There are a few things we know about most human beings. Things that make us human and also extremely unique in the animal world. We are certainly creatures of habit we both consciously and unconsciously migrate toward the path of least resistance and embrace activities that make us feel good inside. We also avoid things, activities and people that hurt our feelings consciously or even unconsciously. These unique aspects about people also correlate with our online connections and relationships.
In this thread, my good friend Rick Cooper made a comment of – “Rick Cooper – Is there anytime you don’t have a computer or mobile device at your fingertips Robert? You’re the fastest responder in the West!” To which I replied, ” When I’m asleep Rick Cooper. Social media is real time. When people comment it’s because they are there, right then. The best way to get fewer comments on your posts over time is to lengthen the time you respond. Guess the best way to get more engagement over time?”
Whether you are consciously aware or not, you are gravitating to people that spark a good feeling inside your being. People that are helpful, like-minded or provide you value and insight that you connect with. You are also often unconsciously avoiding people or situations that make you feel uncomfortable, unvalued or hurt. With the higher frequency of social media interactions as compared the number often experienced in real life, the life cycle for feelings, good or bad about a specific person or situation are often much shorter. In other words, we do way more online in terms of interactions than we are able to in real life.
Social media is real-time. What I mean by that is that just as in an offline interaction, it is happening right then and each comment/response cycle is not typically spread over days, but happen in the instance the first communication begins. In social media however, some tend to extend the interaction cycle over an extended period of time by not responding to comments on or shares of their posts.
The easiest way to increase social media engagement over the long term is to be in the present.
It is extremely important to understand the parallels between social media marketing and the real world and the subtle dynamics that make the difference. If in fact social media marketing is real time, responding and engaging in real time is extremely important. The fact that someone is commenting on or sharing one of your posts, right now, means that they are present and available, RIGHT THEN.
Unless you are a celebrity that millions are following and hang on every post you make, all the while knowing that you’re likely never going to acknowledge your fan comments, shares or presence whatsoever, you should be, just like in real life. You see, most people have a genuine expectation to be appreciated and recognized when complimenting, commenting or otherwise “helping” someone else. It’s human nature.
Think about it. If you spoke to someone at a party and they didn’t respond, or if you introduced them to someone interested in what they do for a living and they stepped in front of you and pretended you didn’t exist, would you engage that person or share their business card again? Most people that are willing to be honest about their feelings would have to say they wouldn’t.
So the best way to increase social media engagement is to respond in real time. By doing so, you put a few things into motion in your community that make a massive difference over the long term;
1) Feel good – Everyone feels good when they are acknowledged. Doing it in real time increases the chance that they will engage more at that moment, and more importantly, engage you again in the future.
2) Appreciated – When you feel appreciated by someone, you desire to be around them more and know more about them. You make your audience feel appreciated when you are there and responding when they engage with you or your content.
3) Repetitive – In keeping with what we know about human beings in the opening of this post, we know we can subconsciously create repetitive actions with people by making them feel good, appreciated and like you are always there when they are.
People repeat activity that makes them feel good. Responding in real time, when your audience is there and engaging makes this possible.
In our next post we discuss 4 Ways That Reduce or Kill Social Media Engagement Over Time.