Recently there’s been a lot of hype in the media regarding 2oceansvibe’s article about certain South African digital agencies buying fake Twitter followers, not only for themselves, but for their clients too. We mentioned this a few weeks back in our article Rent-a-crowd on Twitter.

Agencies buying fake Twitter followersPeople have been shocked, and the agency’s integrity and online reputation has to have taken a knock… The fact of the matter is that people feel online influence has something to do with a high following and not engagement. But why the need to buy fake people?

People may think many followers/fans leads to influence online. The truth is though, consumers are after real people and real brands who pride themselves on being authentic. And authenticity comes from transparency in engaging and capturing your audience.

Online consumer engagement requires strategy

If you really want to see your online consumers engaging well across multiple social platforms, it will take time, good strategy, and hard work – but the benefits are tenfold.

Here are a few ways to improve your engagement levels with consumers online…

1. Relationship is everything

This is becoming more apparent every day. This ‘new-age consumer’ is not as concerned with superficial relationships, but rather has a mindset that craves insight and engaging environments. The online consumer wants to experience and engage and learn it’s about much more than just buying products.

How do we get the two to mesh together (a marketer’s dream)? We provide experiences and a relational product/service that the online consumer is drawn to; it’s more than owning the product. Engagement is all about creating an experience for your consumers, and a way for them to share in the experience. If conversation and experience are created in the digital space, online consumers flock to follow you.

The online consumer wants to experience and engage and learn2. Be transparent – show them you’re real

FNB has done really well with this concept on their Facebook Page. They have a transparent nature. When consumers write about their annoying experiences with FNB, RB Jacobs will reply and just be real with you. I recently complained on the FNB Facebook Page and had nothing but honest, transparent conversations from that post.

I took a look through their other ‘fan’ posts and am amazed at how well they deal with their (many!) complaints. The comments come flooding in – and they are dealt with in a way that impresses the average online consumer. The consumer is looking for relationship, so it’s a waste of time pretending you’re something that you’re not.

3. Post and share great content

Visual posts and shares are always the best way to get great engagement from fans and followers. Be relevant and share new content with your audience, and encourage conversation. Use photo captions and ask questions to encourage interactions. Leave tips relevant to your field of expertise for your followers or fans to enjoy.

Most of all, be creative and fun, and bring a great experience to your consumers. Don’t spam their news feeds with irrelevant rubbish –rather show them something they don’t know or don’t have.

4. Create a relationship on engagement

Klout, the measure of online influenceOnline influence is becoming so important to people, hence the need to buy fans and followers. But the focus needs to be put back where it belongs – on the relationship with our target audience.

Klout, the measure of online influence, has recently released an updated measure of influence that includes a new feature –  “moments”. This shows you how your posts from the past 90 days have impacted your Klout Score or influence, and which posts received the most response by your followers/fans. Hopefully people will start to learn how to engage more with their consumers through this tool. Klout obviously realised that online engagement is an important aspect when tracking someone’s influence online.

When in doubt, take a step back – we are after all the online consumer too. What do we want, how do we tick, how do we experience and engage? Treat others as you would like to treated, and you should be just fine.