I started my workshop on digital marketing best practices at SES Toronto by asking my class to list key challenges they face in driving consumer engagement.
A few spoke about the challenges around mobile, some spoke about finding new consumers, but most of the discussion centered around creating “useful” and “interactive” content.
Here are the top concerns of a few of my students.
- Creating engaging content suitable for my customers.
- Getting my customers to shift their perception about the value of my content. My customers think I am always selling, but I think I offer lots of value in my messaging.
- Getting my consumers to notice me – I have very little interaction on social media, my open rates are dismal, and the only way I can grab the consumer’s attention is by hosting a contest.
- Creating content that is useful – expert-backed and well-branded.
- Getting my customers involved with my brand.
We spent the rest of the day discussing strategies to overcome these concerns. Brands need to build up their expertise and create an environment where the consumer feels comfortable to come and interact. We discussed five key considerations.
Key Consideration 1: Do you know what your consumers want? How often do you survey your consumers and how impactful are these surveys? If you were to walk with your customer after a purchase, you should ask them what brought them to you, how they plan using your product, and what else you can send them that could be useful. Now look to incorporate these into your discussion stream.
Key Consideration 2: Recruit and cultivate your customers as brand ambassadors. Invite them to special events and ensure that all “exclusive” offers go to them first. Get them involved in your discussions by thanking them online and also offering to quote them in your digital messaging.
Key Consideration 3: Seek interaction from your experts or brand ambassadors. Direct a discussion on social media over to them to comment on – send them an email with a link to the discussion on social media with a short note asking for their help. Other readers will appreciate their perceived direct involvement online.
Key Consideration 4: Build your reputation as an expert. At the end of the day, it is your business that has the expertise and your branding should reflect that. Answer questions, endorse views, and do this all consistently. Intuit did an outstanding job relying on a community of experts and made it even more powerful by putting its brand stamp on these discussions.
Key Consideration 5: Be available, and be responsive. If your consumer interacts with you on social media, she expects you to respond in close to real time. It is hard for a few social media experts to keep up with the interaction – so use your experts to train your service organization (or even your organization) to become the voice of your brand on social media.
I often tell the story of two brands – one that sold my daughter a shirt that shrunk after the first wash, and another that spilled iced tea on my son’s lap. My daughter contacted the apparel retailer via social media – it took them three minutes to get back and 45 minutes to resolve the issue.
My poor son complained to the manager, called corporate, and even vented on social media. It took them a week to get back to my son, and they have more than one million friends on Facebook!
Being relevant, being timely, and hosting conversations among your consumers is going to help you drive engagement. This engagement will provide you with useful content that you can leverage in your social interactions.
Image on home page via Shutterstock.