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Ways to Win Hearts in Your Online Community
By: Christine Geraci
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Have you ever wondered why we need a designated day of the year to tell people we love them? Shouldn't you be able to share the Valentine's Day spirit with people you love every day? But I guess it's just not human nature. After all, you may know your significant other loves you, but you don't necessarily need that person to offer regular proof in the form of flowers, candy, and expensive jewelry. 
I think the same holds true for Facebook fans. They've liked your page, so you know they want to hear from you. Then, when you make an overture to your fan base and post to your page...crickets chirp. It can be quite discouraging. 
But I'd like to encourage you not to give up on this romance — not yet. 
If your fans aren't engaging, it might just mean you need to work a little harder at the relationship. Here are some ideas to help you try to kindle the flame of brand loyalty:
Ask your fans what they want. Do your research when it comes to who your fans are, what they want from you, and how you can help them. Yes, general demographic information and simplified metrics on the best times to tweet and post are a good place to start, but they're not the whole picture. Your audience is YOUR audience — you should know them on a level deeper than what general surveys and studies tell you. 
Be consistent. Sometimes, you need to prove to your fans that your'e in it for the long haul when it comes to your social presence. If you've been active socially and then bailed for a while — due to staffing changes, funding issues, or plain old lack of understanding — it's going to take you a while to win their trust back. They're going to want to know you're not going anywhere, so it might mean a string of posts with no interaction for a while. But once they see you consistently trying to interact, the ones worth catering to will reciprocate. 
Be humble. Sure, your fans are your fans because they want to know what you're up to, as well as learn more about who you are as an entity. But nobody likes a pompous ass. Take a hard look at your content. Is it often self-congratulatory? Does it ever put your fans or your partners in the spotlight? No? Then it's time to heat up a nice big slice of humble pie and chow down. As Ann Handley of MarketingProfs says: "Your customer is the hero of your story."
Try something different. If what you've been doing in terms of content hasn't been working, try something new. Change the kinds of photos and videos you share. Ask more questions. Offer up polls. You never know what's going to work until you try — usually multiple times. But any time you do try something different, make sure you pay close attention to what resonates and what doesn't, then adjust content accordingly. Very often, it's not the type of content resonating, but the message that content sends.
How else are you showing your online community some love?

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About the Author
Christine Geraci is the Social Media/Promotions Specialist at MVP Health Care in Schenectady, NY. Connect with her on Twitter @christinegeraci.
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