Engagement: The "Not-So-Secret" Secret To Social Media Success

Every social media guru will say the same thing ad nauseam, "You have to engage with others online if you want to be successful."

It's the most simple, yet most time-consuming aspect of any social media strategy. Gone are the days of racking up Likes and Follower Counts to hand over to show your clients how great they are doing. It means very little anymore, especially considering that you can BUY likes and BUY followers. What social media marketers chase on a daily basis is one thing...engagement.

WHY IS ENGAGEMENT SO IMPORTANT?

  Focus groups sometimes require lunch. Do you want to pick up the tab for 5 hungry teenagers?! I didn't think so.

Focus groups sometimes require lunch. Do you want to pick up the tab for 5 hungry teenagers?! I didn't think so.

Engagement is so important because it proves that your marketing efforts are making a connection. It's a simple concept, right? Engagement is a metric that will give you a deeper understanding of how your audience thinks and feels. For example, let's say you sell women’s hair supplies and you posted a picture on Instagram of a model holding a bottle of conditioner. A user then comments and says, "What conditioner would you recommend for curly hair?" BAM! They've officially entered your sales funnel! Now you have the opportunity to start a conversation and push them further through the funnel until they convert to a purchase. This is easily achieved by sending them a link to your conditioner in a direct message, possibly with a code for 10% off, providing even more incentive for this potential customer to buy!

This is just one example, but I think you get the picture. Users that engage with your marketing materials show interest and intent. It's this direct connection between business and consumer that makes social media so essential for marketers and advertisers. Never in history have businesses been able to get feedback on their products or services so quickly! 

NO EXCUSES

Due to the ever-changing algorithms of Facebook and Instagram, capturing an organic audience without paying for a post is becoming harder and harder. More businesses are learning towards paying for posts in order to reach the audiences they want to connect with OR they take the more time consuming route of posting multiple times per day to each platform in hopes of reaching more of their targeted audience OR they do both! 

   Gary Vaynerchuck  probably responding to a tweet or Facebook comment. He is a preacher of the engagement philosophy.

Gary Vaynerchuck probably responding to a tweet or Facebook comment. He is a preacher of the engagement philosophy.

There was one time when I sent Gary Vaynerchuck a tweet. Just a short, little compliment. He responded soon afterward with a smiley face. I couldn’t believe it! The guy owns a multi-million dollar agency and still took time out of his day to respond.
— Gabriel Haun, @gabehaun1

One guaranteed way to boost your posts popularity is by actively engaging. Replying to comments on Facebook, retweeting a blog, or thanking someone on Instagram when they tell you that your latest post was "rad!" are surefire ways to get the most out of your content. The more people engage with your posts, specifically on Facebook, the more likely they'll be to climb to the top of user's newsfeeds (exactly where you want to be)! 

"But Chris, this takes time that I just don't have!" *insert sad face emoji*

 I would reply that you get out what you put in. Don't expect to be successful with your campaigns if you don't allocate enough time to engage with your audience. It will most definitely fall flat. The brands and personalities that put in the most time speaking with fans over YouTube comments and thanking people for retweets will see the greatest returns. It also helps to make your brand feel more human, which eases those conversion rates. People are more interested in doing business with other humans.

USEFUL TECHNIQUES TO INCREASE ENGAGEMENT

  • Always use hashtags in your Instagram posts to improve visibility to your account.
  • Search for hashtags in your industry and find influencers/micro-influencers. Start a conversation over their latest post or shoot them a short direct message to show your appreciation.
  • Always reply to comments left on your posts.
  • Creating visually interesting posts to give users a reason to stop and comment or like.
  • Go Live on Instagram's Instastory or Facebook's Stories to pop-up first in a user's story feed.
  • Utilize Facebook Stories to draw attention to your newsfeed. Currently businesses cannot promote on Facebook Stories, only personal accounts.
  • Pose questions to your followers to start a dialogue.
  • Create a contest! One of the best way to increase engagement as long as the contest rules are easy to follow.
  • Share a post that is trending. Just don't share from a competitor:)
  • Post more videos. Videos rise to the top of Facebook's algorithm.
  • Retweet micro-influencers in order to build a good rapport and eventually ask them to return the favor.
  • Find the best times to post your content which can be easily found within each platforms analytic tools.
  • Don't limit yourself to posting your great content just once, especially on Twitter. 
  • Add cards to your YouTube videos and additional links in the description.
  • Always use a call-to-action to encourage viewers to take the next step in the sales funnel.
  You'd be surprised how far you'll get by talking to someone without giving them the hard sales pitch. Coffee drinking, hipster beard guy gets it! 

You'd be surprised how far you'll get by talking to someone without giving them the hard sales pitch. Coffee drinking, hipster beard guy gets it! 

I could go on and on because each platform has its own methods for boosting engagement, but the ones listed above are certainly the most effective. Just remember this basic rule of thumb...be human. Forget about the company for a second and try to make a one-on-one connection with each potential customer because each conversation is a possible sale.

It took me some time to realize that I was overcomplicating the social media marketing process for myself. I'm now much more focused on building loyal customer relationship rather than finding new ones. To me, having a solid fan base of 100 people sharing my content is way more valuable than 10k "fans" scrolling past my posts. What do you think? Leave a comment below and tell me techniques you use in order to engage with your audience.