Social media engagement tip: sincerity is crucial

Posted by Matt Hayden on Sunday, September 25, 2016
Perhaps the main buzzword in social media marketing is engagement. And there's a very good reason for this. If you don't have it, you've got next to nothing. You're just floating there in space, basically ... 

But what's the best way to build engagement? Well, some self-described gurus tell you exactly how to do it, often laying out specific plans and strategies. They will even offer "sure fire" templates to follow. 

I'm sure these can be useful to many -- particularly if they are new to social media. But if you follow them too closely then you'll just be mimicking someone else. And the people you engage with will pick that up. 

Here's an example: I spend a lot of time on Twitter. I'll often get mentions from people I follow (and who follow back) along the lines of "How's your week been?". Now this isn't spam. But it strikes me as a bit naff; a one-size-fits-all conversation starter. Whenever I get these mentions now I look at their streams and more often than not they're asking a whole bunch of people this.

And I just don't feel like replying because they're clearly not doing it out of sincere interest. In all likelihood they're following some marketing playbook.

I'm much more likely to respond to replies that reference something I've shared. Recently, for instance, I tweeted several photos of Cremorne and Mosman because I was distributing flyers there. A bloke I connected with when I was in Perth liked these shots, and mentioned that he used to live in the area. So an enjoyable conversation about Perth vs Sydney resulted.

That was much more sincere engagement. And it's the kind you want to happen. You can build on that.

So, my advice to people new to social media is to be sincere. Only like something if you really do like it. Only ask someone a question if you are genuinely interested in getting an answer from them. 

If you are not genuine they'll pick it up either immediately or soon after. And the effort will be wasted. 

In any case just writing things that look like engagement but aren't really is a chore. Real conversation is not only more enjoyable, but ultimately more effective. In the end, if your social media activity isn't fun you're not doing it right!

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