WebProNews recently spoke with Patrick O’Keefe, the owner of the iFroggy Network, who had some interesting things to say about how fans can tarnish your brand when responding to your critics. He also shared some more general thoughts about how to treat your fans/customers in general.
"People want to be treated like they're human," he said. "They want to receive a response sometimes. They maybe want to be retweeted...Everyone's a person, whether you're a celebrity or not, everyone is a person, so just treat them like that. Listen to their thoughts if you can. Just make sure that you're not just putting messages out there and never responding to people, if you can help it."
There is a lot to be said for simply taking the time to acknowledge your followers. When you have a lot of them it can be tricky to engage with all of them as much as you'd like, but the more you can do this, the better you represent your brand, and the more their likely to think of you.
It doesn't hurt to give them a little something extra every now and then either. "Fans also want access," O'keefe adds. "They want behind-the-scenes things, like if you do something with your fans to get them backstage or even showing them pictures from behind-the-scenes or video from behind-the-scenes... that's a popular thing and it's a good thing to do because one of the reasons they're following you is just to hear about what you're doing with your day...they want freebies...free downloads, free knowledge...free things that you can provide them."
He continues, "It's not that hard. I think we make it harder than it is, but there are a lot of people who wonder how to do that..."
Giving Back to the Community
Of course there is more to social media than Twitter and Facebook. You might have your own community, whether that be a blog with a consistent readership or an online forum. The main thing to keep in mind is that you need to give people a reason to come back.
"It first starts by offering some sort of value," says O'Keefe. "Value's always the question....What's value? Value can be any number of things. It can be the content of the site. It can be the environment. I'm big on building a specific environment and having a specific tone and attitude for the community. Your community's not for everyone so being unique in some way - that's a big value point, and you need to attract people through the normal ways people attract people to websites. An online community is just a website, so you need to have a good thing and make sure search engines can spider it, and then you'll receive a lot of search engine traffic..."
Again though, communication isn't a one-way street. Don't just put your message out there and not interact with the community. "If you only have three members, treat those members really well, so they understand that you appreciate them being here...you interact with them - you discuss with them," advices O'keefe. "You build three, then you get to six...you build one by one and sometimes it's fast. Sometimes it's slow, but you have to have the long-term commitment to build it one at a time, and continually add additional value and encourage discussion...You need to make sure there is something taking place on your site."
Never forget the social aspect of social media. While your main goal may be to broadcast your own message or your own content, there won't be many people left to receive that message if you ignore them and don't treat them like the people they are.