Social media engagement header

As you know by now, there’s a lot to be gained by using social media. Social media is one of the most effective ways to increase exposure of your brand.

However, simply telling your readers to use social media isn’t really that helpful. There’s a lot that can be done using social media platforms, to the point where it can be overwhelming when trying to figure out where to start and what to do.

The following are 21 social media engagement tactics to improve and increase engagement with your followers, thereby strengthening your brand’s identity as well as growing the number of subscribers to your various social media profiles.

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Start With Simple Social Media Engagement Tactics

1. Create and join groups/forums.

As of May 2013, there were more than 1.5 million LinkedIn groups according to Social Media Examiner.

You can create groups or join groups that are relevant to your industry on several social networks, including LinkedIn, Facebook, and Google+. This allows you provide helpful and informative advice or to start relevant discussions that can help generate interest in your brand.

  • Your primary reason to be on a forum is to participate in other people’s discussions, not to start them. So answer, chime in and let the community guide the discussion.
  • When participating, don’t just shamelessly promote your content. Don’t just share, but participate!
  • Keep groups small and intimate to keep them active.

2. Hold Q&A sessions.

An “Ask Me Anything” on Inbound.org, gets anywhere from 50 to 350+ upvotes. People love the honest, down-to-earth conversation, that’s why AMAs are so popular.

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Q&A sessions are a great way to answer any questions that your followers may have as well as provide information to consumers that may have some interest in your brand but are not familiar with it.

It’s also a fantastic way to strengthen the connection between your company and your customers since you are opening up a direct line of communication. Many companies will hold Q&A sessions on social media with higher-ups—including CEOs—to help make their company more relatable. Q&A sessions are also a great way to inform the public about new products, services, and promotions.

  • Providing answers on Q&A forms can help you connect with people in your market, build your reputation, and generate leads.
  • Have your audience send in questions beforehand so you can be prepared for what they want to know.
  • Be prepared for any tough questions by chatting with your PR team and knowing how you’ll respond quickly.

3. Host social media contests.

A t-shirt company called Qwertee launched a campaign that gave away 1,000 shirts a week with the goal to get over 100,000 likes on their Facebook page (which they succeeded.) All you had to do was like the page and submit your e-mail to be entered. They ended up strengthening their brand identity, exposure, and trust.

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Social media contests help boost engagement in a number of ways. Encouraging people to participate in a contest that is related to your brand will boost engagement with those who are already followers and can help you increase subscribers by requiring those that don’t follow or like your page yet to do so in order to participate.

You can even let the outcome of the contest depend on the votes of your followers. There are different types of contests you can host as well, from simple sweepstakes to trivia questions to creativity-based competitions. Facebook and Instagram are two social channels that are great platforms for contests.

  • People are motivated by free giveaways. One of the best ways to sure more likes, follows, or emails is to host a social media contest.
  • Be clear about your objectives and exactly how you want your audience to participate for the best outcome. Define easy, simple rules before you launch your contest.
  • For voting, let your audience be the judge. This could be as easy as favorites or likes. By letting you audience, vote you are encouraging social media engagement and more participation past just a like.
  • 35% of Facebook fans like a page so they can participate in contests.

4. Conduct polls and surveys.

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People are often willing to provide you their opinion—and this is especially true on social media networks. This means that conducting polls and surveys about your services, products, and brand in general are great ways to engage your followers and obtain valuable information about your customer base.

It also shows them that you care about their opinions, which in turn helps to build trust and loyalty, further strengthening your brand identity and reputation.

  • Use survey creation sites like Surveymonkey to easily create polls to post on your social media sites.
  • Be quick. Keep your surveys short and sweet. Your audience is more likely to respond when you keep your poll simple.
  • A poll is generally easier to do since you can just ask one question and have a list of answers to choose from. Because they take little to no effort to complete, followers are more likely to do them.
  • Surveys can take a little longer, which means you may want to offer an incentive for doing them, such as a coupon that provides a discount off a product or service.

5. Join Twitter chats.

When CoSchedule Twitter chat #CoChat in March, they had 10 people participate. This last week, 52 bloggers and marketers participated. Twitter chats help you reach a new audience with using a branded hashtag.

