Has your social media engagement hit a brick wall lately?  It’s an unfortunate problem for many small business owners.

With many of us strapped for time and resources, it’s tempting to schedule a few posts to Facebook and consider the job done.  But by doing this, you’re missing out on significant opportunities to build closer relationships with your followers and grow a loyal community on social media.

To harness the true power of social media, your brand needs to step up its game and start engaging with followers properly.  Here are a few tactics that will help you connect with your social media audience and spark their engagement in return:

Be Human

No one wants to converse with a cold, faceless entity.  People want to talk with a real person behind the brand; someone who can empathize with them and understand their specific needs.

There is arguably no better place to humanize your brand than social media.  Most social platforms have a casual environment and offer plenty of cool features that can help you add a human element to your business.

For example, why not start small and begin using emojis in your writing?  These take little effort and help your brand to express more emotion in your text.

If you really want to humanize your brand, showcase the people behind it.  Share photos of your holiday office party, or take a tip from Alaska Airlines and have your employees use their name when replying to comments:

Alaskan Airlines Human Brand

Source:  http://bit.ly/2z340bF

Ask Your Followers Questions

Brands can get so caught up in posting interesting content that they forget a cardinal rule of conversation:  it needs to be two-sided.  When was the last time you paused and listened to your followers?

Social media should be used to learn more about your target audience.  Use your captions to spark conversations and ask them interesting questions.

For example, Starbucks used the hashtag #GiveGood and asked its followers, “Who makes your world a little brighter?”

Once the responses came in, Starbucks replied to them and proved that their pun-game is strong:

Ask a mix of fun and serious questions to keep your audience engaged.  But for serious questions, steer clear from the puns.

Starbucks.png
Starbucks Social Engagement

Source: http://bit.ly/2BH47fF

Be Helpful and Answer Your Follower’s Questions

I’ve discussed how to ask your followers questions to spark engagement, but what about answering their questions?  Responding to inquiries is a great way to boost social engagement and establish your brand as authority in your niche.

I know what you’re thinking:  how can I answer questions when no one is asking them in the first place?

Good question.  Who says you need to wait for them to ask?  Start researching your target audience and find out the common problems and challenges they face (using Quora is a great way to research them).

Then, begin answering their questions.  Write a blog post or an informative video and promote it across social media.

Have a sizeable follower count?  Consider holding a live Q & A chat using Instagram or Facebook.  You can read their questions in real-time and potentially solve their problems, boosting brand loyalty and engagement.

Respond Quickly to Customer Complaints

Most of us can admit that we’ve used Facebook or Twitter to air out our grievances with certain brands.  To prevent complaints from snowballing into a public relations disaster, you must be quick to respond and make things right with your customers.

How quick, exactly? According to one survey, 84 percent of consumers expect companies to respond within 24 hours of posting to social media.

This statistic only includes those who are engaging directly with your brand.  What about those who casually complain about your business across social media?

To track these important conversations, you need to start using social listening.  By monitoring your brand mentions, you can control the conversation before negative press goes viral.

Make Yourself Accessible to Customers

If you have a small to medium-sized business, it’s likely that most of your followers are also your customers.  Because of this, it’s essential that you view social media as another critical touchpoint for your customers on their path to purchase.

Today, social media sites have become a valuable customer service tool for brands.  If you don’t make your business accessible through Facebook messenger and other potential touchpoints, you stand to lose valuable customers.

Consider the following statistic: customers who have a positive customer experience on social media are three times more likely to recommend a brand.  Meaning, you need to do everything you can to create positive experiences on social media if you want them to sing your praises!

Use Contests to Generate Excitement

Why do you follow the social media pages of your favorite brands?  If I had to guess, it’s likely because they keep you engaged and provide value to you.

If your social media strategy consists of solely of posting content from your blog or sharing the occasional interesting photo, it’s time to spice things up a bit with a social media contest.

Contests are extremely effective at boosting social media engagement and have additional benefits as well.  For instance, you can use your contest to collect email addresses and boost your shares across social media, expanding your brand’s reach and increasing your follower count.

To create a profitable and successful social media contest, learn from Zuke’s and partner with like-minded brands to expand your reach.

Zuke's Social Engagement

Source:  http://bit.ly/2AworQS

They make the most of their contest by allowing participants to gain additional entries through visiting their partner’s social media pages and liking their Instagram pages.  With recent social media algorithm changes, all these likes and comments give their contest an extra boost in visibility.

Make Your Followers Feel Special

Who doesn’t enjoy feeling special every now and again?  By making your followers feel unique and valued, you can grow meaningful relationships with them and boost your engagement in the process.

As a small business owner, if you’re thinking that you don’t have time to single out your customers, then this next tactic is for you.

If you’re on Instagram, you need to be reposting and regramming your follower’s content.  Regramming is simply the practice of posting another Instagram user’s content to your own account (and crediting them for it).

Not only does posting user-generated content to your social media provide you with new material (saving you time and energy), but this type of content is considered more trustworthy compared to branded material.

In addition, it motivates others to have their content featured on your page.  By harnessing user-generated content the right way, you can turn followers into loyal brand advocates that drive engagement and sales for your business.  

Conclusion

It should go without saying, but the purpose of social media is to be social.  Far too many brands are using their social accounts as broadcasting channels, making conversations one-sided.

As we head into 2018, social engagement matters more than ever.  With the amount of content on social media increasing each day, your brand needs to be an active participant in conversations to spur engagement.

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