2018 has been an interesting year for social media.
Twitter’s character limit expansion towards the end of last year caused many brands to rethink their social media strategy. Furthermore, Facebook shook the online marketing world in January with the announcement of their latest algorithm update. Fast forward to April, and the Facebook-Cambridge Analytic scandal opened the world’s eyes to the seriousness of data security and transparency.
With so much going on in the social media world, knowing how to create an ideal engagement strategy can be tough. Ultimately, one of the major functions of social media is to present messaging in a more “humanized” fashion and connect with people on a personal level. Fortunately, as it stands right now, there are a handful of reliable tactics you can use to ensure you are moving in the right direction. Let’s dive into the details.
How to Create the Best Social Media Engagement Strategy
Follow the Right Accounts
Social media is a two-way road. The people and accounts you follow are a crucial ingredient to your engagement strategy.
As a brand page, it’s no secret that organic reach is on the decline, especially on Facebook. The new algorithm update places a strong value on meaningful conversations. Over time, the expected result is that social communities will be stronger and the back-and-forth will be more positive.
So where does this leave you?
Well, in many ways, the new changes to the social media landscape are intended to bring a more “human” element to brand interactions. That being said, your engagement strategy needs to do just that. In order to gain positive traction, you need to fill your feed with accounts that are relevant and constructive to your industry.
Start by following some of the biggest influencers in your field. If you are in the marketing world, follow people like Neil Patel and Jeff Bullas. These accounts provide all kinds of expert information.
Also, be sure to keep an eye out for up-and-coming brands on the scene. Regardless of the industry, everyone is trying to do something special. Following and engaging in these accounts is a fantastic way to grow your community and network. If you are not sure who the big names are, there are plenty of influencer marketing tools out there to give you an idea.
Additionally, if Facebook has a big role in your social media strategy, getting involved in niche groups is one of the smartest things you can do these days. For example, if you specialize in video production and animation, there are all kinds of groups you can join to discuss each other’s work, the latest news in the industry, popular tools, and even collaborate.
A big part of the new Facebook algorithm change is that group posts are pushed to the top of the News Feed. Joining the right ones can do wonders for your engagement rates.
Finally, always make it a point to follow the people who are frequently engaging with your posts. This is a big part of “humanizing” your brand.
Only Engage if it Will Help the Big Picture
Obviously, a key ingredient to create the best social media engagement strategy is actually engaging. According to a survey by Social Sprout, 32% of Gen Xers engage with brands on social media at least once a month, compared to 30% of Millennials, and 14% of Baby Boomers. Simply put, it’s a great look when a brand interacts with its followers. However, there is a strategy to it. Not all sentiment is good sentiment.
If you take a look at the comment threads on the major social networks (namely Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube), you’ll quickly understand that the internet is full of trolls and social media warriors looking to stir the pot and trigger people. That said, you need to be smart with your interactions. If you have a troll harassing your brand page, keep in mind, one of their primary goals is to get you riled up and embarrass yourself in a public space.
Before you make any sort of interaction, always ask yourself “How will this help the brand?”
Hopefully, you are (or will get to) a point where people see your brand as an expert resource within your field. When this is the case, people will ask you questions and want your insider take. The way you answer these types of questions is perhaps the best way to improve your engagement and showcase your expertise.
When it comes to posting, it’s always good to have a number of replies and interactions planned out in advance. For example, if you post an educational video or blog and people are responding positively to it, there are a number of common responses you can use to show you value the opinion of your followers. However, you don’t want to be too generic with your responses; social media is all about being personal. While you can have a similar structure for your responses, be sure to address the follower by name.
On the other hand, getting negative comments on your social content requires a bit more finessing. The way you choose to respond to these interactions says A LOT about your brand. First thing’s first, use your best judgment to determine whether or not it’s a troll. If so, ignore it. If it’s genuine, respond quickly and don’t be defensive or rude – doing so can ruin your image in a second.
