Content marketing: Telling Meaningful Stories

Why marketing leaders should push their teams to always respond on social media

A lot of the “should we respond on social media?” debate among executives and marketing/digital/communication leaders is misguided. It actually focuses on the wrong things:

  • Does that mean we have to respond to everyone? (No.)
  • Are we setting precedents if we do one nice thing? (No.)
  • Do we need to hire more staff? (Maybe, but hiring is a sign of growth, yes?)

The questions can go on, and I’ve seen people form committee on top of committee to determine that “no” is the answer – mostly because the leader sent the strong message that it should be. “But please get there on your own.” LOL. Please!

You hear social media experts blab that responding to comments on social media is about the two-way conversation. Some say it’s about customer service. Others are screaming that customers expect it. And you know the customer is now in control! Blah blah blah.

Those are actually good reasons to different degrees, but here’s the No. 1 reason that is actually related to distribution of your story:

When you respond to comments on social media, your content gets shared again!

And when the person responds, it’s shared again. So respond again. (Bonus tip: Don’t respond to obvious trolls more than once.)
Given that “how do I reach more relevant people?” is one of the questions I get asked the most, this seems to be a valid strategy!

This is true – as of now – for Facebook and LinkedIn. 

It’s trickier on Twitter, but ongoing conversation is seen by mutual followers, and when the other person likes your reply, that often gets shared to others. Many Twitter users also retweet useful responses. So the same concept often applies here.

On Instagram it doesn’t get shared again but at least shows off your engagement to people and gets people you are talking to coming back to a post.

With content being shown based on popularity algorithms, engagement can help get our content in front of a larger audience, too.

So why should leaders in charge care about this? Because leaders – me too – care about money. And many of us spend thousands of dollars on social media advertising. We spend money on distribution already, but forget about some of the organic ways to distribute our content.

Can it save us ad dollars in the long run? Yes. I’ve run entire projects without ad spends but with this responding strategy. There were other tactics too, by the way. Don’t put all your eggs into one strategy basket. That was in earlier social media days, though. Today, it’s pay-to-play on many networks. You have to put some money behind distribution. To continually decrease that spending, it’s important to also use other techniques – like this one.

At some point, the “free” techniques can replace the paid strategies, but only if new things are tried and implemented quickly. Free is in quotation marks because you still need people doing the work and they need to get paid.

Here’s to social media responding – if not for the conversation, do it for the distribution.

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Christoph blogs on The Authentic Storytelling Project and is a globally recognized content marketing expert. The IMA named him Internet Marketer of the Year in 2015. He works with healthcare organizations and other brands around the globe.

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