Why social media should be treated as a conversation

How do you know if your social media messages offer sufficient value to your audience? Here’s why you should always try to start a conversation with your online followers.

Social media is an integral part of any digital marketer’s toolbox.

Without it, your organization risks going unseen or unheard, far from ideal in a world that relies heavily on digital interactions. However, social media is not just something that can be scheduled and left alone for weeks at a time. Instead, each platform must be maintained with authenticity and care, which means daily attention is necessary to maximize the benefits to the business.

Communicators should monitor the engagement their social media campaigns receive, which goes beyond just “likes,” comments, and messages.

How to measure and evaluate conversations

Social media was created around the idea of virtual communication. For businesses, this means that social media is an opportunity to create ways for potential customers and existing followers to talk about the products or services an organization offers.

With this in mind, each piece of content created and posted should have a common goal: maximizing the amount of engagement it prompts among followers.

Engagement can be simple. Just asking followers to comment with a question can suffice to generate online participation. So, how can marketers take this concept a step further?

Consider following specific hashtags that your organization uses on Instagram. This will prompt any post that contains that hashtag to show up in the feed, giving brand managers an opportunity to interact with posts and users that they might not otherwise have found.

Make sure your online conversation has some depth. Simply posting a comment with a single emoji or a compliment is a great start, but consider how you can prompt someone to comment back and start an actual conversation.

Ask users questions when commenting as a business. Ask for their thoughts, feedback or stories. Often, this can lead to more authentic engagement, which also helps boost brand loyalty among prospective customers.

Always Offer Value

An organization’s social media should always be valuable for the end user’s feed. Whether that’s simply by providing picturesque photos or entertaining videos, or by providing reliable resources, information and commentary, brand managers should be contributing something worthwhile to users’ feeds.

Often, an organization makes the mistake of doggedly adhering to a heavy posting schedule or only offering dry content. Both of these only serve to alienate followers and cause them to consider unfollowing the business on social media.

In addition, it’s important to remember that followers on social media don’t want to read advertising and marketing messages. They want to be informed or entertained. They want to feel like their feed matches their browsing habits. If you’re unfamiliar with what your followers prefer, do some research! It’s easy to identify potential missing elements from your content mix by analyzing competing brands’ pages and noting what their followers like.

Engagement matters. Not just from a metric monitoring standpoint, but also from an organic growth perspective. Authentic engagement prompts business’ posts to show up more frequently on users’ pages, which saves money on paid promotion. Organic growth is difficult to achieve, but it’s possible with just a bit of extra effort, and a few genuine conversations.

Ronn Torossian is CEO of 5WPR, a PR agency.

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