Engaging Customers on Social Media? Be About More Than Yourself

We’ve invited all of our clients, we’re posting useful resources, and no one is paying attention. What a waste of time!

This is what a recent financial client emphatically stated to me about their Facebook page. I suppose you would feel the same if you had 1,394 “fans,” 67 of which even saw your latest APR calculator post, and only two took their precious time to give you a thumbs up. Yes, every connection matters, and obviously engagement doesn’t happen overnight. However, this sort of “failure” is frustrating to say the least.

…So what should you do instead?

Keep your brand’s social media accounts (the overhaul is a topic for another day) and allocate the time to create an account that serves as a helpful resource to genuinely serve your current and potential customers. This isn’t a new approach either. This is the exact formula that Guinness used to create the Book of World Records and that Michelin used to create their famous guide.

It doesn’t matter what your industry is or who you’re trying to reach. This simply encompasses a little bit of critical thought and creativity.

There are two keys here:

  1. Create something valuable which will become synonymous with your brand.
  2. Remember that you won’t see an immediate return. This resource will help you over time on the platforms where the eyeballs and ears are gathering.

Let’s look at three examples to see how this works. Here’s the first:

My good friend, Sean, is the Triangle Food Guy and what he does is brilliant. Here’s his formula:

  1. Sean is known as the source to restaurant consumers when it comes to Raleigh-Durham restaurant news. To do this, Sean asks the community to share the latest happenings with local restaurants and organizes the information into a weekly newsletter.
  2. Restaurants, food trucks, cafès, and bakeries are all eager to get in Sean’s good graces in order to be featured on his platform.
  3. Sean subtly mentions that he also serves as a catering intermediary. In essence, Sean coordinates catering deals between his clients (consumers that follow him) and restaurants (the ones that desperately want to be featured).

All Sean had to do was go out to help his potential customers and general community by organizing some information and it turned into a full-time career. Kudos to Sean!

Let’s look at another example. Julius Solaris created the Event Manager Blog (EMB) almost 10 years ago and it’s a terrific model. Here’s a look at their site:

EventMB

Here’s why this approach works so well:

  1. Instead of fiercely competing for attention in the speaking world, Julius created a useful resource for the decision makers that book the events.
  2. Julius has positioned himself as the event planning authority figure and subtly mentions that he can tackle speaking topics around event planning. Instead of being a “pusher” like the rest of the speaking world, Julius has positioned himself differently and is now a “puller.”

The speaking industry is about as cutthroat as it gets. Julius flipped the script and looked to help when everyone else aimed to take.

Finally, here’s an example of an Instagram account that I started with a buddy:

CLT Food Adventures

Here’s what works about this approach:

  1. We’re aggregating the best food pictures from around the city and recognizing the creators. The next step is engaging the audience and organizing events which creates “community” amongst the foodie and general Instagram audience.
  2. Consumers know that they can follow this account to discover the most unique food joints and dishes in the Charlotte area. The problem with most accounts is that they can be bought, and thereby, are biased. As a result, restaurants are mad when they find out about the rigged game and consumers no longer trust them.
  3. I don’t care about the monetization (see: last point). I’d rather have a relationship with the blogging and social media audiences which I may leverage in the future.

The best part is that you can leverage this approach in different verticals, on multiple platforms, and with different audiences. Get it right one time and scalability becomes a very real possibility.

What does this mean for you…?

This strategy doesn’t necessitate that you go and spend $10k to build a website and hire copious amounts of labor to manager your social platforms. Start simple and do the following:

  1. Establish what platform your current and potential customers use the most.
  2. Figure out how you can best help them.
  3. Subtly mention who you are and what you do over time.

The bottom line is that you don’t need to “sell” when you’ve provided value and people have learned to trust, like, and respect you. Or, you can continue to struggle with that .0014% Facebook engagement rate. My advice…

Be bigger than you!