Don’t Just Socialize…Engage!

Consider your typical networking function… a chamber of commerce luncheon or after-hours mixer. Take a look around the room. Some folks have no fear introducing themselves to strangers or tracking down someone they met at a previous function. Others lean toward hanging with people they know… and like. Both of these are forms of “socializing.” Still others have been told they must network to be successful. And they know it’s true, but they really don’t like it. So, they attend these networking meetings, but hang by the food table and stick close to the wall until they have been there long enough to say they were there. Definitely not socializing.

Now let’s talk social media. By definition, it must be “socializing,” right? But is your social media strategy “engaging?” Consider Facebook. You post interesting information related to your business (some information more interesting than others). Maybe you post some pictures. But posting is all one-way communication, perhaps like someone at that chamber function that wants to tell you all about his business but never asks you about yours. So, how can you “engage” customers (and potential customers) with your social media strategy?

According to the www.socialmediaexaminer.com (January 1, 2015) “28 Social Media Marketing Predictions for 2015 from the Pros”, there are several key ingredients to an “engaging” social media strategy. Let’s just look at a couple of trends. Videos and podcasts are the wave of the future. With so much written content on the web, it’s hard to get your customers’ attention with the paragraph after paragraph of text. Videos and podcasts evoke the act of listening which is what you want your customers to do. And don’t think you have to hire a professional to produce videos. Pulling out your Smartphone to capture a video testimonial from a client can be really powerful and engaging.

Your social media strategy can’t just rely on one platform. Facebook is easy, and viral, but if that’s all you use, you are missing out when it comes to engaging with the social media community. Consider Twitter and the hash tag phenomena. That infamous pound sign (#) has become the symbol for building communities. Savvy (and smart) Twitter users become “thought leaders” to their followers as they share insight and knowledge on topics of common interest. So maybe the talkative guy at the chamber function can’t say anything in less than 140 characters. But for you, that may be all it takes to “engage” your audience. Some of the most brilliant advice comes in short statements. “Just do it,” says the Nike tagline. Now that’s an engaging tweet, and they still have 132 characters left.

This guest post was submitted by Cathy Hagan, a consultant and area director at the Florida Small Business Development Center at UNF www.sbdc.unf.edu. Cathy can be reached at (904) 620-2478 or chagan@unf.edu.