The debate over whether or not your company should engage in social media is long over: Your target market has been posting vacation selfies on Facebook, showing off restaurant meals on Instagram, and live-tweeting about Game of Thrones episodes for years. Over 2.3 billion people around the world use social media, including 58 per cent of Canadians, so you can’t afford not to be there.
Most companies get this. But too many marketers are still making the critical mistake of equating the sheer size of their audience with social media success. Social media is NOT about collecting followers like mint-condition baseball cards. It IS about building real relationships with those followers.
Collecting over one million “Likes” on your Facebook business page may seem like an impressive feat, but are any of those people actually listening to you? Any company can convince a herd of people to like their Facebook page, share a tweet, or post a video if the prize is sweet enough, but many of these followers are hardly likely to engage with your brand or eventually turn into loyal, paying customers.
“Human-to-human connections are the heart and soul of business,” say Neil Patel and Ritika Puri in The Beginner’s Guide to Online Marketing. This sentiment is just as true on social media as it is when you have face-to-face encounters with your customers. Likes and Follows don’t matter if your audience isn’t engaging with the things you say. A disengaged social media audience of one million is nothing compared to a highly engaged audience of 10,000.
Why is social media engagement so important? Engagement is action, and action signifies interest and connection. Without audience engagement, your social media posts might as well be billboards on a deserted highway.
Engagement on social media can come in several different forms, including:
Each one of these actions forms a connection between that individual and your company. As those connections build, they strengthen your company’s relationship with that individual, which is how a great social media post can eventually lead to greater:
DiGiorno Pizza is well known for its quirky, irreverent Twitter feed, but its audience loves its tongue-in-cheek tweets. This fun little dating tweet garnered 179 likes and 79 re-tweets, presumably because it made DiGiorno’s followers smile. It doesn’t hurt that the company also stayed on message, indicating that pizza is a must-have to find everlasting love.
The internet is full of advice on how to improve your company’s social media marketing, but too often this advice comes in the form of tactics. You can find huge lists that will tell you how to blow up your Facebook following by giving away trips to tropical beaches, why you should accompany your posts with gorgeous images, and how you can cross-promote through guest posting.
All of these tactics can be useful, but only if you approach your social media channels with the right strategy. That strategy centers on authenticity. Ilya Pozin, a writer for Forbes, says it best: “Potential customers and consumers are looking for social media accounts that are smart and funny; they want accounts that are good conversationalists, but will also actually listen to their needs. Essentially, your target audience is looking for your social channel to bring value to their lives in some way.”
Tactics only go so far if you don’t present your company in an authentic manner and speak in a way that makes your target market want to engage. DiGorno’s dating tweet might not initially seem authentic, but it actually keeps with the tongue-in-cheek character of their brand and the young, hip audience they are hoping to attract.
So, before you start implementing “101 Great Tips for Getting More Twitter Followers,” step back and look at your company’s personality and how you are coming across to your audience. Maybe it’s time to dial up the authenticity.