It’s become pretty clear there are some common misunderstandings about the difference between posting content and engaging on social media. This is especially relevant to brands leveraging social platforms as a marketing tool. They’re approaching social with a dual purpose – getting their marketing messages out and developing loyal communities. As companies check the social media box off their daily to-do list, there’s an important piece of the puzzle missing.
Sharing content is just the tip of the iceberg.
Yes, consistently posting valuable and relevant content on your social media platforms is incredibly important. It’s the first step in developing your “voice,” demonstrating you know what’s what, and gaining some attention from the audiences you’re working to attract. The content you develop and share helps build your credibility and reputation. However, only posting content isn’t going to create a thriving community of social supporters around your product, service, or cause. As a result, companies that approach social media as a task on their to-do list undermine their own efforts – and returns.
Engage- eliminate the bullhorn syndrome.
After posting, you have to engage in conversation. This is a critical step that many organizations miss – it’s the difference between a bullhorn and a dialogue. Expecting audiences to congregate, respond, and amplify your message because you’ve posted content isn’t realistic. As with any relationship, developing a rapport of trust and reciprocity are key to building an engaged (and fruitful) social following.
Let’s break this down from theory to practice. What steps help facilitate real engagement?
- Ask questions. When posting content, whether it’s original or borrowed, tease out some insights on the meaning/impact for your audience – even if it’s a bit controversial. Use it as an opportunity to craft opinions, show thought leadership, and (most importantly) inspire reaction!
- Join conversations. Leverage search functions – like Twitter hashtags – to find conversations that are already happening online – and join them. These communities are already engaged; participating in their conversations will build awareness of your organization and potentially convert them to become your supporters. Added plus – many of these active participants (known as “influencers”) already have large, engaged social networks of their own, which increases the value of their participation in your conversations.
- Reach out. Touch base with your audience on a personal and professional level whenever you can. Comment on blogs, monitor what’s going on in your community and chime in, even if it isn’t related to your business. Remember that personal connections are the bread and butter of social media; the return on your relationships is a reflection of the quality of your investment.
Now you’re on your way to genuine engagement. Keep us posted- how has this influenced your engagement levels?