How To Boost Your Social Media Engagement |

How To Boost Your Social Media Engagement

You know social media marketing as a piece of the puzzle, a digital channel designed to drive brand awareness and conversions. But what if we told you that it's much more than that?

How To Boost Your Social Media Engagement

We've now reached 3.5 billion global users across social media platforms, and that growth isn't slowing down anytime soon. From Facebook to Weibo, these platforms have become a core part of how we communicate with each other and the businesses we engage with.

Simply pushing out messages to that audience will fall on deaf ears. Instead, you need to prioritize social media engagement.

Think of it as more than just one of many metrics to measure your success. Instead, consider social media marketing and social media engagement as synonyms for each other. They're one and the same; successful marketing can only be possible when engagement is front and center.

As you start reading this guide, keep that idea in mind. From ways to improve it to measuring your success, let's dive into the nature and nuances of social media engagement as it exists today.

First Things First: What, Exactly, is Social Media Engagement?

Social media engagement, at its core, is the way in which your audience and followers interact with your social media marketing efforts. It's the way they like, comment on, and retweet your content.

What we're talking about here is actually in the name of the channel itself. Too often, businesses forget what makes social media so unique, which is the social part of the equation. It's possible to succeed in this medium only if you prioritize its social nature.

For the short term, that means building a content strategy designed to get those likes and comments. Long-term, you have to make sure that these engagements turn into relationships with followers who keep coming back for your content for more. That means responding to questions and finding more relevant content over time.

3 Hidden Benefits of Social Media Engagement

With a basic definition out of the way, let's talk about the importance of the concept. Sure, facebook post likes and comments are a good thing. Of course, it's more complex than that. Social media engagement has become so important that marketing on this channel couldn't exist without it for three reasons:

1) Engagement Increases Content Reach

Every social media channel you likely use for your business functions based on algorithms. The newsfeed of your audience, even your followers, prioritizes content from friends and businesses they have recently interacted with.

It's all part of the effort on behalf of social networks to make themselves as relevant as possible. The thinking here from a platform like Facebook or LinkedIn is simple:

  1. Users stay longer on my platform if they see more relevant content.
  2. Users probably determine content to be relevant that's similar to content they've engaged with in the past.
  3. That content probably comes from the sources they've interacted with in the recent past.
  4. Showing content from sources they've interacted with in the recent past is more likely to get interaction again.
  5. Content that gets engagement is probably relevant for other users, and will start showing up in their newsfeed too.
That's why a platform like Facebook, when it changes its newsfeed algorithm, will talk about prioritizing content with meaningful engagement. It also means that posting content designed to get this type of engagement will be seen by more people, increasing its reach significantly.

2) Engagement Allows You to Meet (and Exceed) Audience Expectations

Let's flip the script. The reach benefit of engaging content is undeniable, but still driven by both the brand and the platform. The user wants to have a say, too. When they have a question, they turn to social media; in fact, one study found that it's now the preferred care channel for 35% of customers.

How you respond when they reach out determines their feelings towards your business.

Your audience turns to social media for customer service for a number of reasons:

  • Asking a general question about your business before they become a customer.
  • Seeking a resolution for a problem, like a missing part in the product package.
  • Complaining about problems with the product at hand.
  • And much more.
When they reach out, they want a quick answer. In fact, 42% of your customers expect to hear back within an hour. Prioritizing social media engagement in the form of responsiveness ensures that you keep your customers happy and can even turn complainers into strong brand advocates.

3) Engagement Helps You Learn From Your Customers

Finally, don't underestimate the learning abilities you gain. Customers who have something to say likely bring value to the table. The occasional complaint about an isolated topic might not mean much. But at the same time, you could discover trends and underlying issues if you pay attention to what your customers have to say.

It might come in the form of comments under your posts. You might find that certain types of content get shared far more frequently than others. And of course, you may begin to hear consistent questions and complaints that prompt you to investigate the underlying problem. Either way, you can use engagement as a learning opportunity.

4 Most Important Types of Engagement

You need to prioritize them. Now, let's define what them actually means. As you build your social media strategy, you will come across four types of engagement that are important to build a strategy around.

  1. Superficial Engagement. These are the easy ones. Think likes on Facebook, or hearts on Instagram. They matter in that they count as engagement, but will not impact your reach or customer satisfaction nearly as much as the below. Still, they're a good introductory metric to track.
  2. Deep Engagement. This type occurs when your audience cares enough, they want to interact with it. It includes anything from comments to shares and retweets; basically, an action that requires an actual, tangible action for your audience.
  3. External Engagement. Clicks on links that you share are a type of engagement, but they're a little different from both of the above. Here, your audience is taking a step that takes them off the network. They're important for your business, but some networks (like Facebook) actually discourage posts with external links.
  4. Reverse Engagement. As mentioned above, this type turns it around. It describes any content shared by your audience that you interact with; replies to comments, direct messages, and more. The goal here is not improving your reach, but engaging with other users to make and keep them happy.
There's an argument to be made that superficial engagement is the least important of these types. That said, all of them matter if you truly want to build an engagement-driven strategy. Keeping their multifaceted nature in mind is important as you begin to execute your tactics.

