Everyone does media. In some way, every business now has some form of a media presence, whether bought, owned or earned. It may be advertising, social media or editorial, whatever the case, it is nearly impossible to do business without it in the current environment.
Here's the thing though - if you aren't engaging, it doesn't count. No matter what you are doing, if you aren't interacting with your customers, supporters, competitors and any other stakeholders, you may as well not be there.
There are some classic examples across the board of organisations not quite getting half-way there. Government agencies on social media are a great one, as big corporate in sponsorship deals (with a few notable exceptions, like ASIC on Twitter and the Commonwealth Bank and cricket in Australia). They take up their place "to be recognised" and leave it at that.
No matter where your business can be found, it is vital you take the next step and provide your audience (whatever it looks like) with the ability to interact with you. There is nothing more frustrating (and we've all been there) than being left with the feeling that an organisation doesn't care about your needs or opinion.
I have four key factors to engagement (besides being as fast as is practical):
- Consistency - always responding in the same way, same voice, with the same standards for all
- Transparency - making everything you do and say visible and open for critique
- The Anti-Sell - being upfront and providing the best information, showing your expertise, not closing a sale
- Keeping an open door - never closing off an interaction, invite more discussion and further questions
Engagement should be built on one, almost counterintuitive, principle:
Not every customer is the right one for your business.
By engaging with your audience you can actually wean out the customers which are going to be less suited to you and cost you more money before you start working with them. Engagement is an investment, not a cost.
In business we have greater access to more potential customers than ever before, it costs less to find them than it used to. It doesn't mean it is free. Spend a little time engaging with your audience and you will be able to create great, ongoing relationships which are more beneficial, profitable and rewarding.