Megan Baker, social media specialist at Samuel Adams, shares some professional advice on ways to use social media to create engagement for your small business brand. Here are her top tips to boost audience engagement on your social media business platforms.
1. Keep Your Finger on Your Brand’s Pulse
Participation in social media means being in touch with your brand. Social media allows you to know what’s being said about your brand online – both good and bad.
Make it a point to monitor your social media channels several times a day and respond promptly to any customer concerns. Showing your customer base that you’ve heard what they’ve said and will act to correct any problems can help build a loyal brand following.
Just as it’s important to respond to any problems, it’s equally important to acknowledge praise. Reply and thank your followers for their compliments or good reviews. Show them that you really care about engaging with them, not just about shutting down or smoothing over criticisms.
Whether positive or negative, be sure to reply within 24 hours. Social media users have short attention spans. Responding quickly ensures that your brand is still fresh in their minds and also signals that you’re on top of your social media game and are making their opinions a priority.
2. Online Customer Service Matters
Social media and online businesses have changed the way businesses provide good customer service. Previously, all customer service was either face-to-face or on the phone. Now, the majority of customer service issues can be addressed online.
Remember that even though the interaction may not be in-person, online customer service is just as important as service you’d provide in person at a retail shop or over the phone. In fact, you may very well do the majority of your customer service online as your customers likely bring most of their complaints that way. This isn’t merely one way to deal with customer service – it’s one of the most important ways.
Good customer service is going to be the same across all of your channels. Pay close attention to what your customers are saying, address their concerns promptly, and check in to make sure they’re happy with the results. That’s how you keep them coming back.
3. Determine Your Brand’s Messaging Priorities
To create a cohesive brand experience for your social media audience, you need to know where to focus. What should you prioritize?
Some businesses make the mistake of being active on social media solely for the sake of being active. The problem with that approach is that without any real focus to your social media, you won’t have much impact on your fans.
Define your top products, services, and brand attributes. Once you’ve articulated what these are, you can focus on these specifics for your consumers. Your social media goal should be to touch on those themes as regularly as you can.
For example, if you want to convey the message that your product is valuable because it’s hand-crafted, then you should create content in line with that theme. Your social media content should reinforce your business message and your brand’s core competencies.
4. Always Include Calls to Action
Ask yourself: what are the actions you want your customers to take? Whether it’s purchasing your product, attending your event, or donating to your startup funding, make sure to include a clear call to action for your fans to respond to.
A call to action lends focus to your posts and also prompts the audience to take the next step while making it as easy as possible for them. Do you want them to sign up for the email list? Attend your sample sale? Tell them what to do and they’ll respond accordingly.
5. Calendar Posts Ahead of Time
Coming up with social media posts on a daily basis can drain your creativity and make it more likely that you’ll put it off for later. Brainstorming content ahead of time takes the stress out of what to post on a daily basis. Whenever possible, plan your posts ahead of time.
A monthly or quarterly content calendar can help you manage and plan your social media output. Revisit your calendar once or twice a month to tweak it and keep tabs on your progress. Use your content calendar to track dates for product releases, holidays, or special events.
You can also set up an app or program such as Buffer to schedule your posts to go out at a preset date or time. That means you can put a few days’ worth (or more) of content up all at the same time and the program will automatically post it at the designated times.
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Engaging your consumers online is all about building relationships. As with any relationship, it takes time and effort to develop rapport and good communication. Over time, you’ll find that engaging your audience and fans through social media feels natural. Once you have a strong, loyal brand following, your fans and audience will spread the word about their favorite product on their own. And that’s any marketer’s dream.