Follower / membership count is a misunderstood and deceptive social media metric. It is possible to purchase thousands of followers, but these will certainly be bots or fake accounts and will not return business value . Your online community may have 200,000 members, but how many are actually participating and contributing? If followers are not organically grown through engagement, you do not have an audience; you have a list.
One of my social mentors, Martin Lieberman (@martinlieberman), and I regularly discuss this phenomenon: it’s called “social media,” why do so many only push content and ignore discussion? Ask a question, provide an answer, share personal insights; social media is about conversations. In addition to thought leadership blogs and company announcements, genuinely respond to your customer’s questions and actually engage them. Engagement will positively impact your business.
Customers turn to social media to research a company’s culture as well as for trusted peer opinions and product insight. What is the tone of your Twitter feed, what types of content are you sharing? Does your company have an online community: what is the activity level, do members interact with one another, are employees participating? No matter the platform, an engaging social strategy builds customer trust, differentiates your brand, and most importantly, creates advocates.
Engaging customers and cultivating them into advocates should be a priority. Advocates are loyal consumers who help you meet revenue goals. Advocates talk about your brand, increase awareness, and provide trusted reviews to potential customers. Advocates share your content with their networks which improves your SEO. Advocates answer the majority of the questions within your community which lowers customer service costs. Simply creating an account or community and pushing content will not yield advocates, advocates are nurtured through honest engagement.
It’s called “social” media.
Blogging can deliver enormous business value: customer engagement, thought leadership, SEO; the list goes on, but how to get started? Every business has different goals and resources; I am not going to discuss strategy: I am going to provide a workflow and some best practices.
- Select Topic: Companies often focus on thought leadership (which is important), but you must also deliver content your customers value. Talking about yourself or brand may help with SEO, but it will do nothing for engagement; engagement builds trust, loyalty, and may uncover a sales opportunity.
- Research: Build your case and assemble the supporting documents, graphics, video, etc.
- Grab readers with your headline.
- Write in your own “voice:” let your personality come through.
- Links to supporting sites are great, but like hashtags, don’t overuse them.
- Stick to 600 words and consider a multiple part series for complex topics like new product features. Provide enough to inform, but keep some back to encourage questions: think appetizer, not entree.
- Post: Where will this blog live and how will your customers learn about it? Will this blog live on your website or within your online community? Once you post, utilize Twitter to announce the blog and drive people to it.
- Respond: DO NOT blog without responding to customer comments or questions; these are golden opportunities. Encourage questions, ask for feedback, and thank readers for them.
Now that you have a foundation, start planning, start publishing, start educating, and start engaging. I look forward to and welcome your comments and questions.
My recap and answers I have provided for the 9/28/2017 #TwitterSmarter chat hosted by @MadalynSklar and guest @Ross_Quintana. Join the conversation every Thursday at 1pm EST.
Q1: What Makes Twitter Important as a Social Platform for Brands?
- Twitter makes it easy to find and connect with thought leaders & customers
- Twitter will aid with SEO and drive traffic to your site or community
- lists & a dashboard makes is so easy to socially listen and engage
Q2: How has Content Curation Evolved on Twitter?
- You only have 140: be efficient, use graphics or video, & URLs with utm codes
- Using lists makes it easy to send the right content to the right audience
Q3: Why does the Real-time Nature of Twitter Matter to Your Content Strategy?
- Real time is great when attending conferences and trade shows – helps create a buzz
- Twitter makes it easy to engage with customers when they reach out to you
Q4: What are Many Businesses Failing on Twitter and Why?
- Business fails on twitter: 1) Too much brand talk 2) Not engaging customers 3) Not relevant tweets
- Twitter fails: 1) Not measuring via utm codes 2) Tweeting too often 3) Arguing in public
- Not using pictures, graphics, or video in tweets
Q5: What Types of Content Should I Curate and What Format Works Best?
