Over the past couple of weeks I've been spending a lot of time consulting with marketing departments around Social Business strategies.  One of the first questions I am asked is "How do we increase our Likes on our Facebook page."  Often the business will be comparing themselves to their competitors who may appear to be leaving them for dead.  There is little point in driving likes or followers if you don't understand how to get value out of a like.

Take for instance a New Zealand based retailer I meet with.  They had a fixation on having as many Facebook Likes as their closest rival competitor.  I left the meeting and went away to investigate how they were tracking.  I found that almost every time they left a comment on their Facebook page, they had more engagement with their customers than their competitor who had four times as many Likes. 

The important word here is 'engagement'. The smarter Social Business has matured in the way that it uses Social Media, moving from push style marketing (to put it simply I call this SPAM), to finding ways to create customer intimacy through joining conversations at the right time, both in the online and offline world.  Push style marketing is more about leading the conversation, rather than joining a conversation with the right people.

It pays to dig a bit deeper than the surface when trying to engage with the social customer.  In the offline world, if you see a group of people having a conversation, it would be impolite to just walk on over and to start talking about yourself.  This is the same in the online world.  If you want to join the conversation you need to do so by stopping and listening first, especially when you don't have a relationship.

During my investigation of the Facebook page, I spend some time getting to know their customers.  I clicked on the profiles of the people who had liked the page, for some reason most of them had no security, but that's another story.  I was able to read about what was happening in their personal lives, from issues to do with health, children and even marriage.  Very quickly I was able to identify opportunities to engage in several ways.  I also managed to find people who were influential on Facebook within their group of friends.  Whenever they posted something there was a lot of interaction.

It's quite simple really, a number of these people were experiencing problems which could be solved by the company I was consulting to.  At will, the company could afford to send free products out to a number of these people, a gesture which would have been welcomed.  Sometimes giving a helping hand, without expecting anything in return, can go a long way.  It's likely that the customer may make mention of their gratefulness on their own Facebook page.  It may mean that there is a conversation between friends which offers good sentiment towards your brand which, if done right, will result in trust.