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Here are a few simple and straight forward recommendations for engaging consumers via your various social media channels:

Create a profile for a designated online social ‘manager’. 50% of online branded social communities/pages do not have an active ‘manager’. There is no one to represent the face of the brand. This is a missed opportunity to ‘humanize’ your brand and/or products and services. People are more considerate when they know they’re communicating with a ‘real’ person and not the austere ‘corporate’ image. Give your online brand manger a face!

Send a welcome message to all of your new followers! Make them feel appreciated and also orientate them to the key benefits of your community/page/brand. This will ensure a return visit. Only 50% of online communities/pages do this.

alice-floLess than 20% have a brand advocates program. “Micro-fame” is a one of the key drivers behind sustained participation. Recognizing ‘key influencers’ is essential as these deeply engaged members represent the voice of the customer and possess a deep affinity for the brand. ‘Key Influencers’ will actively recruit others, accelerate engagement and are typically prolific contributors. Recognize and reward these important brand advocates!

Fewer than 40 percent of communities have a rewards and recognition program. Why not reward followers for their participation, whether it’s a $5 gift card to Starbucks or new Porsche 911 GT3. This can be formalized into a points system, or it could be random. It doesn’t even have to be monetary. Establish a points system with cool badges. We can all be micro-famous! Think “Foursquare”. For businesses who do not offer Foursquare incentives other than being the “Mayor” or getting a cool badge…what real value is there in Foursquare check-ins?

About 60% of brands have integrated the Facebook “Like” button as well as a “share” button that allows users to more easily promote your content to their friends. This helps attract new members as well as syndicates your rich content throughout the web.

Consistency matters. Sporadic posts and updates do not encourage other members to contribute. Make time to engage with your Fans and Followers on a regular basis. Answer all inquiries. The “Face” of your social presence must be accessible and approachable for maximum engagement.

Polling your Fans and Followers can yield greater engagement if it is relevant to your brand, or if it just plain strikes a chord. One of the best off-topic strings I ever saw was post that asked “Did your parent’s make you take piano lessons and did they make you happier?” Be a conversation starter!

Witty comments on the news of the day will always get a little attention, as long as the viewpoint it might express will appeal to your members. Topical is fine, as long as it does not offend or alienate anyone.

Along the same line as topical, expressing some good vibrations is a wonder to behold, and will have members “liking” your comment almost instantly. So, say something positive! The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, the children are singing! Try and inject a little positivity in everything you do and say! Your warmth will attract and encourage others.

Comment on the status of others! Show your support and commitment to engaging with them. It can be as simple as: “Hey! Thanks for posting! That was really cool!” Connect with other HUMAN beings and show your eagerness to be a part of the conversation.

Sincere expressions of support for a worthy charitable cause will always be viewed as a positive. Support a worthy cause, not because it makes you look good, but because it’s the right thing to do. Good things come back to you! (If you’re looking for a great cause, please check out:

The most influential content you have in your arsenal is the reviews and ratings from real customers. It is perfectly acceptable for you to post excerpts and links to customer reviews, as the vast majority of customers want to hear about the experiences of others.

Share Your Valuable Expertise: Answer questions, make problem-solving recommendations, write content laden articles. You are the expert and the authority! Take it to a new level by creating podcasts and “How To” videos. Be generous with your knowledge and you will find that others are most willing to reciprocate.

Turn your employees into ROCK STARS! Your employees are the greatest asset you have! Talk about why and how they’re great at their jobs! Talk about what it is that they do. Post pictures of employees, your office building, your equipment, the view from the roof of your building. Put a face and place in your posts!

Take it offline! Only 20% of brands do this. Throw a party for your fans & followers, invite them to kibitz and have a good time. Make yourself accessible, have face to face conversations with your customers, fans and followers. Personal relationships are what make a difference! This will grow your reputation and your business in ways that you could have never anticipated! This is truly an opportunity to create lifelong brand evangelists!

“Y’all come back now, ya’ hear!”

Thomas DiSanto

Thomas DiSanto is the CEO of Drive Customers, a Rhode Island based Digital Marketing Agency. He has more than 20+ years experience in creating and managing search engine marketing and enterprise level SEO programs. Call (855) 540-3300 today to learn why so many companies trust him.