Does your audience like you? Do they trust you? Even in today’s social media-centric society, lots of brands would still answer “I don’t know” to questions like these. While social media has transformed the way brands engage with people, many businesses aren’t focused enough on engagement.
If you don’t put effort into engaging your audience authentically and building a loyal following, you’ll fail. If you’re just producing more noise in this crowded and chaotic landscape you’ll barely be noticed. If you don’t tap into what your audience wants or needs, you’ll distance people.
What’s a marketer to do? First, you need to look at your social media engagement as a long-term commitment, not a fling. Too many companies post about a product and wait for the likes to roll in or tweet about an upcoming event and lament the lack of ticket sales. Social media engagement is a science and an art, driven by user behaviour, brand strategy and data, just to name a few.
When people are engaged with your brand on networks like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn, it helps build loyalty, which leads to a better customer experience, which can then lead to them choosing or continuing to choose your product or service.
How to Increase Social Media Engagement
While there are many ways to increase engagement and grow your brand, we’ve narrowed it down to 5 to focus on for the next year and a bit.
- Start Conversations
This is Social Media Engagement 101, but it’s often overlooked. Interact with people by posting questions, polls, quotes – whatever makes sense to your business. If you’re an HR consultant, ask your Facebook audience about a hiring challenge or have them share a funny interview story. If you’re a fitness trainer, share a sweaty pic of your workout on Instagram and ask your followers to caption it. Simply being human on social media is a great way to gain awareness and attention.
- Don’t Be Strictly Business
If all you’re sharing on social media networks is 20% off, buy this now, hot deals, big sale…stop it. While promos for your business are essential, your audience will tune you out if you’re too pushy. You may have heard about the rule of thirds, which means about 1/3 of your posts are original branded content – a post with a link to your latest blog, or an industry-specific tip you think your audience will appreciate. 1/3 of your posts should be useful content from similar industries – not competitors! Finally, 1/3 can be good old promotional posts: a call to action to download a whitepaper from your site or contact you for a free consultation.
- See Social Media as Customer Service
Whether you like it or not, social media is a customer service channel. People often use a business’ social media account to seek help. When someone asks a question or makes a complaint, he or she deserves a response. Other people are also watching how you react, and may decide to take their business elsewhere if they aren’t happy with how you handle things. Your best bet is to apologize for the problem and seek a solution, fast. If you can, ask the person to communicate with you directly via email or instant message so the whole world (in relation to your business) isn’t watching the back-and-forth exchange.
- Hashtags Are #soimportant
Once most popular on Instagram and Twitter, hashtags can now be used across platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn. Research and brainstorm creative and relevant hashtags that people might search for. Got a restaurant? Tag delicious-looking meals with #foodporn and #sundaybrunch. Have an adventure company? Tag a whitewater rafting trip with #bucketlistadventure. Also, hashtag what people know (or what you want them to know) about your business. For example, KitKat used a brand hashtag with the tagline #mybreak for a contest, generating over 40 million Twitter impressions.
- Use Video to Engage Your Audience
Video is shared more often than any other kind of content. 2018 stats show that on average Facebook gets 8 billion video views per day. This all translates into “there’s no getting away from video in your social media efforts.” Social platforms are focused on optimizing for video consumption, and the amount of video sharing is increasing daily.
Here are a couple of ways to get started:
- Be concise. Nobody is going to watch you drone on for four minutes about your latest service.
- Capture attention within the intro – people’s attention spans are shorter than ever.
- Provide something useful to your audience, whether it’s marketing tips, dog tricks or a makeup tutorial.
- If you don’t want to be on camera, consider shooting your product or service in action, or interviewing someone else.
Social media engagement isn’t rocket science, but it takes dedication and hard work. Even if you gain thousands of followers, you’re going to have to keep them engaged on a regular basis. By following these engagement strategies, focusing on your audience and learning from your results, you’re all set for social media success.
Have fun building your fan base and sharing your unique content!