Many business owners can see the value of using social media and other online tools to share helpful and relevant information with their network in order to build their brand and reputation as an expert.
Unlike traditional ‘interruption’ marketing (where businesses continue to push and bombard the marketplace with sales/promotional information) social media marketing (often referred to as ‘relationship’ marketing) is more about building and nurturing relationships with your network. Some of which could very well be your ideal client.
Today’s consumer is far savvier, is much harder to impress, is extremely time poor and therefore less likely to react to a constant barrage of sales messages.
Therefore engagement and interaction is critical and something that you should be doing in order to continue building relationships with people who could eventually become your perfect client.
Here are ten ways to elicit engagement as you continue to nurture and strengthen the relationships with people in your network:
1. Be focused
Be clear and focused on your audience. Who is it that you want to become part of your community? What are their interests? What do they struggle with? How can you deliver value and capture their interest and attention?
When you take time to answer this you’ll find they are far more likely to be interested in the information and resources you share. And, therefore be willing to engage in conversation with you.
2. Be communicative
Avoid the conversation that only goes one way, where you don’t answer questions or respond to comments that people have made. Especially if they have commented on your blog, Facebook wall or Twitter feed.
Take the time to respond to them personally. Not doing so would be considered rude!
It’s also important to realise that communication is not all about talking but also about listening. So make sure you also ‘listen’ to what people are saying.
3. Be resourceful
Become a resource – a go-to person by continuing to add interesting and informative posts, articles, videos etc that will be of interest to your community.
By continuing to add value you’ll soon develop a reputation as a resourceful person, whose information is trustworthy and relevant.
Don’t be the person who constantly sends out promotional material about your products and services – people will just not be interested.
By taking the time to build a level of trust with your community, and by concentrating on relationship building and resource sharing they will be far more open to receiving information about your products and services.
In fact, they may well have approached you already for more details as you’ve developed a certain level of respect in that area.
4. Be compelling
As you continue to write tweets, articles and produce videos, end your segment with a call to action to elicit comments and participation.
I often ask people what they thought about my article, what they found most helpful, whether they are doing something else that works for them as a way to spark participation in the conversation.
Another call to action may include asking whether they’d feel comfortable sharing your article with their community if they believe the content was worth sharing, thus enabling you to get your information out into the wider community.
5. Be polite
Hopefully this step doesn’t need much explanation. Remember what your parents told you – play nice; be nice.
Some people choose to take a more controversial position in their approach. However being overly controversial, direct and rude to people will not inspire people to engage/hang out with you.
People may have different opinions than you – and this doesn’t mean they are wrong. So be respectful of their models of the world.
6. Be constant
Ensure you post and interact with people regularly. Posting once a month or even once a fortnight is not enough. Aim for at least one quality blog post/article per week and regular interaction on your Facebook, Twitter and other social media accounts.
Your followers will be more likely to comment and participate if they know you’ll respond sooner – rather than if your responses are infrequent and delayed.
7. Be trustworthy
Would you keep company with someone who came across as shady and untrustworthy? No? Neither would the people in your network.
Everything you do and say, the conversations you participate in, the groups you join, the photos you share – everything, impacts your brand and reputation.
People like to hang out with people they know, like and trust. So make sure that you are honest in all your communications, interactions and business dealings. If you do the opposite – you’ll find yourself unfollowed, unfriended and possibly banned.
Was this helpful? Are you already doing these things? Yes? Fantastic – then you should be well on your way to building an ‘engaged’ network.
I reached out to my Facebook Community and asked them to share their thoughts on building an engaged community. Here are some of their suggestions – also very important:
Karina Alvela Ask your fans what they’d like you to talk about and do it. Provide fans with free tips and advice, so you look like an expert in your field. Poll your fans for new product suggestions and use that information to manage your service offerings.
Bob Milam Stay in your sweet spot. Don’t pretend to know something if it’s outside your expertise. Also, scrupulously credit your sources – avoiding plagiarism like the plague.
