The best ways to engage through social media

Back in November, my “alter-ego,” Hip Chick, as part of the Social Chicks, participated in facilitating a workshop for businesses on social media. We had a sold-out crowd, and enjoyed some great discussion about social media and engaging online. Unfortunately, the meeting room’s wi-fi couldn’t handle our group’s needs and a few participants had trouble logging on and staying logged in. We’ve been doing follow-up visits with them to help them get their pages and accounts set up and running. Most have now gotten their Facebook and Twitter identities active and are now busy connecting and communicating. Interested in attending a Social Chicks workshop? We’re planning a few more in the next few months, so stay tuned!

I just got back from meeting with a participant of the Social Chicks workshop and helping them get their Facebook and Twitter up and running. Throughout the process it gave us an opportunity to talk about social media ettiquette and how to get the best value out of each tool. It got me thinking about ways to connect and engage through social media, so I have jotted down a list. Feel free to comment and add more if you like!

1. Offer valuable content. Re-tweeting other people’s content is good, but be a producer too. Offering a perspective, sharing a link on a relevant topic, and being generally interesting are important if you want people to engage with you.

2. Like or follow others, and they will like or follow you back. It’s Twitter ettiquette, but you can meet really interesting people this way.

3. Comment. If someone shares something you find interesting, let them know you’re listening. Start a conversation. Just recently, I commented to someone on Twitter that I appreciated her use of a hashtag for a diploma program I took, and once we got talking we realized we had both graduated from the program. Now we’re planning a get-together for program grads.

4. Link and Tag. Make sure you credit the originator of the content you’re sharing. People appreciate that, and it can be a great conversation starter.

5. Don’t be afraid to be transparent and “real.” You can find tons of stories online about people who said or did stupid things on social media, but that doesn’t mean you need to be all business, either. Social media is the human side of your online communication; don’t be afraid to chat, share opinions, and be authentic.

6. Be consistent. It’s great to have variety (we’re not one-sided beings, are we?) but if you have expertise in a specific area, why not share it? It doesn’t have to be what you do for work, it could be a hobby. Some of the first conversations I had on Twitter were with some car enthusiasts who responded when I tweeted that I was looking for a new car. They had great tips that figured into my final purchasing decision.

7. Be supportive. If someone is hosting an event in your area, share it, even if you can’t attend. If there’s a great deal being offered at your favourite business, pass it on!

8. Share and Retweet. Need I say more? But one word of caution – don’t do it for the sake of doing it. Read the article before re-tweeting it. Don’t share something if you aren’t that interested. Remember to be authentic.

9. Be local, even if your business isn’t. Get involved with the local scene on social media. When I started using Twitter, I didn’t think there were that many people in my area. But once I started following people from my city and general region, I ended up meeting some pretty fantastic locals. And even better, we all support each other’s businesses and events.

10. Get offline, too. If there’s a Tweet-up in your area, go! It’s a great business and personal networking opportunity. Social media allows you to meet people that you may not have otherwise, and you never know what benefits will come to your business by connecting with people behind the profile photos!

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