By Fatima El Malki
Fatima El Malki, Active PR’s social media manager, offers some simple tips to connect more effectively with your social media community
If social media has taught us anything in the past decade, it is that it has exceeded its status as a trend and has evolved into an integrated and essential part of today’s marketing mix.
Small and medium-sized enterprises find it a great tool to leverage as a way to reach their target audiences in a cost-effective manner.
Our region has showcased a soaring trend in the use of a multitude of social media platforms. According to the 2013 Arab Social Media Report by the Dubai School of Government, the total number of Facebook users in the Arab world nearly averaged an astounding 55 million, up from a little over 45 million in 2012.
The same is applicable for micro-blogging social platform Twitter. The total number of active users in the Arab World reached over 3.7 million in March 2013. We love keeping it under 140 characters as the number of tweets produced on a daily basis by the Arab world is estimated at 10 million per day.
These trends are all great and confirm that somewhere, in that big pool of online users, you will find your target audience that is willing to engage with you online. However, SMEs often find it challenging to take the first step post joining the social platforms relevant to their brand.
How do you start a conversation with the ocean of people we find online? How can we as a brand entice them to stay connected with our brand on the web? Are they even interested in the type of content we generate especially for them?
It’s amazing to see how many brands have flourished on social media as they found their audience and have managed to grow a special relationship with them, sometimes even on a personal level.
A great example of a brand having their social media engagement game on lock is Emirates Airlines. They have been recognised multiple times for their efforts in the digital sphere and continue to do so by listening and engaging with their fans online.
How does your brand establish the same? Here are seven ways to engage with your online community:
1. Share Relevant Content
What is keeping your audience busy online? What are their main issues and topics of discussion? Generate and share content that is relevant to both your brand and your audience. An imperative aspect is to initially listen to what the discussions are and relate them back to how your brand is of added value.
2. Pop Culture
The digital sphere is a space for growing relationships. Keeping it fun and emotionally relatable to your audience is key in maintaining substantial engagement. Many of us are guilty of doing one of the infamous Buzzfeed quizzes during office hours. Find a quiz, a popular meme or an article that is most relevant to your brand and your target audience and incorporate a call of action phrase: “what was your score?” or “#AmIRight?” seem like silly phrases, but they are enticing enough for your audience to engage with your brand.
A picture is worth a thousand words. No truer words have been said before as an infographic by Wishpond highlighted that photos receive 84 percent more clicks than your usual text and link posts. Start working on your photography skills as it will come in handy.
4. Live Q&A
Are you launching a new product or service soon? Build up the suspense on social media by sharing teasers, soon your audience will follow with questions. This offers a great opportunity to run a live Q&A on Twitter, or any other platform, with your online community by answering all their questions in real-time. Don’t forget to dedicate a hashtag to the live Q&A, so your audience will easily find the conversation online.
5. Interact in a Timely Manner
Make sure to be there for your audience always. New York City may be the city that never sleeps, but social media is an insomniac scene you can never even get to sleep. Make sure to respond and attend to your audience whenever they share feedback, be it positive or negative. Acknowledge negative feedback and see how you can further help your customers to improve your product or services.
What better way to engage with your audience than teaching them more about the things they’re interested in? The very reason they follow or like your page online is because they’re interested in your brand. Therefore, share information with them about your services/products, solutions and company history through creative ways like videos and did-you-know’s.
Run an online competition through one or several social platforms for a boost in engagement and grow a stronger relationship with your community. By rewarding your audience for their engagement with your brand, you’ll get to “give back” and simultaneously show appreciation for their efforts.