Engage your audience: Dos and Don'ts for brands using social media

Source: stock.xchng

I love words. The dictionary is a constant companion. Even when I know a word's meaning, I'll look it up to help me form the thought I need to express. Often as I'm reading, certain words or concepts will jump out at me and trigger a response.

Today I found a common theme running through several posts. Let's go on a short blog tour:

The first post I read was by C.C. Chapman, who had some free (though very valuable) advice for a company that targeted him in a campaign. The implementation wasn't well thought out and was even insulting to the very audience that was targeted. Chris Brogan followed up with a tour of groceries tweeting examples of company accounts - the good, the bad, the ugly. Between these two posts I was shaking my head. From abandoned to spammy to RSS-feed-like to well-managed twitter accounts all in two posts. It was enough to make my brain spin.

Later, with thoughts of broadcast vs. engagement me floating through my head, I read this post from Mitch Joel and the three posts all came together for me.

The words that came to mind over and over today were:

  • Broadcast: to make something known widely; disseminate something (Dictionary.com). Synonyms - advertise, announce, annunciate, blare, blazon, circulate, communicate, declare, disseminate, distribute, proclaim, promulgate, publish, report, sow, spread, strew, troll (Thesaurus.com), and

  • Engage: to attract and hold fast/to attract and please (Dictionary.com) Synonyms - captivate, concern, consume, employ, engage, engross, fascinate, fill, hold, immerse, involve, monopolize, obsess, preoccupy, rivet (Thesaurus.com).

I look at the definitions/synonyms and engage is infinitely more appealing. But there's an epidemic lack of understanding on how to engage as a brand. Brands are big companies who have products or services to sell. Many of them are stuck in the old broadcast mindset of being cut off from their customers, constantly having a one-way conversation.

So how do they change their mindset and engage?

  1. Stop thinking like a company and start thinking like humans.

  2. Stop trying to reach the masses and start connecting with individuals.

  3. Stop promoting your product and start to interact with the people who (may) use it.

The Bottom Line: BE REAL!
Will this take more time? Absolutely.
Will it be worth it? Yes, if it's done well.

The truth is, people will be interested in brands that engage them while the ones who are broadcasting will continue to fly by unnoticed in their timeline/newsfeed.

What are some examples of brands that are doing a good job using social media?