Organizations everywhere are beginning to rethink their marketing, business development and selling strategies to integrate social media communication and networking techniques.
While many have implemented social media sites for their business, and may even attempt to post frequently on those sites, how many have actually derived value for their business from that activity?
In short: not enough. In fact, some organizations start up their social media sites, try them out for a few months — run by either a staff member who takes it on as an additional task or an intern — and then, after seeing no gain, abandon their initiative altogether.
But there’s a critical difference between simply having a social media site and being involved in social networking. The difference lies in one critical but often forgotten step: engagement.
What is engagement? It’s reading, absorbing, commenting on, asking about, contributing to, mentioning, thanking the poster for and reposting the social commentary of the people you follow on social media. Engagement adds value by creating business opportunities from your social networking efforts.
Engagement is not, under any circumstances, selling. Social media platforms are meant to build trust by adding value, not selling.
There is good news here: businesspeople are emerging and engaging all over social media. They blog, they post and they create videos — and many of them are your customers.
Here is a real-life example of how engagement through social networking can lead to opportunity for tech companies. Mike sees a blog post written by his customer, Ms. CEO, on her LinkedIn profile. Mike reads the post and comments on it on Ms. CEO’s blog. Mike may also post a link to the blog on his own social media sites, naming Ms. CEO in his post. With this, Ms. CEO sees that she was mentioned and is pleased to see that Mike, a valued vendor, is reading and getting value from her blog. She thanks Mike, and when Mike then invites her to lunch, she accepts.
Now are you starting to see why it’s important to assign someone who has both a key understanding of your business and field experience to run your social network? The engagement piece cannot be underestimated, and it must be done correctly.
This is my challenge to the New Jersey tech community: on any of your social media platforms, engage with the next post you see that stands out for you.
If it’s on LinkedIn, comment on the poster’s update, or even create your own update that includes the named person whom you want to see it. It will show up in his or her feed.
On Facebook, respond to or share your customers’ posts. Or post something yourself, adding customer names to the post so they, too, can see it via their Facebook notification.
When you engage with others on Twitter, reply or retweet as much as possible. For a private conversation with any of your followers, simply use the Direct Message feature. You can even mention others in a post, which will automatically appear in their Twitter messages, by referencing their Twitter handle. Use the assigned hashtag (#) when you attend an event, or follow a specific hashtag to view all the posts about that event. That way, you may even find some you’d like to follow, engage with or both.
Now that’s direct. And it’s social networking.