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Instead of posting Tweets or sending direct messages, you can have conversations using Twitter chats. This is beneficial because Twitter chats allows you to have real-time conversations with hundreds of different users at the same time.

This makes Twitter chats a great way to hold a question and answer session. Or you can join other Twitter chats relevant to your brand and provide valuable input in order to garner interest in your brand from Twitter users who aren’t part of your follower base yet.

6. Offer incentives for shares and conversions.

Free content from CoSchedule, such as providing how-to downloads in their posts, generates more than 5,500 new subscribers every month.

Ask followers to share certain posts by offering freebies. You can also speak with other companies within your industry and offer to trade shares in order to help further each other’s engagement while increasing exposure of one another’s brands.

What kind of content could you give away?

  • Something that is fun and comes regularly.
  • Something the promotes education.
  • Something that gives you a reputation.
  • Something that you can continue to build on.

Increase Your Social Media Engagements

7. Ask followers to engage.

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The average time a users spends on a website is, at best, only 20 seconds. You have to make it count.

Simply asking your followers to engage will often work. When posting content on social media, ask your followers to share, like, or to share their opinion on it.

  • Explain to your readers why they should share your piece of content. Give them a reason to do it. According to research by Ellen Langer, reasoning may pump your acceptance rate to as high as 94%.
  • Focus on a single call to action, don’t confuse your audience by asking too much.
  • Only 16% of your visitors will actually read your article from start to finish. You should not miss your chance to ask them for a share.
  • Your tweets have a 12x higher chance of being retweeted if you ask for it, and 23x higher if you actually spell out the word “retweet.”

8. Make it easy for people to engage.

Social proof is a major hazard. If your blog gets few shares, you might be doing more harm than good with your social media buttons. Consider a sharing widget that takes social proof into account like this one.

Encourage your customers and website visitors to find you on social media and to follow or like you by using social media plugins on your blog. This way, your readers can easily share content on your blog by just clicking a button. You can also create a pop-up for your website that asks them to follow you on certain social media pages.

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Obviously, you don’t want this pop-up to appear on every page of your site since this will harm the overall user experience. A good place to put it is after a customer has checked out on your e-commerce page or opted-in on a landing page.

  • If you are going to use social sharing buttons, the top/left side of the page seems to do best.
  • Definitely limit the networks you include when using social media buttons. (See data point #3)
  • Facebook and Twitter will usually provide the most shares, but make this decision based on your individual audience. For example, Google+ has good traction for many blogs.

9. Respond quickly and thoroughly.

“Research shows that customer emotions become permanent with time. It’s best for an effective intervention to take place as close to the experience as possible,” says Baba Shiv, Stanford Professor of Marketing at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business.

When people post comments on your social media, respond quickly. If you don’t, then it’s going to seem like you’re not very active on your own social media pages—or you simply don’t care.

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Both of these will drastically hurt your engagement since hardly anyone will bother posting comments or questions if you’re going to appear to ignore them. And when you do respond, do so thoroughly. You want your answers to be informative and helpful.

  • Not only is a “yes” or “no” answer not informative or helpful, it comes off as somewhat arrogant and off-putting.
  • Your followers will be much more likely to post comments if they know that you are reading them and that you will respond to them in a helpful manner.
  • If you respond right away, there’s a chance that the conversation will continue since they may still be on your page.

10. Credit/tag commenters or sharers.

87% of the recognition programs at companies today focus on tenure, where people get rewarded simply for sticking around. The same can be applied to loyal customers on your content.

Followers will be more inclined to post comments or share more of your content if you give them credit for doing so. People love to receive recognition.

  • Curated content is a great way to provide high quality content from other sources to your followers. It shows them that you don’t mind sharing content you haven’t created yourself as long as it’s helpful to them, which is another excellent way to bolster brand trust.
  • When you use curated content, make sure that you tag the original writers.
  • This helps get them exposure—something they will definitely appreciate. Not only will they probably follow you if they haven’t already, they will most likely return the favor by sharing your content with their followers. In the end, it’s an excellent way to gain more exposure.

