- “Name a fruit that starts with P”
- “Peanut butter or jelly?”
- “How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Pop?”
These are all fun questions I’ve seen asked on Facebook pages recently. The community managers who posted them were happy to receive many likes, shares and comments, and who wouldn’t want an active and engaged community?
Here’s the thing, though. If you had the ability to engage with your Facebook fans and learn what makes them tick, thereby helping you to better sell your product or service, why would you ask about fruit?
Engage with your community so it makes sense
We spend a lot of time talking about the importance of engaging so we can build a relationship with our community, but if we’re not learning anything from our conversations is it even worth the effort? There are ways to chat with fans and followers and gather important information in the process.
Through your social networking engagement you can learn:
- Important feedback
- Who your competitors are
- Why your community follows your brand online
- Ask about the different ways your community uses your products or service
- Share photos relating to your brand and ask your community to caption or create a short one paragraph story
- Ask for tips on using your product or service
- Ask for fails or horror stories relating to your brand
- Ask about uncommon uses for your products
- Ask for success stories
- Crowdsource ideas
Focus on quality over quantity
The reason we work so hard on our Facebook pages or Twitter engagement isn’t necessarily because we want to grow our community and have an engaged community. Of course those things are important. We set up these communities with specific goals in mind. Every brand has a different goal for their community but most do so to drive sales. There are also secondary goals including building trust, gathering demographic information, and creating an enthusiastic group of brand advocates who will share who awesome your brand and community is to their friends and family.
Too many brands have forgotten or don’t realize the goals for community engagement and just go for quantity. That is, they make it all about the numbers and go for Likes, Shares and Comments over quality interaction. If they have high numbers it looks good. The thing is, these numbers don’t necessarily help them in the long term. The key is to engage with your community in a way that makes sense.
Unless you sell fruit, forget all the questions about fruit
There are ways to provide fun and games for your online communities without having to resort to questions about fruit. When you think about it, the people who follow your brand online aren’t doing so because they want to answer funny questions. They’re doing so because they believe in the brand. They’re not dumb, either. They know you’re going to want to sell to them or gather information. They know someone will be reporting on the information gathered. So let’s stop pretending we’re growing our communities solely as a way to offer a fun place to hang out. As long as you’re not constantly going for the hard sell and being pushy with your pitches, it’s absolutely OK to talk about brand related topics with your online communities:
- If yours is a pasta brand encourage your community to share recipes and cooking tips
- If you sell automative paint, encourage your community to share photos of their cars
- If your sell pet supplies, Ask questions about your pet’s habits or the fun things your animals like to do
- If you provide a service such as consulting, as for tips in your particular niche
Not only are you staying on topic here, but you’re gathering important information about your community:
- What types of pasta your community likes to cook with or the recipes they enjoy help you focus on recipe creation as well as new products.
- Photos of cars will help you to determine which paints are best sellers and what secondary products your community might need when painting their cars.
- Knowing how your community feels about their pets helps you to determine which products to sell or offer discounts on.
- Learning tips from your community will help you to shape your online content for your blogs, websites and community posts, which in turn will help to sell your products.
Your community knows your intention and they’re willing participants or they wouldn’t be following you in the first place. There’s nothing wrong with the occasional off topic conversation, but for the most part engagement with the community should be productive.
Unless you work with fruit, don’t make it about fruit.
How are you engaging in ways that make sense?