ImageCommunication has never been a one-way street, but past marketing methods have not been conducive to back and forth discussions. Social media marketing, on the other hand, thrives on interaction and engagement between a company and its customers.

The appropriate interaction makes people feel valued. It means their needs and desires have been acknowledged and that the company is actively working to fulfill them. Getting the conversational ball rolling, however, can be a challenge.

How can a business get fans and visitors to engage with a social media marketing effort? Start with these first 11 tips for increasing engagement on a new Facebook page:

  1. Welcome visitors.
  2. Ask a question about products or services.
  3. Ask fans about their business.
  4. Ask for help or crowd-source new product ideas.
  5. Ask an easy non-product related question.
  6. Answer a question from a customer.
  7. Respond quickly to comments from visitors and fans.
  8. Create a connection from Facebook to the outside world.
  9. Say “Thank You” publicly to active fans.
  10. Join Facebook groups/networks.
  11. “Like” other businesses on Facebook.

Fans return to where they feel welcome and where they are rewarded for being there. Engagement is increased by making it easy to engage in return. While there are people who feel comfortable writing a long response or carrying on a discussion, most prefer to keep things simple. So the business should as well. To see how well the social media marketing effort is working, determining the ratio of visitors that clicked “Like” or “Recommend” out of total visitors shows how effective the Facebook page has been.

Ease and convenience rule modern life, especially in social media marketing. To get answers, questions should be easy to respond to. If all it takes is a word or two, most people will take the time to participate. Rather than make the questions all about the product, though, the best social media marketing response will come from questions about a fan’s own business, about industry practices, and about improving a product or service to better fit a fan’s needs.

For all social media marketing, when a fan or visitor asks a question, the response should be as quick as possible, most effectively the same day. Using the email notification feature can ensure this. This means businesses will need staff dedicated to social media marketing efforts. Publicly telling fans “Thank you” means just as much as a quick answer. Showing appreciation goes a long way to cementing a relationship.

A spirit of generosity is also a very attractive part of social media marketing. When a business can
“like” another business, not only does that increase awareness of that other business, but reciprocity levels the same advantage back. This type of mutual admiration society also shows that the company is confident and comfortable with sharing attention.

As engagement grows, advocates will be found for the company through social media marketing as well as increased engagement between fans, helping to grow awareness across their networks. Joining networks and groups is another way of doing this. Plus, this level of engagement yields a trove of information about fans and visitors that can be mined to determine prominent industries using a particular product or service, what features are popular and which could be jettisoned, where improvements can be made and what new product or service could be successfully offered. This is one of the biggest strengths of social media marketing!