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When considering the successful use of social media by a business, the first thing that pops into many people’s minds is quantity. Not necessarily quantity of posts, but how big their audience is. Many judge social media success by the number of fans they have on Facebook, or followers on Twitter. If that number is large and/or growing, they feel as if their efforts are a success. The second thing that many business owners think of is engagement. Of course, with some social networks determining who sees your content based on engagement, that’s also important. Are these the most important things, however?
No. And here’s why:
Social media by the very definition of its name is social. If you went to a party and you started talking to someone who never talked back, you would probably abandon your efforts and seek a friendlier audience. Social media is about two way engagement. It provides an opportunity to connect with people you might not otherwise have been able to. Your audience probably includes your employees, clients, peers and perhaps even prospective customers. And this is the audience you want to have. There’s no doubt that it’s a great feeling when your content gets liked, retweeted, shared or prompts a comment. How do you think that commenter feels when your business doesn’t acknowledge them? Is there a chance that they may leave feeling as if they were talking to someone at a party who wasn’t talking back?
Proper and effective social media is more about the art of listening and finding opportunities to connect with your audience. The content that you post is simply the icebreaker to the conversation. When your audience interacts with you in any way, you should make an effort to acknowledge that interaction. Something as simple as clicking the like button on their comment or favoriting their tweet shows that you are paying attention. Your audience will realize that they aren’t talking to themselves. Even if the comment they make needs no reply, a quick thank you shows your appreciation for their engagement. That is what you need, after all, to increase organic exposure on Facebook, at the very least.
As for the quantity of fans or followers, bigger isn’t always better. While having a larger audience is certainly better than a smaller one in general, it’s more important to understand that the quality of the audience trumps quantity. If the people in your audience would never do business with you, then you’re talking to an empty stadium. There are far too many businesses that engage in buying likes with the thought that a larger audience is going to be more effective. The truth is that the answer is quite the opposite. By diluting your fan base with irrelevant fans intentionally, you only accomplish making your message LESS visible to the audience members that matter.
Make sure that you are paying attention to the most important part of social media… and that is being social. Active listening and acknowledgement of your audience’s engagement is paramount to building an audience that is listening and that cares.