Last week I made the case for why crisis managers need to become fluent in social media engagement, or loyalty strategies. I believe the most important phase of crisis management is planning and training. Organizations that only react to crises without a plan run the risk of longer recovery and more damage than those who plan ahead. Part of that planning and training should be coaching organizations on how to use social media strategies that are designed specifically for building loyalty that can help shield them in a crisis.
Simplified, there are five basic models for engaging fans in social media: Broadcast, Reach (Influence), Conversation-Building, Crowdsourcing/Feedback, and Value-Adding. The first two have no real value in building loyalty or advocacy, but they do have value in getting your name out there and selling product. To develop loyalty, it’s critical to move beyond the elementary strategies of pushing out messages, and do what Ant’s Eye View suggests: move people from “I like you”, to “I love you”, to “I defend you.”
First, we’ll focus on how to build effective conversations in social media and follow-up in the next weeks with crowdsourcing and value-adding.
People use social media for a variety of reasons, but it all boils down to the desire to connect. Whether they are searching for help, looking for a recipe, wanting to share a picture, or just catching up with friends, it’s about conversations that build relationships.
This model requires a commitment to converse, not just broadcast. That may seem like a no-brainer, but many organizations use social media strictly to push their own messages. There isn’t anything inherently wrong with that strategy, if your goal is just to provide information. But, if your goal is to build relationships you should design customized calls to action that promise to meet a need or ask for input, and respond when those calls are answered.
To build real conversations, you must also answer your followers’ calls-to-action. You need to be present on your social media channels and willing to talk with fans. You don’t need to recognize every post, but pressing that like button when a fan gives you a shout-out brings them closer. Don’t forget to give dap to fans that answer the questions of other fans. These are your real advocates.
Your goal should be to further the conversation and deepen the relationship. The relationship is the benefit that drives loyalty. Here, both sides of the conversation believe in the value of the other. This model isn’t about building numbers of follows, likes, and shares—it’s about conversations.
One of my favorite conversation builders in social media is the Cheese and Burger Society, one of the promotional arms of the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board. In addition to their entertaining website, they have a Facebook page loaded with recipes, pictures, and fan comments. All total, they have 12 social media touch points including the popular Grilled Cheese Academy, Vimeo and YouTube channels, and much more. They have people everywhere talking about the wonderful world of cheese. The Cheese and Burger Society Facebook page alone has over 105,000 fans.
Do you know a brand that’s good at building conversations? Give them a shout-out in the comments.
You can learn more about engaging fans in social media in the new e-book, Listen, Engage, Respond, available on Amazon.com.
Read the next two installments on how to build loyal fans in social media here: