GROW YOUR BUSINESS
10 Tips for Increasing Your Social Media Engagement
By Katie Rose for SocialMediaWeek.com
The key to becoming a successful social media user is in the engagement.
Social media is beginning to take its rightful throne in the world of marketing as for many businesses it’s the key catalyst for brand growth. If done right, it’s domino-effect can create waves of positivity for many businesses to boost brand awareness and increase conversions to improve company profits.
Promoting your brand through social media is therefore vital to businesses, but getting your content on these channels isn’t what gets you the sales. The key to becoming a successful social media user is in the engagement. Follow these top tips for increasing social media engagement below to achieve business growth.
1. Talk About Your Topic (Not Just Your Brand)
In many new situations when you come into contact with new people it’s important to get talking to them. Obviously creating content and publishing it onto your social feeds is perfect in letting people know what you are about. But, if you don’t have a following, which many new users won’t have, joining groups and creating them will help to get your name about.
Best Practice: Joining any old group isn’t effective. Imagine you are a beauty salon. Joining a forum that is all about electrics isn’t going to reach the right people and hence could be a major waste of time. Involving yourself in groups that are relevant to your business will increase your chances of reaching your target audience and will get your name known by potential customers.
For businesses in the health and nutrition markets, joining Facebook groups is crucial for getting discussion around the brand started.
In conjunction with joining forums on your expertise, it’s great to create some of your own. Making multiple groups on your social media platforms and inviting key influencers and prospective customers to join in the discussion is one of the smartest ways of spreading your brand.
Remember: Only promoting your own brand creates a bad impression. Groups and forums aren’t their to talk about yourself only. Having different group members to lead discussion and talk about the latest trends or ongoings in the industry or area that’s relevant to the brand will make customers see you as useful and of value. Don’t be the big-headed brand that talks about themselves only. Talk about your topic too!
2. Join Question & Answer Sessions
Handing out nuggets of gold to customers is as easy as giving them useful information and answering their queries. Joining Q&A answer sessions is a great way to provide users with value and gets you seen as a helpful brand. If you can offer relevant answers to customer queries and spark discussion with your prospective customers, all before your competitors, you will become the go-to seller.
With consumers becoming more impatient and wanting answers to their queries almost immediately, having a dedicated customer response team is perfect for catering to those needs.
Best Practice: Being the first to reply to queries helps to put you above your competitors. However, if the content you provide isn’t of use and is clear to customers you published it in a rush, you are likely to damage your reputation and brand image. Instead, we advise you to complete ongoing research to the most commonly asked questions in your area to create sample answers that can easily be personalised and published to give relevant quick responses.
When researching into the most common FAQs in your field, it’s best practice to create in-depth guides or more detailed blog posts to give customers insightful data into their queries. Adding links to these in your responses shows you are willing to go above and beyond to help your customers. People like to buy from a brand they can trust, know will deliver and be on-hand when things don’t go to plan. Through delivering a hub of help in each of your responses, you are likely to attract more buyers and become a force to be reckoned with.
3. Share Other People’s Content
If someone else can provide better answers to a query, make use of their content. Your customers will see that you are there to give them what they need, whether it comes from yourself or not. If your social media feed can provide them with relevant information, whether it’s yours or not, they will be attracted to your brand and hence will be encouraged to follow you.
Keeping your content diverse (yet relevant) and from different contributors, will keep customers interested. Sometimes hearing the same person talk about the same stuff, day in day out can become a little boring. So get sharing!
Reposting Customer or Follower Posts
Not only should you share content from different businesses in the industry, it’s important you share your followers and customers posts too. Particularly for those brands who are well established, getting your tweet about how you love Thorntons chocolate shared by Thornton’s themselves can be an exciting moment for that chocolate lover!
In addition to making the customer feel great about themselves for being worthy to go on your business feed, it can lead to them sharing your reply to them or even screenshotting the evidence of you favouriting or sharing their content.
That means more exposure for you. From simply clicking the share buttons of positive posts around your brand or goods and services, you can spark more customer engagement. Perfect.
Example 1: Coca-Cola share posts positively promoting the use of the product and those that include the specific hashtag ‘#ShareACoke’.
Example 2: Walkers Crisps use football star Reggie Yates’ promotional video to post on their channel to encourage football fans into buying Walkers. This targets a large audience through clever use of publishing follower/influencer content.
Using Influencers to Share Content
Assuming you have established relationships with influencers in the market such as bloggers and social media influencers, it is great to utilise these relationships to get your content shared.
Asking well-known individuals in your area of expertise to promote your posts in return for a discount or freebie is good for getting your brand seen by your prospective customers through a trusted, familiar face. Offering something in return for the shares helps to ensure the influencer feels like they are getting value from collaborating with you. It’s a win-win situation!
Walkers share TV personality and influencer, Paddy McGuinness’s content on Walkers crisps and the best flavors to pair together for the best crisp sandwiches.
Okay, so your influencers have a good relationship with you and have found your content relevant to share on their social media channels. Don’t just stop there. Guest posting is a great way to increase social media engagement. By creating in-depth articles to go on blogs and news channels, these can be promoted across social media directing people to your site, or a bloggers site that features your article.
This is perfect for giving customers more details about your company and what you can offer them in a detailed, useful blog post. Take advantage of this opportunity. It also works great for backlinks improving your SEO and website rankings.
#4: Make Your Customers Feel Engaged
Not only should you just share your customer’s posts, but to really make them feel engaged, it’s best to give direct responses to their content.
Responding to every customer post that doesn’t just directly address the brand but perhaps mentions it through a specific hashtag is great for ensuring each customer feels like they are valued by the business. Using social media tools to find every user who is posting about the brand is vital to ensure users feel like they are connected to the company.
Mcdonald’s show how far they take customer engagement with many of their tweets being responses to customer posts.
Personalisation of Engagement
But Mcdonald’s doesn’t stop with just responding to each of their posts, they go on step further to ensure they personalise the response to directly address each user. This can be seen in many of their Twitter replies.
By greeting customers with their name it shows that each response has been carefully crafted to each user by a human, making the business feel friendly and not like a large corporation. Instead, it brings the brand closer to the customer to help build relationships and customer loyalty.
By signing off a reply with the name of the employee dealing with the enquiry or post, it also helps to bring a name or face that customers can get in touch with. This proves an effective method of making the business more attractive as customers feel as though they are getting help from a real human, rather than just an automated message.
“People trust people more than they trust faceless, corporate brands.”
Creating a Conversation
Another great tool for getting engagement to not only occur but continue is to create a conversation with customers to get them talking to you. By asking questions about personal experiences the customer has with the goods and services, it can help the brand to obtain customer feedback as well as sparking discussion among users.
Domino’s Pizza created a discussion around the use of pineapple on a pizza which is a common debate by all pizza lovers. Tapping into this discussion helped to generate engagement for the brand by not just pizza lovers but festival goers and The Telegraph readers too. This was cleverly done by quoting the news article ‘Pineapple banned from Reading and Leeds music festival' from The Telegraph. By doing this they were opening their engagement reach to a wider audience for the best chance of generating a discussion.
Give Your Response Feelings
Customers will form a particular impression about you depending on what you write. It’s not uncommon for conversations online to be misunderstood, particularly when there is a lack of use of emoticons. When customers include emoticons in their posts to your brand, it’s wise to use them in return. You can create a fun conversation that is visual and interesting for other viewers to read too!
Domino’s Pizza includes emoticons in almost every tweet. This is useful for showing users what the post is about in a quick, visual way.
Having looked into some of the best practices for getting chatter around your brand started and the ways that make the customer feel engaged, it’s time to turn to the content itself.