- Depends on your audience. For example, a B2B – best practices & how-to’s can work best
- If you are a restaurant: what are your daily specials? Include pictures
- Experiment and measure – keep what works, change what is not
Q6: What is Anchor Content and How Can I Use It?
- Anchor Content = a custom url with your brand name in it
- Anchor content is your brand’s tweeting backbone – what will help your customer / audience the most
Q7: How Much Self-promotion Should I Do and What are the Best Ways to Do It?
- Brands do need to promote & show thought leadership, but 70% should be customer-centric
- Write a blog with a customer who uses your product – about you, but with a trusted endorsement
- If you are providing trusted, customer valued content, THEY will promote it for you
Q8: How Can I Optimize My Content Curation Efforts and Be Data-Driven?
- Add utm codes to your url and let Google Analytics tell the story
If #Twitter is part of your business, and it better be, please join #twittersmarter to interact with fellow professionals and learn some great Twitter tips. I look forward to your questions and comments.
As a Community Manager, I love interacting with my members as well as talking shop with my fellow CMGRs. We agree that creating a supportive environment that encourages problem solving and knowledge sharing is the most rewarding part of our job. We are also metrics junkies always seeking the quantitative data that helps us tell our stories. Which to you think is more valuable: total membership or engagement? It is true that the greater your membership, the greater potential you have for reach and engagement; too bad one does not guarantee the other. No matter your social network or community, without engagement and collaboration your large count is just a list of individuals. Social media networks and communities are about interaction and the sharing of knowledge; the more members / followers who contribute, share, and collaborate with each other, the more valuable the network.
The charts below are from a personal foodie community I created, manage, and am very proud of: We Love to Cook (and Eat) : stop by, ask a question, post a picture, or get hungry. This group is 564 members strong, very engaged and responsive to one another.
In the last 28 days, 416 of the 564 members are active, that’s 74%! From the 2nd chart: for 136 posts, there are 426 comments and 1,609 reactions . Numbers like this make me proud: not only are members active (4.85 posts per day), but they are engaging with and responding to one another. No matter your social network or community, without engagement and collaboration your large count is just a list rather than an asset.
How can engagement make a positive impact in my B2B community?
- A better educated customer
- Reduced volume of formal cases
- A knowledge base of solutions and best practices
- Problems get solved by other community members (customers)
- A consistently growing volume of keyword rich content boosts SEO
- Company participation builds trust, rapport, and loyalty with customers
In short, build your community and engage within it; membership is easy, but engagement provides value.
I look forward to your questions and comments.
Please note: Facebook defines Active Members as: Members who viewed, posted, commented on or reacted to group content.
: Besides Twitter, what other social network do you use the most and why?
Q1: How can Small Businesses benefit from their Twitter Presence?
- Easy way to social listen to their brand: customer service, new leads, network
- Twitter is a great way to expand your brand
- Twitter makes is easy to spread the word about your brand and drive traffic to you blog, website, online store, or community
- Twitter shows the world your brand listens AND responds to customers
Q2: How does Twitter fit into an overall social media marketing strategy for Small Businesses?
- Twitter is the broadcast tool for your blog, promotions, how-to & best practice docs
- Twitter is a powerful, scalable, and trackable customer service tool – some SMBs cannot afford a large CRM
- Twitter helps SMBs find and engage with customers
Q3: What are some pro-tips for getting started with Twitter effectively to maximize your efforts?
- The easiest way to get started is to get started 🙂 Get Tweeting
- Find and follow competitors
- Find and follow potential customers
- Find and follow industry thought leaders and relevant hashtags
- Join and participate in tweetchats
- Don’t forget to create twitter lists
- DO NOT AUTO DM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Q4: What are some best tips to use Twitter Analytics to Increase Audience Engagement?
- Learn all about utm codes – make the most of your url
- Measure and correct as needed
- Important Google Analytics metrics: Pages per Session and Ave Session Duration
- Google Analytics and utm codes will tell you the content your customers love
Q5: How can Small Businesses leverage Twitter as their customer service channel?
