What is engagement?

Engagement is the process of having real-time conversations on social media with other users – of one human-being “speaking” to another.

You are already an expert at engagement. You do it all the time – liking, commenting and sharing posts on your own social media accounts with your friends, family, and other like-minded fans of things you are interested in.

Engaging for your business is no different – it is still about having conversations, and being a positive contributor to the social media community. The only difference is, you are doing it for the following professional reasons:

·            To build up good will so the people you engage with are more likely to share your content, which increases the reach of your posts.

·            To get more likes, shares and link clicks for your business – strengthening your network and enhancing your reputation.

·            To have conversations that persuade people to help you to accomplish your goals.

Who should I be engaging with?

Interacting with other social media users who have large numbers of followers and who are considered influential either through their status, experience or geographical location, is a proven way of increasing the reach of your key messages.

By supporting these “influencers” to achieve their goals through social media, they are in turn more likely to help you to achieve yours – e.g. by liking or commenting on our content, or better still, reposting it to their large network.

Your influencers will be unique to you and your business.

Influencers can be industry journals, publications and websites / writers who have a powerful ‘voice’ that people want to listen to.

Influencers can also be associations, institutes and other organisations who ‘police’ the industries you work in – setting and upholding standards, and holding you accountable for the quality of your work.

Influencers can also be from popular culture – celebrities or well-known figures who have loyal followings.

At a local level, influencers can be the people who run the infrastructure and business community of the towns and cities you trade in. This includes, local councils, chambers of commerce, networking and membership groups.

Apart from influencers, your other target for engagement is potential customers – either people who might buy directly from you, or businesses you may wish to trade with.

Looking for Conversations to get involved in

Use your key words to search for conversations you can join in with

If the search term comes up with a conversation being led by a potential influencer, this is a great place to start.

Ask yourself:

·            Are they an industry journal, publication or magazine?

·            Are they an institute, association or governing body?

·            Are they important in popular culture or a recognised figure-head?

·            Is this person based in or do they have links with the location where you do business?

·            Do they have a relatively large number of followers (e.g. at least 1,000)?

·            Do they have any common ground or shared interests with you?

How to be engaging with influencers

The golden rule with engagement is to give, give and give again, before you ‘cash in’ on the good will you have built up. Just like in real life, it’s really poor form in social media circles to two-foot into a discussion and shout about something you want.

Stage 1

With each person / organisation you approach, your goal is to find a reason to compliment them first.  

E.g. “Great news! @OMCLiverpool brought 1.6 million visitors to the city this summer. Congratulations to all the team!”

The likelihood is the account tagged in will retweet or favourite your post, and you may even get a thank you 🙂

Stage 2 

Find a simple way you can help them to achieve a goal.

E.g. If they have been nominated for an award a good post would be: “Hi, we’ve voted for you and reposted the link to our network – best of luck with the competition!”

Stage 3

When you are feeling more confident, move the relationship on to a meaningful conversation which you feel you can sustain and possibly even influence.

E.g. Look at what they have tweeted about in the last 24-48 hours? Have they:

·            Posted a link to a blog

·            Won an award

·            Celebrated a milestone

·            Given to charity or supported a cause

·            Attended an event

Using this as the basis of your chat, try to avoid closed responses like the following as it cuts the conversation dead:

·            Great read! Thanks for posting.

·            Congratulations! XXX years – that’s really impressive.

·            So great to see you supporting a fantastic cause.

·            Hope you had a nice time!

Instead, aim for a response that will a) kick-start a conversation and b) give you an opportunity to mention what you do.

Stage 4

Seal the deal – be open about what you would like the influencer to do:

E.g. “We’re a specialist video production company and would love to share our showreel with you. Can we please send you a link?”

How to be engaging with customers

No-one appreciates the hard sell approach on social media, which most people retreat to as a place to chill-out and relax.

As above with influencers, be gradual in your approach to “warming up” customers – expressing interest in them, supporting them with their goals and conversing, before trying out a sales pitch.

Other practicalities

·            If you are reposting someone else’s content, tag them in so they know you have done it.

·            Don’t start a conversation you do not have the time to sustain. If the person ‘bites’ and you log off, that’s very disengaging.

·            Do not be political, rude or directly challenging. If people express a strong or controversial view – politely step away from the conversation.

·            If the person asks about something you don’t publically want to discuss, ask them to Direct Message their contact details so you can continue the conversation offline.

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