This is the second part of the “Social media marketing for your business and how it can be used to share and curate content”
Engaging with others – Likes and Pluses
Compared to creating content engaging with the content of others is an online activity that often takes less time than finding, creating, and posting your own content. However, it still requires reading posts and interacting with content you find valuable. It’s ideal if you engage with the kind of content your target audience finds of value too.
Liking other people’s content can ease you into learning the culture of your chosen social platform. As I post this I am starting to learn the ins and outs of Reddit. I have started my Reddit adventure by liking or up voting posts and comments. Reddit is a social site with a lot of rules and cultural norms that can discourage new users. I plan to write more about Reddit later in the year.
The Google + (Plus)
I regularly use a Plus 1, the Google Plus version of a like, to acknowledge people who have commented on my G+ posts. It would be best to reply to each comment, but I simply don’t have the time. Now that I am creating more of my own content I have even less time for responding to comments on all of my social accounts. Managing an active social profile can be more than a full time job. While content creation is taking more of my time, I still manage to regularly post to my accounts and experiment with new social platforms, but there is now more of a time crunch.
Liking content is the easiest way to get started on a social networking site.
A person can Like, Thumbs Up, and Plus other people’s content with the least time commitment.
The nice thing about many likes and pluses is that they will show up in your social stream. Thus allowing at least some of your followers to see what you like. This and clicking links are the most common types of social engagement.
Because of how easy it is to like a post some social media folks discount the value of a like. I do think the value of a like depends on what platform you’re using. I value likes on LinkedIn quite highly and on Google plus too. A like on LinkedIn can work in a slightly different manner than a plus 1 on Google. But they are both very useful. Likes can also be useful on Facebook. While they are nice on Twitter, I have not noticed them being of much value there. If you have found likes to be useful on Twitter please let me know.
Engaging with others by Commenting
Providing meaningful comments does take more time than a quick like here and there. As one would expect, it’s less common too.
Thoughtful comments can help establish you as an authority. I know there are many people who follow me who are much more knowledgeable about subjects I’m interested in than am I. I’m almost always thankful for their insight and expertise. One of the most enjoyable and intellectually stimulating aspects of having a fairly large following is that they provide insightful and valuable information about the content I post.
It’s not uncommon that I’m short on time and post something in haste, without the proper research, only to find one of my highly intelligent followers has discovered an error or that I left out some vital information. Sometimes the errors are obvious and at other times they’re rather esoteric. But the knowledge of the people who follow me is always amazing to behold. Usually it’s welcomed as well. When I find insightful comments somewhat troublesome is when they have good information but are presented in a confrontational, racist, proselytizing, or insulting manner.
One thing about having a robust following is that when you don’t know the answer to an obscure event or question there is usually someone who will. The good side to this is I am always learning new information from my online friends.
Commenting Builds Your Reputation
By commenting people build a reputation. Some people are very knowledgeable, others are humorous, there are also those who are argumentative and troublesome. While commenting is a great way to build authority, it may be necessary to comment with some tact and finesse. If what you say is at all controversial you will need to be even more careful. I’m always amazed at how a perfectly innocent, accurate, and helpful comment can turn into a heated and sometime hateful dispute.
If you run into trouble and another commenter decides to argue with your position or you, it’s usually best to stick to a position and not attack the person. Although there will be more than a few who will attack you, especially if they don’t agree with your position. I’m afraid how to deal with online confrontation is a bit beyond the scope of this article. But I can say if you run into trouble on one of my communities let me or a moderator know and we will look into it.
When cultivating an active social profile, managing the comments can be a large part of of the process. I do try to keep my social stream as friendly and clean as possible. The larger your follower base becomes the more difficult is this task.
On social I think commenting is where community is really built. For me this makes comments on my posts quite valuable. On my favorite channels comments connect me with others. This connection then develops into online friendships. For me it turns followers into friends, so I don’t think of my social following as a target market but more as friends. This can create its own problems, like looking out for their best interest instead of exploiting the relationship for profit. However, this is more a weakness in my personality than in the channel.
