We all know that social media isn’t going anywhere. I’ve been working on a ton of proposals lately, and when I do that, I always evaluate a potential client’s social media presence. What are they posting, how frequently, what types of content do they share, are they creating or curating? We look at these items to learn more about them, but also about their audiences.
Over the last few years, social media has taken over from being something cool to check occasionally, to being a part of life. Relationships aren’t real until they’re Facebook official. Political alliances aren’t revealed with voter registration cards, they’re proclaimed (vehemently at times) in the articles we choose to share. 4.75 billion pieces of content are shared daily on Facebook alone.
But the key here isn’t in knowing that businesses need to make social media strategy a part of their marketing plan. The key is in knowing how to be engaging. It isn’t as easy as posting and letting the internet do its thing. If you post it, they will not come. You have to post the right things, the right way, at the right times, and then promote it. Here are my five best tips for creating ENGAGING social media content.
Well, no kidding, right? The key to engagement is to be engaging. Way to be creative, Courtney. But hear me out. Too often social media is focused on all the wrong things — namely, sales. Businesses post content about products, sales, and more products. They post facts or statements. Social media is SOCIAL. It has to be authentically social behavior in order to be engaging. You don’t just talk at your friends and tell them about sales, do you? No, you ask them questions. You tell stories that invite a response. You share exciting news. You solicit opinions. These are engaging items. So, please, stop posting sales messages and start engaging in client discourse.
Vary your post types.
We all get bored when we see the same thing over and over (and over) again. It’s easy to tune out when the same length post with the same type of content is constantly shared. Cross-promote with other brands! Share a link to your blog! Tell us a funny customer story! Share beautiful or surprising images! Give a case study! Bring back old (popular) content! Share a short video! Give us a glimpse of life behind the scenes! Give out quick tips! All of these are different types of posts that will include different lengths, different calls to action, different responses, and that’s what keeps people engaged.
Use the (right) hashtags.
Most of us know that hashtags are a thing now, but I still run into people every day who are using them incorrectly or don’t actually understand them. Research your brand, your competitors, and your industry. Look at the hashtags other people are using. You can search by hashtags on all the major social media platforms. That avoids the hazards of accidentally jumping on a pornographic hashtag or one that is inappropriate for your brand. Just because everyone else is doing it, doesn’t mean you have to, so focus on hashtags that provide meaning and value to your brand.
Test and measure your results.
How do you know if your social media is effective if you aren’t measuring the results? Evaluate the type of post you wrote, the time of day, the day of the week, and the call to action. What worked? What had the most likes, the most shares, and the most comments (or the most retweets)? Once you find something that works and have isolated the best items (Larry Kim calls these “unicorns”) try replicating the results and see if you can do it again. Maximize your time of day, call to action, and type of content for your audience. Keep measuring and testing and you should start to see some trends. Stay focused on that and keep using tips 1-3. You should see your engagement increase fairly significantly.
Amplify your success.
Once you’ve found your magical unicorns, those bits of special snowflake in your content, amplify them. Boost posts, run ads around them, identify audiences that are responding, and figure out how to target your message to those people. Depending on your audience, you’ll see different types of posts succeed in different environments. LinkedIn audiences are not the same as Instagram audiences, so you will see the responses differ between the two. Don’t blindly throw money into social ads, be precise, and amplify messaging that has already demonstrated success.
I could say that the bonus tip is to use dog pictures or cat videos or maybe something with a cute baby in it. That drives engagement like crazy, but it seldom ties into your brand’s authenticity. It also creates likes but little actionable benefit. But sometimes a blend of cute puppies and useful statistics can successfully drive engagement for your brand.
At the core of it all is the idea that social media is social. That your customers aren’t a series of account numbers, so they have to be treated as such. They have to be invited to a conversation, not shouted at like your social account is a billboard. When you decide to treat your social media like a social component of your message, that’s when you see engagement spike.
If you’re interested in learning more about how to drive results for your business through social media, one of our social media trainings could be incredibly useful. You’ll receive personalized information, a full social media audit, and learn to build a content calendar to drive the organization and direction of your social media platforms. Contact us for more information.