It is always surprising the number of social media communities out there that are lacking one very important element – engagement. Sure, your site might have great traffic – which leads to a pretty significant following on Twitter and Facebook – but does your engagement end with your “Follow us on Twitter” button? Here are some great ways to engage your community, which in turn will bring you more followers, more traffic, and a stronger community your competitors will have a harder time siphoning from.
The Answer Is…
It sounds obvious, but so many companies fail catastrophically at this one – if someone is asking you a question, well, you answer it. If you don’t know the answer, point them in the right direction. If your audience is on Facebook, you could do it as a poll that is shareable. And do you find yourself getting the same questions over and over again? That means it is probably a great thing to either write an article about or to add to your site’s FAQ.
Ask questions. Some people fall under the mistake that company Twitter and Facebook accounts are only for answering or announcements. But asking questions is a great way to get your community engaged and responding to you. Not only do you get insight into your followers/customers, but you just might find out something interesting about your site you didn’t realize. And for bonus points, you can compile the best and most interesting responses into an article or blog post.
Build a personality
You want people to think of you as a person, not as the logo on your Twitter account. Include something about your personality in your bio, and periodically in your tweets. My bio includes #GOCANUCKSGO and more often than not, my profiles on social media sites say my location is Starbucks or Calypso Casino. And throw some personal pics into the mix, but on the other hand, don’t bombard your followers with an instagram of your cat every morning.
Be the breaking news source
If you are the first to break news in your industry, people will want to follow you so that they get the news first and can then share with their own followers or write about it. And make sure your sources know you appreciate getting the heads up on news, otherwise Twitter search and Google News alerts are your friend.
It doesn’t take much to fire off a few tweets a day or do a couple updates on Facebook. But we all get distracted or knee deep in work and forget to take the time to tweet. However, those tweets are important to remind your followers about you, whether you are a information-based website or a news-based one. Use something like Hootsuite to schedule tweets and updates in advance. You would be surprised how easy it is to write a week’s worth of tweets in advanced when inspiration hits. Then pepper those updates with anything noteworthy that happens during the week.
Be retweet friendly
Not everyone uses Twitters new way of retweeting, and still do the old school “RT @___” at the beginning of everything they retweet. So especially if you think your tweet will be shared a lot, be sure to leave enough characters to cover the RT and your Twitter handle.
Be time zone friendly
Twitter is fast, especially for those who have a lot of followers. If you have followers split across the world, there is nothing wrong with doing a “From earlier today:” type tweet 12 hours later to get those on the other side of the world who might have otherwise missed it. You don’t want to do this for everything, but pick and choose the most popular thing to share.
Maybe you are a network of sites that is popular in its own right. But what if your audience is only interested in a segment of that network? You don’t want to alienate an entire group because someone might only be interested in your Star Wars updates, but not on the entire SciFi genre your site covers. Nothing says you cannot build out for each of those segments, however you want to make sure you don’t neglect any of them. There is not a lot of point of building out that Star Wars segment if you only have something noteworthy to say once or twice a year. And definitely make sure that those segments talk to each other if the social media accounts are run by different teams, while you are developing them individually, they should adhere to the same standards between them all.
Don’t be boring
The world doesn’t need another tweet with the same old “We announced the launch of blah blah blah” today, sounding like you have cut and pasted it from a press release. Instead, depending on your audience, play it up as “Woot, guess what we launched today” or “We launched what’s going to be @___ (insert well known community member you know will love it) favorite thing ever on our site”.
In the same vein that you don’t want to be boring, draw on the original content your site has that others don’t. Live stream something. Make a video and share it. Take pictures of funny stuff people have written on a whiteboard in the meeting room. Go to conferences and hit up well known people for tweetworthy tidbits. Find those interesting things your community would enjoy that they won’t find elsewhere.
Kudos, hat tips and shout outs
Someone retweet one of your tweets – especially if they have a lot of followers or are well known in your industry – be sure to do a quick “Thanks for the retweet @____”. Also has the added benefit that when others see it, they might retweet more of your tweets in hopes they get a shout out too. Did someone give you a heads up about something? Be sure to give them a hat tip to say thanks, and so they will give you dibs next time they see something you should be talking about. Giveaways I am not a big fan of “retweet and win” tweets. Usually the people who retweet aren’t even in your market area, they just want a chance at a free iPad because it was mentioned on a Freebie website somewhere. That said, giveaways can be extremely popular if done right. While everyone would love a free iPad, you are better putting the money for a prize to something that only the people in your community would think is awesome, because these are the people you really want to reward. If you are a hockey website, offer a jersey. If you are a local coffee shop, offer a pack of ten “buy one get one” coupons. And you can easily tie it into asking your community a question too, where they need to tweet their answer to “enter”.
Think before you tweet
All it takes is a single tweet to do considerable damage to a brand on Twitter. Probably everyone has heard about @celebboutique’s ill-timed (now removed) tweet stating “#Aurora is trending, clearly about our Kim K inspired #Aurora dress Shop: celebboutique.com/aurora-white-pleated-v-neck-strong-shoulder-dress-en.html” Well, logic would say that if someone sees a term that is somewhat generic like Aurora trending, that one should click it before making a promotional tweet using that same hashtag. But they didn’t and were vilified on Twitter and in the media. A writer for Destructoid attacked Felicia Day on Twitter, comparing her to a glorified booth babe, and promptly lost his job. And a racist comment by a Greek athelete resulted in her being removed from the Olympic team.
If you screw up…
Say you are sorry, and do it sooner rather than later. Maybe you made an off-color joke that didn’t go off as well as you thought. Or maybe in a moment of weakness you @replied something that in hindsight (and a cooling off period) you really wished you hadn’t. The faster you do it, the better. This is one time where time is of the essence, especially if others might have seen it in action and are doing their own tweets or blog posts about how you are such a jerk.
Engagement is key in social media, especially when you are using it to drive more traffic and uniques to your website. While it might seem that you could swing by the seat of your pants, in reality, it is not quite as easy as it seems. Definitely work on keeping your current followers happy while looking to attract new ones with your witty content.