Social media is, at its core, about creating conversations. AKA being social!
When you use the platforms of social media for business, these conversations can be triggered with other businesses and with consumers for effective marketing and to build relationships that are meaningful and beneficial to all parties. Social media conversation is the entire point of social channels; Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram are not there simply to broadcast and advertise, but to humanise your brand and interact with your followers.
Conversations in social media can take many forms. These can include sharing:
• Blog articles
• Product showcases
• Titbits of information
• Behind the scenes peeks
• Inspirational or amusing content
• Polls and surveys
Social media conversation is a fantastic opportunity to humanise your brand and connect on a deeper level with your customers. By doing so, you promote loyalty among consumers and encourage them to become lead generators for your business.
It’s really important to remember that conversations in social media need to be reciprocal; it’s not enough to talk at your audience without giving them an opportunity to respond, to initiate conversation themselves, and to expect you to interact with them directly.
By communicating both ways, engagement with your followers becomes meaningful and ongoing. By being openly willing to build and maintain conversations through social media, you will stimulate interest and loyalty for your brand.
The question then begs to be asked: How do you build genuine social conversations that will be valuable for you and followers of your brand?
It takes time, effort and a degree of work on your part to gain authentic followers, maintain their interest, and encourage them to interact with your brand. You as business and brand owner need to initiate contact.
Even with the great convenience of scheduling tools for social media, you need to be present enough on a very frequent and regular basis to respond to questions, comments, and to thank your followers so that they feel appreciated and that their efforts to engage are not in vain.
You must at all times be open, authentic, and transparent in order to ultimately convert followers into customers.
Tips to build valuable, genuine social conversations
There are a number of ways that you can easily begin the process of building meaningful connections with your fans on social media through virtual conversation. Some of these include:
1. Be real
Never, ever be fake – your followers are real and they will notice. Show your metaphorical human face through your content and how you respond to your followers.
2. Identify your niche
Who is your target audience? Are these the people who constitute the majority of your follower base? These are the people you need to engage with in social media conversation.
Those who really wish to connect with your brand are those who like you as a result of a friend’s recommendation or directly from a button on your website. Many thousands of followers mean nothing if they are not potential customers!
Solicit feedback from the target followers to help you deliver what matters to them and what they want to see on your profile.
3. Use fans’ first names
Always address followers by name. This elicits a deeper connection on a more personal level. They will feel valued and respond better to your brand.
You should also use your own first name when you sign off. This not only demonstrates that you are a real person, but also that you have a belief and confidence in your business. This authenticity will help build trust and brand loyalty.
4. Don’t censor your followers
Unless a follower posts insulting material that may be offensive to other users, or posts spam, don’t censor any comments. As tempting as it may be to only want commentary on your profile that is favourable to you and your brand, censoring simply makes you appear dishonest.
By allowing followers or other social media users to have their say, you will depict yourself as open, transparent, and trustworthy. The legitimate fans will reward this openness with loyalty.
5. Use content generated by fans
How do your customers use your product or service? How does it incorporate into and enhance their lives? Ask your customers to share photos, videos, or anecdotes about your brand as it applies to them.
This can then be shared on your social media profile. Not only will fans love feeling that their input matters to you, it is a fabulously authentic and effective form of advertising that requires little to no effort on your part. As form of testimonial, it is a very powerful mode of marketing.
You can also request that fans provide reviews on your business Facebook page. Know that the occasional bad review is inevitable – some people are impossible to please, some just like to complain, and sometimes even the best product or service goes awry.
As long as the vast majority of reviews are highly favourable (and this should indicate how you are doing at your business) you will not only show you are a real and reputable company, but also that you have enough confidence in your brand to “put your money where your mouth is”, so to speak.
6. Ask followers for their input
People love to have their say, and to feel that their opinion counts. As a brand owner, you should also be interested in what your customers and potential customers think about your brand, your products, and how you run your business and your social media account.
Ask for feedback! By cultivating a feel of a community that is open and honest, with warmth and a friendly tone, your followers will be more inclined to feel confident in trusting your brand and as such, remain loyal and also spread the word.
Understanding how consumers feel about your brand, your product, and how it fits into their lives will give you a launch pad for better and more successful marketing in the future.
7. Take ownership
Never, ever pass the buck when it comes to your business, brand, product, or social media content. Social media is the customer service portal for the future, and increasingly, customers are using social media for customer service purposes.
Don’t refer questions, comments, or complaints onto another party. Instead, reply and offer to continue the conversation over the phone or via private message in order to resolve the issue to the customer’s satisfaction. If you need to seek advice from someone else, be certain to assure the customer that you will get back to them and do so yourself – promptly.
Social media success relies on knowing your target audience, having clarity in what you want to share and how you will share it, and a deep understanding of how to transform connections into fans or followers, and from there convert them into paying customers.
These are all achieved by building meaningful, genuine relationships via social media.
Ask yourself, what will create these connections? The answer is being authentic, demonstrating what matters to you, inspiring others, listening and responding, and by showing your humanity.
This in turn will not fail to give your brand and business credibility which in turn creates trust and customer loyalty. There is no faster, easier, nor more affordable method of digital marketing.
Have you completed our LinkedIn eCourse?
Meanwhile, if you want to take your social media knowledge higher and dream bigger in what it can do for your business, why don’t you check out our free LinkedIn course.
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