The number of followers that you have on any given social network matters much less than the amount of engagement that your posts generate. Followers that do not interact or respond to the posts you make probably don’t have much of an interest in your business, or your content just doesn’t resonate enough with them.
Before you can start influencing engagement levels, you need to get the basics right and that means using social media to have conversations, rather than simply talking at people. Take the opportunity to get to know your customers and followers, be friendly and converse with them in a way that is helpful and with a tone that reflects your brand values.
Just because a person is following you, it doesn’t mean that they are receptive to your messaging.
Getting to know your customers in this way means you’ll get a much clearer understanding of their needs. You’ll learn their common pain points and will also gain deeper insights that will influence future marketing and operational strategy.
Get your social media right, and you’ll find that you also get a lot of positive feedback. You’ll learn what customers like most about your business, helping you to shape future activities and make them even more effective.
The Value Of Engaged Followers
Engaged followers are receptive sales leads and potential brand advocates, making them highly valuable to any business, and the good news is, engagement is largely within your control. Whilst you can’t predict how many people will share, like or re-Tweet a post, there are certain tactics you can use that will make engagement more likely, or that will encourage greater levels of engagement.
Engaged followers are more receptive to what you have to say.
When you engage, you are effectively inspiring an apathetic follower into taking an action, ranging from simply clicking the ‘Like’ button to clicking on a link you post that leads to your website, dropping them straight down into the sales funnel.
1. Ask For Opinions
Asking questions or asking for feedback and opinions is a fantastic way of getting people to engage. You must ensure that the topic of discussion is relevant and that it will be of interest to your audience. Randomly discussing subjects that are unrelated to your business is unlikely to encourage engagement.
You might ask people for their tips on a certain subject, ask to hear about their experiences or simply ask a ‘what do you think?’ kind of question. Doing this provides you with the opportunity to enter into conversations with followers, a useful way to establish and maintain relationships.
2. Give People Something To Get Excited About
Before you launch a new product, service or a competition, let people know and drum up buzz before you’ve even done anything. A great way of doing this is the ‘coming soon’ post, or the post that gives followers the heads up that something new or exciting is coming.
This way, whether it’s a new product you’re adding to an existing range or a big new competition you’re launching, you’ll achieve a far greater impact and it’s a great way of getting people to speculate and engage.
3. Be Helpful
If you offer help, people are much more likely to interact with you and regard your business in a positive light. Ask people how you can help, offer advice and offer tips. Not only does this reinforce your expertise in the minds of your followers, but it also provides them with real value and helps to encourage trust.
4. Share Relevant, Interesting Third Party Content
On Twitter in particular, you’ll find a strong sense of reciprocity, which means that if you share someone else’s content, you’ll be on their radar and they are likely to return that favour by sharing your content with their followers.
Remember the 80/20 rule. Only 20% of what you post should be overtly self promotional.
This also works when customers and followers post things of interest. By supporting them on social media, you are essentially nurturing your relationship and keeping your business in their mind. This helps to build trust, which is a key element in obtaining repeat business and influencing brand advocacy.
5. Create A Sense Of Community
Facebook Groups, Google+ Communities and even hash tags are effective ways of doing this. For one of our clients who runs a Cheshire based tourist attraction, a recent campaign asked followers to Tweet or post a picture of them at the attraction, using a certain brand specific hash tag.
This allowed us to monitor social channels and look for this specific hash tag as well as more general brand mentions. We were then able to respond, thank them and share pictures and happy birthday messages with all of our followers. This helped to make followers feel valued and like they were part of something – a great incentive to get involved.
Whatever you do on social media, don’t forget to take time out to listen and to monitor. There is no point asking a question or purposefully trying to engage if you disappear and fail to follow up on the responses you receive.