Social media is all about connection.
Sure, it can be useful for helping your business accomplish a myriad of goals — but if you aren’t connecting with your social media audiences, your foray into social media will not be nearly as successful as it could be. Perhaps the worst thing a business or organization can do is develop a social media presence and then ignore all the followers and customers who want to engage with you. Your customers want to converse with you. They want to share their insights. They want to connect.
The most successful organizations on social media understand this and embrace it. It isn’t rocket science to engage with customers on social media, but it does require you to have a deliberate and intentional plan. Here are nine recommendations to follow to help you improve your social media and customer relations goals.
1. Study user data and get to know your audience.
One of the beautiful things that social media provides that isn’t as prevalent with other types of media is the amount of user data available. In recent years, the amount of data that social media platforms provide has decreased as user privacy has become more of an issue, but the amount of information you can get about your followers on apps like Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter can still prove to be very helpful to you.
Consider exploring user data to be part of the “getting-to-know-you” process that you have in any relationship. Before you dive into deeper discussions and conversations as part of your customer relationship management, first understand as much as you can about your audience. Your engagements moving forward will be richer thanks to this data and information.
2. Be personal with social media content.
Individuals on social media are more likely to engage with other individuals than they are with nameless, faceless brands. That’s why you should consider encouraging company executives to have social media presences in which they (or staff on their behalf) share messages and content on social media in more personal ways. Social media algorithms often prioritize personal accounts over brand accounts.
However, even if your best option is to continue to use a brand account, you can make things feel more authentic and natural by using pronouns like “I” and “me” rather than “us” and “we.” Another idea is to pick your social media manager or brand manager and grow their personal brand on social media. They could become the face of your brand and help your audience relate to you better.
3. Be a part of the conversation.
You should consider every post that you publish on social media simply to be an opportunity to invite further engagement with your social media followers. If you only publish posts, but don’t engage with your followers in the comments, you are missing a huge opportunity to enhance your social media and customer relations strategies.
Be an active member of social media conversations. Participate in the conversations that praise your organization as well as the ones what aren’t so favorable. Participating in potentially problematic conversations is one excellent way to improve relationships that are in need of some TLC as well as to foster positive social media brand awareness.
“One of the most viable ways of outflanking your competitors is not necessarily with price or with product, but simply by caring more about your customers than the other guys do.” — Jay Baer, best-selling writer and marketing influencer
4. Encourage and answer direct messages.
As much as you would like all your consumers to respond publicly on your social media posts, the truth is that many people will scroll past a post long before they would stop to leave a comment on it. Some people don’t always want to be as “social” on social media as you would like them to be. However, you still have a prime opportunity to bring together social media and customer service as you encourage customers to send direct messages and as you prioritize responding to them.
5. Comment on others’ posts.
If you are waiting for current and potential customers to flock to your social media accounts unprovoked, you may be waiting for a long time. The social media accounts who have the best relationships with customers are those accounts that customers want to engage with. You can potentially attract more customers to your social media pages by following other brands and individuals.
Actively comment on the posts that are published on the accounts that might have a similar customer demographic. Be clever, creative, and helpful in your comments and people will naturally tap on your profile to learn more about you.
6. Create and participate in Facebook groups.
If Facebook is an important platform for you to utilize to reach your desired audience, develop and participate in a Facebook group. The group doesn’t need to be directly tied to your brand—though it could be. Facebook has prioritized distributing content from groups over distributing content from pages. Not only will the almighty algorithm be in your favor, but the quality of the potential discussions will be much higher than what you might see on business pages.
Join as many groups as makes make sense if the conversations in those groups relate to your product or service. There will be natural ways to discuss your products in these groups in ways that provide value to you as well as to other users.
7. Teach your social media followers something they want to know.
Ultimately, your social media followers choose to follow your account because they think it will bring them some sort of value. So you should develop content that helps them solve problems, learn, or explore. It is important that some of the content you produce be beneficial and helpful for your audience without any thought by you to try to sell or promote a product. Provide enough value and put your audience first. This is positive brand building.
8. Publish live videos.
Live videos on social media get a higher engagement than pre-recorded videos and help you build better customer relationships on social media. With every live video, your customers can make comments and ask questions in real time. Likewise, you can respond to those comments and questions nearly instantaneously. This leads to prime customer engagement. Social media live videos should be the most engaging media opportunity for your brand as well as for your customers because of the real-time engagement.
9. Share inspiring customer stories on social media.
Make your audience part of your story on social media. As you are responding to direct messages, engaging with comments, and reading unique posts in Facebook groups, keep your content creation cap on, because some of the best content ideas and some of the best stories to be told come from your loyal audience members. If something that someone says piques your interest, reach out to them and explore how you can work together to help them to tell their story.
Social media will continue to be a valuable tool for your brand as you continue to help your followers—not simply expect them to help you. Create content that’s valuable, use live video, use Facebook groups, respond to DMs, and comment on others’ posts. If you execute these tips you will surely see your engagement on social media skyrocket and you’ll be able to build a strong brand.