I don’t think it’s possible to “do a media site” these days without engaging with an audience. My favorite barometer of this? I can visit most any US city and have lunch with someone. Or crash on their couch. That’s from 10+ years of doing music blogs.

I don’t care about 80k followers. I care about 100 people I can get coffee with.

To move to the next stage in the social media evolution, brands need to start focusing on actively engaging their fans over a sustained period of time. An active fan is one who has a relationship with a brand and, at least once a month, reacts to posts on the brand page, indicates a liking for various content, retweets a brand’s messages or creates original content on the page.

I built Skull Toaster from the ground up based on the idea of engagement. The result? Paid subscribers and merch sales, with no banner ads, no Top 10 lists, and no SEO tactics.

If I can make $1 Tweeting metal trivia, you can increase your income by engaging your customers in human ways.

Coffee shop: engage with your customers about upcoming events and local issues instead of just Tweeting your specials.

Music lessons: send tips and links to artists you admire instead of just “new student specials!”

Musician or label: engage your fans about other stuff: baseball, ‘South Park,’ movies, video games.

Bike shop: engage your customers with amazing bike videos that you find online. Send out photos from recent rides.

It’s about more than hyping what you do (HEY, READ MY POST! WATCH OUR NEW VIDEO! 10% OFF AFTER 5PM!), and just being someone that people want to talk to.

And when people talk to one another, sometimes it leads to sales.

Or at least a coffee.