5 Tips to Engage Your Audience

We can all agree that when it comes to marketing, 2009 was the year of social media. A recent Marketing Profs article provided statistics showing a dramatic increase in the number of business utilizing social media to increase brand awareness and sell products last year. It seems a lot of companies decided to dive into social media because it’s the “in” thing, and forgot about their bottom line. Let’s face it, you can post, tag and tweet all you want, but if your efforts don’t produce results then you are out of luck when it comes time to justify your budget to the executives.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that communication is a two way street and social media is no different. Engaging your audience is perhaps the most important aspect to any social media campaign. People interested in your product or service don’t subscribe to your list, follow you or become your fan only because you ask them to. Just as we seek a return on investment for marketing dollars, our followers seek a return on their time invested.

Success in social media can easily be achieved by engaging your audience. Take a look at the 5 tips below and incorporate them into your social media strategy to produce measurable results.

  1. Keep an eye on your public profiles– Read comments, messages and questions posted on your profile to see what your audience wants to tell you directly
  2. Use social media monitoring tools- Utilize some of the many monitoring tools available to see what your audience is telling others about your brand
  3. Respond to questions and comments- When someone asks you a question, respond… and do it quickly!  Depending on the network you are using, low retention rates are something to keep in mind. Social media adds a whole new meaning to “real-time” information and if a potential customer wants to know something they want it now.
  4. Utilize surveys or polls- Customers want to know that their opinions matter. Spice things up a bit and change your tone by asking them what they think. Running a successful survey will improve participation and lead to a positive view of your brand.
  5. Run promotions specific to your social network- What better way to add value than providing your audience with special discounts just for listening? Be sure to track sources if linking to a landing page so you can fulfill your promise.

Quality Counts, Too

Today’s BizTimes Milwaukee had an interesting story on a local non-profit leveraging social media networks to push it’s annual donation drive to younger donors.  The article, “Use Social Media to Build Your Tribe”, reports that the campaign was successful, bringing in $12,460 of new donations.  While the quantitative results of the campaign were positive, some organizations may look at the “small” number and think it’s not enough to cover the investment of time and resources.  Those companies are wrong…

Social media isn’t just about quantity.  It’s about starting the dialog with your audience.  My strong belief is that the true measure of ROI in social media isn’t quantitative in nature, its qualitative.  Engagement may very well be an overused, ill-defined buzzword, but the truth is that the number of followers you have, links you post or dollars you earn mean little unless you develop an ongoing relationship with those that show interest in your brand.  Conversing with your audience and providing useful, relevant information so it can be shared with others will benefit you more in the long run.

Fortunately, the United Way of Greater Milwaukee got it right.  The spokeswoman for the organization didn’t define success as the number of dollars raised, but said “the relationships we managed to build will be worth exponentially more in the future”.  Bravo!