20 Ways to Engage and Cultivate Your Social Media Audience

By on May 18, 2011

Social media has caused an unprecedented shift in the way business is done today. The explosive growth of social media sites is overwhelming proof that this arena is ideal for connecting with existing customers and engaging with prospects.So we want to share with you a few excellent insights to get you and your company on the path to social media success.

Understand why you are participating before you start. Assess your company’s needs and ascertain what your short and long term goals before you engage existing and potential customers. Knowing your objectives will organically lead you to the right way of reaching out in the social media arena.

Make your presence known. Pick one social media site and cultivate it. You need to establish presence and a proven way to do that is to share great content. Do not try to be everything to everyone. Spend time on one social media site at first, developing your fan base, creating conversations and generating interest.

Treat social media like a casual get together. Do not make your posts or your wall look like the transcript from a sales seminar. Overt selling is considered taboo by most social media sites and your customers will not appreciate being talked at.

Let your distinct personality attract prospects. Show your customers that you have opinions and information that they will find relevant and useful. Sharing personal anecdotes with existing and potential customers will engage them and encourage them to learn more about you and your brand.

Don’t let a novice do your social media. There is a good reason that experience is valuable. You do not want your first impression with new customers to be one of inexperience. In social media, knowledge is power so be the source of information for your customers.

Close your mouth and open your ears. One way dialogues do not empower your customer. And a customer that feels that he or she is not being heard will be less likely to remain loyal. The key to valuable engagement is responsiveness so a great reply can be as important as a great post.

Invest now for rewards later. You must sow the seed before you reap the reward. This simple concept is well known but underutilized. You need to cultivate and maintain your social relationships before you can expect your customers to reward you with loyalty and growth in your bottom line.

Motivate your base. Start a Facebook grass roots campaign to motivate your best salespeople- your clients. Including your existing customers in the growth and expansion of your brand can be done through incentives. People want to be recognized and rewarded. Use special offers, great content, invitation-only events to motivate your clients to get the word out.

Engage proactively with people. The social atmosphere of Twitter empowers users to share reviews and comments. Any company that is savvy in social media knows that engaging directly with unhappy customers minimizes the ripple effect dramatically. But engaging with a customer who has positive comments can have an even greater result. You can create with them an advocacy. Let your best customer become your best sales rep.

Be civil. The immediacy and urgency of social media can sometimes encourage poor etiquette. But being polite and civil will never go out of style. Make sure your posts are not riddled with poor grammar-your words represent you. If you make a mistake, apologize and accept responsibility. Acknowledge the good work of others. Crediting other’s relevant posts will enforce your position of authority and knowledge.

Update with consistency. Consider your Facebook updates as a miniature version of your business plan. Each Facebook post should be a small step in the overall plan of sharing information that will result in attracting new prospects and maintaining loyalty of your existing customers.

Being brief is not always best. The original parameters of keeping your YouTube videos short and to the point have changed. If your video needs 10 minutes to tell an engaging and compelling story then use those 10 minutes to educate and motivate your customers.

Avoid calendar blogging. Post only when you have rich and valuable content. Do not adhere to the idea that you have to post a blog once a week, or even once a day. Share your blogs when you have something vital to say and something that your customer can use.

Involve your staff. Social media duties and input should be shared throughout your company. The maintenance and idea generation should incorporate all departments so that varied aspects of the company can be represented.

Use Facebook as an RSS feed. Using your page as an RSS feed allows for great interactive possibilities with your customers. It is a straightforward approach that encourages clients to see you as a disseminator of valuable information.

Do your keyword research. In YouTube, using the search box feature and the auto-fill option will show you what people are searching for and find relevant. Another way is to use the keyword tool that is tied the videos they are promoting and you do not need to buy an ad to use it.

Use your keyword research. Use the information found in your YouTube search to structure some of your posts. By including keywords in what you share, your information will be easily found in Twitter when users instigate a search.

Measure results on YouTube. With YouTube Insight analytics, you will get details about your viewership that is invaluable in assessing your customer base and fine-tuning your communications for better and more consistent contact with potential prospects.

Get a branded shortened URL. Branding every tweet you send out is a lesser known but extremely effective way of getting brand recognition established with your customer base. It is a great way to garner natural endorsements from your base.

About John Souza

John Souza is founder and chief strategist of SMMU and Social Media Impact, and is a bestselling business author. He won the 2011 Tech Marketing Awards ‘Social Media Marketer of the Year’ and most recently the About.com Reader’s Choice Award for Best Online Education Site. John has appeared on The Michael Gerber Show, and his business has been honored at the Mashable Awards, Forbes Business Awards and The Stevie Awards.
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