Should Small Businesses Try To Be Friends With Their Fans On Social Media?

Image: iStock

In social media marketing, engagement is key -- but engagement isn't an easy thing to grow. You can't force it. Taking a one-size-fits-all approach by trying to reply to every comment you receive, or start a conversation with every person on your page may come across as disingenuous or even pushy. So how do you know when to engage and when to leave it alone?

Oftentimes business social posts will start a number of conversations in the comments -- in fact, this is what you're aiming for. You might even find people tagging friends in the comments and starting their own conversations. Often businesses feel the need to jump into these conversations, especially when it has the potential to push a sale or reinforce your brand, but these intrusions can often feel like the online equivalent of an annoyingly pushy salesperson in a store.

While it might be tempting to push your message to people who are already engaging and showing interest in your brand, being too pushy can drive them away instead. Letting people have their own conversations about your content is just as important -- you don't have to be involved in all of them. Instead, like or react to their comments to show in a small way that their input is valued.

So when should you reply to comments from your fans or comments? The most obvious time is when they ask you a question directly. It's also acceptable to jump in when people post a general conversation-starter, but don't stress yourself trying to figure out a response if you don't have anything to say. Replies should always add to a conversation, rather than bog down the comment section with unnecessary messages.


Comments

    I occasionally interact with Bu..Hungry Jacks on social media. They reply and like just about everything on their page.

    I've seen some awesome stuff from a few US places on Twitter, I think mainly Wendy's.

    I've been pushing my current employers to look at using facebook properly, instead of just letting comments, both positive and negative just pile up on the page. The company posts maybe one thing every few months. It's a small business and Facebook alone could lead to improved business.

      I've had this struggle with so many former employers! Unfortunately for a lot of small business owners they don't see it being worth the time, though.

    I note this article assumes every small business has a social media presence. The first to question to ask is whether it is necessary and beneficial to your business to have one.
    You also need to be able to respond appropriately to negative feedback - there are many examples of small businesses going viral for the wrong reasons.

    Doing social media right for your advertising is really difficult. Tesla seem to have the knack for it (even getting Lifehacker to write articles about their products without offering sponsorship).

    Its not enough, or even advisable, to just have a Facebook page, throw money at it and hope it will generate sales (from personal experience, it usually doesn't)..media strategy has to revolve around what you are selling, and how you can find customers at the right time, place and mindset.

    For instance - I'm not convinced that services that are called out when something is suddenly broken (i.e. a plumber or electrician) benefit much from having a big Facebook following; they'd probably get more value for money in Google ads and service directories (never heard of anyone search instagram for plumbing, but most people who need the sewage smell in their house to go away will go straight to google or yellow pages for 24/7 plumber).

    Whereas, items like fashion, shaving products, cosmetics, cars and entertainment venues are highly influenced by other people's perception of its value - strong Facebook and instagram followings, and a relevant blog are an effective way of building a fanbase.

Join the discussion!