I’ve said it multiple times to our social media clients – replying on platforms like Twitter and Facebook should never be considered ‘optional.’ Those replies are an absolute necessity and should be considered a major component of your social media marketing strategy. At it’s core, social engagement is very much a two-way conversation – only difference being that a customer isn’t walking into a business in the traditional sense to communicate with you, they are sitting at their laptop or pulling out their phone.
You know that you should always be striving to provide value in every post or tweet… the reply is an added element to that value. In a sense you will be working to peel back the layers of someone’s interest level, much like that of an onion. The content, and the value provided, is the first cut. Then, the response and the subsequent conversation of replies, retweets, and shares, are what work to lift those layers – letting the users and the audience know the real business, the real brand, the real YOU. This interaction becomes genuine conversation between you and a potential customer (or current, etc.), one that both provides depth in an explanation of what you offer, and can be ‘on the record’ for all to see. This conversation encourages users to want to know more, to reach out, to gain awareness and interest. Leverage those comments and replies to gain customers.
Engaging with Facebook and Twitter users on posts, tweets, and in comment sections allow you to answer questions (which can alleviate friction and issues), strengthen your brand, and promote your work. When replying, being careful to tag appropriate people and businesses will enhance your exposure both on the web (aka Facebook), and in the real world (aka ‘word of mouth’). Without you even realizing it your timely, honest and thoughtful replies can provide abundant opportunities for ‘accidental’ business, people that seemingly stumble across your post due to a wisely used tag or hashtag.
Lastly, know this: users want to know that someone ‘real’ is at the keyboard, not simply some automation set up to deliver content at a specified command. Ever use the auto-reply on Twitter? That’s like shouting out your business slogan in the middle of Times Square… no one will be listening. You personally answering and replying adds a human aspect to the marketing strategy – answering professionally, promptly, and honestly with the business’ best interests in mind can go a long way to promote a brand. Like you do in the real world, whether it’s selling coffee or selling t-shirts, continue to give customers what they want and need on social.
Learn to craft what it is you have to say, and learn to care about your responses to your audience because, big picture, you need to be caring about them. And on social… you’re only as good as your last post.