Engaging customers on social media is not an easy task.
It takes the right strategy, a deep understanding of your audience, and commitment to be able to get your customers to interact with your brand.
If you're still struggling with engaging your customers on social, here are seven proven tactics you should try today:
Maybe she is a 28-year-old event planner who follows your hotel’s Instagram account to get design inspiration. She’s may also be interested in seeing if your hotel is a candidate for the next event she’s planning.
She reaches out to you on Instagram and writes, “Great design! I am going to do something similar at my next event.”
You reply, “Thanks (follower’s name)! What event are you planning?”
Something as simple as replying to a potential customer on social media can help build a positive relationship.
Of course, responding is not the only way to engage customers on social media, but it can be a challenge to know exactly what kind of social media strategy is going to work with your audience.
Why Is Engaging Customers Through Social Media so Difficult Today?Marketing resource management company Aprimo argues that marketers are struggling with what’s called the Experience Gap - a void between what is customers expect to experience and what they are actually experiencing. The void is caused by using only traditional marketing methods.
Delivering personalized content at the right moment is challenging. So is creating and delivering content at a high speed, across multiple touch-points, while still providing an exceptional experience for consumers.
It’s almost impossible to keep up with customers today without the right tools and strategy.
Are you wondering how to engage customers through social media in an effective way?
Here are six tried-and-true tactics:
1. Get to Know Your Social Media AudienceAs a business who is marketing on social media, you need to ask yourself this: who are you talking to?
Knowing your target audience is essential to creating tailored marketing campaigns and successfully engaging customers through social media.
Let’s look at an American restaurant chain, Denny’s, as an example. They use language that's perfectly aligned with their target audience - young people.
Here’s an example of a tweet Denny's posted about their most listened 2018 songs. Because the tweet touched on a topic popular with a younger audience and was written in a humorous manner, it has earned the company tons of likes, retweets, and responses:
How to align tone of voice with target audiencesMaking your tone of voice resonate largely depends on how well you understand your audience. To get to know your followers better, build customer personas, which are high-level summaries of your target customers.
One way to create customer personas is to conduct customer interviews. Brent Trotter, content specialist at Clique Studios, developed a five-step approach to creating personas:
- Interview and observe multiple people
- Analyze the data you gather
- Uncover patterns in their behaviors
- Group participants into “archetypes”
- Create a digestible summary of these insights
2. Know Where Your Audience Is Talking About YouAre you on Twitter, but your main audience is on Instagram?
If you don't know where your community is talking about you, engaging customers on social media is going to be more than difficult.
That's why it's important that you find out where your brand is being mentioned and engage with audiences on that platform.
You can figure out where customers are talking about you with social media listening.
Replying to your audience on a regular basis is the key to maintaining a positive brand image. After all, social media is a public channel where your existing and potential customers can see your activity and use it to evaluate your brand - which brings us to our next point.
3. Engage With Your Customers Swiftly and RegularlyIn addition to monitoring where your brand is being mentioned, it's also important to reply to your followers ASAP.
A fast response matters to customers -- it shows that you care about them and what they have to say.
One of the brands that have mastered the art of audience communication on social media is an American ice-cream company, Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams.
The company interacts with their followers on a regular basis, saying thank you, and answer questions as they come in.
But having regular conversations with your community is not the only way to engage your customers through social media.
Take user-generated content, for example. Every time a customer shares a positive social media post about your business, it means they were satisfied with your products or services.
So why not amplify their message further by sharing it across your own channels?
4. Analyze How Customers Respond to Your Campaigns
After you launch any marketing campaign, it's important to monitor how customers feel about it - ideally by using social media sentiment analysis.
Sentiment analysis enables you to figure out what content your customers are into so that you're able to create more campaigns that they truly enjoy.
5. Make Your Content More AccessibleAs a marketer, you should also think of customers with disabilities when focusing on your social media content -- or any form of marketing you do.
One way how to improve customer engagement on social media is making things accessible to people with disabilities.
