By Bryden McGrath
Published May 2, 2013
Is your company’s social media as stale as last month’s bread?
Would you like to get more people-to-people interaction and begin a real conversation with your audience on social media?
No matter your company’s industry or size, you can encourage these deeper connections and improve your social media engagement.
#1: Use Facebook to Highlight Employees and Reach Out to Fans
Your company is only as good as your hardworking employees—so don’t be afraid to highlight them.
SEOmoz uses Facebook photo albums to highlight their employees.
The SEOmoz Facebook Page does an excellent job of this. Two examples in particular really jump out.
The “Then and Now” photo album: Employees provided photos from their youth along with recent photos of themselves. This is a great way to show fans the human side of SEOmoz. Plus, the baby pictures are adorable.
SEOmoz does a wonderful job of featuring employees, like in this “Then and Now” photo album.
The “What are Mozzers listening to?” photo album: All it took was snapping photos of employees with their headphones on and asking them what they were listening to. The result is an inside look at company culture.
The MLS team Seattle Sounders FC creates Facebook Events and invites their fans.
The MLS team Seattle Sounders FC creates Events for both their games and promotional events like player meet-and-greets.
Is your company holding an event that’s open to the public?
Then create a Facebook Event so followers can RSVP and add it to their calendars. This is a feature that is often overlooked by businesses—even many professional sports teams don’t create Facebook Events for their home games.
To get your juices flowing, here’s a short list of the types of gatherings where a Facebook Event could be perfect:
SeminarsWebinarsOpen housesCharity eventsConferences
In the example below of the 500px Facebook Page, they use Facebook to feature their fans.
For the photographers who are lucky enough to be featured, it means tremendous exposure to the Page’s almost-300,000 fans. As for everyone else, this type of post makes them feel part of a community with the possibility that they could someday be featured.
As a photo-sharing service, 500px is a natural fit to share user content on their Facebook Page.
Social media gives companies the ability to easily recognize their customers and fans.
Depending on your company’s niche, there are numerous ways to feature your customers and fans. For example, you can highlight contest winners or encourage users to submit their own photos and videos.
#2: Get Personal on Twitter
Get creative by using video to connect on Twitter.
You can use Twitter Vsnap to send personalized videos. Vsnap is a tool that allows you to record a video message with a maximum length of 60 seconds. Use this to send a personal video message to a follower on Twitter.
Every new follower Vsnap gains on Twitter is sent a personal video message through the service.
Making these short video messages personable is easy. Look at your target’s Twitter bio to see if something interesting jumps out and use this to craft your message. Or say thanks to someone who shared your content or became a new follower. Or answer a question someone has about your company.
Businesses have already found several creative uses for Twitter’s Vine app, which allows you to take 6-second video clips.
These short videos can be fun to watch and encourage viewers to connect with you further.
Your Vine videos don’t have to only be about your products. Here are some other uses your company might want to consider to connect with your audience:
A tour of the officeIndividual Vine videos for different teamsEncouraging customers to Vine about your business
Let people know who’s tweeting.
Have you ever noticed companies who include the initials of the person tweeting at the end of each tweet? Or companies who include the Twitter handle of the person(s) tweeting in their bio?
Both of these strategies are a great way to make a branded Twitter account feel a little more human and the interactions more personal.
Time lets you know who is responding to their account on Twitter.
The TIME Twitter account includes information on who is authoring the account’s tweets in the bio section.
Be part of the conversation.
Don’t ignore people who take the time to tweet to your company.
The Whole Foods Market Twitter account makes it a priority to respond to tweets.
Sometimes just acknowledging a tweet can make someone’s day—potentially making that person loyal to your brand for a lifetime. If you take the time to tweet, take the time to respond to complaints, compliments and questions in a timely manner.
Use humor to make your followers laugh.
Old Spice is known for their quirky marketing and branding, and it shines through on Twitter as well.
You never want to force it, but humor can be an effective way to make your company seem less robotic. And with the constant stream of information on Twitter, breaking it up with a laugh is always appreciated.
#3: Use Google+ Circles, Communities and Hangouts to Create Valuable Conversations
Create and share Google+ Circles your followers will find useful.
One Google+ feature that is sometimes underutilized is the ability to share Circles.
Your company can become a resource for users looking for more people to follow related to your company’s industry. After sharing the Circle on Google+, you can copy the link and share it in a blog post or on Twitter.
This is an example of a recent Circle featuring almost every speaker at SMX West.
Furthermore, this allows your company to connect with the people in the Circle you’ve created and build your audience. They may see the Circle you’ve made and decide to share it on their own profile.