Astra Spider When writing articles or blog posts, share from your heart, share what feels good in your heart, and share from your own experience. Generosity and authenticity count! @abundantheart
James Doan’s Corner Office Exceed expectations. Always under promise and over deliver. Don’t promise what you might not be able to do. The temptation is to promise too much. Be realistic – then deliver just a little more.
Laura Farmer Honesty and integrity always comes through … Always level UP! It’s this standard that engages people every time!
Dr Shellie Hipsky Ask probing questions, deliver intriguing content, encourage others to provide their own expertise, and always remember to thank those who contribute.
Allyn Horne Do not use the community as your billboard. Enagage in MULTI-DIRECTIONAL dialogue rather than “spray and pray” messaging that may or may not engage your audience, and does not foster conversation.
Ali Meehan Be inclusive, add value to what your community are saying, people buy people so engage, engage, engage!
Kristi Jackson Mba Don’t join any community just to sell your widgets- people see a sales pitch from a mile away. Instead, join a group ready to give information, connect people with the solutions they need, and they will come looking for you 🙂
Erin Morrow Share 80% of useful information & knowledge-expect to get 20%. This will come back to you ten-fold!
@.l.interpretations Be prepared with useful and relative information and services to draw prospects. You’re trying to make $$$, but prospects are trying to hold onto theirs. What good is it if you can’t be considered a helpful and reliable source? Build trust and reputation first, then the $$$ will come.
Sandy Sidhu Show up. Participate. Interact. Provide value. @Sandysidhu
Jorge Furber The challenge in social networks is not to be connected to thousands of people the challenge is to build relationships. For that we must listen, create value, know and understand the needs of our connections and bring our knowledge and experience to the community. Also be consistent and focus on a few topics to generate credibility.
Natalie McIvor building an engaged community starts with you. You must be engaged and authentically connected to your community not just passing through. Networking is not about seeing how many business cards you can collect but rather it is about taking the time to connect with others, share yourself, be engaged when in conversation, follow up promises and is more about the quality of relationships than the quantity.
The Online Close Ask your followers what they struggle with….then ANSWER them with a helpful tip promptly. Ask, respond.
Guy Hobson Provide value and sincerity in helping your community solve problems. Become their ultimate trustworthy resource.
What about you? What do YOU think it takes to build an engaged community? Share your comment below! And, if you think these tips were helpful, please Like, Tweet and Share with your network. As always, I’d really appreciate it.
Till next time, stay inspired!
Annemarie, you’re exceptional at what you do! This article really helps show every piece of the puzzle and how all connections intertwine to create a resourceful and strong Network. Time is everything in Social Media.
Thanks Kristy; so glad you enjoyed the article.
It’s such an important reminder for us all to remember that social media is not just another way to ‘blatantly promote’ our businesses, but rather a fantastic way to build relationships with our prospects so that they can get to know, like and trust us. Three very important things in any relationship!
Very nice article, Annemarie. One thing I consistently see missing in social, though, is the real-world aspect of it all. People want to engage with local entrepreneurs through social channels. That we know, and know how to do. The question of the day is: how to we take the virtual community we’re building on Twitter, Facebook, et al. and bring that back into the real world of our business and our community? People are longing to reconnect with other people in real, live 3D space. I’d love to hear any thoughts.
That’s a great question. For me, once I start to build connections with people online, I will continue to nurture that relationship through (say) connecting with them on Skype (or phone if they are local). Then of course if the opportunity arises, we will meet for coffee and continue to build the relationship from there.
I must say though, many of the people that I meet are based overseas so we don’t really have the opportunity to meet face to face, however we can speak via Skype (and use of video) and through other technologies. I’ve built some amazing friendships with people I have never met, yet I would consider them friends and colleagues.
Thanks for stopping by – I really appreciate it!
Building trust matters most if you want to attract anyone. They should feel like you are trustworthy as much as you can offer good services. Politeness to other people really matters a lot. A person can actually read a lot from your level of politeness so instead of being forceful it is always good to do something in a polite way.
Customer engagement is the key to a successful business. If you can tap the enormous potential of social media platform, you can watch your clientele grow steadily. Good to read your points.