Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Basics of Engagement

Images courtesy © spiral media & © Thomas Bethge 

Engagement is about building relationships. It’s also about the quality of relationships you have. And it's about giving back.

The basics of engagement are responding to people, being real, being human, helping and not taking it all too seriously. If you think about engagement in any social situation, listening as well as talking, telling anecdotes, little secrets, having fun, those are the same things you can also do in social media to drive engagement there too. Social media is still a part of our world.

And social media is as complex as the world we inhabit. Whatever you like to do, whatever your business is, wherever you live, with almost no exceptions, there will be a specialist social media site catering for your interests.

If you don’t believe me look up your interests combined with your city or nearest town in Google or another big search engine. You will find a lot of sites.

Birds of a feather flock together. Diamond merchants flock to certain streets in certain cities, all world class wrestlers to the Olympics and all followers of Game of Thrones to its fan sites.

It would seem obvious then, that if you are selling diamonds, wrestlers outfits or Game of Thrones merchandise that you will stay in regular touch with and participate in the communities that are growing up around most niche interests.

You will find that others who are like you in their interest or beliefs will be more likely to follow you or be part of your community.

And I’m not saying that you must stick exclusively to your own group. I do think we should all be open to mixing with people of widely different interests. All I am saying is that when you are looking for engagement, it is a good idea to look first among people who have similar interests.

Some people wonder how to increase their numbers on Twitter. Twitter is designed as a social network where you follow people and people follow you back. A percentage of the people you follow will always follow you back. And if they don’t follow you back within a few days you are within your rights to unfollow them. If they don’t want to see your Tweets then it is reasonable that you stop seeing theirs.

If you are a celebrity or have a relationship with masses of people or you’re a big brand, you should get follows by simply letting people know what your Twitter name (or “handle”) is. For the rest of us, following people and posting interesting Tweets are the main ways to increase your followers.

The number of people you follow each day depends on how much time you want to spend on Twitter and how many followers you have now. I recommend following small numbers each day (20-30), and unfollowing regularly people who don’t follow you back. You will be able to follow more people later on, as the number of people who follow you increases. I can follow 20 people in 30 seconds, so this is not time consuming stuff.

On Facebook it’s all about knowing people first, for personal profiles. People consider is bad form to try and friend them on Facebook if they don’t know you. This is the opposite to Twitter, where people who don’t know you are almost always happy for you to follow them. 

You can Like “pages” on Facebook however, as these are the public messages of the people or organisations who create them. Pages are not personal profiles. You can create your own “page” for any project, work, role or cause you want and detail the progress of the project through posts about that subject. 

I enjoy Google+ because of the amazing images and great social media and technology information and communities I find there. A lot of the people I find on Google+ fall into these areas of expertise.

If you are in a business to business environment LinkedIn is the obvious social media choice for you. I have over 1000 contacts on LinkedIn and I know that every time I spend time on it I get a response from people.

But the majority of my engagement is still on Twitter, where I get immediate worldwide feedback on a minute by minute basis to my posts.

With Facebook and Twitter and on all other social media sites it’s all about what you give back to your community. Think about what you can teach people, what skills or experiences you can share and you will be on the right track. Consider providing a support service around what you do. Is there a way you can build a community page on some aspect of this?

If you'd like more advice on engagement and on building your follower base email me for details on our consultancy service:

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