How to Engage Fans by Making Them Feel Special

Mike Stiles

Engagement is the key to the social media treasure chest.  While the early era of social network marketing was primarily about getting your social streams up and running and building up the numbers in your social communities, we have now entered the era of “the only good fan is an engaged fan.”

The foundation for engaging fans is, of course, good content.  For many brands (and agencies), this does not exactly come as good news.  For the most part, brands are about making, and then selling, their product.  The notion of having to entertain and amuse their customers is still relatively alien to most corporate cultures.  Consistently publishing non-sales-driven, relevant, desired content is the only path to getting a share, comment, a retweet, or Open Graph interaction.  It is the only way to show up organically in Facebook News Feeds, and give your brand at least some level of immunity from getting hidden or unliked.

But beyond content, there’s another element to engagement and deepening the relationships brands have with their fans.  It’s nothing new, it’s something we should have been practicing in our real-world businesses since the day we opened the doors.  It’s service.  Nothing will make customers more loyal to you, less likely to ever leave you and more likely to sing your praises to whoever will listen than hyper-attentive service.

The sad thing is, consumers have grown so accustomed to experiencing miserably poor service from businesses and institutions that the bar has actually been set pretty low.  Even basic customer service is enough to surprise and please a customer these days.  They want to have a good experience with you.  They want to be able to brag on you.  So make sure you’re providing the kind of service so that they can.

-Wow Them with a Surprise So Big They’ll Want to Tell Everyone

Troy Pound from South Carolina was the 1 millionth person to follow actor William Shatner on his Twitter stream.  Instead of nothing, a shout out, or an autographed photo, Troy and his wife were actually treated to dinner with Shatner himself.  If a star like Shatner has time to do that, what makes you so busy you can’t blow away one of your fans with a surprise once in awhile?

-Stun Them with How Fast You Can Respond

Most social marketing management tools today offer robust moderation and email alert components.  Automated “we got your message and a rep will be with you as soon as possible” emails just don’t cut it anymore.  If any of your fans have a question or problem, it should be treated as an emergency, because to them…it is.  When people are responded to quickly, they feel special and valued.  Otherwise, they just feel ignored.

-Make an Art Out of Turning Negatives to Positives

Forrester Research shows that 75% of those who posted a negative comment on Facebook fully expected a reply.  They want their negative experience to be turned into a positive one.  When brands do just that by responding and resolving quickly, not only is the fan that posted happy, others in the community see and are impacted by the positive resolution.

-Promote From Within the Community

Everyone in life likes to grow, achieve and advance.  The members of your social community are no different.  If you provide some path for them to advance to graduated status levels, with appropriate rewards and incentives along the way, they will be more invested, more engaged, and more proactive on your streams.  Identify and develop your “superfans.”

-Praise and Thank

“Thank you” is probably one of the most underused, impactful phrases in the English language.  With just two little words, you communicate that someone is valuable, that they are appreciated, that their contribution has been recognized, that you like and accept them, and that you would welcome more of whatever you’re thanking them for.  Unfortunately, people get very few pats on the back in their everyday lives.  When you notice and praise something a fan did or wrote to all the other fans in your community, you are giving them a supercharged shot in the arm of pride.  People return to where they are made to feel good.  If you make them feel good with praise, they will return to your social properties again and again.

Yes, content is the foundation.  But even if you have not yet found the right people and methodology for insuring a reliable flow of great and engaging content for your brand, you can still reap the rewards of social by publicly demonstrating on it a renewed commitment to service, and attention above and beyond what any of your fans might expect.  For that, there’s no time like the present.

About the Author

Mike Stiles is a content specialist, writer, blogger and producer with Vitrue, the leading social relationship management technology platform in the industry.


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