Engage your audience, don’t just advertise to them. That’s the best advice businesses can get about how to use social media to reach customers.
The old mentality of “Throw as much as you can at people and see what sticks” has been replaced by an open dialogue. Customers are sharing a lot of feedback with businesses. Now it’s up to you to listen to what your customers are saying.
Here are five steps to engaging your customers with social media, rather than ineffectively talking at them.
1. Listen. You might think the first thing you should do is get to work pumping out blog posts, YouTube videos, tweets and other great content, but actually the first thing to do is be quiet and listen. Search Twitter, Facebook and other social media to find out what people are talking about. Not only can this help you understand your customers better, it can also inspire blog posts and videos in the future.
2. Ask questions. Once you start listening, you’ll probably find some things you have questions about. Online forums and social media are ideal places for asking those questions. There are often a lot of knowledgeable people following discussions on a variety of topics, and they can offer creative answers. As a side benefit, this helps build relationships with experts in your field.
3. Answer questions. When you start feeling a bit more confident, you can start branching out and sharing what you’ve learned with other people. If you know the answer to someone’s question, speak up! Also, start commenting in discussions of topics you’re familiar with, whether it’s entrepreneurship, inventory management or anything else. This helps you begin to establish yourself as an expert in your own right.
4. Produce content. After getting your feet wet in content creation by participating in online discussions, you’re ready to start creating your own content to share with others. Think back to things you heard others talking about, what you’ve learned and what people have been asking questions about. Then come up with a plan to give people useful information, explain complex topics, share tips and do other things that your audience will find valuable. Try to write with a specific goal in mind.
5. Ask for feedback and make changes. Using social media involves a lot of trial and error. You won’t know exactly what works unless you’re willing to give it a shot. After you’ve started creating your own content, ask for readers’ feedback, respond to their comments and adjust your approaches to content creation when necessary. This refining process can make your online work even more effective and deepen relationships by showing you care what people have to say.
Social media is all about engagement, not advertisement. The best way to build brand awareness and create strong relationships with customers is to focus on their needs, not your messaging. By consistently listening, asking and answering questions, sharing quality content and making adjustments, you’ll be more successful in your social media efforts.
Robert Lockard is a copywriter with Fishbowl. He writes for several blogs about inventory management, manufacturing, QuickBooks, and small business. Fishbowl is the #1-requested manufacturing and warehouse management software for QuickBooks users. Robert enjoys running, reading, writing, spending time with his wife and children, and watching movies.