As businesses both big and small start to create a presence on social media, users are becoming overwhelmed by the amount of content being thrown at them every time they check their phones. Audiences have been inadvertently trained to skim through posts, making it more and more difficult to reach out and grab people’s attention.
Because of this, many businesses need to rethink how they approach user engagement. It’s no longer enough to create a few posts, close your eyes and hope for the best. The 10 tips below are some best practices that are important for all businesses with a social media presence to understand and integrate into their online profiles.
Building a strong relationship with your customers is vital to increasing engagement across all social media platforms.
Too often businesses fail to write simple replies to curious customers, which often leads to consumers feeling unvalued by the business. When the business then wants to reach out and market to that user, they’re going to find that it’s difficult to budge that person into making a purchase decision.
By responding and reacting to user comments a business shows that it is interested in the welfare of the user. In saying this, customers do notice shortcuts such as cut-and-paste responses, so these should be avoided when possible.
People enjoy the company of others who seem authentic and relatable, and the same holds true for people’s relationships with businesses online. Your business should have a social media brand voice – that is, the personality of the brand itself.
Social media expert Jay Baer put it best when he wrote:
“Don’t just give your customers something to talk about, give them somebody to talk about.”
By having a personality behind the brand’s voice you can give your brand the best chance possible of engaging effectively with its audience.
Use the right images
It goes without saying that images are important for engagement, but ensuring that these pictures can be easily viewed on all devices is often overlooked. Simply cross-checking social media posts on both mobile and desktop devices goes a long to making sure that your business’ post is easy to read and engage with.
Why not conduct market research while driving engagement with your customers online? By asking for feedback and reviews on your social media pages you can learn more about both your products and your followers. Most major social media platforms now also have built in features allowing you to conduct polls in a user-friendly way.
Staying up to date on trending topics and stories of the day is a must for growing your brand’s online presence and engagement. Pop culture holidays (such as May 4th for Star Wars Day) and sports events can provide plenty of ideas for posts that will encourage engagement.
In the 20th century it was common practice for businesses and marketers to treat consumers as naïve and gullible shoppers. Deceptive tricks were often employed to try and trick audiences into buying the brand (https://www.businessinsider.com.au/subliminal-ads-2011-5?r=US&IR=T#want-to-see-more-unusual-advertisements-16). Thankfully, that sentiment has (for the most part) changed dramatically as the internet has taken off, and nowadays it pays to avoid any sort of deception online in an attempt to get clicks.
Did you know that two thirds of audiences feel deceived when they realise that they’ve been tricked into reading sponsored content? (https://contently.com/strategist/2014/11/24/35-content-marketing-stats-you-need-to-know/) While deceptive tactics may get your business a few extra clicks in the short run, over time you’ll wear away both your brand’s following and its credibility.
Be direct in your call-to-actions and consumers will reward you with their attention.
Post user-generated content
Social media engagement rates can receive a huge boost by utilising the skills of your audience in the posts themselves. Campaigns that use content created by fans goes a long way to developing a strong connection between brand and user, also helping businesses understand how its audience communicates.
In combination with this, users who create content for the brand are likely to share their work within their own network of family and friend, giving your business a greater reach on each platform.
Use content calendars
Content calendars require a somewhat hefty amount of planning each month, but when utilised well can give your business a huge boost in an often undervalued KPI – consistency.
Posting regularly on social media is just as important as posting quality content. By consistently being seen on your audience’s social media feeds you help establish your brand in consumer minds. The majority of people scrolling down their Facebook feeds are not going to click on the link you’ve shared – but by simply being present on their feed you’ve already put in steps to increasing brand awareness. When the audience then enters the category your business sells in, your business is much more likely to be top of mind as it has built up mental availability in the consumer’s mind.
Keep things fresh
No one wants to see the same type of post every day, and with the flexibility available to businesses today on social media there’s no excuse for boring your audience. There are a variety of formats that can be used to keep things fresh, such as news, quotes, humour, surveys, videos, images and infographics. Of course, some of these formats may not be appropriate for your business, but a little experimenting between forms can go a long way in keeping fans interested and engaged with the brand.
Listen to your audience
It’s easy to become overly reliant on posting content that directly relates to your business and its brand strategy. However, taking a step back and focusing on general engagement will normally reap higher benefits in the long run.
Dave Kerpen, the CEO of Likeable Media provides an astute analogy regarding this tip:
“At a cocktail party, you wouldn’t walk up to someone and say, ‘Hey, I’m Dave. My stuff is 20% off.’ What you do is ask questions, tell stories, listen and relate to people.”
This approach is looked upon favourably by users as it shows that your business does not have an agenda and helps to position you as being friendlier and more relatable than your competitors.
Clearly, there are plenty of ways to increase user engagement on your business’ social media pages. While many of these tips may seem obvious at first, it is rare to find a business that is able to execute effectively on each point. However, by paying attention to your users and by investing some time into improving your pages, it is possible to see genuine results in audience engagement over time.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Patrick Black is a marketer with a passion for learning how businesses can improve their advertising through science-backed principles. He enjoys writing about marketing much more than he likes to write about himself.
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