With 53 percent of the world’s population using social media, there is no excuse for a brand today to not at least have a presence. But it’s not enough to just have a Facebook page, or a Twitter account, or a Pinterest page – brands have to actively maintain and monitor that presence to achieve the results they want.

Take Applebee’s in Barrie, Ontario for example. A Canadian comic book artist who sometimes goes by Chip Zdarsky began replying to the restaurant’s Facebook questions with snarky and silly responses. Instead of deleting the posts or ignoring him, their social media team engaged with him. Here’s one encounter:

Social media monitoring

Did they convert Chip into a loyal customer? Maybe not. But the good-hearted humor on their page established a good rapport with the page’s other followers and even took on social media legs of its own. All that free publicity isn’t a bad thing!

Several months ago, a coworker visited a local sandwich shop and got an apple with her lunch salad. She saved the apple for her break later that afternoon. When she bit into this tasty-looking apple, however, she found the inside was completely rotten (and not tasty at all). She tweeted a pic and a “well isn’t this gross” message and tagged the shop’s Twitter account – and within five minutes had a message back asking for her contact information. And in a few days, she received an email with a complimentary gift card along with an apology for the less-than-stellar product. She never asked to be reimbursed, nor did she even expect them to respond – but the shop’s social media monitoring team worked fast to make a bad experience better.

The point is, retailers have to monitor all of their social media responses, whether it’s a request for information, a complaint, or just a jovial prank. So be prompt, be concise, and most importantly be genuine. If you do, you’ll be creating followers for life.

Here’s an easy checklist to help actively engage your social media audience:

  • Try to post at least 2-3 times a week on each platform. When things are busy, even a quick photo of the storefront or website homepage lets your followers know you’re open and ready for business!
  • Actively engage in popular trending features within each app. Live streaming, for example, is a great way to boost your post reach, in addition to providing an immediate connection with your audience.
  • Use the search tools in apps like Instagram and Facebook to seek out and engage with posts organically speaking about your brand. You can find your company’s organic conversation by browsing tagged locations, trending hashtags, and more—when you find a post, be sure to leave a “like” or “comment”.