Think your followers don’t want to engage with your brand on social media? Think again. According to Segal Business School research on the functional building blocks of social media, consumers need conversation and relationships. They want to have real connections. If you’re struggling to find individuals who are ready to connect, your relationship-building approach could require something of a reset.
In this blog, you’ll gain access to the expertise of 17 subject matter experts. From entrepreneurs to social media marketers, consider this a gathering of minds from a wide array of professional backgrounds and industries. Join us in discovering how your peers at agencies, software organizations, vertical social media networks and more connect through social marketing:
Use Your Expertise
SEO Strategist, Creation
I always encourage clients to use their expertise as an asset to engage with their audience. I advised one client, a supplier of herbal pet remedies, to do an hour-long 'ask the advisor' session on Facebook every week, in which one of their staff with veterinary training would answer any questions related to pet health.
This very quickly became very popular with their audience, as people knew that during that hour every week, they could get instant expert advice on any question they had. After trialling it almost two years ago, the company is still doing this every Friday at 2pm, and it is their biggest driver of social engagement (not to mention a great source of conversions, as many of the questions are from people looking for product recommendations).
2. Engage Promoters
COO & Co-Founder, Smync
Be consistent in engaging with those best connections, be aware of new ones and keep that cycle going. These enthusiasts are the ones much more (70-85%) more likely to share your content, refer people, become connected.
3. Don’t Be Afraid to Be Bold
Revenue Specialist and Co-Founder, Lead Liaison
Businesses think about social media as "broadcast tools", used to launch a single message to the masses. Yeah, that's true - but a paradigm shift is required. Relationships are built with the masses, they're built one by one, through personal touches. Figure out who you're going to target then send them a personalized communication. Don't be afraid to be bold, you've got one chance, well, 141 chances if you know what I mean. So, make some confident statements that are attention-grabbing
4. Favorite Relevant Tweets
SEM Strategist, Mount Comfort Coffee
My tip for building relationships on Twitter would be favoriting people or companies tweets that are mentioning your industry or your product category. For example, I will randomly spend some time favoriting people's tweets about morning and afternoon coffee, about once a week, to grow our twitter presence. We do this in hopes the person will be curious to who we are, maybe follow us or maybe even check out our website.
5. Reach Out Directly
CEO/Founder, Technology Jobs NYC
We use social media to directly connect to individuals across the web. Connect, engage and support. We reach out to all individuals and encourage people to get involved with technology. We focus our engagement on a strong voice in relevant subject matter and we support tons of community initiatives and programs designed to help people new to the industry.
Because of these initiatives, we have seen massive growth and an engaging community.
6. Book 15-Minute Phone Calls
Founder, Traffic and Lead Generator
When someone views your profile on LinkedIn, you get a notification. When someone connects with you or requests to do so on all social media, you get a notification. When someone likes your page or post, retweets you, replies to you, you know it.
Look at their profile. Visit their website. Determine if they are a potential customer or partner.
Now message those that are, privately. "Thank you for.... I appreciate it.I like to get to know the people in my network to see if there's any way we can help each other. Would you like to have a 15 minute chat by phone? I have Tuesday afternoon times open and Friday morning as well. is either of those times good for you?"
If you can generate enough 15 minute phone calls, now you're selling and you're selling to a qualified lead.
7. Stalk on Social Media
President and Director, Good Media, Conscious Public Relations Inc
Stalking someone's social media accounts gives you an idea about how active they are, what they like to talk about, and who they do business with.
This observance from afar is also a first impression. Within 10 seconds, I can tell if I might like the person or not. What attracts me personally is strong branding. If I can tell what the person does right away, and their sites are 'pretty' or well designed, I move onto the crush stage. This is when I will start to reach out.
8. Answer Questions
I have over 100,000 VERY engaged fans on Facebook and we build great relationships via several ways. I answer their daily questions on my podcast that gets 150,000 downloads per month.
9. Take Interactions Offline
Social media is a tool to initiate and maintain the relationships you want to have. It's not the means to develop a real relationship.
The best relationships are developed through real life, face to face interactions - be it for coffee or chatting at a conference. Social media can facilitate these interactions to take place, but it should complement relationship building - not be the sole means of your relationship.
10. Contribute Something of Interest, Not Self-Interest
Writer, Words & Worlds of New York
I have seen many people fail in social media marketing because they look inward rather than outward and can never turn off the conspicuous and often tacky self-promotion. Authenticity and engagement count.
Contribute something of interest, not self-interest, to the world.
11. R.F.E.E. - Research, Follow, Engage, and Elevate.
Senior Marketing Manager, Cision
First, research the people you are most interested in...Then, follow the person on your preferred network or the network they seem to utilize the most...Next is the most important part: engagement. insert yourself into conversations where appropriate... Have genuine conversations.
The elevate step is about boosting those people up and expanding their reach and network. You can do this by sharing their content, commenting on their content, or introducing them to others similar to them in your network. Here, you're being helpful.
Bonus step: Take it offline. While social media can be the catalyst to new many new relationships, the solidifier is often offline interactions. If you're traveling to a conference in a city where an influencer, prospect or client may be, invite them out for a coffee or a cocktail. Same goes for the city you live in. Try to make that face to face connection.
12. Act Like You’re At a Cocktail Party
Marketing Consultant, Idea Majesty
I have one basic strategy for any relationship, in person or online: The Golden Rule, Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.
I couple that with treating all social media platforms (especially Twitter or Facebook) as one big cocktail party.
13. Live a Viral Life
Director of Social Marketing, Havas
Back in 2012, I proposed to my now-wife by turning myself into an internet meme on Buzzfeed. It ended up being a pretty big story including us being featured on national websites + tv.
Related to your query though, this STILL comes up on an almost monthly basis with me when I speak to other social marketing professionals. Just last week I was on the phone with a prospective client and my stunt from years ago came up unprompted. Sure lots of people in the industry have professional campaigns they can point to, but I think having a very personal campaign go viral has given me an extra bit of credibility as someone who not only talks the talk from a business standpoint, but walks the walk.
14. Provide Educational Value
VP of Marketing, Urban Bound
Content on social media needs to have educational value to readers, and it needs to be information that they can use in growing and improving their company. It should spark ideas, conversation, and even arguments. In doing this, your audience will not only trust you more, but they will have a reason to keep coming back.
15. Appeal to People’s Passions
CEO, Grade A Marketing
I stalk people. If you know what someone is writing about/what their views are/what they care about, it is easier to reach out to them in a meaningful way that will get their attention. Remember that there is a person behind the profile, and appealing to that person’s passions is key.
16. Have a Little Fun
Marketing, Medical Scrubs Collection
For our consumers (mostly nurses) on Facebook and Instagram we use a friendly, humorous tone that is easy to identify with. [W]e periodically do posts called Dare to Compare, in which we compare a medical scrub to an outfit seen on the red carpet. This helps make scrub style fun and relatable.
We also work on creating branded posts based on the interests and concerns of our followers. Case in point, nurses are always complaining about long shifts and lack of sleep. We once posted a simple picture of a bed with the caption, " What does this mean to you?" The responses were a lot more creative than we had intended!
17. Go Vertical
Communications Manager, Doximity
Something else to consider when thinking about building relationships on social media is vertical social networks. Doximity (doctors), Spiceworks (IT), Edmodo (teachers) and RallyPoint (military) are all examples of vertical networks - networks that provide far more value to specific industries and become more of a workflow tool than just a social network.
What are some of your most off-the-wall, unusual, or effective tips for building genuine relationships on social media? Share your recommendations in the comments!
header image credit: jd hancock/flickr/creative commons
all headshots courtesy of the individual featured