Social media management isn’t just about the numbers. Contrary to what many senior business leaders think, social media marketers know that quality is more important than quantity when it comes to conversion rates, engagement, and brand popularity.
But how do you ensure your fans and followers are loyal, and how can you build trust through your social media strategies?
Look Beyond Obvious Social Media Competitions
How many times have you been told to ‘just host a quick competition to get some more followers’ (usually said by someone who isn’t bothered about innovative digital strategies)? The problem is, simple online giveaways – particularly ‘like and retweet/share to win’ competitions – are ten a penny.
The simpler the giveaway, the more you’ll attract seasoned ‘compers’ (competition entrants) who will quickly unfollow your brand if they don’t win. You can spot a comper by their timeline: it’s full of ‘retweet to win’ posts, and little or no conversation. Strangely, even bots can get involved with these sorts of competitions, as Sprout Social noted.
Sprout Social rightly suggests pushing competitions that involve user-generated content. This doesn’t have to take up loads of time for you or your fans; it can just mean asking them to come up with a slogan, take a photo, tell a joke, or share an embarrassing story.
For example, if you were a DIY brand, you could ask for stories of DIY fails, or – to subvert the sexist assumption that men are into DIY and women can’t put up shelves – ask for a photo of their mum’s coolest DIY project, for a Mother’s Day competition. Share and praise the best examples and celebrate your fans’ work, making them feel valued.
Have A Human Timeline, Not A Scheduled One
As Search Engine Journal points out, ‘Followers want to interact with real people, not bots or automated content.’ In practice, you should mix scheduled promotional posts, like discount codes, links to products or news of upcoming offers, with more spontaneous live posts reacting to current events, trending topics and what your followers enjoy.
Try to ask questions, as these get people interacting, and start a proper conversation. Of course, those questions will tie in with your brand – if you’re in the food and drink industry, you could ask fans what their dream picnic would involve – but your replies shouldn’t be stuffed with links and shoehorned promotional deals.
Sometimes these conversations can give you ideas for long-term content creation, too. Maybe that picnic question could become a blog post on the best things to bring to a picnic, or a Pinterest board of picnic locations and ideas.
Your fans’ answers could lead to further ideas, like creating a webpage for vegan customers, or sending out digital recipe cards in an e-newsletter. These pieces of evergreen content will be useful to all future customers and fans. It all starts with a simple question and lots of active listening.
Actively Solve Problems Online
Most people wouldn’t expect a brand to be active on social media 24 hours a day, but they would expect a response in working hours and, where appropriate, at weekends. Becoming known for ignoring customer queries and criticism is a sure-fire way to reduce your follower count and, in turn, test customer patience.
If you’re a larger retail or service company, you can easily set up a separate Twitter account dedicated to customer issues, and move queries away from your main feed. But your Customer Services team needs to keep on top of this second account, especially during a brand crisis, or frustrated customers will return to the main account for answers, disrupting the flow. The Financial Times points out that airlines should always have a brand crisis communications strategy for social media, but this is arguably important for smaller businesses, too.
To make it clear what support is available, some companies put their active social media hours in their bio, e.g. ‘Answering your tweets, 9am-5pm, Monday-Friday’. Any recurring questions could be added to a FAQs page on the website, or a pinned tweet or Facebook post.
Queries can easily move into direct messages, away from the public Twitter or Facebook feed, but that doesn’t mean professionalism should drop. An irate customer whose serious concern is answered with a stream of emojis can easily screenshot the conversation and make it go viral. Keep customers feeling valued and respected, and you’ll keep them on your side.
Now you’ve got some enhanced strategies for social media engagement, you’ll soon see results.
Polly writes graduate careers advice for Inspiring Interns, a graduate recruitment agency which helps career starters find everything from project management roles to marketing internships. Check out their listing for both graduate jobs London and graduate jobs Manchester.