Ask your followers' questions. Answer their questions. Point them towards intriguing content. In a nutshell, keep them engaged and happy. Communicate!
If you're wondering when the payoff comes, consider this: in a late 2011 survey by social marketing firm MrYouth--whose clients include Coke, Symantec, Proctor & Gamble, and several other heavy hitters--52 percent of all social media users surveyed said they are willing to spend more money on products from brands they trust, compared to just 29 percent of non-social media users. Even more directly, social media users were twice as likely as non-users to make or receive a gift recommendation--and those recommendations were twice as likely to lead to an actual purchase.
Note to readers: This article addresses direct communications from your social accounts and initiatives rather than more advertising-orientated aspects of social media like sponsored Tweets or Facebook Storefronts.
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