Facebook “Likes,” Twitter “Followers,” and blog readers are often the first thing that someone views when evaluating a social media marketing campaign, but the more pertinent information for businesses in the blogging and social media space is how are your “Fans,” “Followers,” and readers interacting with the content that you are sharing with them? Are they engaged? Are they sharing, reposting, commenting, and enjoying your message? A true evaluation of success in this type of marketing is found not simply in the volume of your community, but in the level of engagement with your audiences. Many companies are employing “Brand Ambassadors” to help spread the word and become the face of their organization online and at events, but the idea of a “Brand Ambassador” doesn’t need to be quite so formal.
If you are creating remarkable content, and truly engaging with your audience on a personal level, you can often find customers within your online community who are already acting as ambassadors for your brand. Each time they share your content, write a review, leave a comment, or “Like” your posts on Facebook, they are publicly endorsing your message to be seen by their own group of friends and followers. Over time, you will even discover individuals within your community who have become somewhat of a fanatic for your brand, and have become a leader within your community . These are the individuals who can truly help share your brand’s message with the world. Include them in contests, connect with them on your page or through Twitter, and let them know that you appreciate their support, and even ask them for feedback.
It’s not often that a brand can obtain honest feedback and interaction from one of their real-world customers in an environment that is comfortable for everyone. Use this to your advantage! Instead of simply broadcasting your message to your followers, take the opportunity to find out what they want to see. If you take what you learn from your community, and adapt your outlook based upon what your customers want, the overall health and activity within your online community will be the true indicator of a successful social marketing strategy.
If you have yet to take the “leap” into social media for your business, I will leave you with a final thought that stemmed from Jenny Blake, one of the keynote speakers at the 20Something Bloggers Summit. Think about where your brand is now. How would you feel if your business hadn’t made any changes by this time next year? Would you be happy, or would you feel like you’ve missed some major growth opportunities? Most traditional marketing tactics haven’t changed much over the years, and many businesses sticking to those tactics are either finding themselves in just about the same spot as they were last year, or they are finding that their strategies are falling behind the times. Social media is changing on nearly a weekly, if not daily basis, opening up new pathways of connecting with customers on a level never seen before in traditional marketing. Start thinking about how you can use these pathways to help your business grow, and join in the conversations that are already happening with your customers online.