11. Share other content and comments.

80% of marketers share 3rd-party content in order to improve company visibility and buzz.

Engagement goes both ways. Share the content of your followers, including consumers and other companies, and let them know that you have done so. They will often share your content or posts in return. You can even ask other companies within your industry if they want to trade comments in order to help boost each other’s engagement.

  • Define where you will curate the content. Will you use a social network or a dedicated content hub from a company like Pressly?
  • Determine what types of content you will curate. Will you curate elements of blog posts such as infographics, charts, quotes, and more?
  • Define how you will reach out to the folks from whom you curate content with marketing outreach tactics.

12. Engage through social issues.

69% share information because it allows them to feel more involved in the world, and 84% share because it is a way to support causes or issues they care about

Major social issues shouldn’t be shied away from. Consumers relate more with companies that take a stance on important social issues. It can really help to strengthen your reputation, and posting about social issues will certainly foster engagement.

A recent example can be seen in the actions companies took after the inflammatory remarks made by Donald Trump about the Mexican population. Companies such as Macy’s, NBC, and Univision all severed their business ties with Trump because he had a point of view that these companies strongly opposed.

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Another recent example is the recent Supreme Court ruling to allow same sex marriage throughout the country. Many businesses showed their support on social media. They risked losing customers that opposed the ruling (and some businesses did lose customers due to their support), but they strengthened their reputation with people who did support the ruling and were commended for taking a stance.

13. Find new followers.

There are a lot of tools out there for Twitter that make it easy for you to find more followers based on similar interests.

  • Nearby Tweets is a tool that helps you find followers based on a combination of keywords and location.
  • Then there’s InboxQ, which is a Web app that allows you to find Twitter conversations in real time based on certain keywords. You can join these conversations and contribute in meaningful ways to engage new followers.
  • Twitdom and Tweepi are also helpful for finding new followers.
  • Publish lots of awesome content in your niche to be a credible source in your field to increase shares and follows.

14. Keep the conversation going.

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This is another reason to respond to comments in an in-depth manner: A simple “yes” or “no” response pretty much ends the conversation.

  • Try to end your comments with open-ended questions.
  • Even if there’s no way to keep the conversation going, end with something like, “Let us know if there’s anything else we can help you with,” or “If you have any more questions, please feel free to ask.”
  • Share related content, and ask for their feedback.

Optimize Your Content For Social Media Engagement

15. Respond in a personal and conversational manner

Social media is… social. Show your brand is run by humans. Look at brands such as Oreo or Taco Bell as examples.

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Use first names when you are responding. Addressing your followers in this way makes them feel more appreciated—not to mention that people love to be acknowledged. Small gestures like these help to build loyalty.

In order to engage consumers in an effective manner, they need to be able to relate to your brand. This means making sure that you write your posts in a way that sounds human. For example, write in the way that you talk and use first-person voice like I and me (writing in the third-person makes you sound distant and boring or, in the case of athletes that speak in the third-person like Mike Tyson, terrifying and intimidating).

  • Use your first name and your picture to put a real person behind your comments and brand in general.
  • Monitor social media to see what is being said about you and interact with your audience.
  • Use proper grammar and spelling and don’t shamelessly post links to maintain professionalism and reduce chances of being flagged as spam.

16. Use images.

Buffer recently found that sharing images on Twitter increases retweets by 150%.

Social media engagement images

Images are much more likely to be liked and shared than text-based content. This is because it doesn’t take long for a follower to look at the image as opposed to having to read a block of text.

In fact, posting a large image along with a short summary on Twitter is on average 78% more likely to be shared than a text-only post. When it comes to general use of images, you should try to post one image for every 75 or 100 words you post. Keep in mind that images include everything from pictures and screenshots to infographics and charts.

  • Images on LinkedIn get 98% more comments than posts without images.
  • Don’t even try Pinterest unless you have awesome visual content. Plan how you’ll do that before you just jump in.
  • If your posts are packed with visuals, share those with tidbits of what they’re about. This helps your messages stand out from each other, and your audience can learn from each of the multiple lessons in your content.

17. Use emoticons.

Using emoticons increases comments by 33%.

