I’ve been frustrated with one of my clients recently. He wants to use social media to promote his business, but he doesn’t want to engage with his following. I’ve been having a tough time trying to help him understand that social media is not a broadcast media.
It’s an engagement media. Can businesses get clients by broadcasting their special offers? Sure. There are enough people with a coupon-clipping mentality that any company can get some business that way. But they are only scratching the surface of the potential of building relationships with their clients and prospects.
But engagement seems to be tough for some people to swallow. When I tell my client that he will attract more followers if he looks for people to follow back, he says “But all their useless tweets are wasting my time.”
Which seems to be a common concern for people just starting in social media.
Yesterday I posted about a business using Foursquare in an unusual way. What that business did very well is they looked to understand their clientele and what was important to them. And then they gave it to them, in a way that also brought in business. They couldn’t have done that without understanding and engaging with their clients.
So what is engagement in social media? It’s the same as engagement in any relationship. You do get to spend some time talking about yourself, but you also have to spend some time listening. So yes, you really do have to read some of the tweets from your followers. Or you need to read your friends’ Facebook updates or the messages from the forum you just joined.
Why do you have to listen? Simple. You joined social media to be listened to, right? Well so did everyone else. How long do you stay friends with someone who constantly talks about him or herself but never has time to listen to you? Not very long, I’m guessing.
The same holds true in social media. If you are only a talker and never take time to listen and engage people in conversation, your message will go unheard. Unless you are a celebrity. They can get away with talking and not listening. But the better ones both talk and listen.
Do you have to read everything? No, of course not. If your best friend babbles endlessly, do you listen attentively every minute? Probably not. By all means use lists, groups and filters to manage the conversation.
But do listen. And engage.
Tomorrow I’ll talk about some ways you can engage in social media without driving yourself crazy trying to keep up with everything that goes by.