What engaging your followers really looks like!

Keri Jaehnig of Idea Girl Media explains what social engagement really looks like for Search Engine People.

Image credit: zachikkanda.com

It's all the rage - Social Engagement. We hear: "Gotta Engage." "Let's Get Social."

For many professionals forty and over, they began their careers never having logged onto the Internet, not worrying about the "Like" button, and they certainly did not imagine that there would be thousands of social networks online.

If you're a business owner or entrepreneur reading this, chances are you remember when outwardly noting you like something was more a committing statement, an endorsement. And a "social engagement" was something you put on your calendar - an event with peers where you physically went somewhere.

You may be willing to give "getting social," an honest try, but adding a computer keyboard to that with no other explanation probably makes your eyes glaze over. After you jump in and see how fast things move, and discover all of the social platforms you could be on, and that they all work differently, and the tools available, and, and, and... You shift into overwhelm.

You get this feeling in your stomach like you've been sent to the Principal's Office for being late to school for the fourth time, and your facial expressions might even mimic that scene.

Have you felt like that?

Playing Fair

First, it's expecting too much for social media and online marketing professionals to use the words, "Lets get social," without explaining what that means. It could be unreasonable to expect that everyone knows how to socially engage via their keyboard and mouse.

Second, brace yourself! "Engaging" means doing more than clicking "like" on Facebook. Social Media is all about two-way dialogue, building relationships, and being part of conversation. It means:

  • Visiting other Pages on Facebook & participating in groups.
  • Re-tweeting on Twitter, and answering back. Also tweet chats.
  • Getting involved in Groups on LinkedIn and answering questions.
  • Pinning attractive, useful & strategically linked images to Pinterest.
  • Posting, sharing, +1-ing and hanging out at Google+.
  • Answering every comment in a timely manner on your blog.

That is a fair start. Most importantly, being social online means sharing others' stuff more than you share your own. Sending out only your marketing messages equals broadcasting, and that is not social. You also need to listen.

Assembling Your Team

If you own a business with a staff, you are probably in the position to delegate social media responsibilities to one or more of your team. If you are a consultant or a one-person operation, you are already multi-tasking, and might not have that luxury. Regardless, you need to realize a few things:

1) Social media is less a sprint, and more a marathon. You are developing fruitful relationships over time, so it is a long-term business investment.

2) This long-term investment requires the attention of someone you trust to be the face of your business, and one you see being there awhile.

3) Put like tasks with like talents. Meaning, put socializing with social people and analyzing stats with numbers people.

Social Networking is like attenting a dinner party, cocktail party or backyard barbeque, as explained at Search Engine People by Keri Jaehnig of Idea Girl Media.

"Black Tie Barbeque" - image credit: tinyplace.org

This analogy is used a lot -- But social media is a lot like attending real life parties:

  • Facebook = Backyard barbeque.
  • Twitter = A cocktail party.
  • LinkedIn = A dinner party.

Mimic your social etiquette to fit each.

Is an office temp or an intern the best choice to manage your company's reputation in the above situations? Many would recommend you could make a wiser choice, but only you can determine that for your business.

For those looking ahead, a truly social business has many advantages. There, social media should be a little part of many peoples' job, rather than only one person's entire job. Of course, this references a business with a team of employees.

The Playing Field

Optimally, you want to keep your area neat, clean, and welcoming - Just like any place you would accept visitors. The daily maintenance plan will ensure your social playing field is well-pruned and ready for growth.

If you cannot or do not plan for consistent updates on your social networks, it is best to have a small presence of 1 or 2 profiles, rather than let an audience see several empty or poorly maintained social profiles. The whole point is to be part of the social scene, right?

So, on the social networks you choose...

Be there!

Doing a morning check in an an evening tidy keeps tasks each day at a manageable level. But more important, you need to target your time for when your fans and followers will be present and happy to engage with you. Naturally, the prompt response is one that leads to a productive exchange.

How do you meat your audience on their preferred turf when they'll be there?

Tap into tools!

The Bats And The Balls

1. Twitter

Tweriod Offers a free analysis every 30 days of when your Twitter followers are online, when you can best reach them, and gain the most exposure. They break it down by weekdays and weekends. Target your Twitter activity to the peak times noted in your analysis.

Start with spending 10 minute increments 2-3 times per day, and adjust as needed for your organization.

2. Facebook

Many find that the most active times on Twitter are the same as Facebook. So, begin targeting updates for the same peak times you would on Twitter. From there, examine your insights at the Admin Panel on your Facebook Page. Look at what works, and times you get the most interaction, and adjust accordingly. Many find 7:00am, between 10:00am to 12:00pm, and 11:00pm in their time zone to be good times for fan engagement. But following what your analytics indicate, you may find more fitting times.

Depending on your organization and small business niche, many find posting 2-4 times in a 24 hour period works well. After a few months of post history, get customized feedback on suggested post times as well as tips for engagement from Likealyzer.

15-60 minutes per day

3. Pinterest

If you choose to receive a notice for each like or re-pin on your account, you can easily see when your followers are online and most likely to engage with your pins. Once you establish your boards, the emails can become overwhelming, but until you get the hang of Pinterest, this is a great way to keep learning about your audience. Add pins, re-pin others' pins and be sure to like others' pins. What you give, you get back in return.

Pinvolve is a handy tool that lets your Facebook fans pin your Facebook updates to their Pinterest boards. This fan-activating app will make you cry pretty purple velvet cupcakes of joy! Pinerly, still in beta, provides pinning tips and analytics on campaigns. Their "3 Rules" is good insight for all social platforms! The more visual your product is, the more weight you should give Pinterest in your social media strategy.

To begin, spend 10-20 minutes a few times per week.

4. LinkedIn

This is your professional digital representation. You should be updating your status daily and finding 10 minutes per day to interact with Groups that put you in touch with both your contemporaries and your ideal customer. Ideally, jump in to answer Questions in your niche at least once per week, if not every day.

Updating a Company Page should include blog posts, job openings, offer of new services, and company news and developments.

Spend no less than 10 minutes on each activity per day.

5. Google+

This platform is still developing past social media enthusiasts. But you will want to be here if you have a bricks & mortar location, and if you want to be recognized as a leader in your field. Update your profile or company page once per day, if possible. Also share others' posts and give +1's. Encourage +1's from others to increase your Google ranks.

Spend 5-10 minutes per day.

6. Blog Comments

Each person that comments on your blog deserves a response. The more active your blog, the more frequently you will need to check in. Some organizations have one person just to maintain the blog, and comment on other blogs to expand brand awareness. A morning and evening approach can be effective for most small businesses.

10 minutes per day; More as your organization grows.

A Few Words From The Coach

Keri Jaehnig for Search Engine People points out a great social media tip from Winnie The Pooh: You can't stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.

Image Via: bearyweather.wordpress.com

For the individual that inquires how they should arrange their 30 minutes per day to be social, I would suggest that a mere 30 minutes does not allow for a brand to be engaged with their fans and followers.

Too confusing or overwhelming? Start slow, master 1-2 social networks, and build as you see fit. A social media marketing professional can help you set your strategy.

Perhaps the most useful tip for engaging and getting social comes for our childhood...

"You can't stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes." ~A.A. Milne, Winnie-The-Pooh

Does spending more than 30 minutes a day make you nervous?

Are there questions about getting started that are not answered above?

Share your thoughts, and tell me what I might have missed in the comments section below! 😀

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