing with customers and the obvious remedy is Social Media.

However, many brands are struggling to harness the power & potential of Social Media in this way. Why? Because they are thinking too much about sales and not enough about the customer and the conversation.

I have outlined below some quick, easy and free ways to use Social Media effectively in order to drive engagement and encourage conversations with new & existing customers.

 

1)    Show your business has a personality.

  • Use humour. I’m not saying be a laugh a minute but, if appropriate, be light-hearted every now and then.  Use play-on-words, cartoons, etc. – some customers you have a sense of humour too.
  • Be personal. Even the biggest of organisations is made up of people. People are the back-bone to any business. Let your staff sign off on their messages. Let fans feel the connection with your brand through your staff.
  • Show them who you are. If you are a one-man-band use your picture in posts! If you are a larger company, let the person posting add their Gravatar. Show customers you are like them too.

 

2)    Be polite.

  • Thank fans for engaging. If you get a Retweet or comment, thank the person for their time. If possible, use their first name too!
  • Reply to comments. If you are receiving comments make sure to reply (not just to thank them) and converse like you would face-to-face.
  • Reward existing engagement. If you have a brand ambassador (someone frequently engaging with your business online), reward them for their time. Maybe send them a small gift? Even just a private message or e-card acknowledging their endorsement.

 

3)    Hang out where your customers hang out.

  • Talk to customers on their preferred platforms. Get into your customer’s mindset and figure out where they hang out online. Go there, converse and be present.
  • Join conversations. If you see customers using a particular hashtag or talking on a specific topic (even if it’s not entirely related to your industry) try and talk and engage with them.  Show you are more than just a business and an industry.
  • Join groups. LinkedIn in particular is a great platform for this. Think about what else your customers would be interested in and join related groups.

 

4)    Get creative.

  • Use imaginative hashtags.  Again, don’t just think about your business & your industry. Think about your customer as a person and engage with them on a personal basis. Hashtags are a fantastic way of doing this. Ask clients to submit photos, comments, etc as part of your hashtag.
  • Start competitions. You don’t even always need a prize; just an acknowledgement can sometimes surface. However, everyone loves a freebie so if you have something to give, do!
  • Ask questions and opinions. If you want to start a conversation the best way is to open with a question. You can also use tools like short quizzes and surveys to boost engagement.

 

5)    Avoid standard messages.

  • Don’t be boring. If you copy & paste replies you may as well not bother replying at all. Be original, personal and interesting.
  • Be useful. Share content from other businesses, newspapers, etc. that you feel would be beneficial to your customers.
  • Allow commenting.  It’s amazing how many brands wish to drive more engagement but block customers from actually commenting via their privacy settings.
  • Vary your content.  Use text, pictures and videos to capture the imagination of your customer base.

 

The more effort you place on being interesting & personal the more you will drive engagement and sales. If you portray your brand as a sales machine then you’ll find it very difficult to truly grow your business via Social Media.

Best of luck,

Jo

 

 

Previously written for Microsoft SMB – http://blogs.msdn.com/b/uksmb/archive/2015/06/16/how-to-drive-the-best-engagement-with-customers-amp-how-to-encourage-conversations-via-social-media-guest-blog.aspx