Social media interaction. Jodie Cook (née Cole) and Gary Vaynerchuk
“Twitter is the only social media platform” – Gary Vaynerchuk, with Jodie Cook

Social media is defining a generation. The “Information Age” is being dubbed as such because of the use of computers, digital and new media and how bits of information, however large or small, are shared so rapidly between virtually every member of the developed world. It comes as no shock that companies and marketers are quickly learning how to harness the power of this new media to grow their businesses. The irony, however, is that companies and marketers are, indeed, using social platforms to distribute content but not for the purpose which makes them so revolutionary; being able to interact with each other. Why are companies failing to harness social media interaction and what exactly do we mean by social media interaction?

Social media content and interaction

Broadly speaking, we can break social media down into two distinct areas: content and interaction. Social media content represents the posts, pins and tweets which are meant to showcase a business and generate interest, clicks or whatever the goals of that particular post. We’ve written heaps of blog posts on what good social media content looks like. While this content may stimulate responses from fans and followers, it is still using social media as a broadcasting tool – a platform from which to spread a commercial message to a target audience – just like a billboard or TV advert.

Now, this is all well and good and, of course, this content must be tailored to social media to ensure it is value-adding content, but most companies neglect the other major element of social media and, more specifically, Twitter – the social media interaction. This isn’t just what we call ‘passive interaction’, where you’re replying to people who have entered a competition you’ve run or that are only checking in to complain (this is just customer service really); we’re talking about going out there and finding people in your target audience and communicating with them. This active social media interaction can really make a difference to how a company actually generates leads and influences their audience’s buying decisions.

Active social media interaction

The only platform a company really actively interact with people on is Twitter. This is why Twitter is the godfather of all platforms when it comes to social media for business. Whilst Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest make for great content platforms, that’s kind of all they are. There’s really very little scope to actually interact. Even on LinkedIn, you can’t go and hunt people down based on what they’re talking about and message them unless you’re already connected to them in some way.

But how do you go about interacting with your audience on Twitter and what on earth do you say to them? Finding your target audience on Twitter is about identifying your conversation drivers. Click the link for more information. Essentially, a conversation driver is a phrase someone might use which identifies them as a someone you need to be interacting with. This might be in a specific tweet or in their actual Twitter bio. By searching for conversation drivers using Twitter’s advanced search and then checking out someone’s profile and feed, you should have a reasonable idea of whether they’re a prospect, a collaborator, or otherwise.

Once you’ve found a suspected prospect make sure to tweet them. This is when you begin influencing real people’s buying decisions by being proactive with your Twitter account. Tweeting them should be really easy. Avoid selling, keep to your brand’s voice in everything you do, and don’t make a big deal about it. Unless you brand’s voice requires something a little different, be happy, polite, and if possible be funny! All you’re trying to do is start a conversation – most people will be very welcoming of it and will appreciate the effort.

The key is in not forcing anything, don’t worry if someone doesn’t reply or replies negatively – move on and keep interacting with others. You’ll be majorly benefitting your brand by simply engaging with people who will be seeing your name and logo, enjoying a positive experience with your brand and you may even get a follower out of it. Each interaction takes a few seconds once you’ve found someone to converse with and your interaction tweets (those that begin with an @) will not show on your timeline on a desktop computer (currently they do on mobile. I think this is likely to change but worth bearing in mind and you might want to break your interactions up with a piece of ‘content’ every 10 or so tweets).

There’s certainly a limit to the detail we can cover in a blog post, but we have a couple options if you’d like to learn more about social media interaction. The first is to check out Tweet to the Top. This is JC Social Media’s very own online Twitter training course and is completely FREE – no strings attached. Also, keep an eye out for our social media book which will focus on how to use interaction techniques to generate sales and leads.