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Rules of Engagement

January 19, 2011

According to a report from Forrester, companies will find it much harder to gain benefit from social media strategies this year.

The report points out,

“as more people adopt social behaviours and more marketers increase their social media budgets, it is tougher than ever to cut through the noise, reach an audience and make an impression.”

With consumers becoming increasingly savvy about companies’ intention to “engage” with them on social media channels, brands can no longer rely on the odd freebie, competition giveaway or constant stream of marketing messages to engage with fans.

If 2010 was about building follower numbers and gaining a “presence” on various social media platforms, then 2011 will be about leveraging those tools effectively to build a real community of brand advocates.

Therefore, engagement is key.

Here are five questions every company should ask themselves when assessing their current level of engagement:

1.  When you ask a question, do your fans/followers answer?

Is there interaction on your Facebook page or Twitter feed? Do you draw a blank when you post a question on your wall?

2. Do you talk about things other than yourself?

Relationship-building is not about me, me, me.

To build brand advocates, companies need to listen and understand the topics that interest the customer. Companies should participate in the conversations in a way that implicitly links back to the brand’s core values and attributes.

3.  Are you just concerned about the number of fans you have?

Numbers should be taken with a pinch of salt. While it is easy to “like” a page, this does not automatically translate to customer loyalty.

A study conducted by Sysomos revealed 77% of fan pages have less than 1,000 fans.

For companies, a high number of fans can look good and desirable, but figures are redundant if there is no engagement (back to question 1). Quality over quantity stands.

4. Is your Facebook fanpage or Twitter account just a tick box exercise?

A social media strategy needs and should be built into a wider and long term strategy and not because your competitors are setting  up pages left, right and centre.

5. Are you creating content?

Content is king. Starting up a Facebook or Twitter account is one thing, the real test is being able to create compelling and engaging content. As Mark Evans from Sysomos said,

“content is what will separate the wheat from the chaff. Companies that can create high-quality content will rise above the crowd because creating great content is a lot more challenging than simply starting a Twitter or Facebook account.”

What are your thoughts?

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