Anyone with social media knows the anxiety that comes from pressing “Post” and…waiting. Then, when a like or a comment flows in, you can finally catch your breath and breathe a deep sigh of relief. Whew!

Engaging with customers on social media can be nerve-wracking. But it builds your brand and keeps customers thinking you’re “all that.” More than anything, it’s your way to extend customer service past the point of sale and into the next purchase cycle. So it’s important not to let the conversation be one-sided.

Make Sure You’re Where Your Customers Are

One of the biggest indicators you may be investing in the wrong social channels is hearing cricket chirps after you make a post. For this reason, it’s important to double-check that you’re active where your customers are spending their time on social.

For most local businesses, Facebook is still the most popular channel among social consumers. According to Zephoria Digital Marketing, 1.23 billion people log onto Facebook daily, with 5 new profiles created every second. If you’re posting to Facebook, pay attention to peak posting times as well. Industry standards say highest traffic occurs mid-week from 1 – 3 p.m. Though that’s when traffic is highest, a post around 7 p.m. on a Thursday or Friday is likely to get you the most engagement (likes, comments and shares) instead of quick views. That’s what most small businesses are likely to want to aim for, especially if business picks up for you on the weekends.

Though Facebook is undeniably popular, your customers may be hanging out elsewhere. If you are actively posting during the optimal times mentioned above and still aren’t getting much traction, try Instagram and Twitter next. (And follow the additional tips below.) Note: There’s still a chance your customers aren’t the target demographic for many of the major social channels. (We’re looking at you, denture distributors.) In this case, we recommend setting up your pages anyway and preparing for the future, as you will eventually gain new customers who are into social.

Speak to Customers, Not to Industry Experts

Some of the biggest traps marketers fall into when writing social posts, with businesses both big and small:

  • Trying to sound smart for the sake of sounding smart.
  • Failing to simplify a complex product or service.
  • Selling features over benefits.

What do all of these marketing faux pas have in common? They fail to get to the heart of what a customer might find interesting or helpful. It can be frustrating – you’ve spent years honing and understanding the most intricate details of your craft. But customers aren’t interested in the nitty gritty details of what you do – they’re interested in how you can help.

When drafting your posts on social, remove the big words and industry-specific terms from your vocabulary. If you’re a personal trainer, talk “nutrition” instead of “macro-nutrients.” If you’re a plumber, talk “draining” instead of “siphonage.” If you’re a lawyer, talk “settling a dispute” instead of “arbitration.”

Prompt Responses and Make Your Responses Prompt

One of the best ways to get engagement with your social in the form of comments and likes is to ask for it! Scared to allow customers to post on your business’s social pages? Keep in mind that in cases such as Facebook, they can comment on your posts anyway. Though you have the ability to hide or delete their comments, it makes sense in most cases to open up the page and enable transparent interactions.

Once your page is set up for interaction, start encouraging it! Some ideas to get you started:

  • Ask questions at the end of your posts. “Love these tips? Which is your favorite? Have any to add?”
  • Host contests that require comments. “Want a free session at Poppy the Puppy’s Pet Yoga Studio? Comment with your favorite puppy yoga pose! We’ll enter all commenters into a raffle for a free session with your pet.” (Yes, dog yoga – “doga” – is a thing. Woof.)
  • Create a quiz or poll. “Which flowers will brighten up your yard this Spring? You could win a custom flower bed!”

Once you’re actively asking for customers to engage, write them back! Do so as quickly as possible. As we mentioned earlier, customers see social media as an extension of their customer service experience. If you’re responsive in the social space, they’ll perceive you as being responsive in other areas of your business.

Still nervous about negative or inappropriate comments? Here’s more help on how to manage visitor posts and comments on your Facebook business page.

Ask for Engagement via Other Channels Outside of Social Media

Encourage social media engagement in person, via text and at every other touch point.

Some ideas:

  • Make “Follow” the call-to-action button on some of your social ads until you build up a solid following.
  • Next time you see a customer, ask if they’re following you on Facebook. Encourage them to do so for tips and tricks as well as special offers and promotions.
  • Include your social page names on sales collateral and printed marketing materials.
  • Incorporate social icons onto your business cards.
  • Ask for additional social feedback when a customer submits an online review of your business.
Incentivize Interaction

Your customers should get value out of interacting with you via social. Otherwise, what’s the point? #Unfollow

Some of the things popular local businesses do on their social to provide value and incentives to engage:

  • Offer a prize for the customer who shares one of your posts and gets the most likes.
  • Recognize the customer who checks in most on your business’s social media page. Give them a special gift or personalized shout-out.
  • Host a contest that requires customers to comment or engage with a specific post.
  • Provide social-only promotions that customers would only be privy to given interaction with your page.
Too busy to be social?

We totally get it. Go back to running your business, and consider handing the social over to us. We can show you how.