Bathrooms are good places for customer engagement. QR code placement on bathroom door, maybe?
By Adriana Galue (Co-Founder, Mint Consulting)

For those of us who spend most of our modern lives in front of a computer following trends, it has become very clear that social media has created a tremendous opportunity for brands to engage directly with customers. Depending on the budget, brands are now able to follow their customer base to the extent of understanding what motivates, interests and engages an individual.

When limiting budget is a concern, how do you increase the size of your audience, where do you focus and more importantly, how do you engage? This article focuses on the engagement side of the equation.

  1. Sending the right message to the right audience via the right channel is more an art than a science. If you don’t know your audience, you risk of talking to everyone who is listening. If you talk to everyone, you talk to no one. Prior to randomly tweeting, spend sometime understanding who is listening to your message.
  2. Just like in any relationship, Social Media takes time to develop. Think of “Customer Engagement” as nothing more than finding the right boyfriend or partner. You don’t want to be kissing during the first three minutes of a date. Trust is a historical variable. As a brand, you need to develop trust before you can develop customer loyalty. Sending promotions prior to gaining customer respect is one of the worse ideas you can pursue.
  3. Quality over Quantity is key. I prefer to read one Twitter message that matters, rather than 10 that don’t make any difference. We are all very aware of the information overload challenge. If your company is tweeting irrelevant facts, you are signing for a curse rather than a blessing. Timing is also critical. Tweeting past 8pm results in low engagement levels.
  4. Content has a very basic 90/10 rule: 90% of the content you post needs to be engaging rather than promotional. 10% can be used for promotions. You can only engage if you know whom you are talking to.
  5. On an Engagement Point Scale of 1 to 100, from a Facebook (FB) standpoint, think of a “Share” as being worth 90 points, a “Comment” being worth 9 points and a “Like” being worth 1 point. Make your Facebook posts be short and sweet. Try not to overdo the frequency of posting. Two to three posts per day seem optimal depending on your offering.
  6. If you fail to be consistent and responsive to the demands of your followers, you are better off giving up on social media all together. It is critical to respond promptly to the comments or suggestions of your followers. Do not ever delete a mean comment from your Facebook page. This only leads to an even angrier customer. Respond immediately with courtesy and address the issue in a straightforward manner. Studies have shown that customers who have complained and are then satisfied, are up to 8% more loyal than if they had no problem at all. I am one of them.
  7. Images and video have 40% higher engagement rate than just posts. Humans are visual creatures by design. In this regard, consider Pinterest as a tool rather than another channel to monitor. If you are using video, make it shorter than 90 seconds. If you are shooting the video using an iPhone, be sure to hold the camera horizontally. Excellent audio is crucial!
  8. Use your website predominantly as a repository of information. The days of engaging exclusively via website are gone.
  9. Based on your offering, consider opening up a Twitter chat where experts in the subject matter facilitate the conversation. Twitter chats are a great tool for organic growth.
  10. As an example of useful engagement toolsHootsuite, the social media dashboard used by so many small businesses, non-profits and brands, has very useful apps that are aimed directly at the enterprise: MailChimp, Trendspottr, and InboxQ are some of the most useful ones.
  11. I created a useful Social Media Monitoring Tool Kit a while back. You can find it here.
  12. If you happen to be in an industry where sales and customer interaction are de-centralized processes, consider centralizing your social media effort. Given the sensitive nature of channels such as Twitter and Facebook, you can’t afford to have too many cooks stirring the same soup. Although retail managers at different locations are key in helping you understand your customer, your social media strategy needs to be such that quick communication with your followers is Queen.If you play chess, think of the “pawns” as your local store managers. Think of a “Queen” as your centralized communication effort. Having several administrators on a Facebook page is more of a liability than an asset.
  13. It has been demonstrated that bathrooms are excellent places for customer engagement. If you use QR codes, consider placing them on a bathroom door.

Editor’s note: Got a question for our guest blogger? Leave a message in the comments below.
About the guest blogger: Adriana Galue is a co-founder at Mint Consulting. She is a scientist, techie, entrepreneur, lover of nature and immigrant whose genes trace back to the Middle East, Africa and Spain. She was born in Colombia and educated in Canada. Adriana writes about her perception of the world, education and startups. She holds a MBA from the University of Colorado at Boulder Leeds School of Business. Follow her on Twitter at @AdrianaGalue.