Social Media Engagement: Putting the Social Back in Social Media
Gaining and maintaining social media engagement is increasingly paramount for brands and businesses. In the battle for online attention, everyone is scrapping for every fleeting second in their audience’s day. Brands are competing with every other business to catch the eye of an existing customer or potential prospect as they flick through their social feeds. Even businesses from different sectors and industries (not normally in direct competition for customers) are pitted against each other as online publishers, vying for social media engagement. If you take nothing else away from this article, remember this: Social media marketing is a global war of attrition between every brand and business. Because every brand and business is now a publisher.
Whether we like it or not, in addition to the day-to-day operations, every business now has a publishing responsibility. We’ve explored the reasons why it’s important for businesses to incorporate social media within their digital marketing before. There’s no excuse for not having an active social media presence any more. By the same token, just posting and sharing links to your company’s social profiles is no longer good enough to generate good social media engagement, either.
For brands looking to activate their followers and engage their audience, it’s time to put the ‘social’ back in social media.
Social Media Engagement is About Socialising
Why do social media platforms exist? Why are any of us on social media? In short, to feel more connected.
The whole premise of social media is to provide a way for like-minded individuals around the world to quickly and easily connect and share experiences. It’s the online equivalent of a networking event, or a family gathering, or a meetup with distant friends and relatives. Social media is a way for us all to engage socially.
On a personal level, because our social networks tend to be made up of close friends and family, when we post, engagement levels are quite high. People are far more inclined to comment, like or share something someone they know has posted. That’s the essence of personal interactions online.
However, when it comes to social media engagement for business profiles, it’s not so simple.
Followers aren’t likely to engage with posts unless:
- There’s very clear value on offer
- They’re entertaining
- They stand to gain something tangible from interacting
- They have a strong opinion about what’s been said
- They’re looking to make a complaint
- They know that the brand will engage in return
But it’s hard to socialise from a business profile. At least, it’s hard to do it effectively. In reality, there are many obstacles in your way as a business when it comes to being ‘social’ on social media. Brand guidelines, tone of voice guidelines, personas, legal guidelines, approvals processes, all conspire against the easy conversational interactions that spark social media engagement.
However, fortune favours the brave.
Examples of ‘Social’ Done Well
Let’s be honest. If you want to ramp up your social media engagement you need to stop being vanilla.
People are more likely to engage with brands they love (for their bold attitude), or hate (also for their bold attitude). It’s ok not to be liked by everyone. Because in trying to please everyone, you engage no one.
So, know your target audience. Know them well. And speak to them directly. Everyone else doesn’t matter. Your core audience will support you if you engage with them.
Take KFC, for instance. Here are some awesome examples of social media engagement:
Likewise, Innocent also know how to do social media engagement well:
What do all these social media posts have in common? They all have a real sense of ‘voice’ and ‘personality’ whilst also knowing exactly what they stand for and who their audience is. More importantly, they respond to comments (see point 6 above) which is why people love engaging with them on social media.
This type of approach effectively gamifies social media, encouraging followers to comment or post a witty remark in the hope they’ll get an equally witty response in return. If your audience feels validated, or if they know to expect some form of validation from you on social media, they’re more likely to engage.
Failing to Engage on Social
There is, of course, a flip side to all of this. Brands who fail to engage with their followers on social media. The ones that don’t respond to comments. Those that don’t engage in conversations. Businesses where social media is transactional and communication is one-way.
Although the examples of good social media engagement above come from two massive brands at the top of their social media game, in reality, there’s no excuse for any business failing to engage with its followers. This is why you need to monitor business mentions.
Here are some social media response time statistics to put things into perspective:
- 80% of customers expect companies to respond to their social media posts within 24 hours.
- 85% of customers on Facebook expect a response from companies within six hours.
- 64% of customers on Twitter expect a response from companies within one hour.
So, if people expect a response, make sure you’re set up to engage with them in a timely manner.
Who’s in Charge of your Social Media?
As we’ve already seen above, big brands can afford dedicated social media teams to manage their social profiles. When the balance between creative freedom and remaining within brand guidelines is right, the results are phenomenal.
However, if the team (or person) managing your social media is:
- Restricted by brand guidelines,
- Lacking in creativity/humour/common sense,
- Doing it in addition to another role,
- Using it solely as a customer service touchpoint,
Then, you open yourself up to misunderstandings like this…
Whoever’s in charge of your social media, make sure you empower them to properly and fully engage with people interacting with your business.
Ways to Improve Your Social Media Engagement
In conclusion, social media engagement is essential for businesses because it humanises your brand. That’s a tremendously important touchpoint with your audience, especially when you don’t have a physical ‘shop’ or ‘office’ for them to visit. When your website is your store, social media is your window display, enticing people inside. More importantly, social media matters on Google. So, really, there’s everything to play for when it comes to leveraging social media engagement for business.
However, if you’re struggling for ideas to improve social media engagement why not try out these approaches:
- Use social media video. It’s the best performing content type. Bar none. (Check out our 20 Social Media Video Ideas for Small Businesses for inspiration)
- Get involved in Twitter Chats. Join conversations in your niche. Start new conversations. Get social. (Find out more in Marketing with Twitter: The Essentials)
- Engage with your followers first. Pick someone at random and send them a personalised message. Once again, start that conversation.
Let us know how it goes. In fact, why not hit us up on one of our social media channels and strike up a conversation with us.