Here are some examples of the type of Circles your company could create and share:
Industry leadersSpeakers at conferencesFavorite writers
Get active in the right Google+ Communities.
Google+ Pages are able to take part in Google+ Communities like any other user: Pages can create, join, moderate and participate.
Chances are there’s already a Community that fits your company’s industry. If so, join the discussion. If not, make a new Community and invite others to join.
To learn more about Google+ Communities, check out this article from Mike Delgado.
Use Google+ Hangouts.
With Google+ Hangouts, your Page can start a video chat with up to nine people. This is a great opportunity to connect with your audience.
This Google+ Hangout with chef Nigella Lawson isn’t just solid content; it’s a fantastic way to have followers interact with The New York Times Google+ Page.
This New York Times Hangout featuring Nigella Lawson is a perfect example. It features a host—Lawson—and three home cooks who wrote in describing how they fared making Lawson’s pasta recipe and why they wanted to be included in the Hangout.
#4: Participate in LinkedIn Groups
LinkedIn Company Pages can feature up to three groups on their page in an effort to have more people join the group(s).
Much like Google+ Communities, participating in LinkedIn Groups is another opportunity to join the discussion in your company’s industry and answer questions. As an added bonus, more professionals in your field will see your company.
This is a great opportunity for you to get more visibility for your company and to interact with people who may be interested in your products and services.
#5: Use Pinterest to Invite Others to Pin on Your Boards
Your company’s Pinterest boards don’t have to be limited to just company pins. Collaborate with other users to give your account a more personal feel.
For this style challenge, Home Depot invited others to pin.
To , go to the board and click Edit. Next to “Who can pin?” type the users’ names or their email addresses (Note: in order to invite someone, you must be following at least one of that user’s boards.) Click Save Changes.
Once the invited users accept your invitation, they’ll be able to pin to the shared board. However, you can always remove the user and remove their pins. Moreover, invited users cannot change a board’s title or description.
Pinterest is just as much a community as any other social network. So remember to make the time to interact with other users by commenting on and repinning their pins. While you’re at it, follow users’ boards that fit your company’s industry so you have a fresh stream of related content every time you login.
#6: Don’t Forget to Engage on Foursquare
When a Foursquare user visits a location page, they’ll also see tips from other users.
If your company has a location (or multiple locations) on Foursquare, leave tips at your own locations to show users the personable side to your company. These can be simple, or perhaps even offer an inside joke.
Leaving tips at other businesses in your area provides a way to offer your authority on your industry. Best of all, Foursquare users get insightful tips and tricks.
For example, maybe you own a travel agency and leave tips on the feedback you’ve heard about particular attractions. Or maybe you own a food website and leave tips at popular restaurants.
You’ll find fun facts from the History Channel in the tips section of several landmarks.
Again, you’ll be actively adding to the community.
Use Foursquare to create interesting lists.
Creating lists of places based on a general theme can help your company be seen by more people on Foursquare.
Lists are something Foursquare users appreciate because they act as a resource that’s easy to save. For instance, your company could create a list of its employees’ favorite lunch spots. Or the list could be the best places for company outings.
The Travel Channel has some food tips galore from Adam Richman.
Travel Channel has a list with the places Adam Richman has visited on the show “Man v Food Nation.” Over 8,000 users have saved it.
If you do decide to create a Foursquare list, login using the desktop version of Foursquare and make it from there. Compared to doing this on your phone, it’s much easier to find and save places to your list with more screen real estate.
#7: Get Creative With Your Hashtag on Instagram
Creating a hashtag and encouraging users to submit their photos is a smart way to stand out and be personable on Instagram.
The NBC News Instagram account recently asked users to tag their winter storm photos with the hashtag #NBCNewsPics. After the weekend passed, they chose four of their favorite user-submitted photos and featured the photos as a single image. In the description, they gave credit by including each user’s Instagram username.
By creating a hashtag, NBC News encouraged users to submit content AND was able to feature their favorite user-submitted photos.
Featuring user photos in this fashion on your company’s Instagram account adds to the community. It also shows that you’re on the social network to contribute more than just your own photos. There are several examples of companies doing this, including those in industries like journalism, sports and travel.
The easiest way to feature another user’s photo is through the use of third-party websites like Statigram and Webstagram. Both websites have the option to repost underneath all photos. Before reposting, don’t forget to obtain permission from the user first.
Use These Tips for More People-to-People Interaction
Use these examples to inspire your social media efforts and you’re sure to increase your social media engagement as you connect with more people in your community.
What do you think? What other strategies do you see companies using to connect with their audience on a deeper level? Leave your questions and comments below.
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