Truth be told, there are some issues that simply should not be solved on public social media. For this purpose, you need to develop a protocol for these difficult cases.
- Should this interaction be taken private?
- What qualifies a query for escalation?
- Who needs to be addressed? (HR, customer service, etc.)
Keep in mind, a lot of social media is about perception. When responding to negative engagement, everything you say in the public sphere can be seen by the masses. Acknowledge the problem and take ownership. If you handle it right, you can turn this negative into a positive.
Post Content that Invites Engagement
As what should come as no surprise, the type of content you post more or less determines your engagement levels.
There are many ways to go about this. Hopefully, you set aside a few moments of each day to read up on the latest news in your industry and the topics people are buzzing about. From here, you can craft your social content around these talking points. The Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal has been sending shockwaves across virtually every industry with an online presence. Many brands and big names have been doing a lot to gauge public opinions on the matter by asking the pressing questions. Like in this example below.
This is a great way to encourage engagement and understand how partners, consumers, and other brands are reacting to the latest happenings in the industry.
As a retail brand, a fantastic strategy to spark conversations is to ask followers questions about your latest or most popular products. If you use a smart POS system, your datasets will give you an idea for the best-selling items, as well as the customer profiles you would need to appeal to in your posts. Surveys and polls are great interactive, engagement-provoking content for this purpose.
With everything you post, always consider the ripple effect and how it encourages meaningful interactions.
Start Using Live Video
Facebook’s introduction of live video in 2016 was an event intended to change the world of social media forever. Two years later, this certainly holds true.
In fact, one of the major points of the January algorithm update was that live video would be favored heavily in the News Feed. If you haven’t started playing around with live streaming yet, don’t waste any more time. Studies have found that people spend 3x more time watching a live video than non-live.
There are plenty of awesome ways you can use live video to get people more engaged with your brand on social media. For one, giving followers a behind-the-scenes look is an excellent way to provide a raw, unfiltered glimpse at what your brand really is and how it works. In the early days of Facebook Live, Dunkin Donuts ran a live walkthrough of their kitchen and showed followers how their famed product is made.
The engagement levels of this video topped any other piece of content they released by a mile!
Hosting Q&As is another common live video format that typically receives high engagement levels. Perhaps the best part of these segments is you get to showcase the brand and answer audience questions in a candid light that people can relate to.
When using traditional video, you have all the time in the world to edit and polish up your messaging. On the contrary, in a live stream, there is a sense of realism you simply cannot get with any other form of content.
Share Content from Other Sites
Many brands operate their social media pages under the misconception that they can ONLY post their original content. To reiterate a previous point, social media is a two-way road. A social media engagement strategy should be made up of two parts: content creation and curation.
The latter has to do with sharing content from other accounts or websites. Now, you might be wondering how exactly sharing content from other brands helps your own engagement levels. The truth of the matter is this answer is not black and white.
Regardless of your industry, there is likely a plethora of high-quality, insightful content being posted each and every day. When you share content that is not your own, you are giving yourself a prime opportunity to provide your authentic take on the topic without spending hours creating your own assets. Furthermore, doing so provides a filter between the original content and your followership.
Keep in mind, you need to be very picky about the content you share. Everyone has (or has had) someone on their social media feed they label an “over-sharer.” If you make a habit of sharing awesome content at a healthy frequency, you are working to build trust and credibility, which in the long run, equals engagement. Wisely sharing content opens the door for further questions, conversations, and adds a more human touch to your messaging. Being as how video marketing is all the rage these days, you should definitely make it a point to share this type of content.
The concept of social media engagement is in a constant state of change and refinement. If done correctly, your strategy can do wonders to improve your branding efforts and create customer loyalty.
It’s projected that the number of social media users worldwide will be around 2.75 billion by next year! This means the stream of fresh content will only continue to grow. When it comes to engagement, it’s crucial that your content is relevant, timely, and is crafted in a way that prompts meaningful discourse.