Not Feeling Social Media Love? A Quick Start Guide to Engagement
Friday, December 18, 2009 at 2:29PM
Julie Senter in Associations, Social Media, social media

"How do I engage my members on LinkedIn?"

The question came from a non-profit marketing consultant I recently had the pleasure of sitting next to at a California Society of Association Executives luncheon in Pasadena. It’s a common question.

"We set up a group, but no one is participating. How do I get them to interact?"

More and more businesses are diving into the social media deep end and more and more businesses are wondering why no one is paying attention to them.

If you aren’t getting a response from your social media efforts, you need to ask yourself the important question: what are you doing to engage your followers? Simply setting up a page and waiting for people to follow you just doesn’t cut it. Like any other marketing tool, social media requires constant care and feeding.

The good news is there are specific things you can do to increase participation. Here’s a quick start guide to increasing participation in your social media sites:

Market Your Efforts
It sounds simple enough, but you’d be surprised to learn how many people simply aren’t telling people where to find them on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Include your social media icons on all of your marketing materials, your Web site and your company email signatures. If people don’t know you’re there, they won’t look for you.

Audit Your Content
Are people not following you because you aren’t giving them a reason TO follow you? If all you’re doing is promoting your company and linking to your marketing brochure, you are setting yourself up to fail. This isn’t interruption marketing. If you don’t give people valuable information or a way to connect to their peers and interact, you’re just 1s and 0s taking up space in the digital world. What do your followers want? Promote them. Give them information. Join in their conversations. Then, occasionally, let them know how awesome you are.

Ask Questions
Oftentimes we’re trying so hard to speak that we forget to listen. Don’t be the online equivalent of the boisterous, obnoxious spouse at your company’s holiday party. Try asking some questions to entice reaction from your followers. Don’t just produce material … ask for feedback. You’ll get it!

Establish Realistic Expectations
Unless you are Ashton Kutcher, Starbucks or Tiger Woods, you are not going to command a sizable audience overnight. Social media is something you build. You wouldn’t give up after your first direct mail marketing piece, and you shouldn’t give up on social media if you don’t have thousands of followers in the first month. Remember, social media is based on trust, and trust takes time.

Think Quality, Not Quantity
Businesses new to social media spend way too much time worrying about how many people are following or friending them instead of who is following or friending them. Social media is not a numbers game. Anybody can get 1,000 porn sites to follow them, but what good does that do? Focus on the who and on building relationships. Would you rather have 15,000 followers who don’t read your content or 100 followers who are in your targeted demographic and read every tidbit you publish and share your posts with their friends (who are also in your targeted demographic)? It’s not a tough choice.

In the case of my non-profit table guest, she may have made the most egregious mistake of all – launching a social media campaign without a plan. Although she had targeted LinkedIn as her preferred platform because of its business cache, her non-profit’s members clearly weren’t on board. I suggested she do a little more research to see what social media platforms they already use instead of attempting to steer them toward a program they clearly had no interest in.

Bottom line: Go where your audience is. Provide them with good information. Ask questions. Don’t expect results overnight.

If you keep these points in mind, you will increase your following and you will see success in social media.

Article originally appeared on Senterline Communications (http://senterline.net/).
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