3 Steps to Proactively Engage Fans on Social Media

A few weeks ago I wrote a blog post about how important customer service is to social media in today’s world. But it’s important for brands to keep in mind that social media isn’t just an extension of your customer service team. It’s also about literally being the voice of the brand and it’s a free ticket to engage directly with your customers.

Customers are always going to be talking about your brand, product or service on social media – it’s how today’s world of online interconnectivity works. Sometimes they’ll be engaging directly with your brand’s channels, and sometimes these conversations are happening in the background. As a community manager, daily, proactive engagement is becoming increasingly important for a brand to be successful on social media. Going a step further than just answering negative complaints on social media is what can really set your brand apart as one of the brands millennials want to identify with.

1. Understand Become Your Brand’s Voice

The first step that is necessary for an effective engagement strategy is to be the brand voice. It’s not enough to just understand it or know what it is, but truly become the brand when you’re online and engaging with fans. Is your brand serious? Funny? Goofy? Witty? Sweet?  It’s imperative that the brand voice is reflected in each and every thing said on social media. Social media managers should know who the brand is, what it stands for, and what it would or wouldn’t say. It’s also important that each person on your social media team functions the same way, making it impossible to tell the difference between who is responding.

2. Go Out of Your Way

Proactive engagement means doing more than just responding to the customers who tag you or post directly on your channels. Engage in social listening by searching your brand’s name on Twitter and Facebook, searching any hashtags associated with your brand and checking other online platforms where your brand might be getting mentioned. (Hint: social management tools like Hootsuite, Mention and Sprout Social are great for setting up keyword tracking so you can view all of these mentions in one place.)

A lot of times these brand mentions are from people that don’t already follow you, or else they would have most likely tagged you or messaged you directly. These are the types of fans that probably weren’t expecting a response back, so when brands take the time to go out of their way and engage with them, it can be a lot of fun. It also gives you the opportunity to address any complaints or negative experiences that you might otherwise never have found out about.

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3. Keep it Organic

Fans love and respond well to the kind of engagement that feels natural and doesn’t come across like a blanketed response. Social media is about relationships, so take the time to read and think through a response that is suited to come from your brand and also makes your fans feel like you’re listening and responding to them individually.

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It’s not necessary for brands to respond to everything, but it’s good to dedicate a portion of daily social listening to this type of engagement. Sometimes the best way to know when you should respond to something is when a response truly comes naturally to you. There’s a good chance it will sound natural to the follower, too.

Proactive engagement is an excellent way to build relationships with current and potential fans, and of course to have a little fun and show brand personality. There are tons of great opportunities for brands to chime in – especially when fans aren’t expecting it! Show your fans you’re listening and in turn, continue to grow this extension of your brand.

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As the Junior Account Executive for Belle Communications, Mary helps our clients grow their brands with smart and strategic content across social media platforms and targeted media coverage. Mary is a recent graduate from The Ohio State University, where she studied communications and writing. Her favorite things to do in her free time are running, reading and traveling.

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