Don’t Just Post, Participate

participateSo you want to have a digital presence? Or perhaps someone is telling you it’s necessary? Promoting your business using social media platforms can be a rewarding investment of time and energy, as long as it is being utilized to its full capacity. With each passing minute conversations are being started, trends are being discussed, and current topics are being debated on various social media sites.

Some companies are finding they are able to connect with their stakeholders authentically this way. It offers another outlet in which to express ideas. However, simply signing up and posting isn’t enough. The key to success: participating.

I won’t candy-coat it, social media takes time. But it is a medium to participate in target audience-aligned conversations, as well as conversations among your key influencers. The benefits of participating are plentiful, but one of the most important is the opportunity to establish yourself and your company as an industry authority by sharing valuable insights and information. Participating also puts your company in the center of a community that can become prized brand advocates and ultimately clients.

Encourage your clients to engage with their publics, respond to and interact with key influencers and be digitally present in relevant online conversations. By participating, you become more than a Twitter handle or LinkedIn profile – you become an authoritative voice.

Here are a couple best practices for establishing a participative and engaging presence through social media:
1. Encourage sharing and feedback. Implement crowd sourcing by going to the crowd to solve a problem or to inquire about your audience’s outlook on an issue. Ask questions and seek others’ thoughts and opinions. Then, respond to feedback and monitor conversations that have been started as a result.
2. Know what and when to post. Don’t constantly spam newsfeeds with links and pictures. Instead of simply posting a link to an article you want your publics to see, offer an opinion on the article or your response to the writer. Studies show that posting an average of 3-5 times a week is sufficient. Too much and followers will unsubscribe, unfriend and unfollow. Too little and they will lose interest.
3. Be mindful of lengthiness. Research proves that posts less than 80 characters receive 66 percent higher engagement than longer posts. Write posts that are concise and to the point. Stick to 2-3 main ideas per post and even segment longer concepts into two-part posts.

Social media for business isn’t just about doing it because everyone else is. Instead, think of social media as a supplemental, more rapid means of communicating with your advocates and key influencers. Like public relations, website development and blogging, social media is another level in a fully-integrated business marketing strategy.

Lisa Tilt is Founder and President of Full Tilt Consulting (www.FullTiltConsulting.com), a national brand development and content strategy firm. Contact her at lisa(at)fulltiltconsulting(dot)com.

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