Social media provides you with a unique opportunity to engage with your fans and followers. For most businesses, the amount of face-to-face time you get with your customers in limited, and for some companies that operate entirely online, they never meet their customers in real life.
Engaging with prospects and customers online is a way to showcase your brand’s unique identity and personality and to build the kind of meaningful connection that will lead customers to repeat and refer your business, rather than drifting off to the competition.
But in a crowded online space, what can you do to stand out? It’s time to get creative about your social media engagement. Here are five ways to raise your social profile and engage with fans effectively.
1. Go Live
The results are in: Video is the way that people want to consume their content nowadays. There are mountains of surveys and statistics that show video is a highly effective tool for reaching people and holding their attention.
Lots of marketers are getting in on the video trend, but why not take it a step further and take advantage of live video on your social channels? Live video is great for a number of reasons. Because it’s something that’s happening in real time, you generate excitement around the content—catch it now before it’s over! It also allows you the opportunity to interact with fans in real time. You can give shout-outs to those who are watching, and they can ask questions and leave comments, which you can respond to on the spot.
Some business owners are a little nervous about going live. Having an unscripted conversation on the internet can be intimidating! But when you go in with a plan, it’s easy to make it a success. Hosting a Q&A on a specific topic is a great place to start. This is the kind of video that makes sense in a live format (you’re there to answer questions and engage with viewers), and when you pick a topic within your area of expertise, you don’t have to be worried that you’ll run out of things to say.
Send an email out to your mailing list inviting them to participate, and promote the session on your social channels in advance. Think about having a few friends or colleagues join for the first few sessions, until things really take off, so that you’ll be guaranteed some questions from friendly faces.
2. Create Friendly Competition
Online contests are a great way to generate buzz around your business. Contests allow you the opportunity to get creative and have fun, and that positive energy is contagious.
Take some time to develop a contest that makes sense for your business. If you’re launching a new product, ask fans to submit ideas for the product’s name. A photo or video challenge can work in a variety of scenarios. You might also create a challenge around a national day related to your business. If you own a bakery, run a competition on June 7 in honor of National Donut Day or on Pi(e) Day (March 14, of course!).
These contests work best when you encourage your fans to take an active role. You also want to establish a hashtag for the contest. This not only allows you to track entries, but it also helps to generate interest among those who might not know about your business but keep seeing the hashtag pop up online. They’ll likely click on it to see what it’s all about, and then you’ve grabbed the attention of a new potential fan!
And of course, you want to announce the winners of your challenge, give them a fabulous prize, and share the results and photos of the victors on your social channels.
3. Stage a Social Takeover
Social media is all about building that one-on-one connection, so why not use it as an opportunity to introduce your fans to your team? Arrange a series of social media takeover days, where various members of your team helm one of your social accounts for the day and give followers a behind-the-scenes look at a day in the life at your company.
Not only is this a fun way to get your wider team involved in marketing efforts, it also builds a personal connection between your brand and your fans. It allows your fans to put a face to the company name, and gives them an opportunity to see the level of care and attention your entire team puts into their job. It’s that individualized attention consumers can get from a small business that leads them to pick you over some large national company, so why not help to foster that sense of connection by allowing your team to speak for themselves on your business’s social channels?
4. Get in on Fun Fads
Your website is the place for you to show off your professional side, but social media is an opportunity for you to let your hair down and show you brand’s personality a bit more.
This will of course mean different things for different businesses—a CPA can’t post the same kind of content as a music store. But that doesn’t mean the CPA can’t have a little bit of fun! Who doesn’t need a little levity from their CPA in the throes of tax season?
Incorporating memes, gifs, and emojis is an easy way to show that your business has a more lighthearted side. You might also get in on the latest viral challenge (think mannequin or ice bucket). Of course, whenever you’re dabbling with pop culture references and challenges online, you want to make sure that you fully understand what you’re sharing and that it’s work- and brand-appropriate.
5. Open the Door to a Conversation
When you have someone who’s already engaged with your content, you want to keep them talking. Replying with a “Thanks!” or simply a thumbs up will mean the end of communication. Instead, why not respond by asking a question? That’s a great way to get a back-and-forth going.
Let’s say you own an antiques store. You share a blog post about proper care and maintenance for old wood furniture and one of your followers responds, “Great tips!” Rather than a simple thumbs up, follow up with a question. Ask them about the furniture they’re trying to care for and offer specific tips for the care of that piece.
Not only does this technique allow you to hold onto your follower’s attention for a little longer, it also helps to establish your business as an authority on the subject at hand. The next time that person has a question about an antique, maybe they’ll send you a message on Facebook or stop by your shop rather than typing a search term into Google. They’d much rather get advice from someone they already trust than risk taking the word of a stranger on the internet.
Social Media engagement is the best way to begin to build a personal connection with your prospects and customers. When you create content that showcases your brand’s personality and take the time to respond meaningfully to comments and reactions from your followers, you can help your business stand out in a crowded online field.
If you liked this post, check out our Small Business Guide to Social Media.