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Emoticons show a certain element of playfulness that provides your brand with a bit of personality. In fact, statistics show that the use of emoticons will boost the engagement of your posts. Using emoticons will boost the share and comment rate of your posts, and can help increase likes by as much as 57%.

  • Smiling faces boost conversions because people feel like the really are talking to a real person.
  • Emoticons add human emotions, and it comes across positively with your audience.
  • When responding to a negative comment or critique, emoticons soften the blow.

18. Use #hashtags.

Hashtags help users to easily search social networks like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google+, and even others for areas of interest. They are a great way to join in a conversation alreadyScreen Shot 2015-07-21 at 1.48.50 PM happening or organize a conversation, like a Twitter chat.

Hashtags identify the subject of your content, making it easier to find for Twitter users who aren’t followers but are searching for similar subjects. Because of this, using hashtags is an incredible way to boost social media engagement among both followers and nonfollowers since you’re making your content more visible.

  • A good hashtag is memorable, unique, and relevant to your campaign.
  • Try not to use more than 2 hashtags per post (otherwise it looks like spam).
  • Research the hashtag before you use it. Don’t pull a DiGiorno Pizza and misuse the hashtag.

19. Get your timing right.

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In the social media world, timing is everything. Post a piece of content on a certain social media network at the wrong time and no one will see it, which hurts your engagement. There are a lot of social media tools out there that help you figure out the best time to post content.

For example, Tweriod will analyze your tweets and the tweets of your followers in order to figure out what time your tweets will reach the largest amount of your followers.

There are basic peak usage times for each social media channel to keep in mind as well. The peak time to post on Facebook is at 3 p.m. on Wednesdays, but the worst time to post on Facebook is on weekends before 8 a.m. and after 8 p.m.

Buffer has some helpful facts to help you get your social posting timing right:

  • For Facebook, post on Thursday and Friday for 18% higher engagement rates.
  • Retweets have been shown to be highest around 5 p.m.
  • Consumer-based marketing emails are best sent early in the morning. 23.63% of emails are opened within an hour of being received, you want to make sure your timing is on point.

20. Post frequently and consistently.

CoSchedule grew social media traffic by 3,150% because of their social media editorial calendar. That helps them plan and post consistently and in a timely manner.

If you don’t post frequently and on a consistent basis, your followers may stop paying attention to you. If this happens, fewer people are going to engage with you when you do post something. You may even lose followers. If you expect people to engage with you, then you need to be maintain a consistent presence by posting frequently.

On top of that, Google takes into consideration the Freshness Score of your website when ranking your website. So, the more frequent you post new content, the fresher Google will think your website is, and hence giving you a better ranking and more search traffic.

How can you share your content more than once?

  • On publish – Social message sent when blog post goes live
  • Same day – Initial social messages trickle out to your accounts over the next 2-3 hours.
  • Next day – Messages are shared again on the appropriate social channels.
  • Next week – Another series of messages are pre-scheduled and sent the following week.
  • Next month – Even more social messages are pre-scheduled for the following month.
  • Next _____ – Additional messages can optionally be scheduled for the three-month mark or beyond.

21. Use social media tools.

Almost every social media platform provides its users with a number of different tools that you can use in order to improve your social media strategy.

Tools such as Twitter Analytics, Google Analytics, TweetDeck, and Sprout Social can provide you with valuable information such as social activity numbers and follower demographics in addition to making it easier to track and monitor social conversations.

By using these analytics tools, you’ll make it easy to see how effective your social media engagement tactics are, thereby letting you adjust your techniques accordingly.

  • Use the headline analyzer to ensure that your content is appealing and emotional.
  • Customize your posts to each tool, don’t use the same tagline for Facebook and Twitter—they all have different lengths, use cases, and purposes that draw attention.
  • Try getting in contact with content creation communities.

What Social Media Engagement Tactics Work For You?

Social media is a valuable tool set because it helps you directly engage with your customers. The more effective you are at engaging with consumers, the more successful you will be at growing your subscriber rate, which in turn will help provide you with more leads to conversions.

I hope you found this information super helpful. If you know someone who could benefit from one or even multiple tips from this post, please share it!

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How do you engage your social media subscribers?