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Don’t market, engage!

Does a bulk of ‘likes’ on Facebook or a large number of followers on Twitter result as an effective marketing strategy? Shouldn’t we focus direction where we are not in the business of marketing, but engaging with an audience?

To take a stance where your product is promoted via social media channels in terms of telling everyone ‘how good it is’ and a link to a specific page on your website is not only detrimental to a brand, but people will switch off immediately. The focus should be on developing a two-way dialogue between brands and the customers they serve. The key is building partnerships, not just leads.

When brands put priority on engagement, this moves from one-way traffic of ‘followers’ as passive receivers of messages to one where there is interaction, participation and the aim to build a dialogue and customers to become advocates ie. share their experiences.

The key to all formats of engagement is communication. Here’s some examples of engagement programmes that build an effective dialogue:

  • Giving information. When it’s a one-way sell of directing to a website this has no added benefit to the customer. Information could be in the form of directing to a blog on a particular topic or providing a report on an area of interest within your industry. The better information that is provided and more relevance it has to a prospect, the better the opportunity to convert to a customer.
  • Continuity. Everything that is sent to represent your business has to have consistency throughout ie. there is a connection between the webmail that is sent out and the message it relates to. Continuity in your brand and communications is key to building familiarity and credibility.
  • Grow your community. Sharing knowledge within a community builds loyalty and keeps a conversation constant. To do this, compelling content needs to be created and maintained in order to build collaboration. As an example, commit to a printed newsletter to share with your customers.
  • Testimonials. Requesting and obtaining what other people say, is a vital way to show how others perceive you. Reading someone else recommending your product, rather than yourself is an effective way to turn prospects into customers and customers into advocates.

Online and offline engagement delivers benefits for all. The more engaged a company is with its marketplace, the more the marketplace sees the company as the expert within their field and ‘the place to go to.’ This results in greater customer loyalty, better new customer conversion rates and enhanced revenue. Set realistic goals and stick to them and remember to maintain a flow of communication.

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