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Social media is viewed as an error-prone and troublesome place to start building brand awareness by many companies. For those without practical experience, the mere idea of social media management can appear to be too much work to be worth it. However, a recent report from Thunderhead makes it clear that those same companies are also the ones that feel the least secure with their traditional customer engagement methods. Thankfully, thanks to easy to use tools it has never been easier to leverage social media in promoting your company’s brand and mission.

What Exactly Is Social Media Engagement?

It is the customer-business relationship that exists almost entirely online. Like with building traditional relationships, it takes dedication, adaptability, and long-term thinking to pull off. Compared to traditional business relationships, social media engagement also enables you to create an active line of communication with clients that can serve as an avenue for promotions, feedback, and overall customer service.

Timely Communication Is Key

Regardless of the platforms you use, keeping in touch with clients is key to success. By providing timely and accurate information to clients, you will be proving your brand’s trustworthiness and setting yourself above the competition. The trick is to make certain that the people handling your social media accounts have the knowledge and authority to answer any question or solve any dilemma! Customers prefer to turn to social media over other customer service avenues now more than ever due to the ability to get their questions answered in a timely manner. Who has the time (or patience) to sit on hold listening to elevator music these days?

Take JetBlue as an example - they are a very large company, but they still make it their mission to provide extremely timely communication around the clock, even at 1:30 in the morning:

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Exceed Their Expectations

Nearly 90% of social media messages are ignored, so actually answering them puts you ahead of the competition. Just remember that time is of the essence – according to Jay Bear, the president of Convince and Convert, just under half of users expect a response to their inquiry in less than an hour.

How To Improve Your Customer Engagement

Improving customer engagement requires consistent effort regardless of the platform. Social media simply offers you the ability to more quickly discover a massive audience with the potential for rapid growth in market awareness and brand loyalty. The trick is to understand how to approach this potential pool of loyal brand followers.

Start A Conversation

Provide valuable information and true engagement to start productive relationships with potential customers. If you do not know what they want, ask them! By simply being responsive to their needs without pushing your products or services, you will engender the trust needed to develop a large following. Forming a large following is vastly more important at this stage than simply creating advertisements.

Promote Those Most Enthusiastic About Your Brand

Have automated tools report on those that mention you or your branded keywords/hashtags. This will enable you to quickly find those that are most enthusiastic about what you offer the community. To get this information, you first must convince them to use these keywords or hashtags in your own posts.

After obtaining the information, you will be able to share the provided content and obtain the data essential in adjusting your current social media priorities. Done properly, a single happy user can open the door to a large pool of potential marketing leads that will keep your sales team happy for months! Just remember to be honest, if users feel that you are being disingenuous, then you risk damaging your brand’s standing.

Follow Current Events And Topics Of Note

Leverage currently trending news or topics that relate to your industry to add a sense of timeliness and value to your social media postings. For instance, if you manage a bar and grill, then utilize upcoming sports events to draw people in. Just make certain that you think about your post completely, if done incorrectly your post may be seen as inappropriate and harm customer relations.

Take DiGiorno Pizza, for example, who live tweeted an event and incorporated some witty banter into their social media marketing:

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Don’t Stop Interacting with Customers

Monitor your social media profiles and respond to queries as quickly as possible. If you allow your account to go dormant, people searching for your company online may get the wrong idea about your company’s current state or its customer service policies.

Once you start using social media, you must not stop. Even a single day can convince current users to turn to a competitor. By providing timely and frequent interaction you will be building a brand that users can trust and share with others. Honest Tea provides some great advice on how to approach social media, always keeping in mind you need to have a personal, consumer-driven approach:

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Social Media Engagement Is A Team Exercise

A successful social media brand requires the use of a large array of talents and skills that few possess. Instead of doing it on your own, turn to a team of social media experts to ensure that every step of the content creation and sharing process is done correctly and on time. Here are some of the positions your team may want to include, depending on the size of your business:

  • Community Managers – Manage feedback and customer service needs while promoting a positive experience for everyone involved.
  • Content Creators – These create the actual content to be distributed according to a social media calendar.
  • Public Relations – What you say impacts how you are viewed. These experts know how to make every word count.
  • Sales Teams – Have those most knowledgeable about your products and services engage those with questions about it.
  • Support – Issues happen with any product or service. Have those with experience in fixing problems on call to address specific problems.

It is alright if you don’t have the staff available for this. As your brand grows, you will have opportunities to find those that are perfect for each role.

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Measure Engagement With Ease

Each platform has different ways to measure engagement and overall success. By using automation tools, you will be able to obtain an understanding of what works and doesn’t, providing clear data to help shape future social media and marketing endeavors.

Discover The Right Engagement Metrics

Having the right data is essential in making valid judgments about your social media utilization. Some metrics you should monitor to obtain this understanding includes:

  • Average Response Times – Swiftness is key for happy customer relationships.
  • Inbound vs Outbound Messages – Know the ratio between how many messages you receive versus how often you replied. If this isn’t close to 1:1, then you should adjust something.
  • Time of Response and Rate – Know when things slow down to improve your resource allocation.

Use Each Social Media Platform To Its Fullest Potential

Each platform has its relative strengths and weaknesses. See how your competition uses each platform to see what works and go from there. Remember that there is no such thing as a “one-size-fits-all” approach to social media marketing and you should consider turning to platform experts to ensure that your policies get you the most bang out of your marketing dollar.