Good Engagement Increases Your Presence & Gets You to the Ask
How to engage effectively comes up frequently in our social listening workshops. There are a lot of unspoken rules, everyone has a different opinion on “the right way” to engage with other people’s content. One of our participants, a well known social media consultant, summed it up quite nicely “Social media is really new. There’s no books on it. We’re writing the books as we go.”
Most of us are uncomfortable with engaging other people’s content. We're afraid of “looking creepy” or “coming off as a stalker”. Not engaging with others is a lost opportunity for better social presence and connecting with others who can help our brand or business.
There are many approaches for engaging with other people on social media - some good and well, some not so good. Here are our favorite things to do (and not to do!) for productive social engagement.
Do: Comment Like You’re a Thought Leader Already
You're hesitant to engage on a post because you're not an influencer or thought leader. Maybe what I say will be seen as dumb or unimportant.
People post content because they want you to comment and share. All of us have something to contribute. You don’t need to be a celebrity in your industry to provide a point of view, thank someone for an insight, or ask a thoughtful question.
If you believe you’ve got something valuable to share, you're already a “thought leader”. Commenting provides social proof to the content creator and everyone else who is looking at the comments. Don’t just lurk & like.
Don’t: Go Straight to DM
People seem to confuse engagement with direct messaging. We’ve all seen this happen. That LinkedIn or Instagram connection request with the message “Hey, I just want to connect with like minded people in our space” or “Hey, I really think what you’re doing is cool”. You accept and the next message is a sales pitch.
Connection requests and DMs are not engagement. You haven’t even taken the time to look at my content to know who I am, what I do, and what I’m concerned about. How does that make your potential customer, partner, podcast guest, or prospective investor feel?
Engagement gets you the right to ask. It’s building a relationship digitally. Take the extra time engaging with your target’s posts to give your DM a shot of having a positive reply.
Do: Proof Your Comment Before Hitting Post
It’s easy to get into the heat of a comment thread and completely misunderstand tone of voice or nuance. Even with the best intentions we can sometimes find ourselves wondering what just happened and regretting what we posted.
What you write and how you write it is your brand. It’s out there for everyone to see, including the people you’re trying to connect with in the future.
Read your comments out loud. It's amazing when you say it out loud how it really sounds. If you’re feeling queasy or embarrassed, it's likely best to re-write.
Graciousness and diplomacy is a force multiplier on social media - it stands out to your audience and can greatly increase your chances of getting what you need.
Just like the “straight to DM” tactic, changing the subject on another person’s post is a bad look for you and your brand. Do not take over the comment thread for your own agenda.
Not only will you irritate the post creator but you’ll annoy everyone reading the thread. Do you think those people will be receptive to your outreach in the future? You'll likely be remembered as that person who hijacked the thread vs someone who had something valuable to contribute.
Genuinely participating without an agenda is always the best course.
Do: Be Yourself
Authenticity wins. Commenting comes easily and more natural when you speak in your own voice and personality.
Do not copy someone else’s style or adopt a “persona” that you believe is your brand. It creates angst and extra work for you to pretend to be someone else. The quality of your engagement will likely be lower or come off as awkward.
The more comfortable you are engaging in your own style, the better results you’ll get. The more you engage, the easier it will be to engage on posts from more intimidating people like that major industry influencer you want to connect with.
Good Social Engagement Gets You to the Ask
Engagement done well gets others to be aware of you and have some degree of trust or familiarity with you. Done correctly, these people will start to engage back on your content and/or follow you. This is the signal that you’ve established your “digital relationship” and it’s probably okay to progress to a more personal interaction.
This doesn’t guarantee that the person will respond or engage with your DM but it’s far more likely that they will recognize your handle in their DMs and at least open your message.
Good engagement establishes your public social proof with others. By engaging in thoughtful comments and shares with another person you create a digital relationship that gives you the right to ask. If you’re looking to connect, widen your network, and drive more qualified people to your door, engaging with other people’s content will take your social media to the next level.