On a recent road trip, “She Talks to Angels” by The Black Crowes came on the radio. Much to the dismay of my wife, I immediately started belting out the lyrics as if it was the anthem of my life.
Truth be told, I’m not a fan of the Crowes, nor that particular song (side note: I think Chuck Klosterman nails the critique of the band here). I have had that song on my iPod/iPhone for years, and could easily listen to it any time. When the song does come on my iPhone via shuffle, I quickly skip it and move to the next. So why do I get so excited when a song I can listen to anytime comes on the radio? The answer is that someone else, with a far greater reach, has chosen to share one of “my songs” with their audience.
We see a very similar phenomenon in social spaces. When a blog post, comment, video or tweet is republished or referenced by another, the excited author often shares their “success” with their network. They may retweet the mention, post a comment, or drop a link on Facebook bragging about their moment in the sun to their network. Because social media has created a culture where everyone is a publisher, smart marketers are finding ways to benefit by giving their audience and/or customers the stage.
This requires a change in ideology for many marketers who are stuck in Social Media 101. They broadcast their message and hope their followers, fans and customers share the information with one another. Some businesses do this very well, but others tap their audience to help create a more robust and interactive social presence.
Here are five quick ways to get your customers excited and talking — just by giving them the stage for a minute or two.
- Solicit guest blog posts. Reach out to your customers and ask them for content submissions to be published on your blog. They can talk about their experiences with your product, best practices or anything that provides them the opportunity to blend your product and their message. A line or two detailing the guest author’s Twitter account, website, blog and/or company goes a long way.
- Gather, source and publish your audience. Create a Twitter hashtag unique to your community to focus discussion. Then publish those discussions on your website, blog or community forum. You can also create Twitter lists dedicated to your customers and publish feeds from those groups in the same places.
- Give a review or provide a recommendation on LinkedIn. Your customers are used to be talked at. This is why the occasional handwritten note goes so far. Take that notion a step further to give them thanks in an environment that matters to them professionally. If your customers create a product that you can stand behind, take the time to give them a glowing review in an appropriate public space. Or give them an unsolicited recommendation on LinkedIn. These are the handwritten notes of the professional social Web.
- Switch up the platforms. A retweet is fine, but take a look at how you can leverage other channels to give your customers the visibility that will matter to them. Here at SmartBrief, the “Big Retweet” has paid off because we give our most-engaged readers visibility in one of our daily e-mail newsletters. Does a quality tweet deserve to be called out on your blog? Does an insightful blog comment deserve a mention on your Facebook page? A response or thank you in the same channel is a great first step — but you can take it a step further by giving them a shout-out in a different environment.
- Give public recognition early and often. If you’ve involved your customers in any of the above ways, call the participants out by name in social spaces. You cannot assume everyone is tracking their name in every channel. Not only will an “announcement” provide a quick heads-up, it creates the proper context to those who will help spread your social presence.
All of these not only broaden your reach, but they also further engage your customers and make them feel closer to your presence. If done right — they will make your communications stronger and more trustworthy. And that’s far better than my best Chris Robinson impersonation.
Image credit: mipan, iStockphoto