IN last month’s column, social media was highlighted as a useful tool for communicating with your patients, given the low cost and ease of access. If you’re already using it, you’ve likely been spending some amount of time posting promotional messages for the products and services you offer. This is grea
t—you should definitely use platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter to advertise what you have to offer. However, too often businesses use these platforms in a way that mimics a one-way communication strategy similar to other traditional advertising media. While not entirely wrong, that strategy leaves out a very important piece of what makes social media so powerful: the interaction.
Interaction is just as important online as in person. Any top salesperson would tell you that you don’t just blab on about yourself; you’d ask your customers about their needs and get to know them personally. The same goes for interaction on social media.
Here are some tips for engaging your audience the right way online:
- Ask questions – People love to give their opinion, so ask. The responses you get may spark another conversation or lead to an improvement to a product/service.
- Reply – If people take the time to post to your social networking sites, keep the conversation going with a response. Let them know that you hear them and you care.
- Remember that being interested is more interesting – It’s great to have cool things to say to your audience, but it’s way more interesting to be interested in them and what they have to say. Make your audience feel special, because they are.
- Use contests to engage your audience – Encourage your audience to share opinions, photos, or videos, and you’ll not only learn more about them, but you’ll give them an outlet for a little time in the spotlight. People go nuts for the spotlight!
- Listen and be aware of the buzz – Even if your audience isn’t interacting with you on social networking sites, they may be talking about you. Use the search features of these sites to identify what is being said. If it’s something like a compliment, respond with a simple, “thanks.” If it uncovers an opportunity for customer service to get involved, acknowledge them online and resolve the issue.
In simple terms, take every good bit of sales and networking advice you’ve learned and apply it to social networking. Engaging your customers is as simple as that.
Jessica Clark is an eight-year marketing veteran in the optical industry. She has led successful social media campaigns in line with overall marketing strategy for VisionWeb.
e-mail me at email@example.com.