Social media is like the new cool kid on the block: Everyone wants to be its friend, but they're all worried of mishandling it and end up doing more harm than good. Although many marketers are trying to leverage social media to get close to both customers and prospects, this relatively new medium is not about likes and fans, but about engaging with people.Speaking during this week's Responsys Interact 2012, David Hibbs, strategy consultant at Responsys, said companies should use social media to make "friends" with their customers. "Social is all about engagement," he stressed. Here are some tips he offered to do social well:
- Don't be afraid to ask for engagement. For example, companies should encourage likes, comments, and shares.
- Keep posts short and mobile friendly.
- Encourage sharing. Images and videos are highly consumable and customers like to share interactive content.
- Companies can drive engagement by providing helpful tips and responding to comments. They can also give their customers and prospects access to people they wouldn't normally be able to interact with, for example a Q&A session with a celebrity.
- Social media gives companies great insight into what their customers and prospects think about their brand, and they can use this information to help inform future marketing efforts. This insight can be gathered through surveys and polls, which can deliver fans' insight in real time and can also be used to test potential content or ideas.
- Customers want to know whether their feedback is being used and therefore companies should follow up with emails, for example sharing poll results or revealing which features that customers suggested will appear in the next version of a product.
- Simplifying interactions is the way forward. Customers don't want to have to remember yet another password and will appreciate companies that make their life easier by allowing single sign-in through Facebook. This is also beneficial for organizations since it will give them access to social data.
- Develop a content calendar to ensure a regular flow of new content that encourages engagement and helps build a relationship with fans.
Finally, companies should keep in mind that customers and prospects want value and therefore they should give them relevant information and also provide reasons why they should engage with the organization over social media.