The Power of Social Media Interaction.

Still so many marketers and the brands they work for see social media as another media channel. These marketers are focused on content as well as paid social media, and social media has been overrun with noise, from earnest marketers and spammers of all sorts.

Most people reading an article like this believe there is value in social media marketing to build business, but are not sure how. The unique nature of digital social is the opportunity to interact! Brand has opportunities to build mutual trust with customers through interaction

The power of social media interaction.

People have needs and are looking for information, answers or entertainment. "Listen to your customers" is an old wisdom. Social media interaction is so powerful for marketers because it gives brands an opportunity to meet those needs in more immediate and specific ways.

Through a systematic process, social media marketers can find their most valuable stakeholder audiences. They can identify the keywords, topics and issues that are important. They can also locate the online social communities where stakeholders are going, and interact in relevant ways to build trust by helping those users to meet their needs or satisfy their interests.

This activity accrues and reach and visibility scales over time through expanding networks and content in the digital social public. What does it cost? Instead of media charges, there is agile planning, consistent management and very different ways of thinking about the workflow and brand behavior.

What it takes. 

Old habits are hard to change (but we love all of human nature, which is why we see brand marketing as teaching!). Marketers want to promote their products fast, so they use push marketing and selling techniques. For paid social media advertisers, yes, we realize that paid media has it’s place and that brands must pay to play on Facebook by advertising to have any visibility at all.

However, interaction is scalable and there are tools and practices that can take the virtues of authentic interaction to far greater results than paid or promotional shortcuts. The following are the principals we follow, to empathise, interact and relate in social media.

Everyone likes being noticed. 

People want to be seen, heard and acknowledged in social media as much as in person. Start your digital social relationship by following, liking and commenting.

There are no “bad” comments: only the reasons why matter.

This is not the same as saying “the customer is always right.” We don’t believe in that. What we focus on instead is the reasons why users are saying what they say, to create an opening for engaging them. Every response or comment is an opportunity to engage, ask questions and provide information. The more a brand interacts this way, the more visible and meaningful and trustworthy they become.

Transparency begets trust.

Let’s call transparency simply being honest. Of course everyone has their own interests in mind, but with good intent, a brand can make the customers’ interest their priority. One example is to remain factual rather than hyped or promotional in your content and interactions. Another is provide helpful resources, even from a third party, in ways that complement the category.

As soon as content feels promotional, users ignore it as just so much advertising. Or worse, if it breaks their expectations, the social media presence appears “out of character” and suddenly in sales mode.

Give up control—go for interaction and engagement.

Comments, reviews and ratings don’t have to be good. Did your product get a bad review? Instead of trying to get it taken down—or worse, defending your product—use the opportunity to provide clarifying information. That’s why you need a rich FAQ knowledge base, other informational content on your brand site or on third party sites, so you can provide links.

Some agencies advise responding to negative reviews by taking the conversation offline, to email or a customer service phone number. But then other users in the digital social public won’t see how you resolve that user’s issue.

We know the president of a scientific products supply company with a customer service policy of referring all angry customer calls directly to him. He resolves the issue and has the irate customer leave the call 100% satisfied every single time. The “science” of his customer service process is listening, interaction and relationship.

To be relevant, give reasons to care.

Relevance is another tired marketing word, but it’s extremely to easy see when you are the customer. Does the brand’s social media marketing help track down useful instructions, ways to solve problems, provide tools and resources? Does the brand offer links to rich media like video and presentation decks? Does the brand reference other experts and examples, not just their own? These are all filters users apply to information anywhere, to decide if it’s helpful, truthful and accurate.

Of course it takes an investment to produce rich media that is easy to consume and understand, like info graphics and video. But done well, that content stands out, is authoritative and trusted, and is shared.

Be that relevant brand.

Be consistent. 

Consistency is easier said than done. Have you ever trained a dog? The golden rule is consistency of expectations and commands repeated over and over even when you’re not in the mood. The result is of course a loyal pet. We could have said “create loyalty” but that’s another used-up marketing phrase.

Are you a parent or do you know one? Consistency is the bedrock of a stable growing up experience and a healthy life-long parent/child relationship.

Of course we’re not talking about pet training or parenting here, but the principles are connected: these are relationship skills that, when done well, create brand connections with customers.

The investment.

Even with automation tools to scale the social media marketing efforts it’s a significant investment. Social media marketing is not free and it’s not fast, but it can be powerful, far-reaching, and create huge value for brands.

photo by Shruthi V, Photopportunist