A chunk of every morning is spent scouring through job leads and potential clients. The quantity of jobs out there for Freelancers is skyrocketing, but the number of people looking for the promise of gaining huge followings is alarming. It seems to be all anyone cares about anymore. Bloggers boast about how they have found the perfect formula to boost followings on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter. Take a course, study the formula, and reap the rewards. The glitz and instant gratification have us shelling out buckets of money in hopes of a brilliant return on investment. If you don’t have 10K on Instagram, are you doing it all wrong?
It’s understandable, so many virtual entrepreneurs are looking to build their brand. They want to work with affiliates, make a passive income, and harvest a glowing reputation. The numbers matter, but do they matter enough to sacrifice genuine and organic interaction with our followers? This is something I struggle with constantly. The need for big followings vs. the benefits of actual engagement.
We are spreading ourselves too thin, of that I am sure.
Start a Pinterest for blog traffic, grow an Instagram to become an influencer, make connections on Twitter, and start a budding Facebook group. Then manage them all, engage as much as possible, provide enticing shareable content. It’s a job in itself to market across each social channel, so we outsource and hope for the best. This is great for those of us in the SMM field, however, it also leaves us with impossible tasks to complete. We can’t guarantee a following of real substance. We can market our hearts out, but if the content isn’t strong, or the engagement is spotty, followers lose interest…FAST. Think about it like this, if you have a following of 100K on twitter, but your tweets produce zero engagement, how much value is that huge following providing? The light bulbs are starting to go off now, right? You get it.
Now onto the real challenge, which in most of our cases is this: How do we convince our clients that in the world of brand building that customer engagement trumps big fan followings? Here are a couple of key points to help clients understand why engagement is still king of social media.
More engagement equals more shares
Your client wants to sell more product. They see their following growing and the dollar signs light up in their eyes. More followers must be a direct route to more sales, right? Not exactly. If the engagement is lacking, the chances of that following actually seeing your posts is decreased dramatically. The key to more visibility is actually shares. Shares are one of the most important forms of engagement as far as brand visibility.
Social algorithms are always changing, it’s almost impossible to keep up with the changes. One thing that stays constant is the consumer sharing content that they enjoy, or find helpful. They share things they want their family, friends, and co-workers to check out. They want it to produce a dialog between themselves and others. This gives you a new angle on your social media marketing plans. Ask yourself “is this something the target consumer would want to share with friends and family.” According to The Associated Press, when Americans encounter news on social media, how much they trust the content is determined less by who creates the news than by who shares it.
Build better relationships
Building a good relationship with prospective customers is important because trust is what gravitates them to you vs. the competition. Imagine the edge that you get when you actively engage with customers on a daily basis? Look, there is nothing wrong with using scheduling apps to make sure content is posted at the best times, without having to run your life around it, but that cannot be all the social media that’s done. Let’s use TVC as an example. On our Twitter page as of current, we have 299 followers. In the world of social followings, that doesn’t seem like much. Many of you probably chuckled a bit when you saw it. However, aside from our number of followers, we have incredible engagement. In fact, messages like this show up in the inbox more often than not:
This client has seen us engaging all over Twitter, they know our name and find value in our work. All because they keep seeing The Virtually Creative pop up. We didn’t even have to search out this client, they came to us. This is what you want, and in turn, this is what your client wants too! They may just not realize it yet.
Building relationships without engagement can feel like a constant sales pitch. Your name shows up in the inbox of a customer you have never connected with. They don’t know you from a hole in the wall and immediately they brand you a salesperson and ignore whatever information you are trying to get through. Bah humbug, you think, and we get it.
Imagine how differently that situation would go if this person recognized your name from recent shares or comment interaction on their tweets. Maybe you are into Tweetchats and they happen to contribute to the same one, every Monday like clockwork. They see your name in their inbox and immediately know who you are and have a good feel for what you do. All of the sudden, the communication gates are opened. That outcome wins every single time.
A real-time indicator of how your audience responds to your content
Social algorithms are designed to show relevant content. Facebook, for example, identifies what the audience is into based on the amount they engage. If they do not like your content or it doesn’t resonate with them, it takes 2.5 seconds to hide you from their timeline completely. We have all used the hide from timeline method. It’s the “leave you on read” on social media. That person is still in your follower count but is, in fact, receiving NONE of your content. Womp womp.
Actively engaging with the audience, finding out what kind of content they respond to, will help you create content that will draw them in instead of pushing them away. Ask questions real time, and be available to engage as the answers roll in. Yes, you can schedule all the posts you want, but you NEED to be available to real-time engage as well. It’s pretty much non-negotiable.
Check out how your competitor’s engagement is. What are they doing differently than you to get people talking? Not saying be a copycat, there is way too much of that out there. Use the cues to measure what your ideal customer is actually interested in, and then figure out how to produce content that will capture them.
Hopefully, your client is not only open to what you’re saying but is now looking at you like an educated bad ass! Now it’s time to put your plan into action! Engage, engage, engage!
The Virtually Creative is jumping on to the TweetChat train! Every Thursday night at 7:00 ET join in the discussion using the hashtag #VCreativeChat.
What are your thoughts on engagement vs. following in the social world? Share below in the comments!