The same way you have a reputation in your social and professional circles, you also have a reputation online.
The foundation of your reputation is how you present yourself and is also determined by what others say about you. Again, this is true both online and in the real world. That reputation is your personal brand.
The way to control that brand, have a unique brand and be consistent with your brand is by being yourself. No one is better at being you than you. Your expertise and the way you present them are unique to you.
So you want to always be you, present who you are in a way that you would. Don’t engage with people trying to present yourself as someone you’re not or in a way that you usually don’t. Don't try to be someone else. Talk how you talk in a way that you would and not how someone else would.
You are your own brand. When you share your messages on social media and engage with people you want to connect with, do it in your way, not a way that you think worked for someone else.
How To Create Authentic Engagement
There are a lot of complicated ways to explain the process of creating authentic engagement – we prefer to go back to that simple analogy of networking events.
In a networking event, participants are provided with a starter—a conversation topic or exercise; the key is to use this tool in order to open a genuine conversation between participants.
As stated earlier, it’s important to go into this step with the mindset of giving and listening rather than taking and telling. The process sounds simple, but you need the right key to make it work.
Once you start the conversation, you must listen to what people say, and engage them based on their individual circumstances. It's about personalization and being specific to what they're talking about and who they are. This requires more time than the older style of broadcast marketing, but if you apply it correctly, the benefits to your ROI can be significant.
The reason it seems more taxing is it involves personalization based on each and every individual you engage with rather than saying the same thing to everyone. But if you’re genuinely looking to connect with more people and want to hear other people’s stories, it’ll come naturally and won’t be that hard.
Visible and valuable content is very powerful. When someone shares content on a specific subject, they identify themselves to others as the “right” person to converse with on that topic.
Once that conversation starts, properly created content provides value to people interacting with your company. In return for their attention and engagement, you can provide them with content that can help them with the challenges and pain points they face.
Basically, content you share gives people a reason to engage with you, and you can use content other people share to engage with them. Comment on a blog or video they post. If you don’t have much to say on a specific post, you can just give it a “like,” and comment on something else they post another time.
These comments and conversations are great ways to keep connections strong. The key is to share quality content. Don’t share a whole bunch of blog posts and hope that one of your hooks will catch a fish. Less is more. Just focus on quality content that’s interesting, gets people thinking, and gives a topic of conversation. That's a great way to build authentic engagement.
So far, everything we’ve covered refers to how you can build out your personal professional network on social media, but this also applies to your organization.
If you want to increase your brand’s social reach, these same tactics work. Post quality content on your brand’s accounts to give it credibility in your industry, engage with others who post content on your industry that aligns with your messaging.
Obviously, it’s harder for a brand account to look authentic when engaging with others. People are more skeptical of a brand’s agenda the same way they are more skeptical of an advertisement or a promoted post.
This is because people trust people more than they trust brands or ads. So what can you do about this? Get your employees involved. If your organization’s employees are active on social media, they can practice authentic engagement with others in your industry, such as prospects, clients, analysts, influencers and more.
Through employee advocacy, you'll have your own employees promoting your brand. Think of how far your reach will increase. By stressing the importance of authenticity on social media, they’ll have a bigger impact.
Enabling your employees to engage on social media can be both exciting and intimidating.
Unfortunately, a surprisingly large number of companies still avoid the employee/social media question entirely by blocking access to social media sites for employees while at work. Still, there are other companies who do not believe that their employees even discuss them on social media.
The truth of the matter is that 50% of employees are already talking about their company online, and as Glenn Gaudet says,
"It doesn't take a lot of employees to have a tremendous impact in amplifying your content."
Even better, for many enterprise-sized companies, the total social media audience of employees exceeds the audience of the official corporate accounts.
By engaging your employees in the promotion of your message, you tap a pool of people who already believe in your product or service. These employees help build and sustain your company, so they are stakeholders in their continued success. On top of that, these employees each have their own audiences on social media. If they share the same message on their personal accounts as you are sharing on the corporate account, the results can be amazing.
When everybody is on the same page and using the same message, that message resonates and is magnified. This is when the magic of authentic engagement occurs, and that helps generate leads and clients for your organization.
By engaging employees, channel partners, and other stakeholders in the communication process, and by sharing content with them through your employee advocacy program, you also access their audiences. Even better, you not only increase your distribution network, you also improve the impact of your message – brand messages shared by other people generally more favorably received than messages directly from a company.
Each channel that you utilize and post on will also increase the amount of work you need to invest. Creating content and planning marketing for multiple social media sites will require an individualized approach. Distributing the same message across several channels is most effective if the message is A) a good one (weak messages that are widely distributed are still weak messages), and B) custom tailored for each channel.
"If you try and connect to everyone through everything, everywhere then you dilute the sense of your brand on social media."
- Anna Farmery, TheEngagingBrand.com
Can you scale engagement?
The simple answer is yes. The more honest answer is, “yes, but the process is anything but simple”.
In order to scale engagement, you have to start by identifying everyone who can share messages about your organization and get them all on the same page. Then you need to provide all of those participants with the kind of content that offers value to potential leads. Simultaneously managing dozens (or hundreds) of messages on multiple sites while also managing your employees can seem like a tedious task, but in truth, it can be done with the right resources.
Running these steps in larger quantities and scaling up your engagement process is much more manageable when using the appropriate technology.
Building authentic engagement is not a new concept. Good salespeople and storytellers have been doing it for hundreds of years, but they were limited in their impact. The challenge came in scaling the process.
Before technology, you might tell 100 people the same message and ask them to spread it, but each would do so differently. The result was similar to the telephone game that children play. You control the message that you start with, but the message that reaches the end of the chain might bear no resemblance at all to the message at the start.
The telephone game – a fun party game, but it makes for bad marketing.
Ultimately, in the old system, you didn’t really have any reporting on what people were saying, you just saw the results of the message they conveyed (leads, sales, or other metrics). This limited your ability to stop people from using the wrong message. Even worse, the lack of reporting seriously hampered your ability to test a message. If one salesperson was doing particularly better than others, it was very difficult to analyze his process in detail and compare it to other salespeople.
The emergence of social media in the last decade or so has made it far easier to connect with a larger number of people efficiently. In fact, you can now easily make the case that an expertise in social media is key to communicating with your customers.
The true power to scale your social media efforts comes when you empower individuals to their maximum efficiency, and then bring those groups of individuals together with a tool that supplies them with the content they need to start engagements—then measure the results of the messaging they send out. With the right tool, you remove barriers for people. In fact, you make it exceptionally easy for stakeholders to share the exact message you want them to share.
Even better, you can get stakeholders passionately invested in the process with comprehensive reporting that shows them the exact impact of each message that they share.
This is what we had in mind when we created GaggleAMP.
We firmly believe that a company’s employees are one of the most powerful (and least frequently used) tools for driving authentic engagement.
We mentioned earlier that, 50% of employees are already talking about their company online. These employees collectively have substantial social media audiences, and they demonstrate their belief in the mission of their company every day that they show up at work.
Engaging your employees in your marketing funnel does not just improve the effectiveness of your marketing efforts. The advantages of employee engagement include enhanced productivity, better retention, and improved communication.
While many products can help enable the distribution of content, our platform takes you to an entirely different level. We combine top-performing content distribution with powerful message amplification— and that’s just the start.
We also offer powerful data analysis, reporting, and analytics, helping you to test your efforts, find and refine your winning messages, and enhance your overall reach and engagement.
With features like this, it's easy to find a use case for GaggleAMP that fits your organization. We’ve helped many companies of all different sizes and industries grow their employee engagement. Let us help you create authentic engagement to win with your audience as well.