- Along with easy engagement, the transparency of Twitter builds trust with customers
- No phone queue or hold music on Twitter
- You can engage on Twitter then direct a customer to a private chat when needed
- Social listen and each out to unsatisfied customers – sadly, not everyone complains to you
- When 2 parties follow one another, Twitter allows full and private conversations
Q6: What are Twitter tools that can help you boost visibility and attract new customers?
- If you consider it a tool – tweetchats
- Pinning tweets to your profile is must
- Using a tool like to schedule your tweets is a time saver
- Use to broadcast and network
- Twitter Lists and a Hootsuite dasboard
- Set up a branded url for your tweets
Q7: How can Twitter help Small Businesses to track conversations relevant to their services?
- Hashtags and lists
- Don’t forget the hootsuite dashboard
Q8: What type of content on Twitter drives best engagement and conversion?
- Ask questions
- I tweet out customer content from my community: how-to’s, best practices, product solutions
- Infographics are catchy and make the content easy to digest
I hope this information is helpful – see you next week at #twittersmarter
My recap of the 1/19/2017 #TwitterSmarter hosted by @MadalynSklar & Join the conversation every Thursday at 1pm EST.
: If you could have anyone in the world mentor you, who would it be?
- Answer: – my mentoring hat trick
Q1: How can B2B companies benefit from incorporating social media in their marketing strategy?
- Social not only gives B2B reach, but allows companies to show how they are different from their competition
- It increases knowledge share and creates educated customers
- Social increases interaction, interaction builds trust, trust = relationships & SALES
Q2: How can social media help B2B companies with their global presence and outreach?
- Social provide reach that enables you to connect with potential customers
- Social allows you to easily tailor your message to your customer (no matter culture or platform)
Q3: How can you create memorable content on social media to help your brand visibility?
- Create content that help your customer use your product better – tips & tricks – best practices
- Create content that helps your customer before speaking about your brand
Q4: How can social media help you craft your unique brand messaging?
- Social allows you to listen to what your target (and existing) customers are talking about
- After listening to and learning from your customers, create content that fills that need
- Listen to what your customer’s pain points are
- Social allows your customers to complain to you (think community), rather than rant on a 3rd party platform
- Social gives your salespeople content to open discussions – rather than: “I’m calling to check in”
Q5: How can you measure the success of your social media marketing for B2B companies?
- Measure with utm codes within links and track via Google Analytics
- Measure traffic to your site or electronic storefront – Discussions within your community – Blog subscriptions
Q6: How can social media be a competitive advantage for B2B companies?
- Many use Social, few use it well
- Just as you need to prove your brand / product is different – you need to do the same with your Social efforts
- Don’t use Social because “everyone does,” find and utilize the platforms your customers are using
Thank you for reading – hope to see you at #TwitterSmarter soon and I look forward to your comments. When embarking on your Social campaign, ensure you have the right lines in the water to balance reach with engagement. This blog sums up this chat topic.
There is confusion about the relation between these two and the misunderstanding that communities are not social media. Not so. Social Media is a form of electronic communication that consists of different platforms; communities are one of those platforms. How do you want to engage?
Social Media defined by Merriam Webster:
Forms of electronic communication (as Web sites for social networking and microblogging) through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content.
Online Communities defined by CommonCraft.com:
An online community is a group of people with common interests who use the Internet (web sites, email, instant messaging, etc) to communicate, work together and pursue their interests over time.
Social networks like Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook are fun and sexy: they are used for social listening, brand promotion, and limited customer engagement. Communities are electronic Town Halls that enable conversations and deeper engagement: customers provide feedback, comments, and questions; brands have obligation to respond.
No matter brand promotion, customer service, or customer engagement, you must understand your audience: what networks are they using, and where you are comfortable engaging. As with anything: you need the right tool for the right job. For social media, you need the right network to reach customers and have the right conversations. Communities are social media.
Where do your conversations happen?