Social media—or shared media as we refer to it in the PESO model—is increasingly becoming your most important brand communications channel. Not only does it give you an unprecedented ability to get to know and build relationships with journalists and industry influencers you want to work with, it’s a direct communication line between you and your customers.
But somehow, despite social media being an incredibly effective two-way communication tool, much of what brands do on social is yell about how great they are and selfishly pump out their own content. They automate shares of their content. They auto-reply to interactions. They send automated direct messages that ask you to buy their products, share their content, or comment on their most recent idea.
A lot of times, there’s not much that’s social about what’s going on in social media.
And that’s a huge mistake!
Every social media post you share is going to be viewed prospective customers and long-time fans, and you want every interaction to be positive. That’s why it’s important to make sure you have a significant social interaction component to your shared media plan.
Regardless of how many fans you have on social media, you can—and should—have a plan for regularly engaging with them. You should create content that invites conversation and collaboration with your audience, not just passive consumption.
Here are some practical ideas to make this happen:
Schedule it in. Prioritize engaging with followers several times per week. Put that into the official social media plan. Don’t require your social media manager to be in days full of meetings with no breaks. This defeats the purpose.
Livestream video. Blogging is great for sharing information, but if it’s two-way conversation and engagement you want, livestreaming is the way to go. Complement your announcements and content and take the topic to live video so you can answer comments and questions live. As a bonus, this is a great way to hear how your fans feel about you without conducting expensive research.
Ask questions. Communications pros spend a lot of time (and money) trying to better understand their audiences. This overlooks an incredibly obvious way to tackle the issue, without additional cost: Ask them! Twitter has built-in polls that are great for taking a quick pulse-check and sparking conversation.
Build influencer relationships. Compliment journalists on a well-done article and share it with your audience. Give an industry blogger another source or point-of-view (other than yours) that would fit in a follow-up to a recent article. Ask industry analysts questions about their most recent research. Take advantage of the unprecedented access social media provides to start building relationships well before you have an ask.
Amplify user-generated content. User-generated content is created by your fans all the time. Use the social listening tool of your choice so you can track when someone creates content on your behalf. Then reach out to its creator and ask permission to share it on your social channels. Not seeing that much user-generated content? Give your fans a call-to-arms and ask for it!
Shared media is a critical part of the PESO communications model. But it’s important to remember that it’s not just as a distribution channel. It is a valuable communications channel and should be treated as such. Make sure you keep the social in social media and regularly use it for two-way conversations with your audience.