These days, social media is the best way to reach both new and existing customers.
Everyone between the ages of 15 and 80 is on social media now, making it a great way to easily and inexpensively build an audience for your business.
Unfortunately, just because you’re posting on social media doesn’t mean people are following you or engaging with your posts. The more engagement you get on your posts, the easier it will be for people to find your company.
So, how can you drive engagement on social media?
While content is the heart of social media, you need to do a lot of prep work to ensure that your content gets the visibility it needs to bring in business.
Whether you are currently on social media or not, you should search your business name on all social media sites to check for businesses of the same name or accounts that might be impersonating you. If someone is impersonating your business you can try to report their account, but there is no guarantee that action will be taken. If another business has the same name or a similar one to yours, find a way to make your username different enough that you won’t be mistaken for each other.
Then you can audit your current social media presence. What platforms are you using? What are you posting, and how often? Are your usernames and bios consistent? Is the information in your bio correct and up to date? Take notes about what you want to change.
Do some market research too. Find your competitors and see what their profiles look like and what kind of content they are posting. Learn what hashtags are popular in your industry and make note of them, especially the ones that apply to your business specifically.
LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter allow you to follow selected hashtags so that popular posts using that hashtag show up in your home feed. Pick 3-5 hashtags that are especially relevant to your business and follow them. This will help you keep up with the conversations had in and about your industry.
If your existing social media accounts are business accounts, you can check your account analytics. This will tell you some demographic information about your audience and some data on how well your posts perform. You can use the post data to figure out the best time for you to post and the demographic data to figure out who your existing audience is.
The audience you see reflected in your analytics may not match your business’s target audience. So who is your target? Maybe you only work with clients who live in a certain area, who make a certain amount of money, or have certain goals. Your target audience may be more likely to use some social media platforms than others, so you might want to focus on those platforms.
TikTok is currently most popular among younger audiences, aged approximately 13-25, and is entirely video content. Twitter focuses on short-form text posts accompanied by photos or videos, and its audience is largely 20-40 years old. Instagram has been photo-based in the past but is pushing more toward video now. Its audience tends to be about 13-40 years old. Facebook’s content is medium-length text posts, photos, and videos, with an audience aged 30-65 years. LinkedIn’s content is largely medium-length text posts accompanied by photos and the occasional video. Their users are all professionals or aspiring professionals with ages ranging from college students to retirees.
Social media platforms prioritize accounts with good engagement, so you need to interact with other accounts and invite others to interact with you in order to expand your reach.
One low-effort way to encourage engagement with your posts is to ask questions in the text of your post. If you are sharing tips and tricks, ask viewers if they do this or ask about how doing this thing has helped them.
Another easy way is to use the interactive features on various social media platforms. On Twitter, you can tweet a poll that ends after a certain amount of time. Facebook has a poll feature as well, but as of 2022, it can only be used in Facebook groups. You can use these to ask multiple-choice questions. If your followers have other thoughts to share, they can add a comment.
Instagram doesn’t give users the opportunity to put polls in posts, but you can put polls, questions, quizzes, and more in Instagram stories. These are ‘stickers’ that you can add to your stories. The Question sticker allows you to ask a question and people can type in short answers for you to respond to. The Poll sticker lets you ask a question with two preset answers. The Quiz sticker is similar to the Poll sticker, but you can set three or more answers and make one of them ‘correct.’
If you can dedicate a few hours just to social media sometimes, try hosting a Q&A or “Ask Me Anything” session. You can do this on Twitter by having people use a certain hashtag on their questions. Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube all have live video features where people can ask questions in the comments and you can answer in real-time. In addition to getting good interaction, this is a good way to find out what people are interested in learning about.
When you do get responses and comments on your posts, don’t ignore them – answer them. People will feel encouraged to comment more if you respond to their comments and make them feel welcome. Personalize each response you give, and know that “That’s a good point” and “Thank you for sharing” are good ways to start a response that could lead to a conversation and even more engagement. Try to respond to comments in 24 hours or less.
Unfortunately, not all the comments you get will be insightful or kind. It can be tempting to just delete bad comments or block those users, but if you’re careful you can turn negative comments into positive PR moves. Start by responding in a timely manner, acknowledging that their feelings are valid, and assuring them that their negative experience with you wasn’t normal. Say that you’re going to message them to learn more about the issue and try to clear things up. Message them immediately after posting your response and ask to hear more about the issue they had. Once they respond, use your best judgment on how to rectify the situation.
A good way to get drive engagement is to take part in conversations relevant to your industry on social media. Keep an eye on posts that use the hashtags you follow and respond to some of the posts if you think you have helpful information to share. This can help build up your credibility on social media and expand your reach.
You should also share news and related scientific studies to your accounts. It’s a good way to keep your audience informed while also showing that you and your team are up to date on industry trends and news.
You can also add comments when you share these articles. The comments can either be sharing a key point from the article or asking your audience’s opinion on it. This is another good way to spark conversations and engagement.
Building a good social media following can feel like an uphill battle, but encouraging engagement with your posts goes a long way.
Regularly posting content that is relevant to and valuable for your audience is a good start, but often you need to do the work to give them an obvious and easy way for them to engage with your posts.