The 9 Rules of Social Media engagement (Part II) – Turn Your Audience Into Advocates

In the first part of this article, we covered the first four rules of social media engagement: be brand-centric, listen, the rule of thirds and talk naturally. So, here are the remaining five rules.

5. Be easy to find (and to follow)

Want to increase your reach and influence? Then you’ll need to increase your number of followers. And the first thing you need to be thinking about is to make it as easy as possible for your potential audience to find you and then, provided you can prove to be of use, of interest and sometimes of amusement, to follow you.

Sometimes it’s better to get a deep twitter following (think quality over quantity) than a wide following. So you need to be thinking about relevance with consistency. You need to be following persons relevant to your business objectives, and try to engaging them.

Slow and steady wins the race so consistency is a must – which is important anyway. How do you engage your target audience once you’ve found them?

6.Ask questions, start conversations, engage

Well, the easiest way of engaging anyone, be it on the street, bus etc, is to ask questions. Everyone likes to talk about themselves, so give them an audience – use good open questions to get the conversation started and continue the dialogue with more questions and answers just like in the real world.

But what if the conversation doesn’t go according to plan or, possibly worse still, there is some very direct criticism aimed at you?

7. Criticism can be an opportunity

One approach is to use this as an opportunity to learn from your customers, and possibly to attend to the criticism in question so well that reputational damage is neutral or even enhanced by the incident.

But so many people find this aspect of being online difficult – why? Because people are inclined to take things personally and see any criticism as an attack on themselves. So the first thing that one should do is to look at the criticism carefully and dispassionately. Does the person making the criticism have a point? The first objective of any response to criticism is to draw the heat and emotion which is in the complaint. So, you need to show empathy and consider apologising.

Next, you need to address the source of the complaint (assuming that they have a legitimate complaint – sometimes social media can be driven a little too much by trolls so don’t get taken in here), by making amends if the complainant does have a point. Then state what you intend to do to make amends and check with the person that this addresses the issue. Go to Google and have a look at some of the examples from Dominos of how they address things when the screw up – 100% of us will do this at some time or other.

And try and address this tactic as quickly as it appears. Don’t let it fester.

8. Sharing is caring (and creates communities)

Sharing is caring, and will position you as a person of authority and influence. So put yourself in the shoes of your customers and think ‘what would they find really useful for me to share’.

Then do it – don’t be a hoarder of information – start to use the share button, the like button, retweet and repost and start to build a community of followers which are within your target audience (assuming you are playing to your strengths and sharing stuff which is within your brand or service ecosystem. And over time, this ecosystem will come to sustain you and help to grow your business.  And the wider you share, the wider your spheres of influence.

And finally… 9.!

If I do have a summary it’s this – be true to your brand and make sure the personality you create is as you meant it to be. Be as natural as possible, engage person to person. And don’t be afraid to make mistakes.

So what are you waiting for? Jump in – the water’s lovely!