So far, we have discussed various technical aspects pertaining to social media marketing: ad campaigns, targeting, budgets, metrics, sales funnels, and so on. Today we propose to tackle a different matter, and that is how to make sure that you are not shooting yourself in the foot while engaging with people on social media. In each and all cases of this kind, when the engagement is bad, when it is too promotional and not conversational enough, any ad campaign will fail.
People respond to ads from brands they trust and like engaging with. Therefore, it is important beyond anything to respect the unwritten rules of social media etiquette and engagement when approaching potential customers. Did we say unwritten? Well, from now on they shall be written down. Behold the 10 commandments of social media engagement and pay heed to them:
1. Thou Shalt Be Patient
Engagement with your followers does not happen overnight. If you just open your social media accounts and start aggressively promoting your products, you will get zero sales and engagement. People do not like being seen as walking wallets. They want to build trust and find that they are indeed at the core of your business value, by acting in a friendly and helpful manner on the social media.
2. Thou Shalt Not Abuse the Hashtag
Hashtags have expanded from Twitter to Facebook™, Pinterest and Google+. They are keywords on these social media platforms, helping users find posts on a specific topic or to create a conversation around that topic. Trending hashtags are prominently visible, and indexed by Google as well, so companies are using them in almost every post. However, anything beyond two or three hashtags per post is overkill and it will be swiftly punished by followers by not engaging with that post.
3. Thou Shalt Keep a Consistent Posting Schedule
Popular social media accounts are those which keep their followers constantly engaged through a clear and consistent posting schedule. If you are busy at a point, then automate your posts ahead of time. But do not leave your followers wondering whether your account is still active or not.
4. Thou Shalt Share Curated Content
Your followers are interested in many topics pertaining to your niche. It is said that sharing is caring, and this is perfectly true. It is not only about you, your content and your offer. It is about showing that you keep tabs on everything going on in your industry, you follow top influencers and you have an opinion in debates on relevant topics.
5. Thou Shalt Build Relationships
Engagement is something personal, a one-to-one relationship with your followers. How do you create that? By responding to their comments, liking them, mentioning and rewarding the most active followers, and by thinking of interesting ways to keep them continually informed and entertained through your posts.
6. Thou Shalt Respond to Comments
You will receive both public and private messages on your social media accounts from time to time. A basic rule of etiquette states that you must respond within a maximum of 24 hours to such messages. Even if you do not have an answer ready, acknowledge the person’s message and tell them that you will respond later.
7. Thou Shalt Not Engage in Denigrating Competitors
The social media world is still a jungle, with platform owners and moderators being overpowered by the quantity of abusive and negative behaviour. One such type of behaviour is spreading negative information about your competitors. Whether they be true or not, engaging in such behaviour will not earn you any sympathy from your followers.
8. Thou Shalt Add a Human Touch to Your Engagement
People follow brands, but engage with other people. Your posts must reflect this human touch – by sharing stories and photos about your staff, by allowing page administrators to adopt a personal tone in private discussions, and by remembering the cardinal rule in your content mix: write for people, not for search engines.
9. Thou Shalt Encourage Conversation
Do not turn your social media posts into a one-way monologue about your brand and your product. Provoke your followers to share their thoughts and ideas, ask questions and give answers, take part in polls and contests. This is the only true form of social media engagement – the dialogue.
10. Thou Shalt Not Delegate Social Media to Inexperienced Staff
The temptation to “get a couple of people from Fiverr” to manage your social media accounts is high, but resist it. When things go wrong, you will have no one to hold accountable, and you will have little arguments for your followers to justify the breach of etiquette and friendly engagement rules.