Have you tagged a brand in an Instagram story or post and received a response from the brand? If you have, you probably can relate to how cool it was to interact with one of your favorite brands online. Attracting and retaining a loyal audience should be a priority in any social media strategy. Dedicating time to building your online community will create a network of users who are ambassadors for your brand. In order to establish and nurture that relationship, you have to generate a sense of community. 71% of consumers who have had a good social media service experience with a brand are likely to recommend it to others. Customer service doesn’t just take place over the phone or in a store anymore, it’s also necessary on social media.
At Imagine Media, we offer community management services as we have seen the profound value of interacting with your audience online. After almost six years of managing online communities, we’ve learned a lot about how to keep your audience happy and engaged. Here are some of our best pieces of advice when it comes to managing your online community:
If your audience is already reaching out to you online, whether it’s with a comment, tagging you in a post or direct messaging you, it’s important that you respond quickly and consistently. Imagine that this user is at the cash register waiting to ask a question. You don’t leave them hanging, whether it’s in-person or online. Quick response times show that you care and make the user feel as though you’re an active part of their online world.
When you receive comments on a post, it's important to like them at the very least, but even better to respond to them and keep the conversation going. If your brand is tagged in a post, like and comment on that post to share your appreciation. When receiving direct messages (or DM’s), treat it like a conversation you’d have in person. The more authentic the interaction is, the more satisfied the user will feel.
If the message is negative, that’s an even more crucial time to respond. With a touch of genuine customer service, you can turn a dissatisfied consumer into a loyal brand rep. Especially if your brand was in the wrong or made a mistake, this is your chance to accept responsibility and make the situation right.
If your audience is already engaging with you and tagging you in photos, asking their opinion on the product or service will generate a conversation and make the customer feel valued. For example, if you’re a Mexican restaurant and someone tags you in a photo of margaritas, a fun response could be something like “Thank you so much for sharing your evening with us! How were the margs?!” As always, approach the conversation with the same level of sincerity that you would if you were chatting in person and keep your brand voice in mind.
If a member of your community reaches out to you and you respond back, but with nothing in return, feel free to follow up! Things get busy and they might have read your message but forgotten to respond. Without spamming them, you can still continue the conversation and make them feel important by circling back for their response.
If you're not currently receiving as much community engagement as you’d like, there are many ways you can encourage more from your audience. Instagram Stories are an excellent means to rallying your audience. With sticker options like polls, questions, and the slider tool, you can ask their opinion on new products, what they’d like to see next or how they’re loving your current services. In the main feed, asking the audience’s opinion in the caption and encouraging comments is a great way to generate a conversation on a post. Hosting a giveaway that encourages users to tag friends and like your photo has also proven to be successful to generate brand awareness and engagement.
Whether you’re planning content or communicating with your audience individually, you always want to be sure you’re providing value. For example, they’re asking a question about a specific product, go above and beyond in your response and make sure you point them in the right direction. Good customer service online will always make the user walk away from the experience feeling more informed than they were when they entered the conversation.
Spread The Love With UGC
UGC stands for “user-generated content.” When your audience tags your brand in a photo on their feed or story, repost the photo and tag them in it. This simple gesture will go such a long way with your online community and serves several purposes. First and foremost it makes the user feel special because they received recognition from a brand they already love. The second purpose behind reposting user-generated content is that it establishes trust among your newer followers. If they see other people using your product or service, they will be curious to try it for themselves. Utilizing UGC strategically is one of the best ways to encourage online engagement.
These tips and tricks will help you establish a positive online relationship with your audience. Regardless of what your competitors are doing or changes in the industry, followers who are loyal to your brand will come back again and gain. We hope you enjoy getting to know your online audience and interacting with them daily!
Story By: Sophie Duncan