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sara callahan

sara callahan Owner/President

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Engagement Is a Two-Way Street

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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.

Shane Tyler
Great post, Sara! Even though it is the 21st century, I still have a bit of trouble interacting with 'total strangers' on social platforms, but in the business world I guess it's a necessary evil! Thanks for explaining the real reasons behind the successes of businesses and the public engaging in a true and meaningful way.
Steven Pearson
Couldn't agree more. Great post. Too often we see clients want to treat social platforms as just another way to drive traffic to their website. Yes, social can do that too, but it's fundamentally different. People go to Google to search out interesting content; they go to Facebook expecting interesting content to come to them.
Shane Tyler
Morning Steven, I never really thought about Facebook in that way (and watching way too many cat videos in the meantime) but yes, as a FB user I am, in a twisted sort of way, awaiting clever information that may have been gathered by Google or whomever to show up in my feeds. Part of me feels that businesses jumping onto the FB platform are a day late, dollar short but I have seen solid attribution from FB garnered leads; but yes social platforms are becoming more dominated by businesses than by people in some respects but if the ads are timely, useful and something that appeals to me or others, then I think that is a bonus for the consumer side of us.
Steven Pearson
Shane, thanks for the thoughts. Agree on FB ads needing to be timely and useful! But a lot of what businesses say on Facebook shouldn't even seem or feel like an ad. Instead, they should be posting interesting content or having natural-feeling conversation with enthusiasts and advocates. That is generally what users want to see and participate in on social platforms, and often these activities can be a far better 'advertisement' than an actual advertisement.

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