What are the best ways to engage my audience?

Last month the Social Media Examiner released the 2012 SMM Industry Report which outlined the trends amongst over 3,800 marketers in a variety of different industries. The report makes for great reading if you’re interested in seeing what the competition is doing with their social media strategy. It’s also interesting to see the top 10 questions which marketers want the answers for n 2012.

I promised to begin offering up answers to some of these questions and more, and then promptly forgot, so here we are back on track with the answers. This week I’ll answer the question which is on so many of your minds: what are the best ways to engage my audience?

“Future Social Interaction” by Jim Stoten

There’s a lot of marketing buzz around the act of ‘engaging’ your audience, it’s clear that this is something you have to do in order for your social media marketing strategy to be successful, but there aren’t too many people offering up solid suggestions on how to actually do this.

Before you start out with your social media strategy you have to establish what it is you want your social channels to do for you. Are you aiming for added visibility? Is it an extra layer of customer support? Are you looking to create leads? Open up new business avenues?

Once you’ve established this you can decide how best to engage your audience. Here are a few different examples of social media feeds that offer different kinds of engagement.

@Easyjet The easyjet twitter account aims to provide a human touch to an otherwise hard-faced company. Kane, their resident Tweep, offers everything from up-to-date flight information, to customer service support. In this case, @easyjet is responsive rather than initiating interaction.

Kraft, the makers of Mac n Cheese, famously go out of their way to reach out to fans. They’ve personally thanked everyone who liked them on Facebook in a very special video and they’ve started games of jinx with people mentioning Mac n Cheese on Twitter, offering prizes for games they didn’t even know they were a part of.

@io, a San Francisco based accelorator are running a campaign offering desk space to three start-ups for a year – how do you win? You send them a good pitch, and you follow them. This isĀ  a great example of a long-term strategy for building a following; offer something that people really want, and make easy to be in the running.

And finally, HelloGiggles, the indie girl blog co-founded by Zooey Deschanel, offers great examples of interaction. They ask questions, constantly, and retweet the best replies. They also offer a livestream of kittens, which probably accounts for a large part of their continued success.

So, what can we take away from this? How exactly should ‘interaction’ take place?

  • Ask questions that your audience will want to respond to. If you tweet an article, don’t just ask people what they think, offer your own standpoint or perspective and then invite response.
  • Offer customer service, but always suggest you move to e-mail at the first opportunity.
  • Likewise for sales, if you’ve developed a lead, take it off social media.
  • Respond to everything you receive, even if it’s just to say thank you. The interaction must always be two-way.
  • Multimedia is the way to your followers hearts, sharing video and images is a surefire way to get noticed.

How do you get your audeince engaged? Share your tips below!