With the holiday season just around the corner it’s time to start planning party schedules and all the other social events that we come to expect this time of year. If you are a brand and have a Twitter presence maybe you are also planning on sharing some of the holiday excitement with your online community? If so, I have one question for you:

Do you know how to throw a successful Twitter cocktail party for your brand?

If you don’t, don’t worry, you’re not alone.  I had the chance to experience social media engagement legend, Gary Vaynerchuck, at a conference earlier in this year; he inspires a lot of people with his natural approach to engagement on multiple social channels. Gary explained that Twitter is the “largest cocktail party in the world”.  It’s hard to argue that since the definition of a cocktail party is casual interactions with people that may or may not lead to long-term relationships.

When it comes to throwing a cocktail party on Twitter, it’s the same as a in-person cocktail party – is all in the details. Brands are trying to hone in on these details, but  are struggling with building their social strategies beyond simple monitoring and high level reporting. Understandably, the focus to gain additional insight from the community is at the top of the list for most marketing teams, but the struggle for most is when and how to take action.

Who exactly should brands engage? Is random engagement still creepy?  What content will resonate with followers and allow them to talk about certain brands and share that brands content with their followers?  What about the audience talking about a brands products or services that do not follow that brand or even knows it exists?  Whether it is ideal or not, if a brand has a Twitter handle it should be hosting a Twitter cocktail party everyday!

Let’s look at this tweet for example – “Car shopping this weekend, stressed out already!”  This can be intimidating for a brand to engage with as the message has mixed emotions.  If you look at it as an opportunist it can be the start of a loyal customer for life. There is ample room for engagement with this tweet for example there is no mention of what type of car this person is looking for or their budget. There is some obvious tension here and a great opportunity to lend a hand and help them make the right purchasing decision.

The good news is that this person is speaking the language that a car salesperson faces on a daily basis.  It is as simple as taking what this person does on a daily basis and translating it into 140 characters. For example, start with a friendly tweet with a link hosted on your website around “The top 5 things to consider when purchasing a car”, followed by a simple “good luck!”  This can go a long way as the purchaser will now see this dealership and salesperson as a resource. It opens the door for the opportunity to make an impression both personally and on behalf of the dealership not to mention it will land this consumer on the website to read the comforting content giving them a warm fuzzy feeling.  Hopefully this will result in a “thank you” reply but if not feel free to follow up in a few days and invite them down to the dealership on the weekend if they have any additional questions.  Long story short, this is a chance to stand out in a sea of Tweets that has great opportunity for the brand who cares to engage.

Twitter has the most open engageable audience for brands  in comparison to all the other social channels. The classification of a brand’s Twitter audience is a great representation of the overall social audience. Twitter users are likely to participate in multiple social media channels and have a higher aptitude than your average Facebook user. Understanding the profile of brands Twitter community, including likes and interests, will help an organization scale to a more successful engagement strategy.

Not everyone is ready to take the necessary steps to successfully engage their audience, mainly because it is difficult.  The industry standard continues to be focused on the masses and easy to manage through scheduled posts and replying only to @mentions. In the future a brands social presence will be measured on the ability to engage beyond the masses.  Broadcasting your content on Twitter is very one directional.  It is what faceless brands do and the consumers are continuing to move away form this approach by opting out of mailing lists, using DVR and skipping commercials because there is nothing that makes them feel emotionally engaged.

Understanding your changing community is the likely place to start looking for greater insight from those who matter most – current and prospective customers.  As technologies evolve brands will be able to get closer to the voice of the customer.  Those who take the time to understand this approach will have an edge on the market moving forward. Be more than a faceless corporation, be an engaged corporation and that social ROI you have been longing for might be closer than you think.

(Photo from  gordonflood.com)