Some of my friends made fun of me by naming me as the Engagement Guy. “Hey, Engagement Guy, what’s up man? ” or “Hey Engagement Guy, I knew I could count on you for the ideas bro.” That’s the reaction each time we met. Somehow that engagement word stuck on their mind when they see my face rather than the Content Guy I was preaching about since day one. The name stuck because in every advice that I offer, the engagement subject will always be there. Engagement, engagement and engagement. That’s my mantra to the people.
I hardly talk or write about the technical part of digital marketing actually. I don’t share my thoughts much on social analytics, Facebook Ads, content scheduling, social listening, Google Analytics, A/B testing and all other jargons on both my website and social channels. The main reason I purposely avoid talking about those topics is because these aren’t going to help much with your digital strategy. Seriously, I mean it. I don’t say that these aren’t important at all, just they don’t help much. They won’t solve your digital marketing headache as a whole. These are just processes. These are operational and nothing more.
Then what? You need something more than that. You need something that makes more sense, realistic and practical. You need this,
True social interaction.
In other words, you need to build a real community of your own and interact with them. I’ve highlighted this many time before and some of you might have heard this again and again but this is the most fundamental element that you need to know, in order to hack your digital marketing to success. Do take note that this formula may take a while before you can reap the rewards but I can tell you that it is all worth the wait. For your better understanding, here are my story about the intense approach I took to capitalised the social media world especially on LinkedIn so effectively by using the true social interaction. I am still building my brand but the rewards that I’m gaining is priceless.
Back then in 2013 when I started, I realised that I do not have a lot of money to fund my way to huge followers. I didn’t come from rich family, no budget can be allocated at all for this purpose nor have any investors who believe in my journey. The only way I could get followers to follow me was to connect with my real-life friends. Every day without fail, I would meet them for coffee or pay a courtesy visit to their offices and eventually seek them to connect with me via LinkedIn. Some didn’t even know what LinkedIn was all about. Besides interacting with them over the phone or texting, we started to communicate via the comment section of each LinkedIn post. Well, the topic of the discussion wasn’t so much of the posted content but about something else. That’s how I began.
I was in Facebook and Twitter much earlier than LinkedIn. Despite that, I didn’t quite see how these two platforms can help me on my professional journey. These works best for casual purposes, not professional ones. Until today, I spend less time on other social platforms than LinkedIn. I believed that I need the right and accurate type of audience for me to building my personal brand, I found my answer here on LinkedIn.
The quality of content I posted began to evolve too. During my early days, my writing quality was beyond pathetic. It’s a nightmare. That’s the feedback that I got at that time. While working on that department, I started off by sharing other people’s content instead. I shared a lot of articles, totally about Marketing and nothing else. I don’t share too many articles daily, just between 2-3 per day and I handpicked the most impactful ones only. How do I choose which article are impactful or not? The article must be appealing and inviting enough to create interest for me to read it. This was my first criteria. Then it must be able to make me relate myself to the content and I must understand them from just the first attempt. These are common sense. If I don’t read it, most probably others won’t too. On the other hand, if they love the article, they might click the Like button, comment on it or better they share it out. If any of these happens, it will trigger me to thank them via a reply. Slowly but surely my connections started to grow from here. Exchanging ideas or even just conversations at the comment area was my ultimate goal each time when I’m on social media, till today.
After a few years, I began to publish my own opinion and insight via simple articles. Before, I didn’t have a website to house all my articles. I published everything within my LinkedIn account and LinkedIn Page. Only last year I bought my domain and began to publish and centralise my thoughts there.
Well, clearly the wait was all worth it. Today as a nobody, this unknown kampung (a Malay word for village) boy has built an engaging audience of 10,000 or so from LinkedIn, Flipboard, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr as well as my blog combined. For a non-celebrity guy like me, this is quite an achievement.
An engaging audience is a complete different from just an audience, and this is what you must aiming for. An engaging audience is a group of people who continues to interact with one another online either by sharing their suggestions, experience, success stories, challenges or simply donate a Like button on my posts. These are the same people who follow my business and Marketing advices and value my insights dearly. Bonding can easily be created by regular interaction. Now, besides interacting with each other via LinkedIn or Twitter I am still doing my coffee session every week either with the existing connections or with newer ones. Simply said, I am building real friendships with the same people I am interacting with on my digital channels.
To prove the positive effect I have via this approach, I could see that people started to believe in me by simply looking at each status I posted. There are at least on average of double digits Likes and a few comments beneath each post. The number grows when the topic of the post really hit them emotionally, and this tend to get out of hand and very contagious. When that happens, the number of Likes would swollen to about 200 to 400 per post. As the followers grow, the engagement numbers will grow too. If you notice, there are other people’s posts that gained thousands of Likes and comments. Well, I am not at that kind of level yet but rest assured I’m heading that way.
As I continue with my online-offline activities to grow my online followers, keeping the conversation alive is very important. I will try my best to reply to each comment, direct messages and instant messages too as fast as I can despite having to run several content assignments and social media campaigns for customers. Keeping each post alive has been always my objective to ensure that majority of my posts will continue to float on the News Feed or Timeline. By keeping the post floating, many more people would ‘accidentally’ see it and may feel the urge to stop scrolling and take a look at it. If more people notice, the chance of them commenting or liking it is very high. I hardly spend on paid ads to boost any of my posts, all are done organically.
I was told the other day that there are an avid readers among my connections who read each and every single article I shared. And they are very quiet about it. I am very grateful for this. It clearly shows that I am their buddy and they are very comfortable with me and my ideas. Perhaps when they are thinking of Marketing, they are thinking of me. This is what I called as creating a movement. Just like what Hard Rock had done, creating a cult.
I want them to know that their Marketing journey is still good even though every single thing is being done without much money in hand. It is okay. I want them to also know that they are all going to be taken care of by my continuous tips and tricks I am sharing share week in week out. Marketing isn’t about those technical jargons that you need to learn and understand. It’s not about paid ads, paid for search engine optimisation or all sorts of analytics you’ve been hearing people talking. It’s all about how good you are at connecting with other people and how you can use your value to benefit them. That is how you should play your digital marketing. This is your winning strategy to conquer the digital success for you and your brand. And it will work, trust me.
The Engagement Guy signing off.