According to a study by the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, 37 percent of Fortune 500 & Inc 500 companies maintain blogs, while those using Facebook and Twitter number 74 and 64 percent, respectively. Micro-blogging is on the rise among corporations and far surpassing traditional blogs in market prevalence.
Why, then, do companies still wonder about the ROI? It is not enough to set up a page, follow the most influential people, and ask them to spread your content. Unfortunately, this is too often the case. Tools that measure influence and create lists of followers are frequently included in outreach campaigns with this cringe-inducing directive: Find the people with the best network to spread our message. Strategy, while necessary, can evoke a negative sentiment among consumers.
Authentic engagement requires taking the time to identify with the people you’re following. When planning a strategy, involving the use of measurement tools and segmentation data is effective and efficient; however, it should be done in concert with listening to and engaging with a greater majority of those in your network for long term gain.
Consumer Engagement Strategy
Thanking people for following or liking you, sending your “ask” through private, automated messages, posting links, calling everyone rock stars, and telling your network why you’re amazing may win you followers in the guru community, but your consumers will see through this staged authenticity. They are not on Facebook and Twitter to sell themselves but if a trusted relationship forms, they may soon enough be selling for you.
Considering current data on the reliance of digital word of mouth on purchasing decisions, 42 percent of 18-34 year olds share positive brand experiences versus just 17 percent of 47-65 year olds. It is in your best interest to start building these relationships now. This is not about following your followers back. Doing so sets up a false belief that you’re actually interested in them, which will only hurt you if you decide to change your policy later.
The companies that will see a positive ROI are those who accede to the necessity of profit but abstain from commodifying their fans. You must become willing to have consistent conversations involving zero self-promotion. Solely engaging the people who have established moral authority won’t help much either. Wanting the best insights from the elite is understandable. However, you may find that outliers have a strong reach, too. Their low influence score may suggest a weak network, but isn’t it better that they have a passionate, dedicated group of friends who consistently seek them out for guidance? The influencers are not just users of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and so on, but those who use it despite not seeing an ROI or rewards for their social behavior.
Who Has Time To Do This?
This is why marketing budgets for social media must increase. Building a community is an investment. Done well, a company’s Community Manager or Social Media Strategist should know how and when to speak to their network. Developing that knowledge takes time. Influence measurement tools are great for capturing key leaders. These tools used in concert with paying close attention to your network will only lead to long-term gains, as your community will reward you for actually knowing who they are.
Consider the Alternative
If, after two years of following someone, you say something that shows you haven’t so much as read their profile, why would that person trust you? Consistent engagement and research will lead a company’s audience to trust its messaging.
©2015, The Tomorrow Project, LLC