January 22, 2014

3 simple steps to get real social engagement

By Jamie No comments

Listen, engage, nurture – ah, I fear I’ve said too much. Don’t go, I’ll explain.

Social media’s big. It says so on Wikipedia, therefore it must be true. The obvious aside, businesses and marketers alike are jumping in head first hoping to reap the huge rewards promised by the social space. I find there’s a misconception that social media is a “free and easy way to gain customers.” This perception has created a backlash, many companies complaining that social “isn’t worth the investment” and “it hasn’t increased sales.” This begs the question, how are they using social media?

Everyone wants a ‘real’ social following that interacts and engages with brand updates. In a B2B context, social provides a fantastic opportunity to connect with the target audience. Notice I say ‘connect’, not sell. Too many brands adopt a ‘build it and they will come’ attitude. With many using social media as a sales message board, rather than adopting a more ‘social’ approach (I know the clues in the name, right?) and start conversations which aim to educate and add value to the audience without forcing company products upon them.

How do you communicate this added value effectively? It’s simple. Listen, engage and nurture. It’s your audience that should drive the content, not the other way around! Adopt social listening practices. Spend time monitoring social conversations, what are your target audience discussing and where are they discussing it? Monitor LinkedIn groups, Twitter feeds and news sources to find key topics and pain points – this should drive your strategy for content creation.

Now you’ve got your topics, engage! Involve subject matter experts (get them set up on social) and get them talking about key topic using their personal profiles. News flash…people like talking to people! Now, I’m not saying brand profiles don’t serve an important purpose, but this addition to social strategy could see large benefits such as engagement and advocacy amongst an audience. Let’s look at a B2B tech example, 85% of IT decision makers use social networks for business. The sharable and instant nature of social media makes it the perfect outlet for the purchasing ‘decision by committee’ culture who look to share insights.

Expert insights are gold dust for decision makers who search social media for advice from their peers, to access networks and read case studies. So keep up the conversation, provide sort after content that will nurture them through the buying process – this will begin to build a thought leadership culture associated with your business. An invaluable audience perception.

You should always look to add value on social, make it about the audience. You won’t regret it.