There are brands and companies that use social media the same way they use traditional media: as soapboxes for their ads, sales pitches, and other marketing materials. They gauge their social media success by looking at numbers: how many fans or followers they amass, and how many people they reach. Simply put, they are missing the point. The power of social media lies in conversation and engagement:

  • How many people are talking with you?
  • How many are talking about you with their friends?
  • What are they saying about you?

In other words, the power of social media doesn’t lie in the ability to broadcast your message, but in the opportunity to create conversations around and about your brand.

How do you do this? We can go on for days on this topic, but we’ll share three ways here.

  1. Provide customer support
    Even if you don’t make your Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ profile an official channel for customer support, a significant portion of your followers will head there to air their grievances with your company. Don’t try to muzzle or silence them. Instead, use these incidents as opportunities to show how much you value their business.

    We discussed this briefly in a previous post, and when dealing with critics, suggested that you try to “propose solutions to their problems, and basically, find ways to turn their negative experiences into positive ones. If you’re successful, they may turn out to be your most passionate and vocal supporters.”

     

    By providing excellent customer support on social media, you can many of your regular customers, and maybe even your critics, into brand advocates. These advocates will talk about you and recommend you to family, friends, and anybody who’d care to listen. You definitely want them talking about you.

  2. Connect with influencers
    We recently shared a post by Miranda Miller of TopRank on Social Marketing Tools to Connect with Influencers. This is important, not only because she mentions GaggleAMP, but because she highlights the need to connect with influencers on social media.

    Your brand advocates may be very vocal about your brand, but this doesn’t necessarily translate into reaching a wide audience. Influencers, on the other hand, can drive awareness of your brand.

     

    While it may be harder to incite their passion for your brand (and if you’re lucky, turn them into advocates), influencers can get more people talking about you, helping expand your reach, and potentially increasing your customer base.

  3. Establish yourself as a thought leader
    A thought leader is an individual or organization recognized as an expert or authority in a specific field. Before we go on though, let’s make one thing clear – it’s ok, even noble and admirable to set out to become a thought leader, but it’s downright appalling to claim to be one.

     

    There’s no set formula to becoming a thought leader, but we think you can follow this one guideline: share relevant, credible content. Share your knowledge, and show how you apply your ideas to real life situations. Discuss things that are important in your chosen field.

    Some will disagree with you, but that’s a good thing – it proves that people are listening to you, and that means you’re one step closer to becoming a thought leader. Just remember – don’t ever claim to be one.