Any business that’s serious about success, must be serious about their social media strategy. Whether you’re a major corporate brand or a small business owner, one of the most common challenges when navigating social media is how to increase your community engagement. But why does it matter whether or not they are engaged? Isn’t having an online community enough? If you’re asking these type of questions, you’re not taking community management seriously enough. An effective community engagement strategy is your biggest asset. An ineffective engagement strategy will be your biggest missed opportunity, and in some cases, a threat to your business! Community engagement is the new marketing.
There is no fast-and-easy solution to increasing engagement with your online community, but that doesn’t mean it has to be difficult. Developing a strategy to take advantage of the huge volume of online discussion about your brand is a starting point that will guarantee success!
Community Engagement & Building
As said by Jordan Kretchmer, CEO of Livefyre.com, ‘Socially shared content will hold more weight in the minds of consumers.’ Think of social media sharing as a referral system; and as any salesperson will confirm, referrals tend to generate business opportunities. When customers share positive-sentiments about your brand with their networks on social media, they are signalling a vote of confidence in your business. It is essential to encourage this kind of sharing.
There are different methods to encourage audiences to engage with your brand. One way is to acknowledge all positive tweets that mention your brand or a hashtag related to your business. People respond well to this as it makes your brand feel more human and approachable. It shows that you are listening to what the community has to say, and people are more likely to engage with you when it feels like a two-way conversation.
Another sure-fire way to increase community engagement is by gamification. Social media contests, loyalty campaigns, brand ambassador programs, are all designed to create buzz about your business by taking advantage of user generated content. Coming up with creative and exciting opportunities for people to connect with your brand is an ongoing task but guarantees fresh, organic and authentic user generated content. If leveraged properly, this content will build trust for the brand.
A recent example of this was the Google Developer Conference in which they had a Twitter wall for attendees to enjoy, and remote audiences to feel connected with the event. This ContentPlum widget was a ‘social media hub’ that captured tweets using the conference hashtags. BobSweep increased community engagement by asking customers to use the hashtag #bobsweep and share product stories and reviews. The company uses ContentPlum’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram widgets to display social content from their feeds. This allows potential customers to interact with all the social media posts maintained by the brand without requiring them to jump from site to site, also increasing “time on site” metrics. Both of these brands were not only successful in nurturing positive engagement, but also in utilizing the right widgets to aggregate and showcase their community.
Social Media Content Aggregation
Social content aggregation collects specific content from one or more social networks (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, etc.) into a unified presentation. Various aggregation services provide tools or widgets to allow users to consolidate messages, search across multiple social networking sites, read RSS feeds for multiple networks, provide “livestreams”, etc. ContentPlum helps businesses improve engagement with their brands with widgets that aggregate social streams, which can then be embedded into an existing website or social media hub. These days a community engagement strategy requires the adoption of content aggregation tools in order to amplify their voice.
Content Quality Through Moderation
As more and more demographics engage in social media, the volume of user generated content is overwhelming. Facebook posts get over half their reach within the first 30 minutes, and on Twitter this figure is even greater. With numbers like these, social analytics are becoming increasingly crucial to understanding how online communities are behaving. It also means that there is a lot more attention that needs to be given to content moderation. Most brands will have some degree of negative sentiment with certain demographics. An effective community engagement strategy must have a moderation system in place. It can go a long way in protecting a brand’s online community.
Increasing engagement with your online community involves showing love to our audience. Whether it’s liking a tweet or creating a contest to reward only the most loyal fans, show them that you appreciate their brand affinity. Once you’re successfully encouraging brand discussion, make sure you use the right tools and services to aggregate content in a powerful and meaningful way. Lastly, make sure content moderation is built into your engagement strategy to protect your brand.