Make Your Posts Visual
Just like emoticons, images and videos are also great additions to add to social media posts and marketing content in general. These act to create a more appealing post that users will want to read, but it also caters to those of different browsing styles who may disregard plain text posts altogether. Including an image, GIF or short video into your social posts can make it attractive to all types of users and also increase the accessibility of the posts.
Combining the use of emoticons with images and videos is a frequent post style for Domino’s Pizza. And it works!
5. Add Relevant Hashtags (#) to Your Posts
Another beneficial way of making your post more attractive to users is through the use of hashtags. Not only do these help keywords to stand out in the post itself, they are great for tracking discussion around a specific topic and connecting with people who are using that particular hashtag.
Remember: If the hashtag relates to your target audience or can help you reach your target audience, include it in your post. But don’t go hashtag mad! Too many hashtags can be more damaging to your social media feed and brand reputation than you think!
Coca-Cola made great use of the #ShareACoke hashtag across multiple social media channels including Instagram. Each post that contained this hashtag can be easily found by performing a simple search with the hashtag in the Instagram search bar. This is great for connecting with each user who has used your specific hashtag which opens to door to engagement worldwide, in an easy way.
Hashtags used in this sense have the main benefits of reaching not only your followers but also to the non-followers that are looking for the same information.
Another good example of utilising hashtags for social media engagement is with Walkers Crisps. By creating a ‘#ChooseOrLose’ hashtag on two flavours of Walkers crisps, they were not only able to obtain feedback on which flavour was more popular but generate mass discussion around the products and the brand itself.
Walkers also went one step further and used the Twitter card tool to help voters easily compose tweets choosing their favourite flavour. This simplified the process of engaging with a customer, making them more likely to get involved.
6. Create Polls & Surveys
Another good practice for creating engaging social media posts is through the use of polls and surveys. Social media polls and surveys are super simple for obtaining that needed customer feedback quickly.
Best Practice: Post your poll or survey at the optimal times that your target audience tends to be active.
The data obtained from polls and surveys are great for future marketing material. Airbnb created a poll to learn what it is customer’s see as a need for their short breaks and escapes. The results show that users prefer mountain views the most with outdoor hot tubs coming in a close second.
From this information, Airbnb can tailor their future holiday deals around properties that include these features to try and improve conversions and sales. Although this particular poll is pretty brief and generic which makes it seem targeted to get customers interacting with the brand by voting, rather than to really try and obtain useful data for future marketing campaigns. If you can use your poll to do both at the same time, even better!
7. Run Contests and Giveaways
Offering your customers something in return for tweeting with a specific hashtag, retweeting or sharing your content or becoming a follower is a great way to reward and acknowledge engagement.
People, in general, are more than happy to get involved with a brand if it means they will get something from the business. That could be a freebie, discount code or perhaps a cheaper membership, the choice is yours. Running a simple contest that gets users engaging with your brand is a great way to attract more customers and raise brand awareness.
Top Tip: Try to make your contest as fair as possible when generating a winner. If you have to choose, using a random selection tool is a great way to give all of your users a fair chance in being picked for the prize.
8. Post Frequently (and at optimal times)
Making sure your social media channels are active is vital to show your audience you’re up to date and on top of the latest trends. They want to know what’s happening with your brand at the moment it occurs. Make sure you post content frequently to keep your audience updated and in-the-know.
Frequent posts on a regular basis, (once a month isn’t going to cut it anymore!), can not only keep you followers following you, but also attract more. If you don’t post regularly, you may lose followers. But why?
Social Media Moves Fast
Social media channels move fast. That means once you have posted, it is unlikely that a user will see it a week or even a few days after it’s published. Content is constantly being uploaded all over social sites, particularly Twitter. That’s why for many campaigns, posting up to 3 times spread throughout a day is acceptable to ensure your users actually see your content.
