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How Your Business Can Engage with Social Media

Any interaction has by definition more than one participant. In social media engagement (SME), your company or organization can be one of the participants. "But a company isn't a person," you might say. True. Therefore, your challenge is to make your company — a corporate entity or the brand that represents it — more human and to understand some basic rules of engagement, both implicit and explicit.

To foster relationships by way of social media — even if you're engaging via your business identity or brand — keep these principles in mind:

  • People want to connect with people. You're putting your company or organization on social networks; however, you and other company representatives need to be there interacting, person to person.

  • Your brand needs a clear voice. Appropriate and effective communications online starts with basic branding guidelines to ensure that the way you participate in online conversations is consistent and in keeping with your brand personality. A clear brand voice is especially important when multiple people or third-party consultants or agencies are managing your social presences.

  • You need your own rules of engagement. Every organization using SME needs both a set of internal guidelines and policies and external community guidelines that spell out which content is allowed and not allowed in the social networks you use.

  • You need a plan. For quality interactions, develop a game plan for whom you will engage, where you will reach them, and what you will do regularly, also considering what you want your followers to do. Use tools such as a social media calendar to schedule messaging in advance that dovetails with your overall goals.

Publish social content that encourages social sharing. Think of the material you post online as the beginning of conversation, not simply content that you broadcast for others to passively consume.

To effectively draw the reactions, interactions, and actions that make SME work for you, get people talking — to you and to each other.

Survey your friends, fans, and followers online to understand why they connect with you, to determine what topics interest them, and to see what they expect to hear from you. Look for the intersections between what you need and what they need and focus on common areas for better engagement.

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