If you know that your prospective buyers are on social media then you need to be too. But how can you ensure that your social media activity actually works? The answer is engagement. Research shows that creating engaging content leads to increased reach, which directly correlates with website traffic. Today, we uncover 5 ways the top brands are engaging their audiences on social media.
1. Implement a social listening strategy
The best way to create social media content that engages your target audience and encourages them to take action is to understand them better. With the help of a good social listening strategy you can understand what your customers and potential customers think about your brand, monitor your competitors and understand how your customers feel about those brands, and understand your audience’s interests and behaviour. That way you can then create content which your audience will find entertaining, helpful or truly intriguing.
There are a lot of great social listening tools out there. At Balmer Agency, a few of our favourites are Hootsuite, Buzzsumo, SEMRush and Google Alerts. We use these and other tools to monitor mentions of our clients’ brand names, audience reactions to our clients’ social activity, competitor activity, top performing content and relevant conversations happening on social media.
2. Use captivating images
The team behind the popular social media analytics tool, Buzzsumo, found that posts with images receive 2.3 times more engagement than those without. Photos, charts, and visual representations such as the one below are amongst the most popular image formats on social media.
The quality of your images is paramount, but making sure your images are relevant to your audience is just as important. You need to tailor your content to your audience based on the social media platform you are using too. It sounds obvious but you would be surprised how many businesses have a one dimensional approach to social content.
If you find it too challenging to create your own high quality images, you need to work out whether you are going to high a photographer, employ a graphic designer or outsource your images. Stock photos can work well but be careful as great stock shots get snapped up by multiple organisations and end up everywhere.
You can also play with frames, filters, and other features to make your images more appealing to your audience. Be sure to make your images optimised for the channel in question. Square images are ideal for Instagram but may need to be adjusted or redesigned for other social networks, especially if they contain text.
3. Leverage the power of video
Last year we all saw the amount of video content in our social media feeds skyrocket and Social Media Today even went as far as saying that 80% of all internet traffic would be video by 2019.
The key is to figure out what kind of videos work best for your audiences and chosen social media networks. Not long ago, we were sharing links to YouTube videos on Facebook and seeing decent engagement. However, today it is much more effective to publish directly on the platform itself if you want to see good engagement. Facebook videos, while they represent a fairly small percentage of posted content, achieve disproportionately high engagement. In fact, recent research suggests that native videos on Facebook may achieve as much as 10 times the engagement of YouTube videos. Facebook clearly prioritises video uploaded directly to their platform versus video share from YouTube or other sources.
To ensure you are making the most of social video to engage your audience and drive them to your website, you should stick to smart video practices such as:
- Always post your videos natively where possible
Native videos on Facebook start playing automatically (unless you change your settings as a user), while YouTube videos need to be tapped on. Native videos play right in the Facebook interface, while YouTube videos need to load an external mobile web page which is then displayed inside Facebook’s template. Therefore native videos on Facebook look cleaner and provide a simpler user experience which is leading to higher engagement. This is generally the case for other networks as well.
- Customise your videos for each network
It’s important to remember each network’s unique qualities and limitations. Instagram videos can be 3 to 60 seconds long in the main feed, whereas you can record a video directly on the Twitter platform of 2 minutes and 20 seconds in length.
- Optimise your videos for social sharing
85% of Facebook videos are watched without sound. This highlights how important it is to optimise your video for sharing on each social platform. You can simply add a caption and instantly increase the number of people who will engage with the video’s message. When crafting your video titles and descriptions remember that some wording in titles will work wonderfully on Instagram but might be a bit too casual for a platform like LinkedIn.
- Amplify your reach with paid advertising
Once you see what’s working organically, you can amplify that reach with social media advertising. Since native videos already get better organic reach than other post types, they are more likely to be engaged with, and stay present on the News Feed longer. By promoting them with the help of well executed social media marketing plan, businesses can leverage an already favourable opportunity to get tons of exposure with each video they publish.
4. Evaluate your data
The best way to continuously improve your engagement rates on social media is to evaluate your efforts on a regular basis and identify which content is performing. For all of our clients we provide monthly reports leverage these insights to adjust our strategy – ensuring that our social media activity is geared for engagement at all times.
If you are using a social media scheduling tool that doesn’t give you good visibility over the performance of your content and key metrics such as the engagement rate you should switch to a different platform. Reporting and analytics can become a time suck if you aren’t doing it efficiently so it’s important to use methods which allow you to get a clear picture of what’s working with minimal time and effort.
5. Be responsive
Whilst a killer content strategy is guaranteed to deliver great engagement, you can also engage your social media followers just as effectively by simply providing the same level of customer service you do offline on social media. A lot of brands use one-way engagement strategies but engagement doesn’t only occur as result of outbound social media activity.
You can attract, excite, and engage audiences with relevant published content, but reaching out to your audience on-on-one on social media is an incredibly underestimated source of engagement.
The key is to respond quickly and consistently to as many comments, direct messages and mentions on social media as possible. The other thing to remember is to avoid cookie-cutter responses. Customers know when you have simply cut and pasted a standardised response to their message. If you provide personalised customer care via social media your customers and potential customers are likely to share this experience with others, not just on social media but in the offline world too.
In order to make this kind of 2 way social engagement work for your brand you need to dedicate the right resources to it. If you don’t have time in-house to monitor your social media pages and respond to comments, questions and feedback then you may benefit from partnering with someone who can take care of this social media management for you, just the way your own team would.
Need help boosting your social media engagement in 2019? Contact our social media specialists to find out how we can help.