Strategy #3: Engaging

#3 is engaging. If you have a store at the moment and you have people posting, liking or commenting on your page, you need to start engaging with them. Until social networks came along, the way companies would communicate would be through press releases, TV advertising or print advertising. It was a one way street before.

Consumers didn’t have any way of protesting and the only way that they could really voice their satisfaction was either calling the business or going to customer protection agencies. Now, if you do a bad job in your business, people will be very verbal on social media. It puts bad businesses on the side which is great if you actually run a good business and it also enhances good business.

You need to understand that you need to engage. It is a two way street, people will ask questions on comments on Facebook and it’s your job to answer. You need to interact. There’s no way you can publish stuff and never interact. The only way you can get away with that is if you’re a big celebrity. I just saw Vin Diesel’s page past a 100 million viewers, I don’t know if he engages but I think he’s one of the biggest pages on Facebook and he doesn’t really need to engage. I would still engage if I were him because you can see others like Taylor Swift and Nikki Minaj engaging. There is space to engage and there’s a huge incentives to engage with followers and fans.

If you’re a small business or a brick and mortar business, go back and forth and ask questions. People will have questions about products and promotions or just anything. They might have questions about an employee that they like or a waiter or a waitress that they like in your restaurant. You really want to communicate and have that open channel otherwise, it’s a one way stream and people will not have interest in coming back to your online properties like Facebook and Twitter if they don’t see that they can have some sort of response from you.

People want to deal with human beings so they want to have an interaction. If you have a big business, you probably can’t interact with everybody but I really believe that interacting is going back to the old school way of business because the more you interact with customers, the more you can actually build an amazing relationship with them. It increases business because it will come back so engaging is great.

For example, I was travelling to Amsterdam a few weeks ago and I posted a Vine video. In the departures terminal in Amsterdam, they have this huge chocolate buffet and it’s amazing. They have these huge pyramids of chocolate and they’re very eye catching so I made a Vine video and I posted it when I was boarding. I tag “Schiphol” which is the name of the airport and within 2 to 3 minutes, I get a reply back from Schiphol saying, “Hey, why didn’t you have a bite? Why didn’t you get anything?” I was like, “Wow, that’s really interesting”.

That was a brand business that’s actually replying and we went back and forth for a few tweets. It was interesting to see an airport which is probably one of the most un-sexiest businesses on earth to actually have a voice and interact in a funny way and that’s a very good example.

I have a bad example for you. This was last week when I was in the supermarket. I saw these “Innocent drinks” and I think they’re probably one of the first smoothie companies to come out in the UK maybe 10 or 12 years ago. It was funny because “Innocent” is full of sugar but it’s marketed as a healthy drink. I take the Innocent bottle which is very small and I walked to the area where they sell Coke. I then put the Innocent bottle next to the Coke bottle. I took notice on the amounts of sugar and Innocent’s strawberry smoothie has as much sugar as Coke. It’s fascinating to see how marketing can really play on people’s minds because there is as much sugar in Innocent as there is in Coke.

I was a bit cheeky and I made an Instagram video. I tagged Coke and Innocent and I said, “Hey Innocent, you have as much sugar as Coke” and I didn’t get any reply which is to be expected because I was teasing them a bit but it would have been funny if one of them would have replied back with something funny or just poke you. They could have poked me and I thought that was a missed opportunity. I like doing that with brands to see who interacts. It puts them in an uncomfortable situation but they could have turned it around and could have done something funny with it but they didn’t.

People want to be engaged. When they take the time to tweet, comment or like, try to give something. People just want to be recognized and people want to be seen. Give them some sort of access because people want access. If you play with the old school model of one way street communication, you’ll lose.