Social media can be a hugely powerful tool for businesses to reach customers, but many businesses struggle to really connect with customers on those platforms due to limited participation. For that reason, social media engagement is an important metric for any business with an online marketing strategy.
If you think that you need a huge advertising budget in order to improve social engagement, you’re mistaken. This article will focus on social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat, and will explain how to get more engagement based on methods that have been proven, statistically, to work. It will cover what types of posts you should create for each site, when to post to be most visible, and how to increase visibility without spending a fortune on paid ads.
Create Posts Specific to the Platform
There isn’t one type of social media post that works best with every platform. On Twitter, you want to create short, pithy posts and interesting headlines. For Facebook, images and media tend to do well, increasing engagement by as much as 85%. Your long-form pieces will likely fit in better on LinkedIn.
What this means is that you need to create posts that are specific to each platform your business uses, rather than just copying or recycling the same posts on every platform. (That can get repetitive for people who follow you on more than one social platform.) In addition, creating posts that are optimized for each platform can increase the likelihood that people see your posts and actually respond or interact with them in some way.
On many platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat, asking questions can be a great way to increase engagement. A simple question that starts conversations or gathers customer feedback gives customers a reason to interact with you. According to JDR Group, Facebook posts that include questions get around twice as many comments as other posts.
When you use this tactic, be specific about how customers should respond, even if it seems obvious. On Twitter, you could say, “Tweet in your responses,” while you might say, “Snap me back,” on Snapchat. At the very least, this lets people know that you actually want responses and aren’t asking a rhetorical question.
Include Calls to Action
Along those same lines, be specific about other calls to action. Increasing social media engagement doesn’t just mean getting people to respond to your posts. Encourage engagement through other actions, such as liking your Facebook posts, retweeting your content on Twitter, and repinning your images on Pinterest.
Customers don’t always need specific calls to action in order to take part in those activities. However, including them sometimes helps improve those engagement numbers. For example, if you share a recipe or tutorial on Pinterest and you want people to repin it, you could say, “Repin to save this post for later.” This may get customers to think about situations where they could use that information in the future, which increases the likelihood they will repin the content.
Time Posts Carefully
Timing plays a big part in improving social engagement. Think about it: If you only post content at night when your target audience is asleep, they aren’t likely to see it. Your fans miss the opportunity to engage with your brand. Each social platform and target market has different preferences and best practices when it comes to timing. Experiment with different posting schedules to see what works best for your particular business.
In general, think about when members of your target audiences are using those platforms. If you target professionals on Facebook, you may need to post when they’re home from work for the day. However, if your target is made up of stay-at-home parents, then midday could be a great time to post. According to Social Media London, on average, afternoon tends to be a good time to post content if you want to get shares and clicks.
Measure to See What Works
When it comes to timing, posting content, and even the platforms you use, it’s important that you keep an eye on what works and then make adjustments. Most social platforms have a dashboard with metrics where you can view engagement statistics such as responses, favourites, and re-posts. You can also go through your posts to find out which ones performed better than others.
Keep an eye on trends that may impact how you post in the future. For example, if you notice that your photo posts on Facebook get more engagement than those without photos, increase your photo use in the future. If you find that you get more responses when you tweet in the morning rather than the afternoon, schedule more Twitter posts during those times.
Respond to Followers
When people do engage with your social media content, it can be helpful (or even necessary) for you to respond in some way. You don’t have to send a personal thank you message to everyone who likes your Facebook posts or favourites your tweets, but answering questions or thanking people for sharing your content can go a long way.
Personalised responses to your followers’ posts on social media can make them feel more connected to your brand — they’ll appreciate an actual person (not an automated reply) engaging with them online. These responses can also just keep conversations going, which can increase engagement for your social media efforts in both the short and long term.
Most importantly, when customers or potential customers ask questions or offer feedback to companies on social media, they often expect a response. Ignoring or forgetting to answer their posts can do harm to your online reputation.
Engage With Others
You don’t have to wait for people to respond to or interact with your posts in order for you to engage with them on social media. You can jumpstart your social media conversations by replying to posts.
There are several ways to do this:
- Find members of your target audience or industry influencers to follow on social media, and then interact with their posts on occasion, especially when they’re relevant to your business or offerings.
- Repost content from others in your industry when you think it will be helpful or interesting to your followers.
- Create posts and mention or tag relevant people in the posts.
However you go about it, starting conversations and engaging with others online can help increase the number of active fans who will interact with your content.
Contests and giveaways are fun incentives that drive social media engagement and can help you improve your engagement. Your content and process should vary based on the platform, but the general idea is to give people an incentive to interact with your content in some way. Contests often result in a quick spike in engagement, according to Jellyfish; however, when done right, they can lead to more long-term engagement as well.
