Rules of social media engagement

At eClincher, we are obsessed with the day-to-day responsibilities of being a social media manager. Whether you’re with an agency managing activities for multiple clients, or you’re a specialist within a large enterprise, or you’re the proprietor of a small business, we are always putting ourselves in your shoes to understand what you need to get done and how you’re doing it. We talk with customers constantly to deepen this understanding plus we also manage our own social media presence.  

Social Media Management Inbox
Applying these learnings directly to our service is one of the reasons why eClincher is so distinctive. And one of our most unique areas of functionality is our unified social inbox for engagement. Instead of toggling between tabs and columns to see different social media channels’ messages, mentions, comments and so on, we bring them all together into one feed where you can efficiently assess what’s coming in, decide what to do about it, and take immediate action. This includes direct responses, making assignments to teammates, and marking items as being done. eClincher stands alone as a platform for effective social media engagement, and while building it, we’ve learned some great lessons about best practices — here are ten of them:

Monitor all Channels live
The front lines of social media include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest, Snap, Reddit and Quora. That’s a lot of fronts to cover, and your particular circumstance may present even more. There are all sorts of incoming fire: direct messages, comments on your posts, re-posts of you, linked mentions, unlinked mentions, misspelled mentions. Much of it may not be important or requires action on your part. But a single overlooked item could wind up being an enormous missed opportunity or a mushrooming crisis. Maybe it’s your dream customer with some follow-up questions posted in response to an interesting piece you put up on LinkedIn, or someone with many followers who twitters in order to complain about experiences with your business. It’s your responsibility to survey all of these channels in real time and quickly respond to what’s important. These engagement priorities of eClincher users have been the biggest factor in our delivering and advancing our unified social inbox. You can also use our software to monitor terms, even common misspellings of your identity, in order to make sure nothing falls between the cracks.

Have prepared Content
Responses are quickest when they’re already pretty much put together. We recommend keeping the most common and most important statements at the ready so they can be modified for the particular circumstance and then dispatched when a need arises. Methodologies can include a shared document, tagging effective responses to reference for future use (which you can do in our unified social inbox), or keeping a repository of drafts at the ready (which we also support in our software).

Address Points of Substance
Whatever is incoming, it is the result of some consideration and effort by the person providing it. Whether it’s praising or criticizing you, and whether you feel the contents are merited or off-base, you really do at least owe some consideration and effort in your response. Avoid mere platitudes and think about what’s been put forward. Consider the motivations and reply in kind. While you will want to steer a conversation towards your priorities and objectives of course, the best way to do that is with respect for what has been posited and why.

Show some Personality
In your reading up to here we’ve encouraged you to be substantial and respectful. But be yourself too! While particular considerations may be required to manage a particular relationship or solve some problem, your brand is never wholly removed from any interaction, and it’s particularly important if that interaction is visible to others in a social media network, like participation in a comment thread. If the explainer video on your homepage has jokes, be funny! If your blog posts include deep thoughts, be profound! Always embrace the tone and intention of the incoming content, but always also be true to yourself in your response.

Engage with others’ Social Media Presences
The engagement you earn is a major measure of your social media effectiveness. One way to earn it, is to recognize that this is a two-way street, and engage with others and their posts too. When you like someone’s content, click the button to signify that, or repost it along with your own statement of endorsement. When you’ve got something to say, provide a comment. Be especially considerate of those who engage with you, or with people whose engagement with your content you want to cultivate.

Defuse Controversy
There will be trolls. There will also be parties with legitimate gripes. And there will be people in your community who aren’t sure which is which. Putting yourself out there and engaging actively means dealing with what comes back at you without controlling it. Sometimes it will be negative. But you can influence the tone and show yourself as an honorable character. If you’re attacked, and it’s nasty, first get up from your chair and stroll around a bit to re-collect yourself. Then think about how to react. There are several options to consider. You might acknowledge some disagreement and objectively state your side. Be aware that this can come across as passive-aggressive, but you should avoid any impression of trying to escalate the exchange into a more bitter argument. You can also ask that the interaction be taken offline, or directly message the party yourself to try effecting that. The nuclear option is to block or mute. You might also just ignore the negative content, which can work perfectly fine when it’s sufficiently outrageous as it will basically discredit itself.

Be consistent
This is a good one to follow the defuse controversy one. The importance of consistency is especially highlighted by how you engage with those who approach you negatively or controversially. Consider an online insult that you choose to ignore, versus another where you engage in debate, and how those choices that you’ve made may come across to someone and what it reveals about you. It’s also important to be consistent in your other interactions, besides the complaints and insults. Consistency makes your own life simpler and also cues your communities about what to expect from you. If someone sees witty engagements by you, and messages you something funny, a joke is probably expected with your reply. Make sure there’s documentation of what your practices are to hold yourself true, and especially to make sure there’s team-wide understanding if your social media efforts are collaborative.

Integrate Social Media and other Systems
The natural department for social media might have clearly seemed marketing once, but it’s now relevant for everything including customer support, sales, recruiting, employee relations and investor relations. The social media specialists within a company are generally not going to be expert in every one of these areas, so it’s important to have effective channels of communication and collaboration with others. This includes integration with other key systems such as the CRM for driving sales or helpdesk applications used to organize support like eClincher steps up to with our Zendesk integration.

Get retrospective
There are a lot of social media networks, there are multiple kinds of engagements within each one, there are many topics and tones that arise in these conversations, and there may be a bunch of people involved in managing it all. Each specific interaction is a tactical exercise, so maintaining a solid and consistent strategic orientation can be challenging. Even if there’s a plan in place about what to say and how to say it, that plan may get outdated based on how themes and conversations evolve. For that reason it’s important to periodically unplug from live social media engagement,
at least for a few hours, and assess how things are going and where they could be improved. Consider your communication in the context of what’s more broadly going on with the organization. Revise and update relevant documents and get back to it.

Build an Army of Advocates
The network basis of social media presents a great opportunity to amplify engagement. Even if you’re just one person running things for your company or collaborating with a few teammates, there are all the rest of your colleagues, and all of the followers across your various social media channels and accounts. If you bring the right balance of energy, thought and friendliness to your social media engagement, it can build on itself by others citing your content and voicing your themes in their own engagements. Engagement is the blocking and tackling work of social media. It certainly gets tedious at times. We’re here to help with the eClincher unified social inbox. Use it to elevate your game, use these rules to guide your practice, and your effective engagement will surely reward your business over time.

Leave a comment