The Power of Social Engagement

If we asked you “who is the top social media influencer today?” What would your answer be? Probably someone like Kim Kardashian, Rihanna, Justin Bieber or maybe Barack Obama, who joined twitter last year. If you named any of these people, you are wrong.

When we say social media influencer, we aren’t talking followers, tweets, or viral videos of peeing in buckets. Social Media influence is the ability to compete, interact and discuss between various business, organizations and individuals. So, who are the top influencers of social media? Here are our top five based on engagement levels on multiple channels.

  1. Guy Kawasaki: evangelist, author, speaker.
  2. Robert Scoble: Tech blogger
  3. Chris Brogan: CEO of Owner Media Group
  4. Jeff Bullas: Content, Digital and Social Media Marketer
  5. Seth Godin: Social Media Influencer, Author, Speaker

We want to also recognize Kim Garst, Brian Solis and Peg Fitzpatrick because they also rock at social media influencing.

What do these people do that makes them more powerful than numbers? They engage their followers to think, take action and interact!  You aren’t going to see random posts about their lunch, half-naked shots on the beach or twitter feuds on their pages. Each person on our list provides valuable, thought-provoking content that feeds the minds of others and creates communities of like-minded individuals that want to share ideas and provide feedback. Honestly, amazing stuff. Check them out, follow them.

So let’s get to the point. It’s a huge mistake to confuse presence and engagement. Julia Roberts “Big mistake. Big, Huge.”giphy

You’re online with a website, Facebook, Twitter, maybe Google+, Instagram or other various channels. You’ve got thousands of followers, you’re showing up on the first page of search engines, so you think you’ve done your job. Negative. It doesn’t matter what the number beside you name says, unless your followers are interacting (sharing, commenting, liking, talking about, building off of your content) you aren’t doing your job.

Engagement, by definition, is an encounter between two or more individuals or companies that can be a positive, negative or neutral experience. We like to say it’s the level of interaction that leaves your audience satisfied or disappointed. We like the article What is User Engagement Anyway from Work at Play because engagement is more complex than a simple number.

Boosting your engagement levels is critical to creating conversions and getting a return on your social media and content marketing efforts. Company blurbs, photos, quotes and tips are great fillers but only when the posts connect to a larger strategy within your niche and lead to a point of contact or engagement.

Tip to Boost User Engagement:

Have a Good, Reliable, Easy to Use, Mobile friendly website. It’s a really big bummer to create content that people can’t access. Run regular site diagnostics and stay up to date on site upgrades.

Break Down Communication Barriers. People go online to get answers to questions because most often times, when a customer calls they have to go through a series of automated systems. Requiring users to create accounts before leaving comments is a barrier. Be open. If you are going to publish it for the world be ready for the world to respond.

Define Your Personas. Research your target audience and define their personas to help guide your content creation process to create stuff people want to read. Defining these goals also allows you to make your site very easy to navigate.

Set Your Goals. Identify and clarify the desired engagement levels you want to achieve. Don’t go grabbing in the dark for numbers. What does engagement actually mean to you? Do you want readers to leave comments on every post on your site? Do you want them to share your posts on their social networking profiles?

Publish Regularly. Create an editorial calendar for each channel you use. If you want people to keep coming back you have to give them a reason. Be fresh, relevant and original. Please, and we are seriously begging you at this point, do not mass publish the exact same post on every channel and pretend it’s cool and you’ve done a good job. You haven’t done a good job. Your job is to engage users based on the individual platform and define personas and you can’t do that with a mass post. Fire yourself.

If you didn’t just fire yourself….

Create Content Worth Reading. Share your knowledge and prove you are, not only worth following and interacting with, but worth doing business with. If you want to influence people, you better know your shit. If you want to grow your following give people something to rally around or an idea or tip that inspires conversation.

Stay in the Loop. Don’t post something about a topic that was discussed last week. If it’s trending today, post today. Sometimes you have to create the trend and you can only do that by being bold (and again, knowing your shit.) Spark the conversation and then participate.

Mix it Up. Create long and short form articles, videos, infographics, gifs and images. Image based content is very easy to share and mentally digest. Repurpose content from text to video or a graphic to draw in the eye and regain attention.

Ask for Engagement. Ask a question at the end of your blog or video that sparks conversation or at the very least a thought that will bring the user back. Share related materials and blogs to help the user understand what the hell you are talking about. Add sharing links, allow comments and ask for subscribers on every blog.

Remember when you ask a questions, you’ve got to be ready to get an answer and provide a reply.

Provide Giveaways. People like free stuff, it’s that simple. Ebooks, whitepapers, images, videos, training materials are easy ways to build that bond and create value. If you are a product business, do a product giveaway each week. Social media contests are much cheaper and reach more people than buying billboards, and airtime.

Recognize Your Followers. Always reply and acknowledge any user that is engaging in your content. Go beyond a reply to recognize users that contribute the most. Featuring great comments, giving a “top followers” award or other actions that recognize users that are taking time to engage with your site.

Bring it Home. Obviously, social media sites were created for interaction but you need those users on your site to convert followers to leads, leads to customers and customers to advocates. Incorporate your blog into your website so that conversations are happening on your site.

Remember to take in and accept that you aren’t perfect and someone may have a different opinion. When you receive negative criticism (and you will) don’t delete it. I know, it eats at you, but deleting creates the perception that you don’t handle customer complaints or issues or worse, you aren’t transparent. you could lose all the trust you’ve built very quickly by clicking that “delete” or ‘hide” button.

Finally, be sure to Analyze and Measure. It’s important to know if your efforts are paying off and reaching the target engagement goals you set. Taking the time to regularly analyze your engagement allows you to create better, stronger, more valuable content.

What are you waiting for? Go Engage.

What are some things you do on social media or your website to encourage engagement?

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