Social media has become an important marketing venue for many businesses, and it has become a standard part of corporate promotions to have brand pages on one or more of the social networks. With 42 million brand pages on Facebook1 alone, it is hard to make your business stand out from the crowd, and the key to using social networking to market your business is to engage users in your conversation.
Six Things that You Can Do to Start a Social Media Conversation
1. Ask for people’s opinions. The most obvious way to get someone to leave their opinion is to simply ask for it. When you make a status update, invite other users to comment. Ending your social media posts with a call to action like this lets people know that you are interested in what they think about your business or the issues in your industry. Starting a conversation thread also encourages other people to leave their comments and maybe even to ‘like’ your page.
2. Use your blog posts to set the topic for conversation. Post links to your company blog on social media sites to set the topic for a conversation and then, as above, ask people to leave their opinion. The use of your own blog allows you to control the content that your friends and followers talk about and gives you greater scope to present an opinion.
3. Entice people to comment or share. When you make a status update, or a tweet, offer an incentive for people to comment on it. Competitions are one of the most tried and true promotional tools that exist, yet are underused online, especially on social media sites. Offering a prize for the best reply to your status update or a discount to the first 10 to make a comment can be a way to motivate people to become engaged.
4. Post links to interesting content on the web. Post links to interesting news and current affairs articles in your industry or niche and leave your opinion along with a call to action to your friends to leave theirs. 92% of Twitter users said that they retweet interesting content,2 showing that users are looking for things to talk with their friends about on the social sites. Becoming a known source of interesting news links in your niche can help to develop your social media following too.
5. Organize a Facebook Event. Organizing a Facebook event doesn’t have to entail hiring caterers and booking conference rooms. A Facebook event can be something as simple as a webcast or a webinar. There are a number of advantages to promoting an event via social media, as it gives you a time span within which you can schedule a series of status updates that refer to the event and can even use the opportunity to ask your guests to suggest topics or activities.
6. Answer the comments that people leave. Always make a special point of answering comments that have been left on your brand page by your followers. 95% of all wall posts go unanswered by brands2, so just answering these comments puts you in the top 5% of the savviest Facebook brands! These comments show that your friends are interested in being more engaged, so it would be a waste to miss the opportunity.
Engaging your potential customers is the key to using social media to market your business, but it isn’t enough to make a brand page and simply wait for the friends to start signing up. To be successful, you have to be proactive and start the ball rolling and do the engaging yourself. Social networking is about people interacting, and the businesses that do so effectively will get the most out of their social media marketing efforts.