Effective marketing demands more than explaining the features and benefits of your product or service. To build a loyal following, you must truly connect with people and gain their trust. Online marketing provides you with many ways to do this. Here are five tips for better customer engagement.
1. Interact With Readers on Your Blog and Social Media Pages
Before you look for new and innovative ways to connect with your audience make sure you’re making the most out of the platforms you’re already using. Your blog, for example, shouldn’t be used to talk to your readers. Ask provocative questions and invite people to comment. Always respond to questions and comments. This can help you start interesting discussion threads on your blog.
Apply the same principle on your social media pages, YouTube channel or anywhere you post content. Monitor your pages and respond promptly to anyone who posts, even if you only have time to say “Thanks!” It’s important to show that you’re paying attention and that you appreciate it when people take the time to comment.
2. Broadcast Live
There are now several ways to connect with your audience in real time. Live streaming video on Facebook Live, YouTube Live and Periscope are good for introducing new products, making announcements or including your audience when you’re on location at an event. It’s worthwhile to broadcast live even when don’t have earth-shattering news. Tell everyone what you’ve been up to or do a quick explanation of a feature of your product or service.
Another way to connect with your audience in real time is to hold a webinar, Google Hangout or live seminar. This type of technology is now far cheaper and more accessible than it used to be. Use webinars for interviews or live training. Invite participants to add questions and comments. Once you create a live event, you can use it again as a video or audio broadcast.
3. Create Stories on Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat
Stories are sort of a middle ground between ordinary social media posts and live broadcasts. Snapchat was the first platform to introduce Stories but Instagram and Facebook soon followed. Stories are short-lived content that only stays up for 24 hours. You can post images and 15-second videos.
One of the advantages of Stories is that they help you stand apart from posts on crowded social media timelines. If you use Instagram or Facebook, you’ll notice that Stories are featured at the top of the page. This makes them easier to see compared to normal timeline posts. Their brief duration also gives them a sense of urgency. As with live stream video, you can use Stories to make big announcements or to casually check in with your followers.
4. Participate in Groups and Forums
Social media groups make it easy to converse with people who are interested in a specific topic. Facebook, with its huge membership, is usually the best platform for groups. LinkedIn groups, however, are also beneficial if you’re doing any kind of B2B marketing. Twitter has lists rather than groups and they work a little differently. You can simply add people to lists and then tweet to them when you have a relevant topic.
If you want to expend the effort, you can start your own group. Whether you’re contributing to an existing group or one you created remember to focus on giving value. If your posts are too promotional it will turn people off. One tactic is to create a closed Facebook group that’s exclusively available to your customers. If you create digital products you can offer group membership as a perk.
Discussion forums predate social media but are still quite popular. You can find forums on marketing, health, pets, sports, travel and many other niches. The format and rules of forums are similar to Facebook groups. Your promotional efforts should be indirect. Post helpful and sociable content and let potential customers find you by checking out your profile or forum signature. Another possibility is to start your own discussion forum on your website. There are apps and plugins that make this fairly easy.
5. Run Contests on Social Media
Social media contests are a fun way to capture your followers’ interest. You can also pick up new followers when people share the contest. There are a few tips to keep in mind for contests.
- Make sure you stay within TOS. Each site has its own rules for contests. If you violate these you could place your account in jeopardy. For example, on Facebook, you are not allowed to require people to share your contest to enter. Rules and TOS change frequently so always check before creating a contest.
- Offer a prize that’s appealing and relevant to your audience. If you aren’t sure what to give away consider a coupon or gift certificate.
- Make the rules simple and easy to follow. People shouldn’t need advanced technical skills to enter. The only exception is if you’re appealing to a niche audience such as photographers or coders who have a certain expertise.
- For contests on Instagram or Twitter use hashtags to help spread the word. Make people use the hashtag to enter the contest.
- Make sure your content is mobile-friendly. Many people access social media on smartphones so it’s essential that your website or contest page is accessible to mobile users.
- Give people an incentive to share the contest. As long as you’re within the site’s TOS, you should find a way to reward people for spreading the word about the contest. It’s typical, for example, to offer extra entries as a reward for sharing.
These are some of the best ways to engage with your customers and keep them interested in your latest products and projects. Remember that people want more than sales pitches. They want to feel like they’re part of a conversation or even a community. With tactics such as live video, webinars and groups, you’re able to connect with people and learn more about their needs. In all of your marketing efforts, do your best to come up with creative ways to actively engage with your audience.