As posted in the Gaston Gazette
Tweeting. Posting photos on Instagram. Sharing posts on Facebook. For good or for ill, social media is a pretty ubiquitous business tool, and for good reason: it gets your message out swiftly to thousands of people and with no cost on your end. But simply sending a tweet or a post is the easy part. What’s less straightforward is how you can successfully get people to interact with that material once you’ve shared it.
So what are some ways in which you can engage current clients or customers on social? Here are a few suggestions:
- Master the lingo. Most people know the basics of social media conversational style; you’re certainly going to attract a lot more people if you scrap industry language and focus on laypeople’s terms that offer potential customers or clients a simple, clear understanding what you do and why it’s useful. But whenever possible, it’s also important to utilize the type of words that catch people’s eyes and encourage interaction. In an article at Social Media Today, Mark Walker-Ford shares a handful of the categories of words and phrases that are effective: “learn more,” “share,” “tell us what you think” and “take action.” All of these communicate to people what they’ll get when they read and click — and they encourage people to get involved, not just to read.
- Don’t just talk. Listen and respond. Mastering the lingo alone isn’t enough. You want to show that you don’t just talk at people, but instead talk with them. That’s why it’s important not to be that business that posts or tweets constantly yet never engages with anyone else on social media. Instead, be the business that responds to every customer or reader comment. Be the business that shares or retweets content from other businesses. By reaching out to those who reach out to you, you not only help to sell your products or services, but you also contribute to a sense of entrepreneurial community that is invaluable at making customers and clients feel heard and welcomed.
- Use visuals. Language is what explains your message, but visuals are often what hooks a customer and draws them in. Katie Rose at Social Media Week points out that visuals aren’t only aesthetically interesting or eye-catching; they “cater to those of different browsing styles who may disregard plain text posts altogether.” What this means for your business is that by adding visuals to your text, you’re going to both catch someone’s attention and pull from a more diverse customer base. In addition, you’ll also increase your social media’s accessibility, particularly if you add descriptions of your images for users who might be visually impaired.
- Don’t forget the hashtags. Adding a hashtag or two to your tweet or Facebook post might seem like just one more step that you don’t want to worry about, but it’s worth it. The main reason is because it expands your tweet or post’s reach – it puts you under the eyes of not just customers and clients in your area or field, but anyone following the hashtag. Consider the hashtag as a conversational link between posts on the same topic. It’s a great way to give your cause a boost and lots of businesses have seen success with this tactic, particularly if paired with other methods of engaging readers and customers. One of the most successful campaigns of all time is the hashtag #ShareYourEars, which was a partnership between Disney and the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Every time someone posted or tweeted a picture of him/herself in Mickey Mouse ears and used the hashtag, Disney promised to donate $5 to the foundation. The campaign proved hugely popular and Disney ended up donating $2 million. But don’t go overboard: stick to a couple of hashtags. Use too many and people are more likely to avoid your posts than to engage with them.
- Join a few large Facebook groups. If you’re looking to expand your reach and your knowledge base, look no further than Facebook. Because the social media site already has so many active groups with thousands of members, it’s a good idea to do a little research and ask to be added to the groups that seem relevant to your products or services. You can also start a Facebook group of your own, but you’ll likely need a convincing issue or topic if you hope to attract customers beyond the reach of your business page. It’s far easier to go ahead and tap the Facebook group networks that already cater to small business owners, such as Blog Society, The Rising Tide Society and Rock Your Blog & Biz, where you can get advice and get more people interested in what you do.
On its surface, using social media seems as simple as writing a sentence or two and pressing “post.” But using it effectively as a business owner requires more thought and purpose. The tips we’ve shared here can help get your business, products and services noticed rather than keep people scrolling past them.