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10 Secrets to Fantastic Customer Engagement

The following post was an entry by one of our spectacular finalists in our Awesome Engagement Strategies Contest. Finalists showcased their ideas, and whoever got the most traction (i.e. comments and social shares) within five days of publication was crowned the winner. Check out this post for the complete list of Engagement Strategies Contest finalists!

Blogs and social media are designed to be… social.secret-engagement

When you see people posting their links in groups in Facebook or LinkedIn and never responding to comments or questions, you know what kind of people you’re dealing with. When you see comments on their blog go unanswered, are they committed to engagement?

I don’t think so.

So what’s the secret to online engagement? It comes with changing your perspective from just thinking about you, to thinking about what would delight other people. When you understand what most people want out of their online experience and help them get it, then you’re well on your way to generating goodwill and improving your overall level of engagement online.

10 Ways To Achieve Fantastic Customer Engagement Online

Here are some ways to achieve better online engagement. As you read the list, think about what other ways we can creatively generate more engagement and let me know about them in the comments!

1) Invite comments on your posts and respond to them

We’re starting basic. Ask people to respond to your posts, to give examples based on their experience and yes, sometimes ask them to share links. Of course, when they leave a comment, make sure to respond back to each and every one (except the spammers whose comments should be deleted).

2) Go to your best sharers’ or “commenters’ blogs and do them a favor!

Only a small percentage of readers actually leave a comment. Why don’t you go to the blogs of people who are in your community and comment on one of their posts and share it in Twitter or Facebook. Don’t forget to mention them when you do (so they’ll know that you shared it).

3) Proactively share, re-tweet, like or leave a comment on their social media post

Find members of your community, influencers in your industry, and companies that relate to your product or service. Proactively share, re-tweet, like or comment. Do this on a regular basis – those who start to get shared by you on a regular basis will notice and you’ll build up a lot of good will.

4) Expand your connections from one-dimensional to multi-dimensional

Pick certain members of your community, influencers in your industry or companies. Connect with them across social media platforms. You can go even deeper by even joining groups that they’re part of. For example, on LinkedIn, you can see most of the groups that any individual is a member of by looking at the bottom of their profile. Pick one or more of the groups that looks interesting and join it as well.

By connecting across platforms, you’ll really get a sense of that person and will have the opportunity to deepen your relationship with them.

5) Don’t always just be a seller

People in your community have products that they’re selling. They also have groups that they’re trying to build or charities they’re trying to support. Consider becoming their customer, or become a champion for their group or favorite charity.

6) Provide engagement vehicles

Consider starting a Facebook, Twitter Chat or LinkedIn group (like my Small Business Marketing Forum) to bring the conversation to a new forum. This way it’s not restricted to the comments below your posts or sporadic conversations in social media. If you start a group, make sure you promote it properly and that you seed it with interesting content and discussions at first to get it rolling along.

7) Invite your biggest fans to write for you

Giving people in your audience a platform for their writing by inviting them to guest post is a powerful way to reward your readers and to deepen your connection with them. Another option is to interview one of them or have them interview you.

8) Create multiple ways for readers to consume your content

Beyond your blog, consider producing some audio content so they can consume it while they drive, work out or exercise (and you know Mirasee can teach you how to create a podcast!). Or package some of your most valuable content into an ebook format or create a video or a presentation on Slideshare. The more ways people can discover and consume your content, the bigger audience you’ll attract and the better they’ll know you.

9) Invite certain people to connect with you “offline”

If you know you have some local people in your audience, consider having a small get together. For others, you can consider getting on the phone or on Skype with some of them. Another option is to provide a way (like Speakpipe) for them to leave you questions that you can answer in your blog or on a podcast.

10) Encourage them to join your mailing list

Getting people on your list provides you with a powerful way to connect with them and invite them to events or just to communicate with you about specific topics.

Remember that “social” and “engagement” means it’s not just about you! Turn the tables and delight someone else with creative customer engagement strategies.

Which engagement strategies are your favorites?

Which of the strategies above are your favorites. Or which ones do you use that I didn’t mention above? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments and if you like this, I’d be “delighted” if you’d share it in Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn!

Tom Treanor (@RtMixMktg) blogs at Right Mix Marketing and helps people improve their content creation with his Fast, Easy Blogging Course.

