5 Must-Haves for Better Social Engagement
We wouldn’t break any new ground by saying that you have to be present on social media, and it helps if there’s someone on the other side of the screen to see what you’re sharing. However, your follower count isn’t the only thing that matters anymore. What your followers are sharing with you is just as important — whether it’s likes, follows, comments, pictures, or something else entirely.
Engagement is the linchpin of social media. It’s what sets it apart from all other forms of advertising, and is the key to growing your brand both online and off.
Here are 5 Must-Haves for Better Social Engagement:
1. Quality, relevant content
Content is and always has been the best way to get your audience to react — and keep coming back for more. This isn’t a trend and it’s not going anywhere. It’s the law.
You can study algorithms all day long, hashtag til you’re blue in the face, and hit your audience target better than Robin Hood himself, but you’ll still come up empty-handed if you don’t know what matters and your creative looks like crap.
You have to offer some kind of value to your (potential) followers or they don’t have a reason to follow you. Value can take the form of inspiration, helpful tips and tricks, something funny, something beautiful, or just something that’s relatable. Asking followers to buy your stuff isn’t very valuable, so you should only be pushing sales in about 10% of your posts. Much more than that and you risk losing peoples’ interest.
This doesn’t mean that you have to hire a full-time professional copywriter / photographer / videographer / graphic designer / 3D animator / supermodel to make an impact in someone’s newsfeed. But a decent camera and a basic understanding of good lighting goes a long way. When your brand looks its best, people will stick around — and maybe even tap a button or two on your post.
Don’t be afraid to shoot some video, too. Handheld phone footage is everywhere (Instagram Stories, GIFs, Snaps, and whatever else has come out since this article was written) and video content is given priority by the almighty algorithm (source). So, just make sure you have something to say, and then hit record!
Which leads us to our next point. Figure out what to say, and
2. Have a personality.
Now you’ve got great content, but you need to figure out what to say about it and how to say it. You have to be easy to find, but you must also be easy to remember.
You become memorable by developing a consistent voice for your brand that complements your kick-ass content. This voice comes from a character you create that matches your core audience. The easiest way to get started is by combining celebrity personalities into a fictional person, who becomes the archetype for how your brand tells its story. You can even give this person a name, to make your writing and posting more consistent. You can ask yourself, “Is this something Simone would say?” or “Would Dean re-share this photo?”
As time goes on, you’ll intuitively know what feels in-character for your brand, as well as what doesn’t fit.
3. Have a listening ear (and inbox)
Gone are the darkened days of advertisers hopelessly shouting into the void. Billboards, newspapers, TV ads… all were sadly lacking a Reply feature. With social media, you have the opportunity to ask your audience a question, and actually get an answer! Just think of the glory you’re leaving on the table if you spark a conversation and then don’t comment, reply, share, follow-back, and follow up.
The best way to dive into your audience’s dialogue is by identifying relevant and active hashtags, then using them in your posts while commenting on others’. There’s no better way than hashtags to find like-minded people who are ready to share and be shared.
By the way, share their stuff! Nothing makes people feel seen and heard like seeing their own handle in someone else’s feed. Re-sharing user generated content has never been easier (it’s seriously like 3 taps in Instagram Stories), and that’s free content that you don’t have to make. In the process, you’re creating a connection with that individual, while showing everyone else that you’re listening to them.
However, you also have to listen to what they aren’t saying. We’re talking about the data behind the scenes: Impressions, click-throughs, location hot spots, demographics, and on and on and on. Marketing statistics is a rabbit hole that goes as far as you’re willing to take it, and it can be intimidating to dive in the deep end. However, even a slight dip of the toe can keep you from feeling like you’re swimming against the current, as these numbers give you hidden insights that aren’t readily apparent.
4. Have a conscience
Once you’ve spent some time listening to — and learning from — your audience, you should have an idea of what matters to them. Hopefully it’s in-line with your brand and business, because today’s consumers have become increasingly discerning in the brands they choose to support, and they research companies before they make a purchase source. As a result, aligning your brand values with your consumer base is more important than ever.
Don’t worry. This doesn’t mean you have to operate a 501(c) mega charity to get people’s attention.
Maybe you plant trees to offset your carbon footprint, or only use non-GMO and post-consumer ingredients. You might sponsor little league teams in the local community, or maybe you just have a robust office recycling policy.
Find out what resonates with your followers, and make it a part of your mission. Then tactfully pepper it into your messaging, without being boastful or self-righteous.
5. Have a Budget
Unfortunately social media has become a pay-to-play environment, where organic reach is nearly an artifact of the past.
While un-boosted posts sit and gather dust, a strategic $5 or $10 can really get things moving. Promoting a post allows you to not only reach more people, but also target specific locations, interests, and demographics that focus on those who might actually care, while filtering out the ones who would keep scrolling.
If you can afford it, you should also plan on giving away some free product / experience as a way to incentivize would-be engagers. An Instagram giveaway, a prize package sweepstakes, an all-expense-paid trip to the Bahamas — whatever you can offer to draw more people in.
Once the contest is over, hopefully they stick around. Your beautifully crafted content and personalized messaging will ward off that “Unfollow” button. An interest in your audience’s perspective and subsequent conversation thread will get their friends’ attention. Your awareness of current topics and hashtags will show that you’re in-tune with what’s going on. Finally, your commitment to the community will humanize your brand, giving people that warm fuzzy feeling of knowing that they’re supporting a good cause.
By all means, you can ignore your social media engagement, just like you can try selling street chili in the summer. But for everyone who’s tired of just seeing their aunts and neighbors in the comment section, these 5 Must-Haves for Better Social Engagement are a great place to start.