As mentioned before, comments from others on your content or your comments requires a much larger time commitment on your part. I feel almost compelled to at least look at all my comments. This can take quite some time when there are 100s of interactions in a day.
I do suggest that even after you establish a large following it’s still nice to go in and support the people you know and like with some engagement. I admit I sometime find this difficult. There are many a night I spend the last hours trying to get through all of my comments and I usually spend the morning trying to get new content posted. Often there is little time left for interacting with the content of others, but I try.
If you’re strategic instead of friendly you will also want to prioritize who you interact with. The strategic workflow is to interact with those who you think can help you the most. I tend to be more personable and less mercenary, which means I interact with people in a more organic fashion. Probably if I was posting as/and for someone else’s business instead trying to start my own, I would be more strategic.
Engaging with others by Sharing content
Here I am referring to sharing content on the same platform the post was originally shared on. Sharing other people’s content can take a bit more time than liking, but it will also help raise awareness of your profile.
Where comments build relationships and community, others sharing your posts and content is how you grow your following. Some of the new followers you get from having your content shared will become part of your community and perhaps become friends as well, and some of them will not.
When I used to study with a Taiwanese (Chinese) group this attraction to the community was known as an affinity for the group. One of the desired results of social media for business is to have shared content attract those who have an affinity to be part of your community.
I would say that having content shared by other is the type of engagement most valued by marketers. The marketer in me also finds the number of shares quite rewarding. The number of shares I get in a day is one of the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) I watch and measure. However, I have recently started to pay a lot more attention to comments as well.
On Google Plus there does seem to be some correlation between the number of shares I get and the number of views I get. I believe there is still a correlation between the number of shares I receive and the number of website visits too. I know this was the case when I was doing my social to website experiment. I started getting too much traffic for my bandwidth so I shut down that experiment.
The new Google Plus Insights Panel is and attempt to measure the number of shares, likes, and comments a G+ profile receives in a week. The problem is, it does not show the most important insights, which is for the current and possibly previous day. As behaviorism and learning theory teaches us, the most important reinforcement and feedback happens within a short period of time. In this case a day or less.
There are high quality shares and low quality shares. Depending on your users it may be very difficult to tell a low quality share. So I recommend you appreciate them all. I will talk more about this in part 3 in the section on curation.
Sharing Best Practice
If you are sharing someone else’s post it’s a best practice to add some commentary. You want to let your current and future fans know why you think the post is shareworthy.
Adding information to your shared content not only makes the share more valuable for your social profile, it can make it more valuable to the original poster too. The added commentary will also give the original poster an opportunity to interact with your profile.
I will also share content to stay connected with offline friends. If I find the content on a different platform than I’m posting on I will often mention who brought the material to my attention with a +name or @name
Sharing and mentioning the person who made the post can be used as a tactic for getting likes from the post’s author that in turn may show up in the social stream of the original posters profile. I suggest that you do this kind of post as authentically as possible. I will often Plus a post that has been shared by someone I know on Google plus. Depending on the added text and information I may also comment on the post. Sharing content while mentioning the author can provide an opportunity to interact with the author. However, if it seems manipulative it may not work so well. If you use this tactic posting as a business be extra careful and do it sparingly or provide some real value to the original author.
I have seen several people repost content to associate their website with a post. With these post the URL is often the only content added to the share. These I think of as low quality shares. Sometime they try to make it look like their site is what should be clicked on to get more information. It is one of those online tricks that is not in the best interest of fans and could be detrimental to one’s reputation. I do need to warn that this can be seen as a kind of spam.
The next installment of this series will go over one of the ways I have built many online community and that is by curating content.
These are certainly not the only tactics to build a following, but they have worked for me so far. As the online environment changes, tactics and strategy need to change as well. I am moving toward creating more of my own content and sooner or later will curate much less content than I have in the past 5 years.