Social Media Engagement Lessons From My BirthdayWell, as you know from yesterday’s post, yesterday was my birthday. I worked a little, but mostly took the day off and enjoyed my family and friends. When I woke up in the morning, my Facebook wall was already filled with birthday greetings from folks across the globe. In fact, some came in the previous night before I went to bed, as some folks in other countries were celebrating before it was even my birthday here.

It’s kind of a cool thing to have so many warm wishes delivered directly to you on this one day a year. Certainly makes me feel good. And I started early responding to each and every one of them personally. In fact, part way through the day, my friend Nance noted:

I expect you to answer every single birthday post personally. None of this “Thanks everyone for the birthday wishes” status update stuff!

She knows me well. I constantly preach to my clients that they need to respond to each and every comment that people make on various social channels, so it wouldn’t be right if I didn’t do the same. And as the day wore on, I started to notice a few things that could be useful for businesses as they create an online social presence and begin to engage with others.

1. Everyone has their preferred channel – In other words, not everyone will use the same social platform. While the large majority of the birthday greetings came on my Facebook wall, a few sent private Facebook messages, while others used Twitter and Google +. And there were a few emails, as well. This might be different for each of us, but for me, Facebook was the preferred channel. It’s where my friends are, and where they knew to communicate with me.

2. People ARE on Facebook – I keep hearing from a lot of folks that Facebook is dying and that people are defecting to other channels. I sure didn’t see it yesterday! And with several hundred greetings on Facebook alone, it’s clear that it’s still important for a lot of people.

3. Always respond – Every single person who wished me a happy birthday got a response (as far as I can tell. If I missed one, it was an oversight). In fact, it took me quite awhile to respond. Whether they gave me a simple, “Happy Birthday” or a more elaborate message, they all got responses. They were all appreciated. Regardless of whether I’ve known them for 50+ years, or have only known them a short time online, I was grateful for their greeting. And the simple act of “liking” their comment, and responding with some form of thanks, is important.

4. Engagement begets engagement – Because I responded, some of those folks came back and replied to me. A few of their birthday wishes turned into full fledged conversations. If you want engagement, you need to engage.

5. Influencers are everywhere – Some folks who posted on my wall are influencers. Well, they all are in some way, but some are very influential with other friends of mine. When they posted their greetings on my wall, others chimed in. Certain people were able to draw others in to conversations that involved quite a few different people. That wasn’t because of me; it was because of them.

6. Make everything easy – One of the reasons why the majority of the messages were on Facebook as opposed to other platforms is that Facebook has a really good mechanism in place in terms of birthdays. Facebook reminds you which of your friends are having birthdays, and might even prompt you later in the day if you haven’t wished them a happy birthday. It couldn’t be any easier. We can all learn from this. It’s the old “keep it simple, stupid” thing.

7. Memes are important – Over time as I’ve built relationships with folks online, a few memes have surfaced. These are things that people think of when they think of me. And my birthday was a chance for three of these to show up. A lot. I got quite a few mentions of both bacon and my porch as part of the birthday wishes. And of course there were quite a few people who referred to me as an old man, crotchety or otherwise. I guess these are part of what would be my personal brand. But no worries here, I enjoy the good jokes. And I’m also keep tracking of those who referred to me as old…

8. Everyone has their own style – Most were simple happy birthday greetings, while others attached music videos, or humorous videos or pictures. One person, Gini Dietrich, even recorded a special video for me that she sent via email. I wanted to show it here, but I made the mistake of asking her permission, and she declined. That’ll teach me to ask. But it was a fun little video, which may or may not have resembled this one:

9. Pictures increase engagement – Throughout the day I posted pictures of some of my gifts, as well as some of the food I was eating as part of my celebration. People liked those. And commented. People like pictures, and especially pictures of food.

10. It’s not just engagement – Some people don’t see the value of mere social media engagement, but it wasn’t all frivolous. Not only was I building stronger relationships with my friends, there were a few that involved actual business. Some of them were clients. Some of our conversations turned to business. Not every piece of engagement has to be a business deal in the making.

All in all, I had a great birthday. And as I write this, I’m still responding to the kind birthday wishes. Thank you all for making it a great day. Oh, and while you’re online, particularly Facebook, make use of their birthday feature and take a few seconds to wish your friends a “Happy Birthday” on their special days. I’m sure they’ll appreciate it.

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