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How to create and sustain real-time social engagement

Posted by Selene Rosenberg on May 22nd, 2014 at 4:31 pm

It’s a well-known fact that social media has changed advertising forever. It allows us to engage with more customers, all over the world, in real time. Social Media allows customers to engage with brands by giving them a voice. A voice that grows louder and louder. A voice that can multiply and drown out product promotions. So how can brands use this voice to our advantage? By listening.

It’s Time to Listen

With social media, a brand experience continues far beyond the point of purchase. This means a company’s social presence should be considered an extension of their customer service, and it’s a relationship that should be approached like a friendship – a particularly selfless friendship where the main goal is to create positive experiences for others.

To create a personalized brand experience, a company must first get on Twitter, Tumblr, or Facebook and see what customers are already saying. Chances are, valuable learnings can be gained about how customers actually view, use and think of your brand.

Next, take any positive interaction as a jumping off point to enter and expand the conversation. Take any complaints as challenges to address. Focusing on problem solving and personalized interactions will turn around any negative impressions. A relationship built on listening and responding will foster trust and two-way support. When done right, listening to and knowing your customers can help shorten the path from consideration to purchase.

As a brand that’s active on social media, it’s also okay to take a step back – like a practiced dinner host – and let the conversation continue without you. After you establish the ideals and interests of your brand, a community of like-minded people will naturally form to support not only your mission but also your sales. According to Bain & Company, customers who engage with companies over social media spend 20% to 40% more money with those companies than other customers. Think about what real loyalty could mean for your brand.

Stop Trying so Hard

Of course you’re trying to create a social media presence that fosters real-time customer engagement. But you as soon as you say, “try,” you might be headed in the wrong direction.

Remember that soccer team captain from high school whose life seemed charmed? Her magnetic energy drew others toward her and radiated out. The seat next to her at lunch? Taken. Her steeze couldn’t be replicated, but was impossibly imitated.

Take another ubiquitous character, whom we’ll refer to as Cameron. Cameron is the king of the nerds. He rolls the 12-sided di. He can be found in the computer lab, furiously defending Star Trek vs. Star Wars on a Reddit forum while his buddies cheer him on.

What do Cameron and the Captain have in common? They’re natural engagers. They earnestly love what they do, and their passion is rewarded with loyalty from their friends and admiration in their wider circles. BUT, just like Cameron can’t win over the jocks with a forced, “How ‘bout them Yankees?” the Captain could never hold her own in a debate over the rules of Magic: The Gathering.

And that’s the secret to their successes: they aren’t trying to be a source of delight; they delight by sharing their own passions.

Emulate Authenticity

Whatever form of social media your company chooses as a platform, be honest to your brand’s self. Talk about what your brand cares about. Reblog what you honestly found inspiring, what made you laugh, what made you think. Social media isn’t for selling; it’s for opening your brand up and sharing its ideals with the world. In turn, people with similar ideals will open themselves up to your brand and you’ll succeed in creating and sustaining real-time social engagement.

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