On Twitter, a simple offer of a free product to one person who retweets a particular tweet on a given day will help your content get shared and will get people involved with your content. On Instagram, ask people to share an image of them using your product —have them tag your account so you can track the entrants.
Contests lend themselves to certain platforms better than others, and some sites, like Facebook, have specific rules about hosting contests or giveaways. Read the rules and create a simple process for tracking and rewarding those who enter.
Give It Time
Improving social engagement isn’t something that happens overnight, though conversations and contests can certainly help. However, if you want to build lasting and consistent engagement, as well as relationships with your fans, you need to work on these things over a long period of time.
Today, in the age of the customer, be dedicated to putting in the time and effort in order to get great results on social media. Even paid ads won’t see great results if you don’t back up those ads with quality content and consistent engagement.
Follow these tips. You may see slow growth, but you need to give it some time for your strategy to work. Ads can give your social media efforts a boost in the short term, but you don’t need to spend your whole marketing budget just for a short-lived spike in numbers. Consistency and patience go a long way in making sure your social media engagement grows as it should. With continued effort and an understanding of the Internet of Things (and how an interconnected lifestyle may be the future of buying habits, even for something as simple as lightbulbs), your social media campaigns could eventually be the pinnacle of your marketing efforts.
Original Post: https://www.salesforce.com/uk/blog/2016/12/how-to-improve-your-social-engagement-without-ads.html
Many businesses use social media to promote their business and engage with their target audience. They hire designers, writers and social media experts to build a strong brand through a creative communication strategy.
Social media provided a level playing field to small businesses and individuals to compete with established brands and make a name for themselves without spending a fortune on their marketing efforts. Over time, the platforms became highly competitive and cluttered.
Today, building trust on social media is an uphill task for new businesses. Not all new ventures can afford to hire the top rated professionals to develop unique messaging. And yet, they have to become a reliable brand on social media to survive and thrive.
When you don’t have deep pockets, time and patience become your best friends. In real life, you consistently need to do genuine work to win the trust of the people. There is no shortcut; you have to be patient, take a stand and sacrifice short term gains to become an authentic voice in society. The same goes for building trust on social media.
No matter what business you are in, there are three things that you must do to become trustworthy on social media:
1. Be Accountable
As a business or an individual, you must be accountable for your actions, policies, products, services, or communication. The accountability is not meant only for customers. You have to be responsible towards your employees as well.
Through social media messaging, you need to prove that you are accountable for any action you or your employees take. Admit your mistake when necessary and ensure that the same doesn’t get repeated. If you are selling products or services of other brands (if you are a trader or brokerage firm), you have to be accountable for whatever information you provide to your customers.
In certain cases, you may not control the behavior of buyers or sellers. However, you need to handle the situation with complete responsibility and show this to your social media audience through appropriate messaging.
2. Be Transparent
Transparency develops trust. Being transparent is the easiest way to build trust in real life as well as on social media. However, being transparent is also tricky for the business. You can’t be 100% open, as it will go against your business interest to share everything publicly. However, you need to decide the degree of transparency you are willing to adopt to build trust. Some companies publish their income reports on their websites to build trust among their target audiences. This is an instance of a high level of transparency. Some of the businesses show real working and internal processes through videos, images or blogs. They hide the critical parts whereas show what is relevant for end users. This is the middle level of transparency. You need to decide whether you want to show a low, middle or high level of transparency to build trust for your brand.
3. Be Authentic
This is the most basic requirement for being trustworthy. Being authentic means being true to yourself. The Internet is full of expert articles and contents that shows how to do everything in your life. However, readers believe very few of these blogs.
If you want your content to be read and liked by the people, then be honest while writing. Don’t exaggerate the benefits of your products or services. No one can advise you on how to become authentic. You simply need to write your feeling and experiences honestly to become a trustworthy person or business.
If you change your stand to please a particular audience, then you will be like the politicians; loved by some and hated by others but trusted by none. The choice is obviously yours.
It takes years to build trust — and five minutes to destroy it. Therefore, every word or graphic posted on your social media page should adhere to certain standards set by you. It doesn’t mean that you should be afraid of making mistakes. It simply implies that being original and sincere towards your customers is an effective way of building a brand.
You can’t buy trust. However, you can definitely sell a trustworthy brand at a premium price.
Have a long-term vision and be patient to deal with short-term hiccups and disappointments to build an ever enduring brand on social media.
A recent CMO Survey indicates that marketers plan to double their spending on social media in the next five years. Yet IBM’s C-Suite Study reports that nearly half of CMOs believe they are not prepared to manage the challenges of social media. This disparity highlights an important, and potentially costly, problem: Marketers continue to increase social media spending, yet many are still uncertain about management, strategies, and integration.
