I spent the last two days in the wonderful city of Philadelphia, which has always been one of my favorite places. I was there for business, and had a night free, in which a lovely lady who sat next to me on the plane adopted me and took me out on the town. She drove all the way to Northeast Philly to pick me up, loaned me some subway tokens for the trek downtown, and then drove me all the way back to my hotel (a good 45 mins from her apartment).
On our way back to the subway, I saw a man in a wheelchair who looked like he was struggling. I just purchased a Philly cheesesteak to go from a local bar, and was not eager to give it up. After all, it was my only chance to get one while in town! After feeling extreme pangs of guilt in my stomach, I kept walking by him. A story I recently read about those struggling being God in human form kept running through my mind. The basis of the story was that you should help everyone you meet, because they are most likely a manifestation of God in this world.
As my instant BFF from the plane kept rambling on about her current guy situation and which way we needed to go to catch the train, I ran head-on into another homeless person. She was carrying three incredibly heavy bags, dragging them at times, as she walked down the street. As I looked into her eyes, I knew that I had to part from my Philly cheesesteak. I quickly gave it to her, and then she asked for something to drink.
My instant BFF instantly responded, and a few seconds later we were in a 7-11 finding as many groceries as possible for the woman. We had to keep in mind that she didn’t have a microwave, and that cold food would quickly go bad in the Philly heat.
I kept texting one of my friends throughout the entire night, updating him on the events. When it finally came time to text him that I was grocery shopping with a homeless woman, he replied, “These things never happen to me! How did your night get so interesting?”
There was something about his text that kept haunting me over the past couple of days. Granted, I just have some pretty interesting things randomly happen in my life. However, I stay open to these random things happening. I am always looking for opportunities to live life. To be quite honest, all I wanted to do when my flight landed in Philly was pour a bath, order room service, do yoga and meditation, and relish in the fact that I had a hotel room all to myself for the night. However, I had a nice little conversation with myself noting that I was only in Philadelphia for the night and it was up to me to make the most of it.
We have to have the same attitude as social media strategists. It’s so easy to be passive and not respond to “just that person” because you’re past your hours in the day, or you don’t want to go the extra effort to find an answer to such a ridiculous question. You never know what opportunity is behind that message though if you just take the little extra effort to engage.
Here are some easy steps you can take today to take advantage of the opportunity to engage with your community:
Don’t pigeonhole your brand by thinking that you can only participate in very specific, related conversations. You don’t want to go overboard and enter a totally random conversation, but you do want to stay open-minded and increase the breadth of conversations you can participate in. If you own a stationery company, you can enter art conversations because art is on stationery, isn’t it? If you own a printing business, you can enter a marketing conversation because marketers need printing solutions, don’t they?
In a world of a million Tweets, creativity will be sure to set you apart. By saying something that differentiates your brand from all the others, you stand out from the crowd and allow more people to see you. This also shows that you are willing to be clever and have some fun, which potentially makes others want to seek opportunities with you. Warning: Not all brands are meant to be super creative, so use this tip as fit for your brand.
Do Some Research
Take some time to do some research on your social community, so the next time they reach out to you, you can shock them with some inside knowledge on something they are interested in. This is one of my favorite social media tactics because it shows the consumer that your brand is willing to go the extra mile for their loyalty.
Start keeping track of the moments you took an opportunity to engage with followers and had an amazing outcome from it. Post your favorite responses around your cubicle so you can see them everyday and use them as motivation to always go the extra mile to engage.
Don’t Always Look For Instant-Gratification
Sometimes opportunities take a while to manifest on social media. This is an incredibly hard concept for social media strategists to grasp because we are used to the instant gratification that comes from social media. Most of us got into social because we love to see the fruits of our labor immediately on social networks. However, many engagement relationships take more than one engagement to fully form. I’ve had people reach out to me up to two years after a certain engagement with an opportunity, when I had no idea they even responded at all to the first engagement. You never know!
The bottom line is, if you take the time to be open to opportunities on social media you will see your community strengthen and grow. If you don’t take the time, and brush people off, you will see cracks start to surface and soon will have little of a community to engage with.
Yes, I could have sat next to anyone on the plane, and I could have never run into anyone in need of a meal once I grabbed my Philly cheesesteak sandwich. However, when those opportunities did present themselves, I was prepared and ready to greet them with open arms and be flexible with my plans for the night.
When you are open to opportunities on social media, you are open to an incredible universe of connections and conversations that you never thought possible.
- Marji J. Sherman