Engaging your audience on social media boosts brand awareness, increases loyalty, and encourages word-of-mouth marketing. It fuels business by building a community of informed fans of your brand.
Distinct from traditional marketing, which is a one-way communication, social media marketing offers a two-way conversation. Engaging your audience online provides direct feedback that can deepen your understanding of your audience, improve your reputation, and drive sales.
How do you measure social media engagement?
Activity and engagement are the results you want when you post. It's hard to develop meaningful relationships with new and potential future customers when they don't see or respond to your posts. How do you know if you are successfully engaging your target audience?
You can measure and track social media engagement by a range of metrics, including the following:
- Followers and audience growth
- Use of branded hashtags
Your engagement is increasing every time someone interacts with your account.
Here are 14 ways you can attract new customers and build a loyal community online.
1. Stay true to your expertise
Most posts should be relevant to your business. If a customer follows your Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter account, it’s because they are interested in what you offer.
At the same time, only a small percentage of posts should be direct promotions or offers. Too much advertising appears self-serving and falls short of social media's potential. The majority of posts should offer valuable or interesting information to engage or attract viewers.
You want them to feel included, educated, and entertained, but businesses that stray far from their areas of expertise confuse customers and diffuse their authority.
2. Be responsive
One of the outstanding features of social media is interaction. Your customer service team can speak directly with satisfied, dissatisfied, and potential customers. In a non-stop world, people appreciate easy access to a business and a prompt, informative response.
A quick response shows people you are paying attention to them. Comments, questions, and complaints are all opportunities to increase engagement and build on the relationship. It also serves as social proof as others browse your account and review past conversations.
Complaints can be transformed into a positive marketing opportunity if they’re addressed quickly, professionally, and positively. It becomes proof of your quality customer service.
If you ignore customer comments on your profile, you may lose them.
3. Make content easy to repost and share
What makes some content go viral while other posts languish? There are seven primary characteristics of shareable content. People share content that is:
- Ego-stroking/socially validating
- Visually appealing
- Relevant to a user's interest
- Practical (tips, tools, how-tos)
- Valuable (discount, access, contest)
- Affirming users' causes and beliefs
4. Ask questions
Start a conversation by asking questions. Avoid questions with an easy “yes” or “no” answer. You want to speak to your customers' daily experiences and ask relevant questions that evoke a response.
- What is your favorite way to use (product)?
- What is your best story with (product)?
- What would you like to know about (subject)?
- What do you wish you'd known about (product, service)?
People love to share opinions and experiences, and the interaction creates more of a sense of community.
5. Pay attention to the headline
The headline is like the front of your shop. If it's drab or nondescript, people pass it by without looking. The headline is your ad for your post. It should build a clear and accurate expectation of what the buyer will find when they read further.
Here are a few tips for creating a magnetic headline:
- Promote self-interest
- Include recent news or developments
- Arouse curiosity
- Make a superior offer
- Offer a “how-to”
- Suggest a quicker and easier way for the consumer to get something they want
- Use evocative adjectives
- Include a number
- Be specific
- Build urgency
- Use “you”
6. Post photos and videos
Posts with photos are typically more appealing than text alone. Well-chosen images instantly reinforce your message and communicate the style of your brand.
Cisco projects that 82 percent of consumer online traffic worldwide will be directed from videos this year. An outstanding marketing video grabs the viewer's attention and delivers the message in two minutes or less.
7. Provide value
While attractive photos, videos, and offers attract people to click on your links, quality content makes people spend time on and come back to your social media account or website.
Become more relevant to your customers by providing something of value with each post. The majority of your posts should share something that informs, teaches, or entertains.
When you genuinely and selflessly try to help people, they start to see you as an expert they can trust.
What are the FAQs for your business? Posts that answer a commonly asked question inform your customers and overcome objections that might be holding up potential sales.
Tips and tools are another popular way to provide value with regular posts. How can you make your clients’ lives more comfortable or vibrant?
8. Host a contest
Contests motivate engagement and create excitement. People love to get stuff for free! Offer a prize relevant to your business so that your customer base will want it. For example, an auto dealer may offer free service, free tires, or a gift card for accessories.
Contests can motivate sharing and boost brand visibility, especially if you offer a second entry for customers who share the contest with at least one friend on the network.
9. Stay true to your brand
Consistency in your marketing across platforms and media builds a sense of reliability. Although some posts may be fun and playful, you want to project a professional image consistent with your business in everything you publish.
Over time, customers reading your posts get a sense of your brand personality, which adds a sense of comfort and familiarity with your company for them.
Confusing your customers with off-color or seemingly random content can hurt your brand image and business.
10. Share your inspiring stories
Highlight outstanding customers, employees, or events. Don't keep remarkable moments to yourself.
Let everyone know about your successes because people appreciate a look inside the scenes. When you tell them a heartwarming story about a customer or introduce them to an outstanding employee, you create an opportunity for connection.
Stories add personality to your brand. They build loyalty with consumers who can identify with what you value and represent. A company and its products can seem dry or utilitarian, which is partly why social media is so effective. By engaging with customers, you connect based on shared interests and values.
11. Prioritize social media in your communications
Include your social media accounts in announcements, launches, and updates. If you're sending a general email to customers, remember to create posts for social accounts as well. Some people are on their social accounts daily. Seeing your updates and news in that familiar setting puts your brand and products in front of shoppers where they are.
You want a content strategy for each platform. Facebook and Instagram, for example, have different best practices. Facebook allows videos of any length, while Instagram videos must be a minute or less. The best image size on Instagram for a square image is 1080 by 1080 pixels, while Facebook recommends 2048 by 2048 pixels.
Services like Canva can reformat a single post into the target format for various social media platforms.
12. Get to know your social media audience
Knowing your target audience helps your team create tailored marketing campaigns that speak directly to your customers. The tone of a post aimed at young shoppers will be different from a retired population.
Building a customer persona or avatar breathes life into the data you have on your target audience. The more you get to know your audience, the more refined your messaging can be.
Some teams choose to interview and observe multiple customers in addition to online data. Patterns in behavior reveal opportunities for conversation.
13. Solve their problems
Be interested in your customer's success and post content that helps them solve their problems. Brand loyalty is bred through attention and consideration, and solutions demonstrate your expertise and authority.
When shoppers reach out on social media, be helpful. If you carefully engage your community and consistently provide outstanding customer service, you will steadily add to a loyal following.
14. Encourage user content
Invite users to submit photos of themselves using your products like K9 Sports Sak does on their Facebook page.
Customers can be a surprising source of useful content. They know what your audience wants to see and hear. Allowing posts from users creates an inclusive community of like-minded people.
Meet customers where they are
Engaging your audience by adding value and letting them behind the scenes creates a win-win relationship. Customers get to know the values and personality of your brand. They get to know your stories. Meanwhile, you gain useful customer feedback to improve your marketing, customer service, and products.
Social media does not replace traditional marketing tactics, but it is where some of your customers are spending their time and attention. When you're engaging your audience on social media, you expose yourself to their online community and expand your base of potential customers.