It's getting to be old news now that you don't communicate to your customers and members -- you communicate with them. As social media continues to grow, and communication channels like email marketing continue to evolve, the idea that you're simply pushing information to your readers moves further and further into the rear-view mirror. Involving your customers and members in your business or organization by asking their thoughts, encouraging their comments, and responding to their feedback leads to more engagement. And more engaged customers leads to greater success.
But engagement isn't just about soliciting comments and feedback on Facebook and Twitter. It's about connecting those (and other) social media channels with your email marketing and event marketing efforts, and bringing them full circle. Email to Social and Back Again. "Email lights the fire, and social media fans the flames." In your next email newsletter, use strong social calls to action, such as asking a provocative question about content in your issue or a topic that may be on the minds of your readers, to draw them to your Facebook Page or to Twitter, where you can continue the conversation. If your customers and members are anything like the people I come in contact with every day, then they have lots of opinions -- about you, your products and services, current events and trends -- and are all too eager to share.
If your newsletter includes your helpful tips, you can ask people to go to your Facebook Page and add to the list. Or, use content in your newsletter as the basis for a poll question using Facebook Questions. Maybe you depart from your newsletter content entirely and ask readers to share their thoughts on a timely topic, such as their upcoming summer plans. Better yet, on Twitter, have your followers use a hashtag that you choose, which will make it easier for you to find and collect the responses.
Don't leave those comments and responses just sitting on Facebook or Twitter. In the next issue of your newsletter, pick a couple of your favorite answers and include them. Share the results of your poll. This will save you time in creating content for your newsletter and will encourage readers to engage with you, because they may see their answers shared. Then start the cycle again by asking a new question.
I love going to an event and seeing attendees tweeting away. It's not a distraction for me; it's further proof of how engaged they are. Social media tools like Twitter allow attendees to network with each other easier, to share feedback on how they think the event is going, and to take "virtual notes" that they can share with others who aren't in attendance. That's right: When attendees tweet during an event (especially when they use a hashtag), they're helping to spread the word about you and your event beyond the confines of your event venue.
As early as when you send a save the date email for your event, provide your invited guests with a hashtag and get them talking about your event. Ask them, on Twitter and on Facebook, what they're looking forward to learning or doing. Then share those thoughts in your email newsletters and on your event homepage. Let your attendees help you build the buzz for the event -- continue to share their thoughts until the big day arrives. During your event, monitor the Twitter feed for your hashtag to see what the chatter is. Encourage the discussion by promoting the hashtag on signage at the event.
If you've asked during the registration process what attendees' Twitter handles are, then you can include those on each person's nametag. If it's appropriate during your event to share tweets and Facebook comments, then do so; it'll make people more eager to get involved and will create a more engaging experience for all in attendance.
Remember: Don't just communicate to your customers, communicate with them. The more you can integrate your customers' and members' feedback, opinions, and thoughts on social media into your other channels, and then direct them back to keep that dialogue going, the more easily you'll create a communications circle that will never end.
Joseph Grillo 781-307-5258 email@example.com
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