Social media is now part of everyday life, and is a powerful asset to business. It has given business owners endless opportunities to connect and build relationships with existing customers, reach new prospects, and establish online communities.
Engagement with your fans is the single most important activity required for success of your social media marketing campaign. If you do not have a strategy in place for how you will engage your followers, your social marketing campaign will not generate any lasting or meaningful results.
The right social networks for you depend on your targeted business goals, so it is useful to keep your goals in mind when choosing your social networks. Having a large, targeted network of fans who are interested in your business and industry is a powerful asset and great for social proof.
However, your ultimate objective is not just to grow a large following. Your network is only a means to an end. Your actual end-goal is to convert your followers into customers. And converting your followers into customers starts with engagement with your fans.
There’s no point in building a large network with thousands of targeted fans if you don’t have a plan in place for how you are going to engage or interact with them. If your fans are not engaged with your brand, then they will never become customers.
Engaging with your followers and fans reassures them that you are a real, legitimate business, and positive comments left by existing customers about your brand will go a long way towards demonstrating that you’re a reputable and trustworthy business. In addition, this will not go unnoticed by the search engines.
What is Social Engagement?
In the world of social media, engagement is the process by which you engage in two-way conversations with your followers. Getting people to follow you on your social media channels is just one small step.
For social media marketing to actually be effective for your business, you need to understand why people convert from followers into customers, and incorporate this into your social media campaigns.
The fact of the matter is, people are social and love to engage and interact with people. If you want to succeed with social media, it is critically important to interact with your followers on social platforms.
Fans or followers are worthless unless you know what to do with them.
Just because you have 50,000 fans or followers does not mean you have a successful social media campaign or you’ll see a sudden boost in your revenues. Followers are just that. Even though having a large social network is great for social proof, you have to convert those followers into customers for them to make a difference to your bottom line.
One of the most powerful advantages of social media is that once you build your audience, they can hear from you and be exposed to your brand on a regular basis. It’s like having your very own free broadcasting channel.
But this is even better, because you can have on-going conversations with your followers. They can ask questions that you can respond to. Statistics show that on average a person needs to see or connect with a brand up to 7 times before they buy it.
This would be difficult and costly with traditional marketing, but social media engagement makes this incredibly easy to accomplish.
However, it is significant to note that brands that merely broadcast at or talk at their target audience without engaging them are increasingly less likely to generate new followers or convert fans into buying customers.
Studies show that followers who have interacted with a brand on social media are far more likely to visit their online store than those who did not.
The Like Factor
The psychology behind purchasing from one brand over another is down to simply being likeable. Consumers are far more likely to buy and spread the word about brands they like, trust and respect.
Nevertheless, it is also important to note that will not increase your revenues based on the number of likes you have received. The number of likes you have on Facebook, or the amount of followers you have on Twitter, has never really been a particularly relevant statistic in terms of measuring social media ROI (return on investment).
The average Facebook user likes 165 fan pages. If you don’t know what to do with those fans, they will remain fans, and will never become your customers or advocates for your brand.
It is worthwhile to consider what you should be doing in general in order to effectively engage your audience. Effective engagement means interacting on a one-to-one basis – keeping the conversation going and building relationships with people who have chosen to follow your brand on social media. If you want your brand to be a huge success, developing relationships with your followers is essential.
Here are examples of social interactions that count as engagement:
- Demonstrating how much you value your customers by listening to what they have to say about your products or services, and using this information to improve those products or services;
- Showing that you’re a real person;
- Providing plenty of opportunities for your audience to share their opinions and respecting those opinions by openly acknowledging them;
- Actually engaging in conversations rather hiding behind stiff corporate language;
- Sharing content that is relevant and useful or meaningful to your target audience.
- Responding to likes, shares of your content and comments (both negative and positive);
- Stimulating conversations without pushing your products or services or engaging in traditional marketing tactics;
- Actively participating in the community by liking, commenting and sharing other people’s content;
- Being consistent in your social media activities. People feel emotionally involved with you, your business, and your brand when they believe that you’ll be with them for a long period of time.
- Nurturing an environment where your audience perceives you as an expert or authority in your niche.
- Creating an environment where your audience trusts you enough to want to do business with you. Emotional involvement with you, your business, and your brand leads directly to loyalty and brand advocacy (people talking about you, sharing your content, and joining your conversations).
Social media offers various opportunities to interact and engage with your audience – customers and potential customers – on many different levels. Online, “engagement” means making contact on a truly one-to-one basis – beginning the dialog, creating meaningful relationships, and encouraging conversions.