How to improve online engagement with customers

The dream for every small business is to have loyal followings who will spread the word about their products/services. You want customers who are invested in your small business on social media and not just click “Like” on your posts. Here are some ideas to improve engagement with your customers online.

Remember that engagement is more important than reach. Your aim should not be to have millions of followers on social media (although that would be nice, too). It may look great for your small business when you have heaps of followers, but it won’t help you if they’re not engaging with you or other potential customers.

Give them something of value

Everyone likes free stuff, especially when it’s useful free stuff. But we also know that it’s not really good for your small business if you just keep giving things away. Brainstorm ideas on what you can realistically give out without affecting your bottomline. It can be sample products, first dibs on something new, maybe even an ebook outlining information useful to your customers. What about a recipe book if you’re in the food service industry? It can even be a free consult or a discount voucher for referrals. Whatever it is, your customers will appreciate it.

Provide good answers to their questions

Always remember that you are a subject matter expert, even if sometimes you don’t believe it to be true. You know your small business inside and out. You know your industry. You make it a point to stay updated on what affects your industry. You have plenty of helpful information you can provide to your potential customers and current customers. Be open about it on your social media platforms – let them know they can ask you questions about your small business or your industry. Answer them in a timely manner, too. Answering them makes you look approachable and humanises your brand. At the same time, the answer might help others who want to know the same info and they will share your posts to them. Win win!

Answer with care

While it is good to have open communication on social media, you also need to be careful. As we all know, it’s easier to whip out angry messages while behind the keyboard. You may not be able to control the tone of the messages, but you can control yours. Always be professional — all the time, even with unhappy or angry customers. Don’t engage, don’t fight and don’t top rudeness with rudeness. Take the conversation on a private channel if need be. This is just another part of running a small business in the digital age.

Lastly, user-generated content (UGC) is your friend. When a customer tags you, showing others just how much they love your product/service, repost it on your social media platform and tag them back. Thank them for spreading the love. This is one of the best avenues to create a community around your small business brand.

Brenda Gaddi, Digital Marketing Specialist, 3C Digital

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