New Year’s Resolution: Get Serious About Creating an Interactive Social Media Presence

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Microsoft Office . All opinions are 100% mine.

Your social media efforts toward branding your business and creating bank-busting profits haven’t been working out like you’d expect up til now. Has it?

Using instagram

Otherwise, you probably wouldn’t be reading an article about making this oh-so-important branding aspect of your business a major priority this year.

So few businesses out there capitalize on the ever-important tasks of interacting with their customers on social media. Either solely choosing to use their social accounts to plug their blog posts and cross-promote their other channels.

Or worse, constantly plug their products without offering any information or entertainment value to followers!

This isn’t how social media branding is done. You need to talk to customers. Make them a part of what’s going on in your company and learn more about what’s going on in their lives – their worries, delights, desires, and problems (so you can solve them of course!)

Build relationships and you’ll build your business…

Here are 5 simple ways to get it done better this year

Businesswoman using mobile devices

1. Ask questions to get a dialogue going about your industry

This is so easy to do and can net so much juicy data. Yet so few do it. Ask questions that are relevant to your industry/business and get your customers talking and telling you everything you ever wanted to know about their needs, all the while cementing your brand as an authority who knows all the right things to say to get them interested!

Say you’re a bakery catering to on and offline customers:

  • Do they prefer the texture of a nutty, delicious peanut butter-fudge-pecan cookie, or the delicate simplicity of a peanut-butter-chocolate-swirl cookie?
  • Do they prefer them more salty or sweet – or both?

What about someone running a local yoga studio trying to pull in more customers:

  • Do they prefer an instructor who provides more one-on-one with their clients, or someone who sits at the center and provides instruction to the group as a whole?
  • Is nighttime more convenient for the average yoga enthusiast, or is practicing with the morning sunlight pouring in through the window the only time of day that gets them jazzed for a workout?

From here you can encourage them to comment on your social channels or direct them to your blog to leave detailed answers. Use engagement-oriented phrases like “Tell us why”, “Leave a comment and let us know”, etc. Even encourage them to call your business and have a discussion with you.

2. Do social chats

Don’t think this sounds like it’s up your alley? Social chats such as using event hashtags to get everyone into a massive online conversation is a great way to get into the hearts and minds of your customers. You can also use free chat platforms and invite people to sign up if you want to create a more intimate setting for your loyal followers.

Hosting social chat events is a great way to show your mettle to customers and more importantly: potential customers! Let them ask questions and give really thoughtful answers. Offer product/service support answers about your products or other products you’re known to have knowledge of. Even recommend other businesses if you can’t help customers with their individual needs.

And don’t be afraid to let the questions get (comfortably) personal if you can handle it. The better they get to know you, the more they’ll like and trust you!

3. Always analyze what content is getting people most engaged

This is part of your business. You’re not a soccer mom posting foodie and fashion pics on Pinterest here. Social for business purposes can’t be built on a whim and prayer. You have to care what’s getting customers most involved with your channels so you can give them what they want, while finding clever ways to innovate and get them interested in other things along the way.

In the bakery example from above, that business will likely be best served using photo-sharing platforms like Pinterest and Instagram to entice their customers into engaging with them and spreading the word about their brand. All the “mmmm, looks good” and “yummy, I so want that right now” comments are all that’s needed to get their brand into the belly of the custom

For other businesses, you might find that Facebook is your best friend for plugging important vlog and blogposts, or for sharing a breaking news item that gets people talking and talking about or to you.

This information is important to know. You don’t want to waste time/money on platforms that just aren’t relevant to your business model. For instance, a financial services company isn’t likely to get much of a following posting pictures on Instagram. Whereas a construction company showing pictures of their most impressive jobs, or a fashion line showcasing their latest designs will likely get tons of interaction and referral business from that platform.

4. Share blog and vlog posts

Obviously. Right? Let’s face it: You can only get so much out in a social media post (YouTube being the one outstanding exception). There are only so many typed characters you can dish out before you’re cut off on Twitter or Facebook. Only so many six-second Vine clips you can upload in a given day. Only so many snaps you can make with your digital camera before your popularity fades on Snapchat.

Though you don’t want to focus your social efforts solely on making it a cross-promotional for your blog and vlogposts, it’s still important from an engagement perspective. Your blogs and vlogs are where you can share your personality more, while establishing your brand as an authority, an entertainer, a mentor – whatever makes you relevant to consumers.

Expand on your insights or opinions, offer more details about your brand than can be shared on social. Use teaser snippets or carefully crafted link-bait testers to see what titles draw people in (be respectful and funny here, not unforgivably deceitful!) And always encourage feedback in the comments or via email.

No excuses here. If you don’t have time to create content, pay someone who’s really good at what they do to create it for you!

5. Learn how the experts do it

There is no better way to improve your social media presence by engaging your audience. It sounds simple, but how to go about it?

One of the most effective ways is by following the dotted line set by social media experts. You can do so by watching their videos, listening to their podcast or reading their articles.

I’ve been recommended a new education resource that you should definitely visit, the Office Small Business Academy. From the site, you can get tips and advice from small business experts about the topics that matter to your business – such as social media presence.

Office Small Business Academy

The Office Small Business Academy has just premiered its first webcast series featuring Carol Roth (On-air contributor for CNBC and author of The Entrepreneur Equation), Evan Carmichael (Successful CEO and a VC), and Stowe Boyd (Gigaom Research MD) – I recommend you to watch the first episode, because it resonates well with your plan for enhancing your social media presence.

Register here

Now over to you…

Do you plan on making social engagement a priority for your brand this year?

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