Social Media Engagement – Participate

I was reading Mashable and one of my favorite people in social media today, Brian Solis, wrote 21 rules for social engagement. Which all are pretty good. I urge you to go look at them all. The one I’m going to focus on one rule in particular:

9. Become a true participant in each community you wish to activate. Move beyond marketing and sales.

This is one area I think a lot of people don’t get. It’s not about pushing sales all the time. You need to get in Twitter, Facebook and actually talk to people. I always tell people who need to get started in social media, that it’s just like talking to your friends.

One thing I have done is just engage people and talk about what they have posted. This is coming from the brand response, not a personal one. It’s showing them that you are listening and interested in them, more then making a quick sale. If someone brings up a topic, just make a comment. One of the clients I have worked with is an underwear company and one of the members posted a picture and I said “Great picture”, which got conversation started. The conversation continued, then I said we were in the same city as well. Then did a follow Friday with them listed.

I hear you say, but we have to make sell as well! Well this conversation went on a few days, as you see above, and I got a tweet back that “I’m buying from you this weekend.” Which made me happy. We got in the consideration set for him and then got a sale! It’s not always quick, but if people talked to you or your brand, they will consider you as a place to shop or buy from because they feel they can trust you and ask questions, before, during and after.

On the flip side, I’m not saying don’t promote your company and sales you have either. People do want deals and many studies has proved that, especially on Twitter. For the same client I also promote new products and tweet out a link and encourage questions about them. Then when there is a sale on the site I let everyone know. But, there is a balance between the two.  You don’t want to be the used car salesman, but you don’t want to go to personal.

If you are not in the space you need to do is get in and play with each medium. Each company is very different. Your audience will be different and things work differently. And don’t be afraid to make mistakes, because you will, but just admit to your followers/fans and go on. Lastly, ask some of your key influencers what they want, most will give you an honest opinion and it will make your business stronger.

Tim is the founder of Element33. A social media agency specializing in education, management and strategy for small businesses. He comes from a traditional marketing agency but has embraced all things digital. He considers himself a marketing nerd and believes that all marketing is tied together. This means no matter what silo you are in, social, email, seach, etc, changes in one will affect the other!

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