One of the most powerful aspects of social media is that it enables businesses and brands to have direct conversations with members of their audience.
These conversations can certainly be initiated by a business or brand, but are more frequently initiated by individual members of a brand’s audience by way of comments, direct messages, @-replies, or other similar mechanisms.
Properly responding to audience-initiated dialogues on social media is a great opportunity for you add value, increase affinity, build advocacy, and develop relationships with individual members of your community.
And like any aspect of social media marketing, there are several things you may to want to consider to maximize the effectiveness that these opportunities present:
Response time is key
Increasingly, it is becoming a consumer expectation that brands will respond to questions, comments, or other dialogue on social media in a timely fashion. While some may have a general rule or best practice to follow, my suggestion is that your response time be based on your judgment about the urgency of the matter, the expectations your business’ audience has, and that you set a precedent within your communities for what reasonable response times are. It might take some time and adjustment to get this right, but every audience is different, so it will be worth the effort.
I can all but guarantee that you have never had a meaningful, impactful or profound conversation in your life that was comprised of just two interactions; an initial interaction and a single follow-up. While not every conversation on social media needs to be drawn out, there are many instances when businesses will provide the shortest possible reply to an audience-initiated conversation and make no effort to build that initial interaction into something more meaningful. Again, use your judgment about when this is appropriate, but you can only have more meaningful conversations on social media if you first open yourself up to the possibility of having them.
Search for opportunities
While there are official tools and mechanisms in place for consumers to initiate a dialogue with businesses and brands on social media, some people choose to ignore these conventions in favour of directing their questions or comments to their own audience. On relatively open platforms, such as Twitter and Google+, if you take time to search for such conversations, you might find a number of opportunities to interact with your consumers that you previously didn’t know existed.
Know when to hold off
Try to develop a sense for when you should reply, and when you should hold off on responding to your audience’s interactions. Refraining from responding might seem lazy or neglectful, but for many frequently asked questions or comments, there are likely a number of people in your audience that are capable of providing a response, but they’ll only be able to if given the opportunity. By nurturing this behaviour, you can build a stronger sense of community amongst your social media followers. They’ll feel more connected to one another if they feel like they’re making positive contributions to the group, and this can be hugely positive.
How do you effectively sustain conversations with your audience on social media?
Do you have any methods or processes in place to make this time-efficient?
Do you have many audience members that converse directly with each other?
It’d be great to hear about your experiences in the comments, or on Twitter @RGBSocial
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