Building a Social Media Strategy: Engage (Part 4)

At this point in the series, we have covered the strategic, the analytical and the creative aspects of building a social media plan. Today, we will look at what may well be the most important step in being successful on social media – engaging with your audience. According to Forbes this past April, “a study of 25,000 consumers across 30 markets showed engagement increasing 61% over normal usage rates.” To ignore this step of a social media strategy would be unwise.

Step 4: Engage

Social media is a 2-way street. While you are busy planning, crafting, and posting content, your audience will (hopefully) be engaging, responding, and sharing that content. But if all you ever do is post content, without connecting with that audience, you’re missing out on a valuable opportunity.

Make responding to user posts, comments, and direct messages a priority. Identify whose job it is to monitor and respond to all messages and comments and provide that person with a pool of responses that are on brand and can be easily customized depending on the situation.

Feedback from your audience is invaluable – always say thank you when they offer up useful tidbits. Saying something encouraging when your audience mentions you, or organically shares one of your posts, provides for a natural and personal touch.

Social media is, by definition, social. Engage with other user’s posts, take part in conversations, and in general interact with your audience. This is how brands set themselves apart. Build a foundation for customer loyalty – today.

About those trolls

There will always be someone with something negative to say on the internet. How you respond to that interaction will always be noticed by your followers. Train ALL users that may be representing your organization online on how to handle negativity.

First, and foremost, remember not to argue on social media. This is a pointless enterprise, and generally damaging to a brand. If an argument develops after an interaction, do not continue to engage or escalate the situation.

Preparing for crisis

If your organization does not already have a crisis management plan in place, I strongly suggest you take the time to create one. The world of social media moves quickly, and little is overlooked or forgotten. In times of crisis, it is invaluable to have a plan on how to react and who should be involved.

As you move forward with your content strategy, make sure your crisis plan includes (or add it if it doesn’t) how your social media channels should react in those situations. Because, frankly, most of the world looks here when something is happening.

Leverage your networks

Beyond the reach of your company social profiles, you can also consider accessing the networks of your team. Engage board members, executives, employees, and anyone who has a story to tell or a willingness to share in spreading the message.

Identify the ways in which you would like your team to engage on social media on behalf of your organization. Provide suggested messaging and situational actions so everyone clearly understands what is expected. It’s most helpful to provide real-life examples of both positive and negative responses and interactions. Giving examples will set clear expectations and will serve as a “safety net” for user interactions, regardless of their social media savviness.

Watch for opportunities

Monitor conversations for opportunities to create content or generate ideas. Opportunities to share organic posts from customers or followers and tagging them, jumping into a conversation where your business has something to add (not solely self-promotional), and interacting with influencers can introduce your business to potential customers that may not have found you elsewhere.

Now what?

Crafting a social media plan without engaging with your followers is a wasted effort. Failing to engage with anyone who has chosen to engage with you (and they do have a lot of choices) is akin to ignoring a customer who walks through your front door. To realize the ROI for your work on social media is directly related to how responsive and involved you are on those channels.

Make it a part of your plan to react, respond, and follow-up. Then, start back at the beginning of the process – analyze what is and is not working, plan what you will do next, create or curate interesting content, and engage with your users.

As we close this series on crafting a strategic social media plan, I invite you to engage with us. Follow us on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook and say hello! We would love to hear from you!

Want to take your social media strategy to the next level? Contact us for a demo to see how Inkbench can streamline your workflow and empower your team.

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Author: Stephanie Beighley
Stephanie Beighley, VP of Customer Experience for Inkbench, has been defining and developing brand experiences for both clients and agencies throughout her two-decade career. Her creative aesthetic and communication style are heavily influenced by her experience in front-end development and UI/UX design. Prior to joining the Inkbench team, Stephanie was an Inkbench power-user, and brings her skills and experience to helping subscribers with everything from implementation to design direction, as well as being actively involved in crafting the overall user experience.
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