A few weeks ago I was delighted to attend Lincs Tweet Meet at the Showroom in Lincoln to speak on good ways to engage with social media followers. It was a lovely early evening event – on the evening it was suggested that I summarised a few of my main points to share with anyone who wasn’t able to come.
[Thanks to The Lincolnite for the photo.]
The thing I really love about twitter is how it brings individuals, businesses, places, organisations, brands, experts, and everyone else together in one place. The way I use my own personal account (@Splodz) – to chat and interact with people I know and people I don’t – is really no different to how I believe we should be using it for our businesses. Twitter is one of the tools we can use to share what is going on, learn from others inside and outside our industry, and engage with our friends and customers. Using twitter successfully is easy, assuming we remember it is both public and interactive.
I think I’m right in saying that, with the exception of the amount of time running a twitter account might take up, the biggest concern of people using twitter for their business is that of bad PR. Everyone worries about negative comments that come via social media, and that fear can be enough to stop people joining completely. The thing to remember about twitter and other such tools is that the remarks will be there anyway, whether you are actively using social media or not. The things people say are there for the taking – make use of your good customer service skills and engage with those making the comments.
You can find a plethora of social media hints and tips if you spend even just two seconds looking – things like having a relevant and recognisable profile picture, following useful people, using lists, retweeting and favouriting relevant tweets, sharing useful and interesting content, shortening your links to leave space for comments, and so on. But I thought I would offer up the five tips I ended my presentation with in case you find them useful when trying to engage with your followers on social media.
1) It’s a dialogue. Twitter was designed to facilitate quick conversations. Think chatter, jibber-jabber, gossip. Don’t just broadcast, reply and retweet too. In fact, reply more than you tweet, it shows you are listening.
2) Twitter knows everything. So ask. Ask your followers what they are doing, what they are planning or working on, what they think about relevant topics, or even just the answer to a question you can’t find the answer to. This is the easiest way to begin engaging with your followers, and it works.
3) Getting involved in controversial or political discussions on social media is probably best kept to your personal account. Unless your business or organisation has an involvement or vested interest in what is being discussed, it’s usually best to simply ignore those conversations unless you are asked directly for your opinion. If that happens, use the conversation to your advantage but don’t let your personal opinions get in the way.
4) Use images to encourage comments and retweets. Whatever your business there are things you can photograph – your shop, products, surroundings, employees, customers, events, the city. You can snap and tweet from your phone direct to twitter or using apps like instagram.
5) Be honest, helpful and friendly. Add in fun and entertaining and you’re onto a winning formula!
Finally, a wise man told me quite recently that the life span of a tweet is just three-and-a-half minutes – engaging on twitter is a regular commitment so if you’re doing it to help your business, be visible more than once in a blue moon.
Feel free to add your Social Media engagement hints and tips in the comments box!
Joel Murray also spoke at the same event – he beat me to it with his post over on Joelociraptor on 3 Uses for Social Media at Visit Lincoln, well worth a read.