If users think you are inactive and never get their hands on your content, they are likely to see you as a pointless person to follow. Saying bye to someone is pretty easy if you feel like you don’t know them. Make sure your customers know you by publishing relevant, useful content to them regularly.
Publishing posts at times when your target customers are most likely active is one of the best ways to ensure your followers will see your content giving you the best chance of generating engagement.
Remember: Regular posts about the latest company news, as well as industry news, will help your business be seen as an authority within the industry. Posting this type of content frequently will showcase you to ahead of the game.
Furthermore, Google considers the ‘freshness’ score while ranking websites. If your website and social media channels have fresh content, it will always help to boost your SEO for better a ranking position.
9. Engage With The Latest Trends and Issues
Sharing and liking the latest posts on the trends and issues relevant to your industry is a great way to show support and involvement. Assuming you are sharing or responding to content that is fair and doesn’t spark offence, engaging with these posts will help to strengthen your reputation. You demonstrate to users, whether they are potential customers or not, that you value the social happenings beyond your business which generates respect and admiration for your brand.
10. Use Analytics Tools to Monitor Engagement
Analytics Tools are really helpful in monitoring the levels of engagement on social media, websites and more. You obtain rich insights of data that is perfect for making those needed campaign changes for improvements. From tracking the number of views and the number of link or image clicks to find the optimal times to post and the most successful social media sites for your business.
There are many great tools to measure how engaging your posts are, although we recommend the following:
Each analytics tool offers something slightly different so it’s great to experiment with a few to ensure you get the data you need for measuring your social media engagement
Twitter Analytics is specifically for the social media platform Twitter giving the user a more in-depth analysis of posts than other generic analytics tools that focus on monitoring multiple social sites.
For Bimuno, a revolutionary health and nutrition supplement provider, their Twitter analytic data covers things like ‘tweet impressions’, ‘followers’, and ‘profile visits’. These figures are given over the period of 28 days to show an overall impact of the posts that have been created.
Twitter analytics also gives weekly figures showing data such as ‘top tweet’, ‘top media tweet’ and ‘top mention’. Over time these results can be monitored and analysed to see what post style is most successful and what gets people talking to the brand the most.
Most analytics tools also have customisable options so that each user can obtain specific types of data in the date range that they require. This is ideal for users who need to measure a whole campaign that may be set to run at awkward times due to events going on etc. For example, a Bank Holiday Twitter campaign for Bimuno needs to be measured over the days Thursday to Monday and hence the analytics report must reflect this. Showing data over the whole month won’t necessarily give accurate results or make the success of the campaign clear.
Research Can Lead You To New Followers – Do It!
Besides analytics tools, there are also lots of tools available where you can find new followers. These sorts of web apps or sites allow you to join groups based on the keywords so you can join a real-time conversation on the topic you specialise in. This is an impressive tool for improving social media engagement by taking you straight to the place the right people are talking about your area of expertise or industry.
What Have You Learned?
From our top 10 tips to social media engagement, you should now know about some of the best ways to get social media users buzzing about your brand. Let’s summarise.
Don’t talk just about your brand. Discuss the latest in your industry and give people useful information about your topic of business.
Get on board with question and answer sessions.
Be a sharer – of relevant content only
Make sure your customers feel engaged with by using asking questions and creating a conversation.
Personalise your response by addressing each user who mentioned you with their name.
Show your feelings in a post through emoticons to liven up responses and show users your message’s tone.
Make your posts visual and fun with images and GIFs.
Add hashtags to your posts to not only makes your post more interesting but to get all of those search benefits.
Get customer feedback through the use of polls and surveys.
Run contests to win freebies in return for shares, retweets and other types of engagement.
Get posting frequently and at the right time.
Engage on the latest trends and issues within your industry.
Measure your success with analytics tools.
Katie Rose is Digital Marketing Assistant at iWeb, a leading UK based eCommerce agency. iWeb are certified Magento developers with over 22 years experience designing and developing eCommerce websites.
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