Conversations are happening all day long, all over social media. Millions of these conversations are about brands, products and services. Social media is all about social interaction. Brands should not be afraid to talk, share, educate and ask questions. Look at social media as a way to make your brand human, establish trust and build lasting relationships with your audience. If consumers like the people behind the brand, they will like the brand. Be authentic, be social and be friendly. According to Forrester, people engage with 11.4 pieces of content before making a purchase. Give your audience value they can’t get anywhere else. Give them the incentive they need to click, buy and become brand advocates.
Are you thinking, “It seems kind of creepy when a brand butts in on my private conversations on social media. I don’t want to seem creepy.” Below are a few ways for brands to join the fun on social media.
Customers always have questions about a product or service. Give them a place to be heard. Twitter Chats are always popular and simple to execute. Facebook Live and Periscope have given brands a way to show some personality and answer questions in the moment – face to face. Not everyone is cut out for live platforms. Customers have short attention spans and want to be entertained. Make sure the face behind your brand is likeable, genuine and has a little razzle-dazzle.
I have said it before, and I will say it again, social media is all about ego. People love showing off their smarts. Ask your customers questions they really want to answer. Do you sell cameras? Ask your customers what camera setting they use for dark club concerts with hot spotlights. Photographers will want to share their knowledge, give advice and ask questions. Add to the conversation with your own tips and advice –leaving out the hard sell.
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You can post your question the old-fashioned way, but as we learned in 5 ways to use Visuals to increase Social Media Engagement, visuals get viewed, liked, commented on and shared more than text-based posts. The general rule of thumb is that one visual should be used for every 75-100 words posted. This means that a question posted as an image will get more engagement than a text-based post, but you don’t need to stick to images. Facebook Live, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat all allow for a quick, simple way to ask a question in a video post. This puts a face to your brand and makes you instantly human, and easier for customers to connect with.
Is it time for the Super Bowl, the Olympics or the Playoffs? Ask your audience about their favorite game-time snacks, their thoughts on team uniforms or where they are watching the game. You hate the Red Sox, but love the Yankees? That is okay. You are allowed to have an opinion. Just keep your tone light, stay away from aggressive disagreements and enjoy the polite, respectful debate your opinion may spark. Political discussions rarely end with a hardy laugh or virtual handshake on social media. Tread lightly (or not at all).
Ask your audience to contribute their own content [insert social media ego here]. Adobe asks its audience to post pictures of Photoshop work they are especially proud of, Starbucks asks its audience to post pictures of their personal doodles on their white cup, Flight Media posts a series of #MarketingProblems and #DesignerProblems to get both groups comparing war stories. These campaigns get audiences talking with each other, interacting with the brand, and liking, sharing, following and clicking.
When you start working with user-generated content, you may as well…
If you are encouraging user-generated content, why the heck not make it a contest? Make the contest rules clear and public and very easy to find, and make your request simple – draw something, wear something, do something funny. The requests are endless, and the pictures and videos will be too. Just make sure your ask makes sense to your audience and platform. Get in the conversation. Comment on the posts, post your own (you can’t win), and ask questions about the entries. Make it clear that you, and your brand, value the contestants and their entries.
These are just some examples of simple ways to start a conversation with your audience and encourage conversation among them. Customers will reward you if they feel like you care about them. Like anything worth doing, increasing engagement takes time. You will never see instant results. The goal of every brand on social media should be to deliver valuable, consistent, relevant content to your audience. This kind of hard work gives you customers for life. Remember, conversation gets you engagement. Engagement sparks conversation. Conversation builds trust. Trust gets you sales. Cha Ching!