Don't Forget to Welcome Newcomers’s nothing more awkward than walking right into the middle of a conversation with no context and only a hint of what is being discussed then being asked to contribute. How do you respond? You can’t… at least, not meaningfully. Still, many brands ask their customers to do this everyday.

Brands are constantly having conversations with customers through various social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, which is excellent for customers already part of the conversation, but what about new people?

What if someone were to visit your Twitter profile for the first time or land on your Facebook Page? Would they know what’s going on? Would they understand the conversation that’s taking place?

That first impression is critical to getting a customer to sign on to have an ongoing dialogue. Brands need to make him or her feel welcome and that he or she has a stake in the conversation. They should understand what they can expect from the brand and what the brand wants them to do as well.

Social media conversations are often broken up into chunks over an extended period of time. Someone who isn’t involved with the first “chunk” can easily be lost once they start getting involved, but brands can take steps to welcome newcomers to a conversation.

Now, there is a caveat. You don’t want to do so much handholding that the vets (those who know what’s going on because they’ve been connected to the brand for some time) feel like they aren’t welcome. Here are some basic things brands can do:

Use About Sections to Invite Conversation. Use Facebook’s, Twitter’s, YouTube’s and other social platform’s about sections to provide users with what they can expect from the brand and what the conversation surrounding the brand on the specific platform is all about. Too many brands use these sections to communicate boilerplate language about the founding of the company, number of employees or something else. Customers visiting social platforms already know the company. They’re ready to take the relationship to the next level by connecting socially. What they don’t know is the topic of conversation. Introduce them. Give them an idea of what kind of content they can expect and what you want them to do.

Introduce Your Brand. Platforms have about sections (and if you have a blog you can create one), but those only go so deep. Make that first impression a memorable one by offering content just for newcomers. This might be an introductory video on a YouTube channel titled “Watch This First,” a pinboard on Pinterest communicating everything someone should know about the brand or a tab on Facebook welcoming new members. Offer something compelling to make that first impression worthy of connecting again.

Incorporate Reminders. Don’t be afraid of using primary communication channels to communicate to newcomers. This might be an “In case you just ‘liked’ us…” Facebook post or a similar tweet. It could be links to your most popular blog content. Take the time to acknowledge the newcomers in your editorial calendars. Chances are you’ll remind the “vets” of content they missed or would at least enjoy being reminded of, too.

It’s important to remember that customer relationships are at different levels. Everyone’s different, so brands should think about how they can give customers, no matter what stage they’re in, the information they need.