Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Guest Blog by Matt Scherer - Marketing Professionals Shouldn't Overlook Engagement When Crafting Social Media Strategies

When I saw a local bank post an ad saying that if you liked them, they would give $1 to one of five local charities during Christmas, I had visions of the Eddie Murphy film “Trading Places.”
I know this sounds somewhat random, but let me explain.  In the movie, Ralph Bellamy and Don Ameche play two callous millionaires who give a $1 tip as a holiday gift to a staff member at their exclusive club.   I had visions of that snarky scene as I read this recently:  ”Like us and we’ll donate $1 to the XXXXXXX charity. Stuff the Sleigh!
So, I passed on this generous offer.
I’m not against helping charities.  Yet, I value the bandwidth of my personal Facebook page to the point that I do not want to get their posts from people I don’t know or care about.
Some of you may think that this is Monday Morning social media quarterbacking.   And yes, it is that.  However, there are a couple of better ways to increase “likes” on a corporate Facebook Page.
I would start first with the staff who manage the five charities listed on this offer.  If I worked in that bank’s marketing department, I would have asked their social media coordinators from these non-profits to ask their followers to like my financial institution.  Having worked for one prominent non-profit, I know that they have passionate patrons who would have posted something like:  ”Please like XYZ Bank on Facebook because it supports my favorite charity. For every “like” they get, we will get $1.  Please click on this link taking you to their site….”
I believe that many people, new to social media, believe the key to success is building a lot of followers.  And, while that has some merit, I would think the most important but overlooked factor is engagement.
Engagement happens when marketers realize it’s not about generating numbers but instead it is about creating a conversation.  Great content starts this.  Responding to all posts is just as important.
I recently helped one local restaurant update its social media policy.  They had passionate followers who often commented on the food and service.  Yet, the management never responded to their usually positive input.   Now, when someone comments on the food or the fun they’re having with their friends, the restaurant responds quickly to these comments.
Often overlooked, personal interaction also helps to build engagement.  I noted during one visit to this restaurant that a group was having a “back to school” party in this restaurant’s beer garden.  A server was taking their picture for one teacher’s  Facebook Page to celebrate his birthday.
As I completed the updated social media policy, I put in a segment on customer engagement with the restaurant’s Facebook Fan Page.        Now, when patrons at this North St. Mary’s Street restaurant celebrate an event and ask a server to take a picture, the staff member has been trained to ask his customer to post the picture on his or her Facebook Fan Page.   A couple of their patrons have posted pictures of their events on their page.
This bank could have added that personal element to this campaign.  With signs at each window of their bank or by posting this message on the back of a deposit envelope given to a customer, they could have added more followers through engagement.   If a customer asked a bank rep about this, an enthusiastic response would have increased their likes.
For those new to social media strategies, now is the time to remember the engagement aspect.  Too often, many people my age, tend to allow younger people to handle social media strategy because as one person told me recently:  ”I don’t understand this, but this young man does.”
Yet, asking those engagement questions will help connect your business, cause or non-profit to a Facebook Page so that people will respond to it.  And more importantly, they will tell others about you.
Matt Scherer is the chief executive officer of Scherer Communications, a public relations and social media consulting firm.  He also is one of the founding producers of TalkNowSA, an interactive web site that combines traditional radio and TV interviews with an interactive chat function.  He hopes that his friend, Thom Singer, will someday appear on his new show.

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