Social media marketing doesn’t have to be your primary marketing channel in order for you to start paying attention to how you are interacting with your audiences on these platforms. Social networks can be amazingly useful for anything from building brand awareness to gathering tons of (usually unabashedly honest) customer feedback.
Another reason to ensure that you are not dragging your feet when it comes to social media is that, while it can be incredibly helpful when everything is going your way, you can also find yourself in a lot of trouble just because of one ill-conceived Tweet. You probably don’t need to be reminded that there are quite a few people frequenting social platforms, and that their passions are often running hot. While this can be leveraged to your advantage, it can just as rapidly turn on you and leave your reputation in shambles. Here are the four major points you need to be aware of when it comes to social media and boosting engagement on different platforms:
1. Get to know your audience
Just like the human ear and brain are capable of constantly tuning out redundant background noise, but can make out the sound of a car in the distance if they are consciously looking for it; some of the signals that your audience is sending can end up being ignored if you don’t focus specifically on them. There are a lot of ways to find out what issues your potential customers are having with your brand, across which touch points, and with what consequences:
- AI supported sentiment analysis
- Social analytics tools
- Google Analytics data describing the behavior and impact of users coming through social media
- Direct customer feedback, solicited when possible or necessary; welcomed and thoroughly analyzed when offered voluntarily
If you want to engage your audience on social networks, you need to know their taste, share at least some of their interests, as well as understand how they think and how they would imagine an ideal relationship with a brand like yours.
You should never forget that you are not the only one studying your audience. Namely, your competitors are doing the exact same thing. Some of them may have much larger research budgets than you do, some have been doing it much longer, but either way, there’s plenty to be gained from observing them closely enough to deduce what it is that they have learned about the people whose attention you are fighting for.
2. Give them the content they want
Once you have a clear mental image of what some of the dominant archetypes in your audience are like and how they think, engaging them is only a matter of not failing in the delivery itself. For instance, just because one segment of your target audience responded positively to you posting a GIF of a cat running into a wall, they might not want to be forever treated as the biggest cat lovers alive only because you don’t have any other references to attach to them.
For one, your content needs to be current. That doesn’t necessarily mean ‘published yesterday’. As long as a topic you’ve covered before is prominent once again and your old blog post still does it justice, sharing it across your social media accounts is a perfectly viable engagement tactic.
Of course, it’s not just what you say, it’s how you say it. You should know by now how your audience prefers to consume content on which social platform, and you should keep that in mind when creating it. Would your Facebook friends rather see the history of your brand told through an infographic, or would they like it more as a video? Should you present them with both? Trying, and then trying again is one of the ways to learn, but again, social networks are not always the ideal grounds for the trial and error method, as they tend to be quite unforgiving.
Finally, don’t be selfish. You can’t possibly be the only thing in your audience’s sphere of interest. If you want true engagement from the people you are interacting with, you have to be able to talk about things other than yourself. You should share your own content, but you should also promote relevant and interesting posts or videos created by your customers, friends and even by your competitors.
3. Post frequently
While pestering your audience with countless iterations of the same motif is hardly recommendable, playing hard to get isn’t going to get you far either. There’s a subtle line between attracting attention and being a bother, and most successful social media engagement strategies require you to constantly keep straddling that line.
For instance, this post by CoSchedule details how adequately scheduled shares promoting a single piece of content have drastically improved the traffic it was receiving, despite their inordinate frequency. In other words, even though the content was promoted in no less than 3 Tweets on the first day, and then in one per day for a total of six additional days, it didn’t provoke a negative reaction.
4. Help them help you
Naturally, just because reposting the same content can be surprisingly beneficial doesn’t mean that’s the only way to ensure posting frequency. It shouldn’t surprise you to learn that one of the best ways to engage your audience is with the help from that very same audience.
You know what happens when you share your audience’s content, right? Of course, they’ll share yours. Not just because of the rule of reciprocation, but also because they are even more inclined to notice and return a like or a share coming from a brand than those from their peers. Actively building up this sort of relationship can help you grow a trusted circle of loyal brand ambassadors and supporters, and there is nothing that resonates with your other audience members more than an obviously heartfelt endorsement of your brand by their peers.
Engaging your audience on social media is not difficult if you know:
- who they are
- what content are they interested in and how do they want it to be presented
- how frequently to promote, and when to simply talk
- how to get them on your side
However, remember that these relationships are volatile, and that an engaged audience stays engaged even after they’ve stopped liking you, which is not something every brand can survive without significant difficulties. Choose who you want in your surroundings carefully, treat them with respect and honesty, and you probably won’t have to eventually regret putting all that work into engaging them in the first place.