When using social media to market a business, product, or service, it is essential to have a well-rounded approach. Though often overlooked, a crucial part of a successful social media strategy is engaging with your consumers.

Engaging with your consumers not only boosts your brand awareness, but lets the consumer know you value their interest. It shows a real person is taking the time to engage, answer questions, and listen to the consumer's opinion.

Here some simple ways to begin engaging with your consumers on social media, or vamp up your current engagement:

1. Ask Questions

At the end of the caption on your next social media post, ask your audience a question relating to the nature of the post to engage your followers. For example, if we (Greenleaf Book Group) posted a photo of a book that was launching, we could add at the end of the caption "How many books have you read this month?" Asking questions is a call to action for conversation and encourages your followers to respond with comments totaling their recently read books and driving engagements to the post.

2. Answer Questions/ Respond to Inbox Inquiries

A lot of times, consumers will use social media to ask a question about a company's product or a service they offer. Responding to a tweet, Facebook/Instagram comment with an answer builds trust in your following and shows that there is a real person interested in the consumer experience. Also, keep up-to-date with inquiries coming to your social media inbox, and take the time to respond to messages. On a Facebook for business page, when a consumer visits the page, the page will display the average time in which the company responds to messages. Be sure you are up-to-date in responding to legitimate inquiries, and you'll improve your response time.

3. Liking and Responding to Comments or Mentions

When you post on social media, take some time to go through the comments. Respond to or "Like" the comments that are complimenting the content or brand. On Twitter, if someone mentions your company, asking a question or just admiring a product or service you have presented, respond back with a thank you and genuine note "Thank you, (name). We are so glad you are enjoying it." Not only does this show the consumer you care about their interest, but followers of that consumer will also see that you/your company has responded. This will create a feed, and thus boost engagements.

4. Have Some Fun

Social media isn't supposed to be a formal email. Use Emojis, GIFs, and memes to give the brand a personalized voice. Take, for example, Wendy's Twitter persona. Wendy's engagement style isn't suited for everyone, but it definitely works for their brand. Wendy's took social media by storm through increasing social media engagement with customers and other businesses. Wendy's Twitter account vamped up their social media engagement through witty banter, hilarious replies to mentions, and references to trending topics, and the company experienced a 49.7% growth in profit from $129.6 million to $194 million for the year from 2016-2017 and for the first time, Wendy's sales exceeded the 10 billion dollar sales target for 2017 (www.deputy.com). Due to the success of Wendy's unique approach to social media strategy engagements, other companies have begun to follow suit. For example, when IHop changed its name to IHob (from pancakes to burgers), some different fast food chains jumped on Wendy's bandwagon and engaged in witty banter commenting on the name change. Wendy's social media strategy has become so successful, it is now being shared in collegiate marketing and social media marketing classes across the United States.   

5. Change a Negative into a Positive 

At some point, your organization will receive a negative opinion, comment, or inbox message through social media. If it is a spam-based message or just a plain rude comment with no direct inquiry or complaint, don't engage. However, if someone comments or mentions the company with a legitimate inquiry or complaint, respond as professionally as possible. Let them know that you hear what they are saying and that you/your company values their opinion. If it is something you would rather discuss in private, such as a problem/malfunction with a product or service, ask them to send you a DM (direct message), so you can address the problem further. Even though it is a complaint or even a negative comment, it is an opportunity to solve a problem (if one) and build trust with your consumers.

Remember, effective social media strategy takes time. Your customers, clients, followers are supporters of your brand. It is worth the investment to engage with your followers, build your brand, create trust, and have some fun.

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Published on: Oct 5, 2018