Having a presence on social media sites is the first step. As indicated previously in parts 1 & 2 of this series I stated that before you create your presence on the social sites you better have a game plan in place BEFORE you create the accounts. A company that creates a social media presence then pays no attention to it is like having the door open to your store and no one is behind the counter to serve the customers. The more you correlate the similarities to social media and real life confrontations, the better a grasp you will have on having a successful social media presence.
So you created your social accounts, you created a nice profile bio and added a killer picture. You’ve invited your business associates, past and current clients to join you on your social sites, you added your links to your websites, added all your contact information and you feel like you’ve really accomplished something. Now, you need to start posting educational information surrounding your niche, you are offering great discounts to your new fans when they like your page, perhaps you are thinking of running a contest of some sort, but, you are not receiving too many replies to your posts, there is not a whole lot of chatter on your wall or @replies to your Twitter account. You are wondering why, and you look back on the first few posts you created. You notice people were liking, commenting and retweeting your posts in the beginning, now, not so much. What happened? The answer is simple. You never spoke back. You posted things you wanted your audience to hear, gave them great information, lured them to your website, even made some witty posts, however, when they reacted to you, you didn’t respond. Crickets were chirping when people were engaging with you. You screwed up.
One of the MOST important rules to remember when jumping into social media is DON’T IGNORE THE FEEDBACK! Don’t you dare go through all this trouble of creating these sites, post stuff here and there and FORGET TO COMMENT or ENGAGE with your clients! Am I yelling? YES! You know why? I see this crap ALL THE TIME and I CRINGE! I can’t tell you how many times I see a Facebook fan page with loads of content posted by the administrator, but no comments back on people’s comments to the company… WHY are you even there?!? Customers will complain on the wall about something and NO ONE is there to help. Are you kidding me?
Are you prepared for the patron that just had a bad meal at your restaurant and complains on your Facebook Wall? How are you going to handle that? Are you going to run and hide with your head stuck in the sand or are you going to show the world that your patrons and clients matter, REALLY MATTER, and are you willing to confront the good as well as the bad?
You won’t be able to create a strategy for every possible situation, but it’s important to get some ground rules down. It’s a lot easier to respond to comments, good, bad or indifferent when you have a system already documented on paper. Depending on the size of your business, here are some things you’ll want to address:
• How will social media be integrated into your business strategy?
• Who will be the one from your company engaging? Will there be one person? A team using one account?
• How much time will be spent on social media?
• How long will you “test” the different sites before evaluating their success?
• If a negative post is placed, , what is the protocol and who needs to become involved?
How to engage
Your main concern in the social spectrum is to listen and begin forming a platform for people to openly talk and engage with you:
• Listen to what they’re saying.
• Listen to what they want.
• Listen to what’s bothering them.
• Listen to what makes them happy.
When you have something to help THEM, to make them smile, to make them happy, RESPOND. Respond with links to your resources, to other people’s resources, to your competitors’ resources. Whatever it takes!
Your job in social media is to listen, to help, and to get your message out only when appropriate. For every 10 to 15 messages where you help someone else, you get to include one that promotes yourself. That’s it.
Social media isn’t about you. It’s about your customers and connecting with them so that when they have a need for something, they remember they have a connection on Twitter, or Facebook or LInkedIn or wherever you have established yourself on the web who specializes in that particular something.
How to join the conversation
If you chose to enter Twitter, use tools like the Advanced Search, TwitterGrader and Twellow.com to find people you should be following. If you’re on Facebook, join the groups that are relevant to you and become part of the conversation. If you’re answering questions on LinkedIn, again, find the groups that are relevant to you and jump in finding ways to be useful and a good community member.
Now I leave you with this. Start it…get out there. Leave comments on blogs, comments that makes SENSE. Tweet people, leave wall comments, etc. Engage new visitors. Go out there and talk to your community and at least TRY to have fun while doing it, or for goodness sakes hire someone like me to do it for you! Come on, you knew the shameless plug was coming eventually…