A quick Google search returns 140 million results for “social media marketing tips,” but no matter how many headlines promise it, there really is no one-size-fits-all social media strategy. Some articles indicate that stories are an effective marketing and advertising tool. But what story will you tell? How will you integrate it with your traditional efforts?
Other articles advise using social media networks, such as Pinterest. But what will your brand post? Is your target audience even on Pinterest? Still more articles offer a glimpse into other brands’ social media strategies. But what worked for Comcast or Best Buy or Universal Studios probably will not work for a bank, tech startup, or retail company.
What marketers need is a process that leads to individual solutions. They must use fundamental marketing concepts and modify them for this new two-way, consumer-empowered medium of social media. Here’s a framework for doing that, adapted from the book Social Media Strategy.
Define the status quo. The first step isn’t about social media at all: Identify your business objectives and target market. Also consider your industry, the recent performance of the brand, and the current traditional marketing promotions for the product and its competitors. A startup or new product needs to generate awareness, while an older product may need to be revived. Some brands need a new image, as when Starbucks’s reputation fell to an all-time low and Howard Schultz returned to restore consumer confidence in the brand. One tool Starbucks used was social media, launching “My Starbucks Idea” to crowdsource feedback and reengage customers.
Listen to your target audience. Here’s where social media kicks in. Brands cannot talk to everyone in every social channel, so narrowly define whom you want to listen to and communicate with. Are you targeting Millennials entering the workforce, dads with young children, or senior executives nearing retirement? What are they doing in social media, and where are they doing it? What are consumers saying about your brand, products, services, and competitors? Start with simple Google searches on your brand name, analytics tools within social networks, and look to secondary research, such as the Pew Research Internet Project, Nielsen, or Edison Research, to identify larger trends in social media use. Gather a snapshot of all current social media talk with a social media audit. Follow an audit template to organize what you find and identify actionable insights.
Create social media content that drives engagement. What is your target consumer looking for? Social media is all about producing fresh, relevant content, so create things that your audience will find valuable, whether it’s “how to” articles or simply something entertaining. Where you deliver the content matters too: Some social media channels are best for sharing short, current updates (Twitter), others are better for delivering video content (YouTube), some reach a younger audience with pictures (Instagram), and others have younger audiences with multimedia and high engagement rates (Snapchat). The best social media plans deliver content that’s optimized to each channel. Engage the target audience on the channels they use with material that is unique to the channel. Select social channels that fit brand message, type of content, and target audience.
For long-term consumer monitoring, look into a social media monitoring service, such as Radian6 from Salesforce.com, Hootsuite, or HubSpot. Live dashboards show streams from multiple social accounts, keeping you aware of hashtags and brand mentions. To find the most influential people in your target audience, look to tools such as Klout, which measures an individual’s online impact. Some brands, including Wells Fargo and Johns Hopkins Medicine, have invested in a social media command center. These branded social media monitoring rooms acting as a central visual hub for social data, to speed up marketing and engagement with customers.
Link marketing goals to social media KPIs. If you are driving sales online, measure digital KPIs with click-throughs from social platforms to the purchase. Google Analytics Social Reports are especially useful in breaking down social traffic and assigning monetary value to website conversions such as sales or lead generation. Measuring in-store sales is harder, but can be done with offer codes, surveys, or scanner data. Digital KPIs for awareness include social media likes and shares, or unique website visits referred from social media content.
All these KPIs can be collected and organized in a simple social media metrics table. There may also be larger business goals that social media is affecting. Identify social integration opportunities beyond marketing such as social media interactions that impact the sales force, customer service functions, R&D and HR department recruitment, and employee policies and engagement. Social media strategy may be led by the marketing team, but the company’s social media efforts are too important to be left to marketing alone.
How does this framework look in action? One example is the Mercedes Tweet Race to the Super Bowl. At the ripe old age of 125, Mercedes-Benz was being positioned by its competitors as tired and stodgy. Digital agency Razorfish introduced the automaker to a younger generation of consumers by figuring out who its target audience was and where the audience was active on social media.
Four two-person driving teams were recruited on Facebook to take on the challenge. Powered by online supporters’ tweets, each team created social media engagement to drive real Mercedes-Benz vehicles forward, moving one mile for every four tweets. The contest’s results included a 7% increase in Mercedes scheduled test drives, a 6% increase in first-time owners and leases, and 27,000+ active participants who generated more than 150,000+ tweets, reaching 25 million people.
This four-step social media framework isn’t everything you need, but it is a good start. Don’t base your marketing strategy on 140 million people’s tips about what may work for your business. Having even a basic process in place can help you be more strategic about social media decisions and make your social media spending more effective.