Blog: Social Media

Grow Your Social Media Audience: Building Successful Brand Interaction

Posted by in Social Media on Monday, February 4, 2013

Social Media

There are two types of social media users that you need to attract in order to see the biggest gains in ROI for your company's social media efforts: social influencers and potential customers. Social influencers are just that – people with large followings or fan bases that can influence how other users perceive a brand. Combine these with people who are a good fit for what your company sells, and who are interested in what you have to offer, and you have the basis for a social media audience with a solid ROI.

Ideally, you also want to gain brand advocates among your social influencers. Brand advocates are the "super fans" of social media, spreading positive messages about your company's products and services to their online audiences.

However, even those followers who aren't brand advocates can be worth more than the typical customer. American Express conducted a study last year on social media and customer service and found that customers who use social media are willing to spend 21% more on companies that provide great service. Customers who don't engage through social media are only likely to spend 13% more on average.

These same customers will tell nearly three times as many people about their positive experiences – 42 on average versus only 15 for those who are not socially engaged.

With that in mind, we've come up with the following 5 tips to help you grow your social media audience:

Always Listen First

Think of starting out on social media the same way you think about going to conferences or other public gatherings. Rather than talking to everyone around with no context, take the time to listen to the conversations going on within your target audience and find a place where your company will fit well.

In particular, pay attention to complaints and questions – especially if they pertain to you or your competition. Complaints are a goldmine of information that can tell you not only about what customers don't like, but about what they need and expect.

For example, if you notice a lot of customers venting about slow customer service or poor response times, you know that in order to create a great experience you need to be faster and more responsive than the competition.

Likewise, pay attention when people are asking questions about how a particular product or service works, and take note when there is not a lot of available information. Put together a guide on your website to answer those questions and you've taken an important step towards becoming a trusted resource that social influencers can refer others to when they need answers. 

Establish Trust

Effective listening makes it much easier to build trust in your target audience. Start interacting by offering ideas, answers, and questions of your own once you have a feel for the community.

If you decide to engage by soliciting feedback from customers and potential customers, be prepared to respond to any valid criticism in a positive, proactive way.

Trust is built gradually in online communities. You can help the process along by always being transparent in your communications. Follow-up and follow-through are particularly important. Always get back to people within timeframes promised, even if the conversation has moved to a private channel such as email. Always deliver on your promises and provide clear reasons for any delays or setbacks.

You can be sure that your followers and potential customers will be watching to see how you interact with current customers as they decide whether or not to engage with your brand. Give them a reason to trust you with their business.

Take Advantage of Tagging

Here's a brief, but important tip: Use tags to help you get found by people who are interested in what you have to say. This can be anything from hashtags on Twitter to the keyword tags on your blog posts. By consistently and thoughtfully tagging your posts, you can help your company grow an audience of interested users.

That being said, don't overuse tags on third-party social media as it can be perceived as spamming. Choose only a few relevant tags to include on those social media sites that support the practice.

For blog posts, you may want to include more tags to help users find related posts that will increase engagement. How many will vary based on the topics you cover, but choosing 3-5 relevant keywords will help boost visibility, especially if website visitors are able to search for posts via tags.

Be Genuine & Unique

Your customers come to you because your company offers something unique when compared to the competition. Keep true to your brand in your social media messaging, whether that is upscale and professional, quirky and fun, or anything in between. 

A consistent company voice across all marketing channels – blog posts, tweets, Facebook and Google+ posts, etc. – will help you to gain more followers, and to come across as more genuine than the competition.

Another way to look at being genuine is to treat your followers and fans like "real people". Say thank you for positive feedback and mentions. Apologize and offer assistance when customers aren't happy. Offer feedback and suggestions for improving their experience with your products and services, and always be ready to go the extra mile to resolve issues before they become major incidents.

Being genuine in your social media interactions will do more than grow your brand, it will grow your business – 83% of social media users walk away from bad service.

Always Provide Value

It's important to realize that some people will follow your brand across multiple social media platforms. You can easily lose followers if you are careless about the way you post.

Don't mass-publish the same information on every platform. Keep your content fresh and your posts insightful and relevant.  However, this doesn't mean that you can't include posts on the same topic across multiple social media channels.

For example, you might announce a surprise sale through your Facebook page and via your newsletter. As the sale is winding down, you might tweet a reminder to your followers that they only have 24 hours left to take advantage.  Although all of these posts are promoting the same sale, your followers and fans will still gain value from each one. If you keep in mind the idea of providing value with each post, you'll be well on your way to establishing your company as one worth following in the social media sphere.

We'll wrap up our social media marketing series with a post to help you understand social media attribution and what you should track to determine the ROI of your social media campaigns.

If you still have questions about social media marketing, we're always happy to assist. Contact our team of social media marketing experts, and we'll help you to create a workable plan to reach your goals. 

Sources: 
"Social Media Raises the Stakes for Customer Service." http://about.americanexpress.com/news/pr/2012/gcsb.aspx 
"Social Media Raises the Stakes for Service." http://about.americanexpress.com/news/docs/2012x/AMEX_Service_Infographic.pdf 
Keywords: social media marketing, social media messaging, social media audience

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