“Is anybody out there?” Have you ever looked at your social media statistics and wondered if you’re all alone online? It may seem like your online community is active, but is it interactive?
The good news is that you’re not alone. Most of your colleagues have probably asked the same question. The bad news is that you’ll need to move beyond your comfort zone if you want to break away from the silent online majority.
Why Engagement Matters
There are two general perceptions of you as a professional: who you are and what you do. It’s easy to publish a list of what you do on a webpage. But you’ll earn support based on who you are as a person and a professional. (This explains the phenomenon of people who have less than flattering things to say about “lawyers”, but who love their “lawyer”.)
Most firms apply a hierarchical “command and control” approach to communication. Posting an announcement or pre-approved message on your website reduces the chance of misinterpretation and gives you full control of your credibility. It can also bore your audience.
Social media gives you the opportunity to efficiently engage with others, rather than speak at them. Tweets, retweets, mentions, comments, replies, likes, connections and posts indicate that a self-organized network of people have heard your message and care enough to react to it.
In any form of communication, you need to reciprocate and respond to build a reputation as a good listener. Otherwise, you’ll just be thought of as a good self-promoter. Which would you rather be known for?
8 Ideas to Boost Social Media Engagement
- Create a content strategy for your social media activity. Know the type of communication, comments and content best suited to each social media platform. Plan to develop a reputation for being consistent with respect to the topics you will comment on and the tone of your engagement.
- Collaborate and share the workload. Post a conversation, host a “twitter chat” or interview an expert outside your firm to convey helpful information (not to mention your access to credible resources).
- Support others. Reply to a tweet with your insight, comment on news posted by your LinkedIn connections or add your voice to a compelling blog post.
- Ask questions about broad issues relevant to your practice area. LinkedIn groups can be good for this. Although, to be honest, I’ve found that these groups aren’t used to their full potential because most members are passive.
- Schedule your activity. This will help you keep control of your schedule and reduce felt obligations to be immediately responsive and available. If you’re consistent, people will get used to seeing you online or looking for your comments at a certain time.
- Take a poll or survey your audience to research opinions on a certain idea that you have.
- Express your personality. If you spoke in the tone of your firm news announcements, your friends might be apt to walk away. Try to sound human. Tell people what you stand for. Let others know why you care about a particular cause or a local event you’re attending.
- Be open. This is sometimes the most difficult part of social media activity. Sharing your opinion online can feel like a huge risk to your privacy and your professional obligations; if your activities are consistently positive, informed and helpful you’ll be fine. At the very least, you’ll set yourself apart from those who come across as condescending know-it-alls. (This is true online and off!)
If you’re still skeptical about the value of engagement, consider that 77 % of internet users read blogs and companies with a blog see 97% more inbound links than those with “brochure style” websites. If you’re not part of the online conversation, your competition probably is.
- The Beginner’s Guide to Social Media Engagement – from Hootsuite, a company that specializes in social media strategy and software
- Using Social Media to Make Ideas Happen, from 99U