Don't Forget to Engage: Hold Conversations -- #3 out of 10 "Don'ts" of Corporate Social Media

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Don't Forget to Engage: Hold Conversations -- #3 out of 10 "Don'ts" of Corporate Social Media
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Don't Forget to Engage: Hold Conversations -- #3 out of 10 "Don'ts" of Corporate Social Media

Don’t Forget to Engage: Hold Conversations

by Davia Temin and Ian Anderson

In social media, it really is all about the conversation -- the authentic conversation, that is. In Swarthmore College student Ian Anderson's and my third of 10 "Don'ts" of Corporate Social Media, engagement is the key.  

We will continue to post one "Don't" a Day for the next 7 days, plus a wrap-up on the 8th.  Please send us your comments and thoughts.  Improving the quality of marketing on social media will raise the bar for us all.  

Listen and Respond

Not acting like an advertising machine  is necessary, of course, but not sufficient -- don’t forget to be conversational and ENGAGE your followers and fans. KPMG's Twitter site is a good example. 

High-quality, interactive content is important, but so is listening and responding to your audience in real time.  Brands unwilling to cater to customers or listen to what Facebook “likers” and Twitter followers have to say (positive and negative), are on the fast track to seeing social media numbers stagnate or collapse entirely.

Don’t Measure ROI in Followers

Worrying too much about your follower numbers is not something that should be on your social media team’s radar.  Any good social media expert knows that a legion of loyal and engaged followers is worth a lot more than ten legions of “lurkers” (people who look at a page and follow it, never to click on it again).

Communicate Consistently; Empower Your Employees

True engagement starts by putting a human face on your brand and then interacting consistently, such as Coca-Cola does on Facebook. No fits and starts in social media, your engagement must be continual.

Comments, both positive or negative, about your brand in a public place matter. Take them extremely seriously. Demonstrating to your followers that you are not only listening but making changes based upon what you hear can be powerful. Make sure the team you have running your company’s social media is large enough – and empowered enough -- to respond to any opinion follower’s post.

Never Stay Silent

One of the worst things you can do in the face of a social media PR backlash is to remain silent or unresponsive. If commenters (especially negative ones) suspect you don’t care or don’t take them seriously, they’ll do everything in their power to make you care and take them seriously. Escalation, especially over things you might consider trivial, is common. Commenters often “bandwagon,” or stick together, and one small problem could quickly turn into a growing constellation of problems.

Tackle the smaller issues before they mount to larger ones by having the tough conversations in just the right way to show your critics that you care, are willing to interact, take their issues seriously, are willing to change, and authentically want to be of help.  

Beat the Hate

Often, your best defense against "haters'" online is community. With a well-built, loyal community, such as Gower Cottage Brownies has on Twitter,  a group of people will be ready to help defend and back up your brand’s comments, whether you are a global conglomerate or local small business (it all scales in the world of social media.)  Be diplomatic and masterful in responding to negative feedback or hate comments about your brand.  Never delete a hate comment, unless your page’s guidelines stiputlate that inappropriate (containing offensive content) hate comments will be removed. And this notice should be clearly visible to users. (The time for you prominently display such a notice is before you start to get negative comments, not after --  meaning immediately!)  

Engagement, such as used by American Express on Facebook, is one of the best defenses against the “trolls.” And in many cases, it is also the best offense.

Spark Dialogue to Increase ROI

Conversing with respondents and sparking dialogue with your audience is another great way to increase ROI on social media. (Scottrade's  Twitter feed is a perfect example. ) 

People, especially younger people, will flock to brands that have interactive and fun social campaigns. And those who get involved in a heavily positive experience with a brand online are absolutely more likely to interact with that brand in the real world and consume its product. This kind of interaction adds significant value to any advertising campaign you do in the present and future, and is essential to companies seeking measurable ROI from their social media campaign.

Tomorrow, "Don't" #4 -- Don't Seduce and Abandon

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