There’s a lot of talk today about ‘social media engagement.’ However, our engagement often ends up one-sided, as we focus more on our outgoing brand messages than on building connections and community with others.
I’m guilty of this myself. I don’t comment on other blogs as much as I should. I don’t retweet others as often as I’d like. People give me +K in Klout and I sometimes forget to return favor. Before this turns into a full-on Lutheran confession of social sins (hey, it’s what I know) what if we instead focused on social participation — ensuring that our social media work is focused on service to others. As Michael Stelzner advises in Launch, “as you lift people up they will lift you up.”
Setting a consistent schedule is a sound strategy for improving habits in everything from exercising to blogging. To help you set a participation schedule, here’s a framework you can use and adapt to keep your social media marketing focused on building others up.
Consistently Comment on Other Blogs
Daily commenting on other blogs would be ideal but something regular such as a few times a week will help you build regular commenting habits. It’s also critical to make sure you comment back when someone replies to your comment on someone else’s blog. Keep the conversation moving. Commenting systems like Disqus and Livefyre make it easy to follow comment conversations.
Chris Brogan gives us a good target to aim for by advising a 12:1 Twitter signal-to-noise ratio. Basically you should be tweeting others’ content and news 12 times for every one of your posts or brand messages. The great thing about this being expressed as a ratio is that you can apply this rule regardless of your overall tweet volume (determining that would be a whole series of posts).
Connect the Comment/Retweet Dots
This is a simple trick but it can also help you build good participation habits. If you find a post that’s good enough to retweet take an extra second and leave a comment. Conversely, after you comment, tweet about the comment you left. Again, this is an easy button-click in a tool like Livefyre, my commenting system of choice. This helps get the post author’s attention and also serves as comment kindling on the post — something all bloggers want.
Like & Share Other Pages on Facebook
One of the best new Facebook Page features is that you can now ‘use Facebook as your Page’ (toggle this feature on and off via the upper-right sidebar on your Page). From here you can ‘Like’ other similar brand pages from important voices in your industry as your Page. This not only connects your brand to their brand but it also gives you a new source of content to share. Each time you update your brand Page (you should have a schedule here, too) take a moment and use Facebook as your Page, check your newsfeed, and share relevant updates from other brands you’re connected with, thus building them up with additional exposure to your network.
Give Others +K on Klout
Find time each week to dole out some Klout perks of your own. Giving regular +K (the site’s measure of a user’s online clout) not only helps others out by nudging up their social influence but it also connects you and creates a micro-interaction for you to share with your +K recipient when you retweet or share it on Facebook and Twitter. Again, connecting those dots.
Get Lost in Google+
As the newest kid on the social block, Google+ is very much a work in progress and a moving target. However, at least for personal brands, the one thing you can already do is converse. Many are using Google+ as a platform for longer-form conversations that can have very deep and personal impact. If applicable, set aside time to answer others’ questions and comment on their shares. And keep your eyes peeled for future brand participation opportunities as well.
Photos Need Comments, Too
Many of us lean heavily on Flickr’s Creative Commons photo library for blog post images. An easy habit to start is simply leaving a comment on the photo’s page and even a link back to your post if it’s tastefully done.
To build a strong fire you need good kindling. In social media marketing, participation in and sharing others’ content can be your fire starters. In social media — like life — you get what you give. To make sure you stay committed to building others up, try setting a social media participation schedule for your brand.
Do You Have a Set Participation Schedule?
If so, please share it in the comments below. In the interest of building up others (read: me!), of course.