How to: Improve Customer Engagment

I first wrote this post for the Media Two blog Media Two Point {oh!}. They’ve been awesome enough to let me repost it here.

This is the fourth in a series of posts where Morgan and I will be addressing the top 10 questions for social media marketing in Social Media Examiner’s 2011 Social Media Marketing Industry Report.

This question – How do I improve customer engagement with social media? – is one I’ve been working for months to answer.

As part of my job, I implement social strategy for certain clients. This means that (among other things) I tweet for them and respond to Facebook posts for them. Of course, this is all approved by the client to ensure that we are maintaining company voice and values. Because of this part of my job, I spent a lot of time figuring out how to engage each client’s audience on social platforms.

What have I found?

It’s different for every business. There is no formula for the right amount of tweets or Facebook posts. It’s all based on the audience. So the secret is to figure out what they want. A lot of this is trial and error. If engagement goes down when you increase amount of posts, go back down. If engagement goes up with more frequent posts, keep increasing frequency until you find the sweet spot. The sweet spot is enough so that they don’t forget you, and not enough to annoy them.

That takes care of people visiting your page or paying attention to you in their news feed or Twitter stream. But you want more than that. You want them to talk to you. There are several different kinds of posts. Helpful content that relates, but isn’t about your product. Helpful content that is about your product. Questions. Trivia. Contests. The list is long. Try out a variety and see how your audience responds.

Questions work really well for me. Ask them questions related to your product. For example, if you sell shoes, post something like “What was your favorite pair of shoes ever?”

Another great post type that works for me is the “Like this” post. “Like this if you have a favorite pair of shoes.” Although the “like” is super passive and doesn’t really mean anything in and of itself, it’s easy to do and increases your feedback on a particular post, which ups your EdgeRank on Facebook. This means that that post is more likely to show up in your audience’s news feeds, increasing awareness for when you want to do a post that means a little more.

The main thing to focus on is relevance. If you do a contest, give away something that’s relevant. If you post something fun, tie it into your product or industry. Also know that people like a clear call to action. If you want likes, ask for them. If you want comments, ask for them. If you want photo submissions, let’s say it together, ask for them.

It may take a while for you to find your sweet spot in frequency and variety. To get there, don’t be afraid to ask your audience what they’d like to see from you in social media. People want to connect with business, but they want to know that those businesses care about them. So asking their opinion is a great start.

What are your tips for increasing engagement on social platforms?