Fen Slattery, accessibility lead at Clique Studios, says to make sure you use image descriptions to describe the images you post across Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
“Image descriptions are generally for people with low vision and people who use screen readers,” Slattery says. “They’re also great for people with cognitive disabilities who have a hard time understanding the purpose of an image.”
Use thoughtful image descriptions when posting on social media. The description will also make the entire experience better for all of your customers.
"Captions on video help people with hearing loss," Slattery says. "Captions also help people with all sorts of cognitive conditions, like Autism."
In addition, Slattery adds, “Video captions help people who aren’t a native speaker of the language that’s being spoken in the video or those who are from a different region. It’s also for those who don’t want to hear audio in the moment they are watching the video or if you forget your headphones at home.”
6. Show the Human Side of Your BusinessNo matter what kind of company you are -- software, a restaurant, or e-commerce yoga clothes store -- you can engage with customers by simply being human.
Here’s a great example from Trello. The company talks to their social media audience in a very personal way.
Finally, you can add a personal touch to your social media bio and make it about your social media manager as opposed to the company. This way, people will feel that they're interacting with a fellow person, and not with a faceless business.
7. Take a Stand on a Social IssueAccording to a survey by Clutch, 75% of people are likely to do business with a company that supports an issue important to them.
“People support their buying decisions as a way to support the issues they care about,” writes Toby Cox, content marketer, and writer at Clutch.
The survey also found that only 44% of people think the price is one of the most important company attributes when compared to “environmentally-friendly business practices (71%), social responsibility (68%), and giving back to the local community (68%).
Patagonia is a classic example of a brand built on taking a stand. They work to reduce their impact on the environment.
The company's content reflects protecting the environment. Here’s an Instagram post promoting a film created by Patagonia about fighting for Europe’s last wild rivers.
To find out, I spoke with Jason King, digital marketing strategist for SOCIALDEVIANT. He says that before a brand evaluates social causes to support, it first needs to know its brand purpose.
“Brand purpose is different from mission or vision,” says King. “The brand purpose, in a simple sentence, is why the brand exists. Not what it does. To determine the brand purpose, the team can have discussions over a short period of time to determine what is true about the brand.”
Once the brand purpose is decided, the team should speak with employees, partners, and customers to find out their interests in social causes, King adds. There can then be a balance between the brand purpose and the interests of the company’s stakeholders to decide on social causes to take a stand for.
“If the brand purpose is true, it can positively impact all aspects of the business. From hiring to operations to marketing. In particular, the brand purpose will affect the brand’s corporate social responsibility.”
Your team should decide which aspects of corporate social responsibility are important based on the brand purpose -- it has to align with the purpose, according to King. Corporate social responsibility includes things like economic mobility, giving back to the community, or sustainability.
King warns that companies should be careful in supporting social causes.
“Brands should be very careful about adding their voice to social movements that might not be relevant,” he says.
“When brands take a stand, there is always a risk of people disagreeing with or criticizing that view. When there is a disconnect between the brand’s purpose and a cause it supports, the risk increases. This is one reason why Gillette's recent ‘The Best Men Can Be’ commercial saw backlash: it was a new stance for the brand to support.”
Implementing a Cause Marketing CampaignAfter discussing your brand purpose and talking with company stakeholders, you can determine what social cause(s) to support. Over time, you can use this social cause in your marketing.
- A clear message overall - why the cause matters.
- A takeaway or call to action - how real people can learn more and get involved.
- Compelling creative - This can take shape in many ways, but video is often a great delivery format.
- Created with social media in mind - That means considering native formats like Facebook Instant Experience or Instagram Stories, instead of just cutting snippets of one video.
- Realistic expectations - Don't assume a campaign will go viral because of its good intentions. Determine how it can be supported through digital advertising or other methods such as blogging and media outreach to expand its reach.
The TakeawayIn today's busy world, engaging customers on social media can be a challenge. Your followers are always on-the-go and constantly exposed to huge amounts of content - which makes getting their attention (let alone engagement!) difficult.
Yet, difficult doesn't mean impossible. By learning about your audience, replying to their messages, and showing your brand personality, you can successfully establish a connection with your community and encourage them to interact with your brand.
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