About Carmelo Bryan

Carmelo Bryan (@CarmeloBryan) is the founder of Critter Wisdom and author of the soon to be published "Guru Addiction Syndrome - Regaining Control of Your Life as an Achiever." His goal is to help struggling entrepreneurs find their truth and passions. Go meet him now!

60 thoughts on “10 Secrets to Fantastic Customer Engagement

  1. You’ll see lots of good things (includes true engagement) happen when you’ll help others to achieve their goals with out asking anything in return.

    Key here is “genuine help”.

  2. Great post.

    This is an awesome CHECKLIST that anyone can use to create activity on your blog posts, FB posts and tweets.

    I especially like your suggestion to invite people to meet with you offline. If you have 2,000 plus subscribers, you are bound to have a lot of local people on your list. Invite them to a networking lunch to get to know them. They will become some of your biggest supporters.

    Great advice.

    • Thanks David. That’s a great suggestion for how people can connect with their audience. In fact, when Danny visited San Francisco, I was one of the people who joined up with him over dinner (he invited bay area people to join him). I’m definitely part of his engaged audience!

      Also, I’m here at the New Media Expo and I’m actively connecting with other bloggers who are also readers of mine (and vice versa). Conferences are another great opportunity to build your audience or connect with your existing readers.

      • I just returned from NMX and I underscore your advice. Personal contact takes engagement to a whole new level. Sometimes we can get caught up in believing that comments (such as this, ha!) and online interaction are sufficient. They certainly are a great start, but to really get connected there’s nothing that can replace personal touch.

  3. Great post, Tom. I especially like the tip to invite people to connect with you offline. The reason is that so few people do that, so it would really help you to stand out among other bloggers.

    • Thanks Rebecca. A phone call, skype conversation, email exchange or live meeting is a great way to deepen that bond and move it from a casual blog-related relationship to a true relationship. Thanks for your comment!

    • Hi Ryan,

      Building the foundation of trust first will help with selling later. It’s hard to feel much warmth for people who are always pitching you. Thanks for stopping by!

  4. I personally have a big preference for email. I believe that anyone who likes my content enough to subscribe to my mailing list deserves the very best of my time. One thing I do with emails is ensure that I respond as soon as it comes in (but NOT later than 24 hours). People feel valued when you respond to them on time.

    Another thing I find very effective is taking your time to answer their questions (NOT just some template to “fulfill all righteousness” of engagement). In fact, spend so much time giving an extensive answer. You can then make it a post for the rest of your subscribers. This makes that subscriber (who asked the question) feel highly valued.

    • Hi Chimezirim,

      Those are some great suggestions. I like the idea of responding to people right away in email and leveraging your effort by creating posts based on user questions (and making them feel valued). Thanks for adding to the list!

  5. Tip #2 would have to be my favorite on this post. It makes perfect sense in the grand scheme of things because you are stepping outside of yourself and essentially coming into someones home by visiting their website. If you are all about yourself, it quickly kills future relationship building, and who knows what kind of people you will meet just by interacting on your commenters websites. It’s a matter of creating your own social spider web, and with the changes that rocked the internet landscape last year, if you are not prioritizing relationship building, you are setting yourself up for a lot of grief in the near future.

    • Ryan – agreed. To build relationships it should no longer be all about you (your blog, your list, your social media). Making the effort to engage on your commenters’ (or social media connections’) websites is a great way to deepen that relationship. Thanks for joining the discussion here!

  6. I definitely think that my favorite engagement strategy will be Audio, something like a podcast. I say will be because although I havent done this already, my goal is get a podcast going on my blog this year. Talking and discussing different ideas, masterminding and sharing different perspectives when it comes to internet business, the economy and finance are things that I absolutely love doing and have a passion for.

    I cant wait to get this done. Thanks for sharing your perspective on the engagement strategies above.

    • Hector,

      Yes, audio brings it to a whole new level. I’ve done podcasts as well as audio interviews posted on my site and it is a great way to give people a deeper understanding of you and to allow you to connect with someone else (if you do an interview). Good luck getting your podcast launched!

      • Agreed Cassie. Whenever I take a longer drive I load up 2 or 3 of my favorite podcasts. Great education for the road and nothing connects you to someone else like that. I even bought a headphone splitter so my wife can listen when we take the 6 hour drive to LA.

  7. Hi Tom, Happy New Year, great article. I like all your suggestions, particularly the one about multi-dimensional social interaction. Getting noticed in a “non salesy” way is quite hard these days, and especially with key influencers in your field, but done in the right way is possible.

