When it comes to generating online buzz for your company via social media, simply having a profile on Facebook or Twitter isn’t enough these days. To promote and maintain a steady stream of activity — and hopefully conversions — you’ll need to provide consistent, focused social media engagement. Here are three ways to seize control of your company’s social media channels and build lasting rapport between your brand and its followers.

1. Interact

At The Web Guys, we’ve found that it often only takes an initial point of contact to get an online conversation rolling. Whether you “like” a post made to your company’s Facebook page by a fan or respond to a negative review, that first step of interaction shows current and potential clients that you value their input.

If someone publishes a post to your company’s Facebook wall, letting people know how much they appreciate your company, make sure to thank them for taking the time. You may also provide a link to your company’s Google+ page and ask for a fresh Google review. Asking for positive reviews from people who have already declared themselves fans of your company is a great way to breed conversation and build a strong online reputation.

Conversely, you also want to respond to any negative reviews or posts that end up on your feed. Leaving a brief, professional response often can turn someone who has had a negative experience into a lifelong customer. Listening goes a long way in the social media for business world.

2. Incentivize

What benefits do customers get from your company’s social media channels? Do you offer a 10 percent discount to anyone who mentions seeing your posts? Provide online previews of new inventory? No matter how many followers or page fans you have, providing some kind of incentive is a proven way to ensure they continue to pay attention.

A non-financial enticement for your social media audience could include making your feed the place to find the latest industry news and trending topics. Making sure that your posts are relevant, topical, and appropriate can turn your social media feeds into a trusted information source for followers. Make sure to only share content from reputable institutions, though, since you don’t want to send potential customers to a webpage you wouldn’t visit yourself.

Direct incentives can include specific promotions, campaigns, or contests. Some service-based businesses, like home inspectors and plumbers, will add a special hashtag or image to the side of their service vehicles, for example, offering a discount to anyone who takes a picture and posts it to the company’s social media channels. Some offer a discount just for mentioning an ad campaign they’ve seen online. Other companies manage contests that can be as simple as adding a funny caption to a photo or as complicated as a town-wide scavenger hunt.

3. Follow Through

No matter how you choose to drive more engagement, make sure to follow through with your plan of action. It can be confusing to current and potential customers for a month-long promotion to go cold after a few days or for the hashtag promotion they’ve taken the time to participate in not be honored.

Make sure that everyone on your team, not just the social media manager, is aware of and on board with promotions so that your company can present a united front in all customer interactions. Be up front about when promotions will end, and always respond to direct messages, even if it’s to direct someone to the official company email address.

Have more questions about social media management for your company? Contact The Web Guys at (317) 805-4933 today!