What Does It Mean to Actively Engage with your Audience?
When you read, ‘”Actively engage with your audience,” it may sound like common sense; but, much to my surprise, it is a strategy that is underused and rarely emphasized in this type of post.
We will get to the social media powerhouses that everyone does write about, but first let’s take a look at INTERACTIVITY – engaging with your audience – how important it is and how to reap the rewards.
You may be thinking, “Everyone knows how important it is.” You are right, they may know, but do they act on it?
Think about it for a minute. Have you ever read a post anywhere on a social media platform (a blog, FB, Twitter, etc.) that was wonderful and created a need for a response – either because it raised a question, or created an emotional reaction, or you identified with what the writer was saying? As a result, you took the time to share thoughts or feelings that you may not normally share . . . and the response was . . . NOTHING!
How did you feel? At the very least probably a little disappointed. Obviously we all know how social media works and it isn’t the end of our world if someone fails to respond to us, but it is really nice when they do.
Something you may not realize, or possibly have not considered is that when you do not respond to your subscribers, the result may be any one of the following:
- They may decide to stop reading your emails because they no longer feel connected to you.
- They feel embarrassed about their post – this is especially true if they shared something very personal in response to one of your posts.
- They no longer take your posts as seriously, and either start skimming through them, or stop commenting (or both), which can slow traffic, and also diminish your visibility and prominence on the Internet
- They may quickly change from being a huge fan to someone who “used to follow you” because they have moved on.
I agree there are people who are so sensitive that if you fail to “like” their comment on Facebook they may stop following you – and the reality is you can’t do anything about that.
However, if you post a question, which someone answers; or they provide a valuable insight to one of your posts, the individual will probably be offended (and rightfully so), if you do not at least say “thank you.” They may be angry or irritated or even question your motives for sharing your thoughts if you have no interest in replies.
Let’s take it even deeper. If you post an article about the devastation of losing a child and the how it affected your life and your ability to function for a long period of time, and the post resonates with someone on such a profound level that she sends you a personal message about the loss of a parent when they were a child and how it affected her. I guarantee that the person will feel enormously disappointed and hurt, and possibly embarrassed about sharing such deep feelings when nothing but silence from you is received in return.
No one wants to be “one of the crowd” and everyone experiences some level of disappointment when we don’t receive a response to a personal tweet or FB post. Even with celebrities when we know there is only a chance in a million that we will receive a response – there is a small hope that we will. Unfortunately, enthusiasm can fade quickly and we may stop sending the tweets. I know because this happened to me very recently with a new celebrity that I was very excited about. Petty and naïve of me – YES, but I was disappointed and stopped commenting on how much I enjoyed her voice. Feelings are not always rational, as I am sure you know. SO, given my reaction to not receiving a response from a celebrity (silly as it was) – can you imagine how your followers will feel if you do not respond?
The bottom line in all of this is – be diligent – go out of your way to respond to fans, followers and subscribers. Make the effort, no matter how “busy” you are. There is one person in particular that I follow for this very reason. She ALWAYS responds to me – and always within 24 hours. It is really quite amazing.
Social media is about being and feeling connected – so connect! At the very least, click the “LIKE” button so that people feel noticed, even though it is just for a second. I enjoy receiving “likes” and I am sure you do too. No matter how fleeting it may be, on some level people will feel more connected to you and will be more likely to read your next post with more interest.
The same thing applies to emails I know there is a very good chance that your emails are generated by an autoresponder, as they should be. But, that is no excuse to completely separate yourself out from the process as soon as you have uploaded your next three-month batch of messages.
Which brings me to another point – the very last thing you want is for your subscribers to feel like they are reading “canned” material. If you neglect them – and fail to respond to messages in some way – either personally or generally by addressing a question they have raised through your next series of emails, they will begin to view your emails in a negative way and probably unsubscribe.
They will also unsubscribe if they begin to view your messages as “advertising” or one sales pitch after another rather than personal letters sent by someone who really cares about their dreams and goals – and the challenges they are facing. It is critical that they feel heard. They want to believe you are listening.
If you are making the effort to write a content-rich blog and staying in touch with subscribers through regular e-mail messages, it is probably safe to assume that your goal is to become the “go-to” person in your niche. If that is the case – you CANNOT ignore your fans, or I guarantee that success will elude you. Engagement at every opportunity with your fans, followers, and subscribers is critical.
On the other hand, if you are selling the newest widget for a specific machine that you are marketing to manufacturers in China, you can fall back on more traditional methods of communication such as sending them a sample with a letter (in the proper Chinese dialect, of course) that gives them a detailed explanation of your product and terms.
Chances are that the business you want to establish is much closer to the first example than to the second. I am my brand (my name, my face), which is fairly common on the Internet; but, even if you are branding a company, people still need a name and a face to identify with. If for whatever reason, you do not want to be that person, select someone else.
I can almost hear the agonizing thoughts that are running through your head right now, with the loudest one being . . .
“I don’t have time – there are not enough hours in the day.”
I can feel your pain. No one has the time. But, I also know that if you want to do something badly enough; if there is enough passion behind the goals you have set, you will find the time. It may take some serious shifting of priorities and revamping the way you manage your time each day, but you can figure it out, if you want to.
I cannot stress enough that engagement is one to the most important things you can do. It is a top marketing strategy that you really should implement. In fact, it is actually very easy. PLUS – the successful entrepreneurs of the world simply do not understand or rarely (if ever) utter the words, “I can’t . . . . “
Let’s look at some options:
1. Monitor your social networks (or have someone do it for you) to identify the peak times that your followers are online. Create an excel spread sheet and use it as your guide for the best engagement times. In the monitoring process you will probably find three groups of “regulars.”
- People who logon during the same two hour period every day
- People who logon briefly several times a day
- People who visit daily – but the times are random
2. Schedule 10-15 minutes each day to do the following:
- Upload photos
- Share a joke
- Ask a question
- Click LIKE buttons or thank people who retweet your tweets
- Time the time to respond to personal replies or unsolicited comments
That’s not really so bad, is it?
3. Watch for great information you can share. Always be ready to capture a URL or an article, news item, infographic, or Pinterest photo that you come across during the day that can be used later. (I use this method combined with #2 and #4.)
4. Learn to use TweetDeck, Hootsuite, or Buffer (free social management sites) to schedule posts featuring the things you want to share at intervals throughout the following day.
5. If there is simply NO WAY you can find the time to read emails (especially if you have an overwhelming number) – hire someone to “read and weed” for you. A good VA can be trained to respond to impersonal questions or problems, such as, “I have lost the link to the training site.” Or – “Where do I find . . . . ?” The VA can also identify messages that need your attention, such as personal letters, legitimate and exciting JV proposals, and other opportunities.)
Using a combination of the above methods can work very well. Try them and find out what works for you. The goal is to ensure that your face and “voice” are present whenever they log on, which will build a greater and greater sense of community.
Want all of the information? Begin at the beginning: Building an Online Business.
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 But don’t EVER do what one well-known marketer recently did… post part of a woman’s private response (without asking permission) on her blog for all to see!