10 Ways to Engage with Your Audience on Social Media
It’s never been easier to engage with, and advertise directly to, your target audience. It’s a marketer’s dream come true – but a nightmare if you don’t know where to start. It wasn’t that long ago social media was nothing more than online communities on which the more tech-savvy of the population would chat to each other.
Today, social media is one of the primary sources of information and advertisement for billions of people. Businesses in the modern age will find it difficult to survive without some form of presence on the most popular of these social media platforms. Here are some tips and tricks for helping you engage with both current and prospective customers on the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
- Tap into your audience’s interests
This is one of the first points to consider when posting anything on social media. It might seem like a no-brainer, but many companies make the mistake of ploughing irrelevant content at their target audience. The more the viewer can identify with what you post, the more likely they will be to share, like or comment on your post. Identify your audience’s ‘buyer personas’ and tailor content accordingly – incorporating all the cultural references, stylistic designs and terminology that is likely to appeal to their demographic.
- Make content accessible and compatible
It’s no good expecting your audience to follow links to web pages that are embedded in Tweets and posts which lead to pages that don’t work on mobile devices. If your business doesn’t yet have a mobile compatible site, you are definitely missing out.
A huge proportion of your customers will be viewing your content and social media page on a smartphone or tablet. You will need to continuously adapt your layout, site responsiveness and content with that in mind.
- Incorporate visuals
You’ve had a long day and you’re just now kicking back with your smartphone or tablet. Do you feel like reading a 500 word wall of text? Probably not – even if that wall of text is information about the latest promotional offers at your favourite store. An eye-catching image or video that says it all in a concise and visually pleasing way? Now that is something you can gladly digest with no effort at all!
Producing visual content like infographs or videos is a great way of ensuring you don’t overwhelm your audience with information that requires concentration and effort. Always assume your customers lead busy lives with no time for anything that doesn’t immediately catch their attention and get to the point.
- Actively encourage engagement
Want your audience to share and comment on your posts? Then prompt them to do so! Ask for feedback, let them take part in polls, initiate debate and start a dialogue. Since Twitter polls are so easy to take part in, it should be as simple as your business posting an interesting but divisive question to get people participating.
If there’s something we’ve learned from the success of Buzzfeed, it’s that people absolutely love internet quizzes. Why not create your own one and promote it on Facebook? If consumers find it fun, they will share it with friends.
Businesses can also gain a lot from liking and sharing posts from their own followers. This lets your followers notice you and appreciate your engagement with their content, helping create a loyal business-consumer relationship online.
On Twitter and Instagram, creating a hashtag is a great way to get people posting in promotion of your business or product. PokerStars, one of the biggest online poker rooms, paid famous footballers to help them promote the #RaiseIt marketing campaign which saw thousands of social media users post videos under the hashtag, many of whom then visited PokerStar’s website to check whether their contribution had been featured in the limelight.
Lay’s, the popular potato chips company, also launched a hugely successful marketing campaign that encouraged people to create their own potato chip flavour on their website. The winner would see their fantasy chips become a reality, which naturally spurred great engagement.
- Create content that is catchy and compelling
Always stay on-topic and relevant. Inbound marketing is about more than exclusively promoting your products or services – it’s about answering your customer’s consumer questions. What is your target audience interested in? What could they benefit from learning? Alternatively, think about how you can relate world news and popular memes to your own marketing content, thereby broadening the appeal of it.
In general, content that goes viral tends to fall into one of the following categories; emotional, shocking, informative or funny. If your content doesn’t tick at least one of these boxes then consider ways you can spice it up without having to stray from your brand tone.
- Be responsive
One thing that will help your business build a relationship with your followers is actually replying to them in a timely and courteous manner – whether it be to their Facebook messaging or a Twitter shout-out. Large businesses have entire teams dedicated to replying to messages from followers, fans and customers. Facebook even now includes a feature which judges how responsive a person or business is to messages, which is a clear indicator of how important this factor has now become to consumers.
- Host competitions and give-aways
If you want mass engagement, then you should offer something worth participating in. Competitions and give-aways are a great and simple way of getting people to like, share and comment on your post. It only takes a second for your audience to enter the competition or giveaway, and each share or like helps boost your exposure and encourage more people to participate. Some of your give-away winners may never have tried your product before, which means this is the perfect opportunity to win them over with free samples!
- Give them several sharing options
There are plenty of ways your audience might want to share your post outside of Facebook or Twitter. Make sure that sharing is made equally simple for Whatsapp and Tumblr, for example. By catering to all major social media and messaging platforms, you are increasing your likelihood of earning shares.
Your business website should have the appropriate sharing widgets, and you should consider repurposing content for different platforms, so there’s an optimized version of your article or image for Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and more. The pancake house known as Denny’s, for example, sometimes create several versions of the same promotional message so that each version is perfectly fitted for every platform on which it is published.
- Have fun with it
Depending on what you are promoting, remember that you can have fun with your products and your brand. Social media audiences are rarely interested in looking at content that is presented in an overly serious or stale manner. They want gags, memes and a bit of tongue in cheek humour. Don’t be too afraid to not appear overly professional. You’re a modern business – not the New York Times!
- Consider timing
What time zone is the majority of your target audience in? How can you schedule posts so as to maximise their exposure? Do your market research and take care to post the right content at the right time so that you are as effective as possible on social media.
Furthermore – when is the right time for your business to start advertising with Halloween or Christmas themed imagery? Taking advantage of a seasonal spirit is a great marketing trick – but you don’t want to be too early nor too late to the party.