Social media is everywhere. If you’re not on it then where’ve you been the past 10 years? Close to half the world’s population (a touch over 3 billion people, up 13% year-on-year!!) are on some form of social media. Your sister is on it, your dad, your nan and increasingly more common, so is your pooch. With these vast amounts of users out there, why are you finding it so hard to actually engage with your followers? Social media is as much about engaging with your follower base as it is about regularly posting, that’s why it’s called “social” media, you need to interact with each other. If all you post about is your products or what you had for tea last night your follower base just simply won’t feel engaged, and ultimately a lack of tailored posts to these followers will lead to them committing the ultimate social sin of all… unfollowing!
As a general rule of thumb for building your social media engagement there are 3 steps you should take:
- Understand or assess your current following
- Choose your post content strategy
- Analyse results
… and repeat!
Understanding Your Follower Base
If you can firstly understand who follows you, you can then understand how best to go about tailoring your content to those people and achieving higher engagement… simple right? A crucial part of this is the use of social media analytics. A lot of the most commonly used social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have tools built into their sites and apps to do such a thing.
If we take Instagram for example, they have an ‘Instagram Insights’ section of the app which is available for business pages. From here you can access all sorts of demographics on your followers:
- Follower count
- Gender split
- Age range of followers
- Where your followers are from
- Times and days when your followers are most active
- And much, much more..!
Research into these demographics will then put you in good stead for your post content strategy. Knowing the best time to post, what age range and gender to target are all key areas you should be focussing content around to achieve the highest levels of engagement.
Once you know WHO your audience is, you can then turn your attention to HOW you can boost your engagement with them.
What Should You Post?
Tailoring your content to engage with your following should be the next logical step in this journey. There are a multitude of different tactics you can incorporate to achieve this. Your audience is used to seeing posts day in day out that aren’t differentiated from each other, if something appears on their timeline that is different from the norm, be it through visualisation, a poll or a game, then they are more likely to spend time interacting with that post. Here are, in my opinion, the top 5 methods for increasing engagement with your social audience just through the way you post your content:
Method 1: Create a Poll
A good example of a social platform a poll can be incorporated into is Twitter. A poll will get your audience to engage through interacting and voting with other like-minded people. Not only do you increase engagement through interaction on your poll, but you can also post questions that can help your understanding of your customer base or gain insight to public opinion on a potential future offer or product you have in mind. A good example of a twitter poll was posted by Airbnb, posing the question ‘What are your weekend plans?’. Not only do users get to have their say and see what other people are up to, Airbnb can also see what their social audience like to do, and from here they can tailor future posts or advertisement on Airbnbs in and around cities.
Method 2: Offers & Promotions
This method is more tailored toward businesses who want to look to increase their social engagement. If you provide a product then creating a simple offer such as a product giveaway could work for you. Base your offer on terms that the user must like and share your post to be in with a chance to win. Not only does this increase the amount of existing follower engagement, it also gives you exposure with the people who connect with your audience as your post will be shared to their timelines too!
Method 3: Talk to Your Audience
This whole blog is based on increasing engagement with your social audiences, the simplest form of this is to respond to any messages or mentions you may receive. Try to respond to all as soon as you can, adopt a friendly, helpful tone of voice and personalise your responses through the use of the users name. Not only does the person themselves feel valued but other users within your audience will see your responses and conversations and feel like you’re friendly and easy to engage with. It bridges the gap between just being another Twitter account to being an engaging account you can actually have a conversation with!
Method 4: Incorporate Hashtags #
The use of ‘relevant’ hashtags within your posts can help keep your posts current as well as engaging. The use of a hashtag means that your post is linked to a worldwide search of that particular hashtagged phrase. This is useful as it can help you track who is talking around the same topic as you and allows you to reach out to like-minded people and potential new additions to your social audience. A trap most people fall in to is to just chuck a hashtag on to the end of their post because they feel it is the norm. The trick is to use relevant hashtags that may relate to current events in the news or social trends that people will be searching for at that moment in time. A massive campaign started by Coca Cola where this was a huge success was their #ShareACoke hashtag. They printed globally a VERY wide selection of names that were country specific onto their coke bottles. They then urged their audience through social posts and the use of the #ShareACoke hashtag to post a picture of themselves holding a bottle with their name on. This prompted thousands of people worldwide to do such a thing and to get others involved with them making their campaign go viral! Users could search the hashtag and engage and interact with other Coke drinkers and the Coca Cola social pages too.
Method 5: Humour
Increasingly more common is the use of humour in posts or responses, with Twitter probably the best platform to use this method on. If you can respond to people sending you messages by adding an amusing twist and it gets enough traction your post can go viral. By changing your tone of voice in posts to be more light-hearted and jovial your audience are more likely to engage with you, seeing you as more approachable and human-like, not just a social account!
Analyse Your Results
You’ve worked out your social audience, you’ve tailored posts around how you think best to engage with them, what’s next...? Time to see how well you faired!
It’s all very well taking the time to tailor engaging posts to your audience, but if that’s where you stop your process then you won’t be able to learn and increase your engagement levels. Not all your campaigns will have succeeded, some will work well with your particular audience and others will drop like lead balloons. The trick is to learn from your analytics this time round and evolve or amend your plan for your future campaigns. Engaging with your social audiences isn’t just something you should do every once in a while, it should be ongoing and brought into every level of your social footprint!