In the simplest of terms, engagement means getting your fans to take an action in response to your post on social media. As a business owner who’s trying to generate more engagement with the target audience on social media, you truly have your work cut out. A few challenges you are likely to encounter include frustrating algorithms on platforms like Facebook and Instagram which limit organic reach of content shared which creates an increasing need for paid advertising, keeping in touch with customers, and over-saturation of online content. Understandably, these challenges may make one feel discouraged in their attempts to generate more online engagement. However, before you lose all hope have a look at these handy tips we compiled.

Be highly responsive and helpful to your customers.

67% of consumers have used a company’s social media site for servicing, compared with 33% for social marketing. Source
You can agree that exceptional customer service easily distinguishes average businesses from those that are adored and manage to build a loyal customer base. This sentiment also applies to social media. One sure way for you to make your customers feel listened to is by responding to all questions asked on your socials promptly.
Prompt and helpful responses build a positive public perception which boosts engagement. It encourages customers to feel more comfortable about reaching out with questions and sharing feedback. Conversely, taking hours or even days to respond shows that you have more important things to do. Customers will pick up on this and your business will slowly, but surely start to lose out on engagement. To put this in perspective, 30% of customers who are shunned by brands on social media are more likely to switch to a competitor. Don’t let poor online service be one of the reasons why you lose business.

Make room for two-way conversation with your audience.

A lot of online businesses are guilty of flooding their followers’ pages with content and too often forget that engagement is a two-way street. Make sure your followers feel connected to your business by encouraging conversations. You could do this through:
Responding to mentions and appropriately addressing feedback shared. As covered earlier in this article, online customer service is a high priority for customers online. Making your customers feel heard and assisted goes a long way in building loyalty and boosting brand engagement.
Posting questions as an accompaniment to some of your posts or even as the main post. For example, during Valentine’s Day offer, popular coffee house Java shared the image below and received an impressive 317 likes and 39 responses. Proof that when given the opportunity and motivation to respond, customers are happy to engage.
Asking them to share reviews of their experience with your service or product (both good and bad). A hack for this is incentivizing consumers to leave honest reviews. For example, by offering discount offers on their next purchase. Once you receive a review, highlight and thank customers for the positive responses and reach out to pacify those who leave a negative review. A higher ratio of good to bad reviews will drive sales and outweigh the damage done by the few negative reviews.
Including them in future plans. Generally, it is much easier to get people engaged when they feel included. Use this to your advantage when working on big and exciting plans such as product launches, rebranding, expansion efforts, etc. For example, if your business is growing and you need an additional store, you could come up with a marketing campaign that allows your followers to walk the journey with you. Sharing behind-the-scenes teasers of the progress via photos or videos could be a fun way to do this. Or even having a draw to get customers to guess the new location.
Creating fun and easy polls on channels like Instagram or Twitter. This could be a tool for collecting customer feedback or having light-hearted discussions on everyday things. For example, if you are a restaurant you could come up with a lunchtime poll on what meals people are craving from your menu. This would be a fun way to engage your customers as well as get some insight into meal preferences.

Ensure your content speaks to your brand identity.

Consumers want honest relationships with the brands they support. Source
Aligning your content or social media personality to your brand values and identity should be a top priority. Not only does this create a consistent perception of your business, but it also enables customers to identify and connect with you. Some of the ways that a business can achieve this are by honest communication about their offerings, crafting a consistent business personality and showing the human side to your business. People connect with people, not businesses; boost your engagement by maximizing on this concept.

When customers sense that brands are trying to craft a media profile that doesn’t accurately represent the business it rarely ends well. Most may choose to simply disengage by unfollowing or blocking such businesses while others may be more expressive. For example, locally, a certain cab-hailing app had gained a negative perception due to terrible customer service. The company then rebranded and launched a media campaign that aimed to rid the public of this perception, but unsurprisingly Kenyans On Twitter (KOT) were quick to call them out. It was clear that a brand overhaul would not remedy the stained perception. People value realness- express your business authentically and you will be happy to see your audience respond positively to this. There will be more shares, comments, and likes which are tangible signs of engagement with your audience.

Collaborate with other brands.

Ever considered partnering with another business or influencer? You definitely should. If well executed, collaborative marketing is a sure way to boost your brand engagement. It offers strategic benefits such as:
Increased market share. Combining efforts between two complementary brands increases the competitive edge of both businesses and gives them leverage against competitors. This unique position will likely garner the attention of new customers and in the long term may increase your ROI from social media.
Access to more customers. Both brands that are collaborating have an existing number of customers and followers who are loyal to them and their various offerings. Joining forces helps the brands to widen their customer base as the target market and customers of both the brands are tapping into. This provides a great opportunity to generate more engagement and possibly achieve higher sales.
Knowledge and skill sharing which results in innovative content. Each brand has its strengths when it comes to content marketing. Partnering means the two brands maximize the shared pool of skills and knowledge at their disposal. Sharing creative and fresh content will likely excite your online audience and increase your levels of engagement.

Social media has created room for more partnering opportunities and also made it easier to forge partnerships. As a business owner or marketer, a targeted online search will help in identifying social pages of brands that would make a good fit for collaboration. Once this is done, you would need to make an effort to nurture this connection. Reach out to the business and introduce them to what you do. Express what you like about them and the interest you have in pursuing possible areas of synergy. Hopefully, the other business will see the value in your proposition and agree to work with you.
– Below are a few approaches for collaborative marketing:
– Cross-promotion- two brands agree to promote each other’s products and services to their respective audiences.
– Content placement- partnering brands agree to periodically share each other’s content with their respective audiences.
– If organizing a promotional campaign, you could use items from your partner brand as prizes for the winners.

Share user-generated content.

Did you know, brand engagement rises by 28% when consumers are exposed to a mixture of professional marketing content and user generated content? Source
From the statistic above, we can conclude that as a business, it shouldn’t always be about you. Your customers followed you because they know and like you already. However, this does not automatically mean there will be high engagement on your posts. Show your followers some love and occasionally reshare their content which relates to your business. This shows that you pay attention to them and appreciate them.

Plus, another benefit of sharing user-generated content is that it makes your page a lot more relatable to your audience and prospective customers. For example, an events company that reposts a photo of an attendee enjoying themselves at one of their events is sure to get comments and likes from people who attended the same event and friends of the attendee. These first-time visitors are likely to like the photo and casually browse through your other content in an attempt to know more about your brand. After which, those who are impressed with what they find will likely subscribe/follow you.

Play around with emojis to make captions more expressive.

Play around with emojis to make captions more expressive.

Figure 2 Courtesy: Pinterest

Maximize on peak viewing times on each social platform.

Knowing when the majority of users are active on a particular social platform makes you better placed to plan for your content posting. You could track this on your own by monitoring days and times when you get the most interactions from your followers. Alternatively, you may use helpful statistics like those shared here. Once you identify the ideal posting times, you could search for a suitable content scheduling tool. This will ensure that regardless of how your day is going your pages will have content shared at the most opportune times.
Anything we have left out? Feel free to give us your feedback.

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