It’s unfortunate, really. I didn’t even want to write this post. But after endless conversations about the secret to building engagement, I realized it needed to be said. So here it is. Are you ready? Read carefully, the super-secret, guaranteed effective guide to building engagement in social media:
The super-secret, guaranteed effective guide to building engagement in social media.
- Provide value to your audience
Oh, I’m sorry. Were you waiting for more? That’s it. That’s all you have to do. A lot of marketers will talk to you about social media engagement strategy like it’s a secret recipe for Sunday sauce handed down from their great grandmother. They’ll say you need one part education, two parts consumer spotlight, a dash of sales-oriented content and with a little love you suddenly have three-million comments, Likes and retweets.
Sure, there may be a certain mix of content that works for your brand, but only because you’re selling a particular product to a particular audience with a particular interest. That’s what they like.
You might think this is a bland recipe, but let it simmer. Think about it. There are two operative words: value and audience.
The folks in your online community are already customers, right? So you should know who they are and what they want (If you don’t know them, you have bigger problems than social media). Now, all you have to do is talk to them. Post things they want to see. If you were talking face-to-face with a customer, how would they respond to your latest update? Would they say “Wow, neat!” or would it be more like “Oh, I see.” Users were gracious enough to click that Like or follow button. Now give them something in return.
All too often, management wants to highlight moments that make management proud and make the organization look good. That’s fine – if you can honestly say your audience would find it valuable. Photos from your company picnic probably won’t do the trick.
The people in your online community are there because you share some common value. Don’t ruin that relationship by telling them to think, feel or believe something different.
Value isn’t just education. It can come in a lot of forms and it’s completely dependent on your audience. For example, there is a little newspaper is my hometown (I’m convinced their number of Facebook Likes is higher than their circulation). Every day, they post a poll question. Polls vary from local to state to national issues. You can always count on huge numbers of people posting paragraph-long responses. So how is this tiny daily providing value? It gives local politiphiles a place to voice their opinions. If you’ve gone to the trouble of Liking your local newspaper on Facebook, it’s safe to say you like to discuss current events. And hey, why not do it with a bunch of strangers on Facebook where you’re less likely to offend any friends or coworkers.
Skittles is another great example of providing value to your audience. With all current events aside, Skittles knows its audience on social media. I chuckle every time I read an update from skittles. See the below image if you need an example. You might say humor isn’t valuable from a marketing standpoint. But at the end of the day, what is Skittles as a brand? Sure it’s food. But it’s not healthy. It’s not innovative. It’s fun – just plain old fun. Skittles are bright, colorful and easy to share with friends, just like their musings on Facebook.
So, next time you write a Tweet or click the “post” button, just ask yourself: Am I providing value to my audience? If the answer is yes, engagement shouldn’t be a problem.