A social media strategy is crucial for increasing brand awareness in any business or organization. But many find that even if you have hundreds of followers, you still may be lacking in traffic, retweets, and likes.
A common mistake is using social media as an RSS feed to send a constant stream of information to your followers. Social media should be used not only to inform but also to engage, and too often brands initiate one-way conversations. Creating a dialogue with followers increases engagement, sharing and traffic. Here are several easy ways to engage your base:
Appeal to your power users
While most brands have a general idea of who their followers are, it’s also imperative to know your most active followers. A quick search of your twitter handle or analytics will show you who is retweeting, who is sharing, and how often. These “power users” are the followers you want to target. Tweet at them directly, mention them by name on Facebook. If they are already sharing your brand, they are engaged, and giving them a little credit will make them want to engage further. Another great exercise is to see how many followers each of your followers have. If they have a large audience, they should be someone you engage with regularly since their sharing holds more “Klout”.
Have a unique voice
Personality is oft-overlooked aspect of a social media strategy. Who wants to read tweets or updates from an avatar or a business name? Make sure your tweets and messages have personality — and stick with it. If you don’t feel like using your own, make up a personality you think will resonate with your base. You can be sassy, authoritative, sarcastic, or funny - anything but bland. Gauge your follower response and react accordingly. No one wants boring friends, and no one wants to follow boring tweets or updates. There are enough Twitter bots out there, make sure your followers know they are talking to a real person!
Limit your ‘ask’
People want to like something, retweet it, and move on. Too often, brands overestimate the amount of time people will spend with their message. Social media guru and co-author of the book Facebook Marketing All-In-One for Dummies, Amy Porterfield says that when you’re trying to start a conversation, you have to keep this fast-pace in mind. “I did some work for a nonprofit that raised funds for women and children in third-world countries,” Porterfield said. “On Mother’s Day they posted a question on their Facebook Page. The question read, ‘What’s your favorite story about your mom?’ — and two people posted a comment to share their story. If they had posted a question that was easier to answer, say, ‘What’s one word that best describes your mom?’ their fans would have been more likely to come forward and post a comment. The easier you make your questions, the better your fan engagement.”
Finally, many businesses forget that everyone likes to get something for their time and attention. Creating occasional incentives for your followers is a great way to raise awareness or expand your audience. The New Yorker does this by regularly granting access behind its paywall to people who “Like” its Facebook page. For example, you could watch the Arrested Development panel at the New Yorker Festival for free online, but you had to like The New Yorker on Facebook first.
Another great way to do this is to offer small free samples of actual products, or one large prize, in exchange for shares, likes, and retweets. The TV show RuPaul’s Drag Race often offers Twitter followers a free gift in exchange to be the first person to share a selected tweet. Thousands will share the tweet in the hopes of winning, but only one goes home with a gift. Every shared tweet grows your audience and gives you information about their habits and dedication to your product and brand.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that social media is a dialogue — not a dumping ground. Keep the conversation going, but keep it simple so people have time to respond. The more you interact with your followers the more you can learn about and expand your base.