Guest post from Maria Ross, founder and chief strategist of Red Slice  a branding and marketing consultancy based in the US. She is the author of Branding Basics for Small Business: How to Create an Irresistible Brand on Any Budget available on Amazon.co.uk

 

The holy grail of social media (and marketing in general) is to attract rabid fans and create a tribe of loyal customers and evangelists. Many small businesses have created great communities on Facebook and Twitter and get fans following or 'Liking' them.

 

But once the initial zest with which you began your online community or campaign begins to fade, what are you doing to ensure you are still serving your fans?

 

My intern recently told me about two cases where brands have let their social media campaign 'die on the vine'. She is a Facebook fan of a popular TV show that is currently between seasons. Since the season ended, there has been no interaction from the page’s administrators. It’s a complete dead zone.

 

I started thinking about all the other brands or products that are on Facebook and Twitter that abandon their audience. For instance, she also lamented about being a Twitter follower of a small chic restaurant that she absolutely loves going to in her neighbouhood. The reason she follows them on Twitter is to hear about their specials and new items on the menu. But their last post was in March. It’s now September and she knows they made exciting changed to their restaurant, like building a new patio area to fit more people. This is absolutely Twitter-worthy, yet they have failed to mention it to those who follow them.

 

If you are going to make your presence known in the social media world, you must plan for whatever happens, whether it is your campaign coming to an end or if it naturally closes. A few tips:

 

  1. Plan your exit out of the social media world ahead of time: Once you have entered the cyber world, it’s almost impossible to completely get rid of any trace of your campaign, brand, product, etc. Think of it as verbal communication. You cannot take back what you have already said. It’s important when planning your debut in the social media world to also plan what will happen at the end of your campaign or how you will launch the next one. Will you keep your account and look after it for other long term uses or will you simply delete the account?
  2. Manage an editorial calendar: If you do decide to keep your page, even if you are on a brief hiatus, it’s extremely important to communicate with your audience. Going back to the television show that is on summer break until the next season, their fans would like to be up to date on what is going on, such as knowing when it will start up again, or what the writers are planning for the new season. Make a six-month content or editorial calendar plan to ensure you always have ideas and content at the ready – you can always add to it as things come up. Red Slice constantly sends out tips, interesting articles or survey questions related to marketing, and entrepreneurship to our audience on Facebook.
  3. Thank those who made it possible: Investing time into creating a community surrounding your product or service takes much time and effort. If you decide to delete your page or account, you may want to direct people where you want them to go next, like a cliffhanger. Never leave without thanking those who supported you because they will feel abandoned. They are your biggest brand evangelists and should be valued.

Although I would hate to see any brand disappear from the social media world, I understand that sometimes it wasn’t meant to be. But there are several brands and products on Facebook that do a fantastic job of keeping their audience updated. Silk is a product and brand that I ‘Like’ on Facebook and I always see updates on new recipes or the audiences’ opinion on certain things. Do some light research and see how these brands and products are keeping their audience hooked. You could use what you find to help you in your own social media campaign. After all, the last thing you want is to leave your loyal audience withering on the vine.