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Cheat Sheet

Social Media Engagement For Dummies

From Social Media Engagement For Dummies by Aliza Sherman, Danielle Elliott Smith

Just the thought of social media engagement (SME) can set your head spinning — you have many platforms, many tools, and many ways to monitor your success each and every day. But beneath it all, social media engagement is about people, and about connecting and having meaningful interactions with those people. To manage your content, conversations, and community, you need goals, too, along with tools to manage and monitor your activity and a means of measuring your success.

Setting Goals for Social Media Engagement

In most endeavors, hoping for the best isn’t a wise idea. Before you sign up for several social media accounts and post a few times, you need a plan. The plan should highlight a series of social media engagement goals that you want to achieve as you engage with your social media audience. Start with this list:

  • Establish the framework for trust. Be consistent and trustworthy. Determine what your brand messaging should be and stick with it. Interact authentically with your audience. You often need to earn their trust. Being honest, upfront, and transparent with them is the first step toward accomplishing that goal.

  • Show up. Your presence is the key. Few things are more important than letting your audience know you are there — accessible and listening. Your fans want to be heard, and they want to know that it’s you who is doing the listening. Yes, you can have a representative for your brand, but everyone needs to be human in their approach in social networks.

  • Form relationships. Genuine social media engagement involves give-and-take. You talk, your fans talk back, and you respond again. Your fans ask a question, you respond. Your SME efforts should inform and educate but also connect with others on a personal level. Don’t delve into people’s privacy, but do add a personal touch and responsiveness.

  • Stimulate communication. Start and join conversations online. Incorporate trending topics. Look for ways to inspire your fans. Touch their emotions. Use humor appropriately and to your advantage. Show your audience that you are human and interested in them.

  • Drive interactions. Motivate others to act. First see what motivates your fans. Notice what they respond to when you post online. Ask them questions or survey them to make sure you’re on target. Then provide them with VIP treatment and with access to special deals and promotions, and celebrate them and encourage them to act. Remember to ask them to act, whether it’s to share information you’ve posted or to sign up for an event or to buy a product.

Measuring the Success of Your Social Media Endeavors

Measuring social media engagement goes way beyond the number of friends, fans, and followers you have. How many friends you have isn’t as important as how often your SME efforts lead people to tangible actions. Instead, focus your efforts on the connections, interactions, and conversations that you have with fans and followers.

Some social networks — such as Google+ — are more difficult for third-party tools to analyze because they don’t provide metrics and don’t give programmers access to pull metrics into reporting tools. Having numbers available to track over time provides you with a benchmark and a sense of your progress with SME. When a social network doesn’t provide access to extensive analytics, manually record the growth of your following and increases — or decreases — in interactions such as likes, comments and shares to gauge your progress.

Many tracking and analytics tools exist for specific social media networks; others compile data from across your social media landscape and “crunch” the numbers to give you a rating or score. This list highlights tools that help provide different ways of recording and assessing numbers that help you measure and analyze your SME activity:

  • FollowerWonk: Assess your followers’ interests and create a word cloud to show those interests.

  • Sysomos: This monitoring tool (from the producers of Heartbeat, a social media monitoring dashboard) measures sentiment and helps you track conversations by country, city, or state or by profession or gender.

  • PeopleBrowsr: This lower-cost alternative to the paid services lets you search by topic, brand, or name.

  • SimplyMeasured: Have free reports e-mailed to you, including a free Facebook Competitive Analysis Report to see what other brands are doing well.

  • Social Mention: Measure the likelihood that your brand is being discussed in social media and see whether the general sentiment is positive, negative, or neutral.

  • PeerIndex: Measure millions of likes, retweets, and comments daily to calculate everyone's influence in social media.

  • Klout: Rate your social media influence across the social networks you use.

  • Kred: Create a trusted influence network to build your social media influence.

Tools to Enhance Your Social Media Engagement Efforts

If you have a social media engagement task, a third-party tool can help you accomplish that task. Whatever you do, don’t get so caught up in the technology that you forget the human beings on the other end of the electronic device or application. At the same time, don’t ignore how these tools can make your life easier. You can find tools that

  • Help you monitor and handle messages and posts

  • Add more interactivity to your website or blog

  • Pull together numbers to help you measure and assess what you’re doing in social networks

  • Enhance everything you do, from sending e-mail to publishing content online

Social media dashboards

A good social media dashboard allows you to pull together content streams from a variety of your social networks, respond easily, post to them all, and, if needed, schedule your posts. The table briefly describes popular dashboards.

Dashboard Description
TweetDeck Allows you to monitor Twitter only
HootSuite Publish to and monitor your social media accounts, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google+ Pages

MarketMeSuite

Organize your social engagement efforts, publish content across social network and find local prospects.

SproutSocial Streamlines engagement, publishing, and analysis
Radian6 A more robust solution for major enterprises

Schedulers

Automatically scheduling some of your social media messaging can be beneficial, but only if used strategically and sparingly. If you schedule your key messaging each month or each week, you can then spend your time in your social networks paying attention to the conversations, responding in a timely manner, and initiating fresh dialogue. Don’t overautomate, or you risk alienating your followers. The table describes a handful of schedulers.

Scheduler Description For Which Network(s)
Buffer Find the best time to post; then schedule and release content at those intervals. Twitter, Facebook Pages, LinkedIn
Pingraphy Schedule pins and track their performance. Pinterest
Reachli Create Pinterest campaigns and get analytics. Pinterest
Do Share This Chrome web browser extension lets you schedule posts on a personal G+ account. Google+

Enhancement tools

Enhancement tools, like those described in the following table, add features and functionality to your existing website, blog, or social networks that expand ways others can engage with you via these sites. Not all social networks can be easily enhanced by third-party applications. For example, most tools help you manage or measure your Twitter activity rather than enhance the experience for your followers.

Tool Description For Which Platform(s)
Woobox Easily add apps to your Facebook Page that you can edit for free; also has a paid version. Facebook
Shortstack Add multiple apps to multiple Facebook Pages starting at $30 per month after the more limited free level. Facebook
WiseStamp Add social media links or graphics to your e-mail signature file. E-mail
Constant Contact This popular e-mail marketing tool has tracking analytics. E-mail
MailChimp This popular e-mail marketing tool also has tracking analytics. E-mail
Disqus Add this social commenting tool to your Wordpress, Blogger, and Tumblr blog, or to one built on Drupal, to increase engagement. Blog
Livefyre It features live, real-time commenting and an administrative tool to moderate comments and control spam. Blog

The following table describes tools that offer live-streaming video features.

Tool Description
Google Hangouts on Air Share and record live hangouts or conversations with everyone; archived to YouTube.
Spreecast This free social video platform allows for face-to-face conversations.
Ustream On this network of channels, known for lifecasting and live-streaming events, everyone can broadcast their own shows.
Livestream Use its tools to share your live event with others online and via social media.
Veetle Mobile App Broadcast or live-stream instantly from your mobile device (iPad, iPhone, or Android).
Qik Mobile App Share mobile video, including live feeds, to the web and social networks.
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