    Also, like the offline suggestion. We run a couple of networking meetings and encourage people to come to those as well as joining our lists and engaging online.

    And, of course, consistency is key for all these strategies too. Thanks!

    • Hi Cassie. One thought about making non-salesy connections. I’m at the New Media Expo, but this tactic could be applied at any industry convention. Before the event, I had made some light connections with key influencers in my industry via social media – many in an opportunistic way (e.g. they created some great content so I left a detailed comment or shared it in social media and mentioned them). In other cases I had a connection by having been part of their program or having written about them.

      At the event, I then introduced myself and either commented about something they’re working on (e.g. feedback on their software, compliment on their presentation, etc.). This led to having coffee with one, lunch with several others and dinner with a couple more. By bridging the social media connection to the in-person one, I was able to make some great new connections in my niche and it wasn’t strictly business.

      I totally agree with you about consistency – it’s the king/ queen in my book!

  8. Regarding Point #1 – Invite comments on your posts and respond to them.

    I comment on popular blogs where the blog owner or guest blogger responds to a few comments. I’ve observed over a course of five years how they pick and choose which comments to respond to, which makes commenting subjective. If the blog owner/guest blogger like a comment, they respond. If not, they don’t. I agree that spammers could be deleted, but when people leave comments on your blog posts, say, “Thank you,” even if you have to use an auto responder (don’t use it all of the time.)

    Regarding Point #3 – Proactively share, re-tweet, like or leave a comment on their social media post.

    If you do this there’s no guarantee that those same people you’re tweeting, liking, stumbling, etc. will reciprocate and do the same for you. That’s just how it is.

    Building up goodwill is fine, but you must have other strategies in place if you want to build your online presence and engage with readers.

    1. Network offline by attending networking groups.

    2. Volunteer to speak to a group in your area who would benefit from your book or eBook; give away free copies.

    3. Ask your librarian or manager of your local bookstore (if you have one) if you could offer a class on your topic. Again, give away free copies of your book or eBook. Bring business cards and hand them out. Include your website on your business card.

    4. Teach a class at your local adult education or recreation center. Again, give away copies of your book or eBook. Bring business cards and hand them out. Include your website on your business card.

    Add these and other strategies to your current engagement strategy and start building your community and platform today.

    • Amandah,

      Great points. I think rolling out the local networking and speaking strategy is a great addition – especially for people with plenty of potential local clients. Thank you so much for your detailed comment. And I agree with you that trying to respond to every comment is important. Obviously it can become impossible at certain levels but most of us can manage what comes in!

  9. I like surprising people, popping up with a “ta-da” moment and a prize to go with it. I recently rewarded my thousand-and-somethingth visitor by asking her to guest post. Jazzed her, and drove both our stats up. I am thinking about starting a “best comment of the week” award. The trick, as I have learned from raising six kids, is not to announce these things in advance, but just to do them. Makes folks choke on their coffee and start paying more attention.

    • Katharine, your comment was a great value add for me. I think “surprise and delight” people is a strategy that perfectly aligns the “give genuine help” principle (see Rana’s comment above) with a more tactical marketing strategy! Added to my to do list. Best, Taylor

    • Katharine – I almost choked on my english muffin when I read this! 🙂 I love it. Nothing beats the element of surprise and also most people love getting some sort of recognition or special opportunity. Another great addition to the list!

  10. Great post with some good ideas. I find that if I post on Facebook asking for fans opinion those posts are much more popular. People love being asked their opinion! I also make sure that EVERY fan’s comment on my fb page is replied to – not necessarily the ones under a post of mine but ones that a fan initiates. It’s important that they feel you are reading what they write. I also provide an email address for fans to ask ‘private’ questions they dont’ want too share with the world and have an auto-reply letting them know I appreciate their question and will respond as soon as I can – which I then do within several hours usually.

    • Lisa,

      Great point about asking people’s opinions and making sure every comment is addressed on FB. Like you, I like to provide people with a way to reach out to me and I respond to everyone who emails me (barring an oversight). Thanks for adding to the conversation here!

  11. Tom, Excellent post. You have crystallized the motto of a networking organization called ‘BNI’ “givers gain”. Most of the online business world works under the false assumption that they can be detached from their audience and still build a successful business. Not true. I love your 8th point “Create multiple ways for readers to consume your content”.

