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Beyond the Click: Next Level Engagement for Your Fans

By Sara McGuyer • May 17th, 2010 • Category: Analysis, Strategy & Planning

Recently I’ve read a few posts about converting social media fans or followers into something more. The question came up again at the latest Indy Social Media Breakfast featuring a panel of speakers in the cultural attractions and tourism industry. How do you move someone from being a follower or fan and get them to actually do something?

At first I was surprised by the question, “What next?” because this isn’t rocket science, it’s just human relationships. Why do people have trouble bridging interaction that takes place on the web into in person, real life stuff? If you are asking this same question, you are definitely not alone. There are things you can do to move people beyond the click and really engage them.


Have a goal.
If your question is really how do we get our fans to do something, your time is best spent figuring exactly what it is you want. Create small measurable goals: more subscribers to your enewsletter, increased sales of x product, more referrals from one customer to another.

Give it some time.
Let relationships develop over time. A hard quick sell via social media is a turn off for most. If you’re sharing what you do because you love it, people will take note.  Someone might not be on the market for your product or service right now, but if you’ve posted intriguing content, they’ll remember you when they are ready to buy.

Ask people to share.
At a basic level, this helps gain additional exposure through word of mouth for your business. A further benefit is that the people that are willing to retweet or repost your content are good prospects. Maybe they haven’t done business with you yet, but future business is probably more likely with them than a passive follower with whom you’ve had zero interaction.

Nurture the activists.
Feed them content to react to. This could be behind the scenes pictures of what you’re doing, interesting details about the history of your business or an exclusive look into what’s on the horizon. In addition, if someone has written a blog post, created a video or posted photos that feature your product or organization, thank them and share their content with others. A fan’s content might be more effective than what you can create on your own. Certainly, if you or your staff recognize someone as a repeat customer, let them know you’ve noticed.

Create a reason for them to come to you.
Whether your shop is a website or bricks and mortar location, offer a little something extra to move people to come visit you. Mention a special deal or discount that is only listed in social media or host an event.
The important thing to remember is that your fans have self-selected into friending your business. You can deepen that relationship by offering them avenues to interact with you and other fans. Get creative and go for it.

These are just a few ideas to get started. My hope is more to spark thought about what is possible versus providing a concrete plan to work from. Please share if you have other ideas (or past successes) in how to move people beyond the click.

If you’re interested in more information, these posts are worth a look.
HOW TO: Turn Slacktivists into Activists with Social Media by Geoff Livingston
Closing the Loop Between Social Media and Offline Action by Beth Kanter
Both are written with causes in mind, but the lessons certainly apply to any business.

Image Credit: Darwin Bell

Sara McGuyer is an account strategist with Wise Elephant and marketing director/board member for the Indianapolis International Film Festival. Find her on twitter http://twitter.com/sara_mc
Email this author | All posts by Sara McGuyer

4 Responses »

  1. Great post Sara. I think the second point is the best. If you push it wont happen. If you are worried about getting your followers and or fans to get offline and do, dont be. Present them opportunities to engage and interact with you. Engage and interact with the people that show up. Let them generate more engagement and interaction the next time, product launch or contest. If you have 1,000 likers on Facebook and only 20 show up to an event, thats ok. Make those 20 feel like VIP’s (because they are) and let them spread the word about you, your product or the event. Forcing a bunch of people who liked your page who may not even care or know about the event wont get you any traction.

  2. Hi Chris, Thanks for your comment. I love the idea of treating those 20 people as VIPs. It’s a great point: make it about quality, not quantity.

  3. I’ve been thinking about this kind of stuff too. In 2010 every web interaction seems to be based around clicks and engagements.

    But lately my thoughts have gone into the distinction between ‘hard’ marketing and ’soft’ marketing. Soft is how the message makes you feel or social engagement and hard is how the message motivates you into the next level, or commercial engagement.

    You have eloquently outlined the value of knowing where that fine line is between the two.

    To me, there is a level of overt commercial messaging that any engagement will tolerate, even if it is to be so close to zero that it seems completely intolerant. I like to nurture those types of friends in the real world but I’m probably not doing them any favors if I neglect to remind them that a commercial engagement is the next logical step.

    Social media is primarily a giveaway and best categorized as soft marketing. My final point is that you should know your audience and gradually find their tolerance of your business goals, to facilitate those clicks to cash for you or your client.

  4. PJ, I like your thinking about soft and hard marketing. How a business adds feeling to their messaging is really the magic sauce of branding and relationship building, isn’t it? But in the end, there has to be a clear path to action if you’re looking for people to subscribe or buy into something. Finding that balance is key. Thanks for stopping by with your thoughts!

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