Back in 2009, I enlisted a colleague to help me start up a Twitter account. At that time I viewed twitter as a silly waste of time. Fast forward to 2012 and Twitter has become one of my favorite social media platforms and a primary networking outlet for me. Additional platforms that I enjoy and use often include Facebook and LinkedIn.
Google+ is growing on me as well and with the addition of the rel=author function, I’ve begun using Google+ more often.
People often ask me, “How did you get Twitter and Facebook to work so well for your business?” Explaining this in one word is quite simple: ENGAGE
Over the years I’ve received countless emails and DM’s from others thanking me for the simple act of replying to them. I sometimes respond, “There’s no need to thank me. Why would I not reply to you?” The typical answer is, “Oh – you have no idea how many people do not. I get so frustrated by it! What am I doing wrong?”
These folks are likely not doing anything wrong at all. If they reach out to someone with a tweet or DM, email or Facebook note and hear nothing back, it’s probably not about them at all. Many business owners and social media professionals stand by the old rule that all inquiries should be replied to within 24-48 to show maximum professionalism. On the other hand, there could be a number of reasons for the lack of replies such as:
- The company account is being run by someone in another country and they don’t know how to respond to the inquiry.
- The company account is being auto-run and no one gets replies.
- The company account is being run on a part time basis and replies are few and far between.
- The person running the account is more interested in being heard than in ‘listening,’ helping or engaging.
- The tweet, email, DM or Facebook note simply got lost under many others – we all get busy.
- There could be other facts involved, also, from a sense of elevation to family issues and more.
- I read a tweet recently that said, “Not everyone wants to engage here! Some of us are just here to observe and monitor the space for marketing research.”
A lack of engagement can be the result of a number of factors. That said, this is one area in social media that can quickly set you apart from your competition! Simply replying to others (in a positive and helpful way) has brought me additional business, wonderful networking opportunities, guest post offers, new friendships, charitable giving opportunities, donations for fund-raisers I’m running and much more.
People appreciate feeling heard, listened to, replied to and engaged with. On twitter I attempt to reply to tweets and DM’s immediately. If I receive messages while I’m sleeping I reply as soon as I get back to work and see the correspondence. I respond to emails within 24 hours, any time possible. Sometimes my reply must be, “No, I can’t do that. I’m sorry!” However, I usually offer the person an alternative solution or varying idea to solve their problem. Even if I cannot help them, someone else might be able to, right?
For instance, I often receive emails asking that I advertise someone’s business for free. I reply, “We have paid ad spots if you’d like to learn more about that. If you are seeking free advertising, I’ll send you over to an article that I wrote about ways small businesses can promote for free. Hopefully that will help you.” Many times these same people come back for services later on, based on my willingness to help them even when they did not want to pay for services to begin with.
Think… Givers Gain. It really does work! In addition, what do you have to lose by being kind and helpful, right?
On Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ I generally reply to all comments and messages within 24 hours if not sooner. I’ve found that when people comment under a post of mine, they hope to either get a ‘thumb up’ or a reply comment in return. If I do this quickly they feel as though they are really a part of our community and their presence is appreciated. Soon enough they are commenting more often and engaging with our community in a deeper way.
In closing, you might like to consider the following word play for the word ENGAGE:
E= Eager to reply
N= Never ignore
G= Givers Gain
A= Always respond to legitimate inquiries (not spam)
G= Get back what you give
E= Early replies gain respect
Off you go now – engage and grow!
Shara Lawrence-Weiss is the owner of Mommy Perks, an online community for parents, grandparents, business owners and friends. Shara has a background in early childhood, education, freelance, nanny work, special needs, marketing and business ownership. She is currently serving as the secretary of her town charity group and the treasurer of the town library board. She lives in a small town near the woods with her husband and four children. Shara and her husband volunteer for town fund-raisers with the kids and mentor numerous at-risk teenagers. Shara is also active on Facebook and Twitter.