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Understanding Social Media Engagement

Social Media has turned marketing communications on its head.  It should come as no surprise to anyone, and all one needs to do to confirm this is to look at  all the Facebook pages being set up by various companies and businesses. Social Media has taken the place of newspaper classified ads and press releases.

The problem with most companies is that they launch their own Facebook pages without understanding that unlike classified ads and press releases,  one will need to actually do more than simply posting an announcement. Social Media is about being “Social”, and requires a lot of communication and engagement.

Social media sites were created to connect people and build relationships, so don’t post monotonous status updates.  Be conversational. Your company Facebook page is not your press room, so avoid sounding stiff and “corporate”. Strike a balance between being professional and personal. Avoid sounding cold and impersonal and develop a casual tone that is open, inviting and friendly.

To find your own social media “voice” observe how others do it and learn from them. Check out the pages of your competitors or those whose with similar business models. But remember, the objective is not to imitate, but to differentiate. Try to understand their style but find your own.

Always remember that the purpose of your page is participation, and so everything you do in relation to your company’s social media marketing must be geared towards maintaining a dialogue. Take an interest in your fan’s opinion, positive or negative.

If it is a compliment or a positive statement, share it. If on Twitter, retweet and add a “thank you”. If it’s on Facebook, share it on a new status update and give thanks. If it is a question that you can answer right away, always begin by mentioning the fan’s name (“Thank you for asking, Stephen”). These comments can become springboards for further discussions and continuing engagement.

Also, if you receive negative statements, such as a complaints or criticisms, learn to distinguish between genuine comments and “trolls.” Either way, always see these negatives as opportunities to show  your best side and your confidence in your brand.

Trolls can either be competitors out to discredit you, or people who are just naturally negative about everything and enjoy the attention it brings to them. If you’ve ever worked at a department store, restaurant or hotel, you’ve probably encountered the latter kind of troll. In either case, you can start by setting their posts as “hidden” on your Facebook page(they won’t notice that their post is hidden from the main wall of your page). Try to answer their complaints and wait for their replies to determine what kind of complainer they are. If you’ve managed to get a positive reply or an objective and rational reply at least, then you can probably “unhide” these posts. However, if you feel in your gut that these are indeed trolls, then delete them and block the person from the page.

Lastly, always convey that there are real people behind the page. Aside from the standard “good mornings” and “good evenings”, take note of holidays like Valentines, Mother’s Day and Christmas. Post pictures of greeting cards, or even better, photos of your team with captions. At the end of the day, social media is about establishing and maintaining human relationships.

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