Brand engagement is vital for gaining and retaining customers, and a strategy can be a tricky thing to craft. However, a look at how the sports world has successfully used social media to engage and energize fans can give you a few ideas about how to drive engagement in a way that will truly grow your online presence.
Make Fans a Part of the Conversation
Being a part of the online conversation is essential for today's brands, as more and more consumers expect to have instant access to companies via Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms. However, it's not enough just to post the occasional update or response to a comment or message. Marketing Land columnist Sanjay Dholakia has observed how thoughtful, deliberate interaction has helped sports teams develop brand loyalty and increase fan attention. You can emulate this by posting regular updates, as well as links to content and interactivity invitations (for polls and contests) that will help followers feel like a part of the community.
Hold Onto Fans With Positive Interactions
Making your brand accessible to fans is a great way to get started, but simply being on the other end of the conversation isn't enough. Fans need to feel like they are making a positive contribution when engaging with your brand, even if they are upset or unhappy with something.
Fans might get frustrated when their favorite team goes through a rough patch, but if that team engages with fans positively and acknowledges the current issues, it will have a better chance of holding onto supporters during that difficult period. Likewise, if consumers are having issues with your brand, simply engaging them positively — by responding to questions, "liking" comments and highlighting specific users who are contributing to the conversation — can help make interactions more rewarding and meaningful.
Take It to the Next Level
While engaging fans often (and in as positive a way as possible) is a great way to grow your base, the ultimate goal is to convert every casual fan or interested person who drops by your brand's profile into a super-fan who looks forward to commenting, liking and most importantly, sharing. That may seem like a daunting task, but the sports world, again, proves to be a great example. By offering social media followers the opportunity to take advantage of special fans-only deals and creating easily shareable graphics that help fans show their pride, sports teams have been able to transform how fans connect with them — converting casual fans who might attend a single game into diehard season ticket-holders with an interest in league merchandise and more.
Similarly, you can give followers "insider access," offering exclusive deals, coupons and even previews of upcoming products or services. Another way to reward social media fans is by allowing them to "unlock" something (an announcement, special deal or exclusive video, for example) after a particular post gets a certain number of comments, likes or retweets.
Though there's no one-size-fits-all approach to engagement, the world of sports offers marketers a valuable case study that they can build on to craft a brand engagement strategy of their own.