Using Social Media to Engage People

Updated: October 04, 2010

Social media has had (and continues to have) a tremendous impact on how people are marketing and branding their businesses. It has put a wonderful and creative new spin on communications, marketing and the sharing of valuable information. The true value of social media is in the connections that it fosters among business people in a wide variety of industries and niches.

Social media encourages and supports the concept of business people gaining more visibility and greater exposure online. The more people engage with others through social media, the greater their reputation and exposure will be. With that said, it is critical that the rules that everyone must follow are understood and respected so that using social media as a tool is as effective and successful as it can possibly be. If done correctly, the interactions among people will help strengthen branding, customers, colleagues, potential customers and business in general.

The following are rules of engagement that should be followed in order to get the very most out of social media interaction:

  • Contribute to social media discussions when you feel that what you have to say is relevant and appropriate. Your discussions should not be only about selling your products and/or services. Your main goal should be how you can help others.
  • Once you find a topic and discussion about which you feel passionate and/or you feel is extremely relevant to your business, jump into the conversation with both feet. The social media channels all invite you to leave as many comments as you wish. Engagement lets your new online connections know about you and the better they get to know you, the more they will want to know you.
  • Your engagement approach is very important. There are several ways in which to engage with others online. You can choose to educate, converse or just offer comments that really don't require a response from others but that you feel have value.
  • Choose the social media groups extremely carefully. Your choices should be based on common interests, knowledge and your ability to help other members of the groups of which you are a part.
  • Establish relationships with others with whom you are able to interact on a regular basis. The stronger your relationships with your online connections, the more they will trust you and consider you credible.
  • Understand and be sensitive to the needs as well as the personalities of the other members of your online groups. Your interaction with them will be determined by who they are as individuals and what you can help them with.
  • Make sure that you don't just listen to the other members of your online groups. After you have really listened what they have to say, go to the next level. Help them to find a solution to their problems.
  • Try to glean information from your online discussions with others that will allow you to make improvements in your products and/or services.
  • Through the establishment of online relationships, you need to give others the feeling that you are empowering them (through your knowledge) to help themselves in addition to helping them.
  • Try, whenever possible, to take your online relationships to the next level by also connecting face to face.
  • Try to be a "giver" much more than a "taker." Of course, if each and every member of your online communities wants to give more than they receive, everyone's needs will be taken care of.
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