Social Media Engagement – how to get people talking!

We love having an on-hand social media expert in the building – and to top it all off, our Digital Marketing Director Meg will be running a fantastic course about how to create great social media campaigns at Goldsmith’s University. She has kindly offered to write some blogs for us on the subject, and in this installment we’re focusing on engagement.

When it comes to social media, you may think you’ve got it all covered. You’ve completed your strategy, scheduled all your posts, and now it’s time to sit back, relax and let the likes roll in. Right?

Well… not quite.

The thing about social media is, it’s all a bit pointless if nobody talks back to you. Sure, you might be posting some pretty cool content, but without the engagement side of things it doesn’t really mean anything. So that’s what we’re going to be focusing on in this blog post – how to get chatty. Even if you forget about the the actual ‘business’ side of things, such as using social media to generate sales leads, at the end of the day the thing that will make this job fun is by getting involved. Be creative with it! The beauty of social media is that you really can show your personality and make your business worth remembering.

1. CONTENT IS KING. Never forget!

We know you’ve heard this a thousand times, but any form of digital marketing basically all boils down to the same thing – content. People often think that with a social media post, the quality of the writing isn’t as important as, say, a blog post, because there are significantly less characters meaning you don’t need to put as much effort into it.

Not the case. If anything, getting your social media posts perfect can be harder than with other forms of content, as there’s much less space to get across what you want to say. Here, your wordsmithery is going to be paramount, and if you put some thought into your social content it will really show. It’s the difference between creating something that grabs someone’s attention and makes them want to actually engage with it, or creating something that people will scroll past disinterestedly.

If what you’ve said is funny, intriguing or informative, it goes without saying that your customers will want to be a part of it. You can also mix it up by posting images – people are much more likely to be drawn in by a photo than they are with just text.

2. Make friends

If you want to up your engagement, you’ve got to start making friends.

Treat it in the same way you would with your normal friends – sometimes, it’s all about reaching out and cultivating the relationships yourself in order to gain real, lasting connections. Social media is no different, especially coming from a business perspective. When you’re just starting out with social media for a company it’s going to take a while for people to realise that you’re active on these accounts, so the best way to get followers is by finding customers yourself. This can be as simple as doing a search of hashtags relevant to your business, or searching for the name of your business. That way, you can identify the people that are talking about you/your products/your area of expertise, and reach out to them. By making that initial contact, people are going to be much more open to engaging with you in the future as it makes them feel special – you’ve gone specifically to them to have a chat. When a business gets in touch with you on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram etc. it’s always a bit of a novelty, so use this to your advantage. It can be as simple as thanking someone for leaving you a good review on Facebook, following back someone on Twitter, or liking one of your customer’s photos on Instagram. They may seem like little things, but in the long run these are what will set you apart from your competitors.

3. Brand Ambassadors

Now that you’ve started to get a bit more involved across your various social media channels, you need to start figuring out who is going to be able to help increase your brand reach. One of the fantastic things about social media is the fact that more often than not, if someone has a good (or bad!) experience with a company, they’ll go straight to Facebook/Twitter and so on. It can be brilliant for publicity, especially when you think about how many friends/followers that person has, and thus how many more people will in turn be exposed to the mention of your business. Basically, that’s A LOT of potential customers!

You can probably see why all this makes sense, but may be thinking how on Earth does anyone find the time to manually scroll across all their social media platforms to find brand ambassadors. Thankfully, there’s a nifty tool to simplify this – Klout Score. A klout score is basically a measure of how influential someone is on social media, and is calculated by how many people respond to their activity. The reason that this is important is that if you can reach out to people with a high klout score and get them to talk to/about you, the possibility of your business reaching a wider audience will be dramatically increased. That’s not to say that engagement with customers that don’t have a good klout score isn’t important – but if you can get some people with a lot of influence to be your ‘brand ambassador’ then  you’re more likely to see improvement in your overall engagement.

4. Social listening

If you’re going to make your social media successful, it’s not just about keeping on top of your notifications. One of the most important things you can do is ‘listening online’ – in other words, being aware of what’s being said about you and your area. Keep the social media accounts of your competitors bookmarked on your computer so you can keep going back and checking them, and maybe a few accounts that you aspire to be like. By doing this you’ll force yourself to be constantly thinking about how you can be better than everyone else out there, and gain valuable inspiration from others. We particularly love using Hootsuite for this – it allows you to set up ‘streams’ not only of your own social media feeds in real time, but you can also choose to add in those of your competitors so that everything you may need is in one place. It’s well worth getting if you’re keen to make your life a bit easier.

If you’re proactive about your social listening, not only are you more likely to notice someone needing your help, but it can help with damage limitation as well. It’s inevitable that sometimes our customers won’t always be 100% happy, but if you can be in tune with what your audience are saying about your business you’ll be able to quickly rectify the situation.

5. Be yourself

Last but not least – to truly improve your engagement, you’ve got to stand out from the crowd. The internet is a crowded place, and generally you’re going to be competing with a whole host of other businesses similar to yourself. It may sound daunting, but if you handle your social media well it can be the thing that really gets your company out there. A great example of this is the company Frank Body. They grew their business exponentially through social media alone, and now have around 662k followers on Instagram.

It’s all about being unique. Offer your customers something different to what they’ve had before – tailor their experience and never underestimate the power of humour. The social media-verse is a tough one to break into, and the only way you’ll manage it is by giving people something to talk about. Engage their imaginations and give them a reason to come to you! It doesn’t matter what your company is – as long as you bring in that human element and surprise your customers, you’ll be on the right track.

Want to hear more from Meg? Enroll on her digital marketing course here!

Image via Pepe Pont on Flickr

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