To Keep Your Brand's Social Engagement Strong, Focus on These 3 Questions When you have the brand right and everyone in your company is breathing into it, you can use social media as a way to keep the authentic engagement going.

By Mel Carson

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Q: What are some of the most effective social strategies you've seen to encourage long-term engagement with a brand?
-- Jacqueline Clary

A: This is a fantastic question and one I often get asked. I say "often" as not every business sees social media as a long-term engagement mechanism. The amount of times I hear that a company only uses social media because they think they ought to has diminished over the years, but there are still some out there who don't get that digital is here to stay, and therefore fail to embed it deeply in their future plans.

Defining "long term" within any customer life cycle is tricky and depends on the company and the product or service you're trying to sell, but with any integrated marketing strategy is needs to start with the brand. You need to know your mission, understand who your competitors are and create experiences that are discoverable, memorable and shareable.

When you have the brand right and everyone in your company is breathing into it, you can use social media as a way to keep authentic engagement going as part of an integrated approach focusing on these three questions:

Related: 3 Social-Media Mistakes That Are Killing Interest in Your Company

1. Are you being agile?

Social-media engagement is real time, so are you set up to respond quickly to any call outs or questions? Do you have a response protocol set up to deal with frequently asked questions and what happens if a crisis ensues? Consumers on social media have little patience, so having the right processes set up to disseminate answers is important before your competition slips right in there and whips that potential customer away from under your nose.

Being agile also means having the ability to react quickly to outside opportunities. Do you have a content calendar set up with some ideas for future events or holidays and supposing a major celebrity wants you to help them #BreakTheInternet? Do you have steps in place to take advantage of situations like that?

Related: What's the Best Way to Spend 30 Minutes of Your Time on Social-Media Marketing?

2. Are you being delightful?

So much of what we see on the Internet can frankly be depressing. Cat videos and suchlike do so well because they make people laugh and make them feel good. There is other kinds of content that has meaning too and gives people a positive experience that shines above the mundane. While I'm not suggesting you dash out to your local animal shelter, I think brands that do well long term have their customers' well-being in mind. They get that it pays dividends to invest in ways to tell stories, either of their own, or by welcoming those from their loyal following,

3. Are you being unexpected?

Even as recently as three years ago, if you asked anyone in the street what a meme was or if they knew what was trending right now, you'd have probably drawn many a blank stare. In 2014, consumers are way savvier when it comes to marketing and how brands are trying to engage them, so making sure you aren't following the herd in your niche will help you stand out a little bit more. Engaging your followers with an element of surprise now and again doesn't mean a complete change in direction, it just means changing up what you share and how you interact so your marketing doesn't become predictable and mundane.

If the average Tweet has a lifetime of 18 minutes and the brand content reach of Facebook could be next to nothing now without paying for it, a long-term engagement strategy across social channels might seem too much of an investment given the ever-changing nature of digital. But being agile, delightful and unexpected in an integrated way through your marketing will go a long way to creating experiences through which your target audience will want to stay engaged with you for the long haul.

Related: 4 Reasons Sharing Performance Metrics Will Accelerate Your Business

Mel Carson

Founder and Principal Strategist at Delightful Communications

Mel Carson is founder of Delightful Communications, a Seattle-based social-media-strategy, digital-PR and personal-branding consulting firm. He is co-author of Pioneers of Digital and speaks about digital marketing and communications at conferences globally. He spent seven years at Microsoft as its digital-marketing evangelist.

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