Boost Social Media Engagement

6 Proven Ways to Improve Your Social Media Engagement

At this point in the guide, you should have a good understanding of the nature of social engagement. That means it's time to get specific: these 6 tips help you make sure that as you build out your content and manage your various social media channels, engagement remains top of mind.

1) Know Your Audience

Yes, it might be obvious. Still, it's difficult to overstate just how important this first step truly us. Everything in social media, from the platform(s) you choose to the content you post, should be about your audience. The same is true when it comes to engagement.

Try to learn about audience preferences. What types of content do they like? What other pages do they follow? What networks do they prefer for passive enjoyment of the content of others compared to their own? 

We'll get more into the details on how you can answer some of these questions in the measurement section below. Conducting some audience research never hurts. Still, it's important to keep in mind that for any and all of the below tips, putting your audience front and center is an absolute must.

2) Respond to Questions and Concerns

We already touched on the importance of social media as a customer service tool. Now, it's time to put that fact into action. A significant part of your social efforts should be not just planning your own content, but finding and responding to your followers and customers.

That requires at least some social listening to find conversations about your brand even if they don't come in the form of a DM or tagged message. It also means understanding just how you can respond to questions and concerns in a timely fashion without it feeling superficial. Your authentic responsiveness will be a crucial part of any comprehensive engagement effort.

3) Keep Your Content Visual

It's a simple rule of social media marketing: the more visual your content, the more positively your audience will respond to it. Here are a few simple truths about this channel, almost regardless of the platform you prefer:
  • Pictures work better than plain text
  • Video works better than pictures
  • Live video works better than previously recorded footage
Of course, they have to be authentic and relevant to your business and core benefits. That's where knowing your audience comes back around. But generally speaking, building a visual content strategy should be an underlying goal of any engagement building on social media.

4) Share User-Generated Content (UGC)

If there's one thing audiences like better than visuals, it's user-generated content. No matter what industry you're in, they tend to get tired of only hearing from businesses. Being able to reinforce that message through their peers can jumpstart your engagement.

The tactic works, whether you're posting organically or looking to improve your ads. Half of all consumers find UGC more memorable than it would be if produced by a business, while ads with UCG increase click-throughs by 400% and conversions by 10%.

The takeaway is straightforward: if you see your customer base posting positive things about your business, share it. That allows you to magnify and multiply the initial engagement.

5) Ask Questions

Looking for more engagement on a Facebook post or Tweet? Just ask a question. Your audience wants to feel involved, and they like sharing their expertise. It's on you to capitalize on that basic human need to express themselves.

Digital marketing giant HubSpot recommends you ask a few different types of questions to get maximum engagement:
  • Probe their personality by asking them to share their opinion.
  • Test their knowledge through a quiz or trivia question.
  • Post a poll that builds engagement while allowing you to learn about them.
  • Test it out. Even simple questions will get surprising results if you just try them.

6) Prioritize Engagement Analytics

Finally, it's crucial to not just rely on best practices as you build your engagement strategy. Instead, you need to constantly test what works and what doesn't. That includes basic steps like finding throughlines between posts with the highest engagement, or more complex efforts like a competitor analysis of engagement.

For each of these steps, you need the numbers to back up the hunches. Fortunately, social media platforms tend to come with comprehensive analytics suites, and a number of third-party tools can build on them. All you need to know is an understanding on how to measure your social engagement.

How to Measure Your Social Engagement

Simply put, it's complex. Measuring your social engagement is not as simple as paying attention to a few core metrics precisely because so many things can possibly count as engagement. Still, you can get a good idea of where to start by following a few core principles:

  • Define your goals. Whether it's general brand awareness or customer retention and service, your core goals for social media will impact how you measure engagement.
  • Build analytics for each channel. Engagement on Twitter is very different from engagement on Instagram. An overarching analytics solution makes sense, but you still need to pay attention to each outlet individually.
  • Find your engagement metrics. For customer service, that might be your reply rate to each comment or message that mentions you. For brand awareness, it might connect more to total number of shares or retweets.
  • Use the right tools. In addition to network-internal analytics, that might include apps like Hootsuite Analytics or Sprout Social. This list of social analytics tools is a great start.
  • Keep improving your metrics and analytics strategy. Over time, you'll find what works and what doesn't. Just don't lock yourself into a single process that you never intend to change.
One way to begin your measurement efforts is by calculating engagement rate, which is a great "overview" metric to lend you initial insights before you go into more depth with the above steps. Grounding your engagement in data like this makes it more tangible, and ultimately more successful as an indicator of overall social media marketing success.

Yes, it's complex. But it's also core to everything a marketer can do on this channel. That's what makes your social media engagement such a core piece of your digital marketing strategy. Turning it into a key piece of your efforts on Facebook, Twitter, or any other channel you use will ultimately benefit your entire business by better considering your customers and increasing your brand reach.

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