We’ve discussed on this blog many times before the importance of businesses establishing a social media presence. It puts a face on your business, and provides a very convenient forum for your customers and potential customers to interact with you. But as far as identifying the best ways to use the social networks as a marketing channel, to a great extent, the jury is still out, because it’s a relatively new platform. As popular and ubiquitous as Facebook is these days, it’s hard to believe that it’s been less than ten years since it opened its doors to the general public.
But while it’s difficult to determine specific metrics as to the benefits of your business presence on the socials, we’re confident that there’s more to it than just getting as many “likes” and followers as you can. While it looks great to show those numbers on your profile page, we prefer to talk about another angle, which has come to be known as social media engagement. It’s a bit difficult to define that term precisely, but it’s generally taken to mean getting people to pay attention to you. Let’s look at a few reasons while we think social media engagement is of value.
It’s important to reach as many people as you can
This should be a fairly obvious facet of your marketing efforts in general. If you want to bring in business, you’re going to have to connect to a lot of people. And that seems to be where the real benefit of using the social networks. So if you put out engaging content, as we’re always advising, you want to get it seen by as many viewers as you possibly can. We’ve all heard talk about videos or blog posts “going viral”, meaning that they seem to take on a life of their own, and spread themselves. And if that happens with your posts, you’re getting a result more valuable than paid advertising can provide, and often for free.
Social means relationships
Again, I feel like I’m stating the obvious here, but it’s all too easy to forget this when we get caught up in looking at metrics, as we always do as marketers. The value in using the social networks is that we get to interact on a personal level, and form something of relationships with our clientele, including those we hope will become future customers. If we provide useful and interesting content, we educate people, and earn their respect and as a trusted authority in our field. And isn’t that worth more in the long run than just a bigger number of “followers”?
Networks are about communication
Don’t forget another fundamental point about the social networks - they provide a space in which your clientele can also connect and reach out to you. This means that used properly, you can both get valuable feedback from them, and also have an avenue for questions to be posed to you. This gives you a great opportunity to respond to queries in real time and publicly, and to overcome objections and complaints as well. You can even solicit feedback from customers and post polls to get an idea of what are the trends in their points of view.
To sum up, while in some ways, it’s not all that easy to quantify the results we get from our efforts on the social networks, we’re confident that the value is in connecting with more people over a more widespread base. The ability to disseminate content to a broader audience and interact with them in a meaningful way shows that there’s much more to social media engagement than simply accumulating a greater number of followers, or getting them to like your page in exchange for something like a coupon for a free sample.