    Best Wishes

    • Ravi,

      Great point! Yes, “givers gain” and takers get unsubscribes! It’s an investment and takes some faith at first but I think this is the secret to both online and offline business success. Thank you for dropping by!

  12. Great list and I have used all of them. We even formed a group on Facebook whose purpose was to support and share each others blogs. Most were prose blogs but we did get a few videos. As a result of the group, several of us became colleagues and have worked on joint projects and done blogs for each other. A couple of us have written blog posts for each other and most importantly we learned from each other. It was a huge commitment but one thing I have learned about blogging and online business is it takes commitment, focus and activity.
    Thanks for the great list which I will share with my followers and clients Tom

    • Roberta – that community and support group is so key. Thank you for underlining that and for providing specific examples. I appreciate you adding the the conversation here and for sharing!

  13. I regularly use #’s 1, 3 and 10. I especially think that 1 and 3 are important because it creates good will with my potential clients (#1) and with other businesses in my community (#3). For 2013, I have also started #6 by setting up a group and leading a 365 Art Project. The prompts for the art are posted on my blog and the resulting work by my readers is posted in the Flickr group. It’s already starting to work and I get a lot more comments and emails than I used to. My next step is to implement #7 by having some guest posts on my blog by other bloggers I know. Thanks for the great tips…I need to figure out how to implement ALL of these!

    • Cindy – I love it! There are some gems here amongst the comments as well so take a look and see if those things need to get added to the task list. Thanks for your comment!

  14. Awesome tips! I follow many of these already, but especially like #8. I have never thought about compiling my “information” into an ebook or other format to share with readers and aspiring writers. I will definitely be looking into this possibility in the near future. Thank you for sharing!

  15. Hi Tom,

    Thanks for responding. 🙂

    I completely understand that it can become impossible to respond to comments when you’re at a certain level. I guess this is where an auto responder could be useful.

    • Hi Amandah – yes, that’s true and no problem. Most of us don’t have to worry about not being able to respond yet but someday we’ll be so overloaded with comments and requests that we can’t! Thanks for coming back to comment!

  16. One thing I noticed on Facebook fansites when they started taking off is that the owners of most of those pages never responded to questions or comments. I know people are busy but if you have less than a million fans, you have time to respond! Otherwise, what’s the point in even bothering with a page?

    That is why, when I started my Facebook page, I made it a point to respond to all comments on my posts, even if only with a “like.” I also answer all messages and invite suggestions and submissions for future posts. The interaction is the best part.

    Thank you for the reminder and the additional tips on how to make communication a two-way street. I think so many businesses do themselves a disservice by not investing more time and effort into responding to their constituents. It reminds me of something I learned as a child: You were given two ears and only one mouth so you can listen twice as much as you talk!

    • Kimberly – I totally agree. Many businesses don’t respond to comments on their page or messages sent directly to them via the page. In fact, some of them spend more time deleting comments they don’t like than they do engaging with the people trying to interact.

      I like the two ears, one mouth analogy but that might encourage the lurking by business owners that I see. They need to talk back so we need to figure out the right analogy for two-way dialogue!

      Thanks for pushing the conversation forward.

  17. These are excellent, Tom. They demonstrate just how different the online world is from traditional marketing and “doing business.” If we just put things out there and run off and hide, we’re just advertising.

  18. Excellent, as always, Tom. And true to form, you’ve introduced me to a new tool, Speakpipe. Thanks for that. Hard to pick my favorite tip of the 10. As David Frey, says, it’s a great checklist for bloggers!

  19. Great post. I’ve been singing this tune for a while now. Some people are only good at receiving and never giving. Try and give more to relationships to build currency to receive without asking.

    Social is about interaction which means it’s a give and take relationship.

  20. Liked this Tom.

    Me? I answer emails. The ‘delight’ comes when I get a reply saying ‘I didn’t think anyone would answer?’ Mmm, Interesting. Great tips Tom, thank you. Dawn x

    • Dawn – agreed. I try to answer all of the emails from my list (even the occasional complaint). I think people really appreciate a real response. And I appreciate your comment!

  21. Thanks for the straight-forward tips here Tom! I am a huge proponent of responding to comments. I also try to share and comment often myself on the blogs of others (a “pay it forward” type of thing!). Whenever anyone comments on one of my posts and mentions they also have a blog, I always ask them to provide a link. Then I am sure to visit it and comment on one of their posts. I think it is the follow through on something like this that is key.

    Thanks again for your thoughts!

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