Have you ever interacted with an organization or a celebrity on social media? Not just by tweeting at them or liking their Instagram, but by receiving a response back from them?

When my husband, Taylor, was in college, he saw a Snap from Gary Vaynerchuk telling his audience to go buy his newest book. As a college student, Taylor had to be careful with how he spent his money so he could do things like, you know, eat. So he snapped Gary back and said, “What can you do for a poor college student who wants your book?” Almost instantly, Gary responded telling him to shoot an email to his assistant with his name and address, and Gary would send him a book. Taylor did so, and voila! The book appeared at his doorstep a week later.

I’m amazed by that story. Gary has 1.2 million followers on Facebook, 1.34 million on Twitter, and 605K on Instagram. Yet he took the time to respond to Taylor and send him a book because Taylor couldn’t afford to buy it on his own. Who does that? And the more important question… why don’t more companies do that?

I know that not every person or organization can afford to send books to college students on a whim, but you can afford to engage with your audience.

According to Sprout Social, “Engagement is not just a single interaction with one of your customers, but an open line of communication over a period of time. When we think about social media engagement, it’s about how you use networks like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to create a great customer experience. You want to be there there for your patrons through the thick and thin of it.”

I would argue that engaging with your audience is the most important part to success on social media, and it takes a lot less than sending someone a book to keep them engaged. Here are a few reasons engaging with your customers will help you to win on social media.  

  • It makes your audience feel valued and if they feel valued, they’ll trust you. If they trust you, they’re that much more likely to buy into your brand or product and recommend you to their friends. I follow an author named Josh Riebock on Twitter and we’ve actually formed a friendship through our short interactions. He makes me feel so valued by remembering the little things like where I went to college and where I live now. He’s even gone as far as to read blog posts of mine and re-post them. What power you, as a brand, have to influence your audience!
  • It makes you feel human. So often, we view celebrities as untouchable royalty, and organizations as faceless and willing to do anything for our money. When you, as the person or organization, interact with your audience, you all of a sudden become on their level. There’s a real human behind that social handle, and more likely than not, that real human wants to help.
  • You’ll learn and grow in your practice. By asking questions and just showing a genuine interest in the comments of your audience, you’ll quickly learn what they like and dislike about the product you’re selling. Suddenly your channel becomes a two-way street where both you and your customers are giving and receiving. Maybe friendship and social media aren’t that different after all.

Okay, so what does it look like to engage with your audience?

  • Obviously, reply reply reply. Need I say more? Try your hardest to reply to everything people say to you, even if that just means liking their comment. If you were in an in-person conversation with that person, would you ignore them and walk away after they say something to you? Or would you at least smile and nod, acknowledging that you heard them? Use the same social graces online as you do in person.
  • Ask questions. If you haven’t been engaging with your audience, it’s fair to assume that they aren’t engaging with you as much anymore, either. Start that up again by posting a question to everyone. It could be about your product, or something as simple and generic as, “If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?” Build your rapport by showing them you want to get to know them.
  • Re-blog, retweet, re-post. An easy, nearly effortless way to show that you value the opinions of your audience is by re-posting what they say. Not only are you valuing what they say, you’re showing others you value it, and giving them a chance to be exposed to your audience.

When a customer interacts with you on social media, they’re trusting you with their problems, with their creativity, and with their questions. All you have to do is engage.

Can you be trusted?


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