Changes could be on the horizon in the world of marketing, public relations

Once you determine which platforms to use, it is important to engage and listen to your fans. If you stick to publishing and skip engagement, you will miss out on an opportunity to organically grow your following by interacting with fans and reaching new audiences. Responding to questions and comments is a great way to start engaging with fans.

In addition to responding to fans, you can also use them to help promote you brand. Your best promotional tool is the people who already love and use your products. If your social media community shares their own content featuring your brand, you have access to a repository of potential content gold. Curating content from your fans allows you to foster audience engagement and create an incentive for your audience to share their own creative ways of interacting with your products, services or company. Leveraging current customers as brand advocates and “influencers” will not only make you more credible to their network, but it will also create a more personalized experience for your fans. The more personalized experience a fan has, the more they want to engage. One easy way to use your current fans as brand advocates is through contests.

As an example, we have the MERS Goodwill Halloween contest executed via Facebook. The goal was to get fans to share content and the local Goodwill brand with their followers via social networking (in this case with photos of a costume they created at Goodwill for Halloween). It can take time to build up the kinds of relationships that lead to “influencer” sharing, but be consistent and efforts will get noticed.

The contest reached over 24,000 people, had more than 3000 click throughs, 731 comments, 287 positive reactions, and over 130 shares with more than 50 entries to review.

Check back with Black Twig again as we continue the social media conversation, in Parts 3 & 4, about diversifying your content and unique applications for social media.

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