10 Ways to Engage Your Audience on Social Media Today

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At the beginning of the year, I outlined 15 social media concepts to help make you a more marketable social media professional in 2013. This month we will focus on Concept 2, the logic behind utilizing social media for business marketing. Review of Concept 1 can be found here.

Concept 2: Do you know the logic behind utilizing social?  Here’s a hint: Engagement. This is a broad answer, but if you have been following this blog, you should know that the common theme is “engagement” with external and internal stakeholders.

The traditional MBA offers students courses in all aspect of business from Finance, Human Resources, Leadership, and Marketing. The social MBA is no different.  The courses offered are quite similar with the addition of three social media marketing courses. This is a least the case at my University. Within this curriculum, students are exposed to the various processes, theories, and principles of social business and marketing. To be quite honest, many of these topics mirror traditional marketing and business, the execution is just a little different. Consider the basic function of Marketing: to identify consumer needs and satisfy those needs. Social media provides us with a real time platform to do just that, via engagement.

 Engagement. It is a word we hear multiple times a day within the social media world. It is descriptive of the relationship we are trying to build and nurture with (internal and external) stakeholders, one where we are not only sending marketing messages, but we are receiving messages back from the consumers/stakeholders as well. Traditional marketing platforms distributed marketing messages to audiences, where social media is a tool for two-way social engagement. No longer is the target audience passive, they are communicating with business at a B2B and B2C level. Employing methods of mass media was once acceptable (and the norm), but in today’s environment, it can be disastrous.

Businesses properly prepared for a social media endeavor are those who understand the goal is not  getting ‘lots of fans and followers’.  Fans and followers are important to a social media strategy, but it’s more important plan for social to be utilized as a long term branding tool.  If simply increasing fans and followers is your objective,  most likely you will not be successful with social.

I believe social media can be used as an inbound content marketing tool. A Facebook page, Google+ page, or Twitter profile are great places to share relevant and valuable content while connecting to various audiences (one of course should be your target audience). This sharing of content ultimately leads to trust, which leads to conversions in the future.  This relationship building process both begins and flourishes with engagement.

My top ten ways to engage (in no particular order):

  1. Find content that will resonate with your followers/fans. This is a basic skill but worth repeating. The more the viewer can identify with what you post, the more likely they will be to share or reply (thus engagement).
  2. Be sure content is easy to consume and respond to via mobile devices. Mobile is quickly becoming a mainstream way for consumers to view and engage. However, many businesses are not ensuring content is adjusted for mobile.
  3. Post photos and videos. Photos are shown to increase engagement tremendously. Consider posting behind the scenes photos of your business, recent functions, or even share photos of your customers using your product (with their permission of course).  However, not all photos (or content for that matter) should be of your products, services, or offers.  You may also want to ask your audience to share photos.
  4. Offer contests or sweepstakes. I like the idea of contests, but be careful not to over use this tactic. Nothing says spam (in my opinion) like posting and re-posting about a contest on my Facebook or Twitter Feed. This will be a quick way for folks to un-follow you, remove you from their feeds, or opt out of email.
  5. Post some clever questions. These types of posts will inevitably spark a discussion that could provide valuable insight on your target audience. You could also incorporate a poll on Facebook or your blog.
  6. Show that you are listening by responding to each and every comment on your Social Profile (Facebook, Twitter, etc.).
  7. Post infographics that your target audience will appreciate. Again, this goes back to providing content that is relevant and resonates with your target. If it meets these criteria, it will likely be shared or commented on.
  8. Be sure you have created multiple ways to share easily. This could be as simple as making sure your tweet is not too long so that when re-tweeted there is enough room for the link and a message, or by adding various sharing buttons to blog pages.  We want to make sharing as easy as possible for the reader, follower, fan etc.
  9. Include a little humor. Incorporate some fun into your Facebook posts, Tweets, Google+ etc.  Pinterest can be a great source for fun quotes and photos to share.
  10. Pay attention to the calendar. Content related to holidays and seasons will be very timely and most folks love holidays and everything that goes along with it. Consider posts in the coming weeks about Spring Break, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, topics related to vacation destinations, how to manage work and family when the kids are off from school.

This list is by no means exhaustive. It is merely a short list in hopes of inspiring you to engage with your internal and external consumers. While doing so, do not forget to include a call to action! A call-to-action invites your audience to immediately engage.  It can be something simple like suggesting the viewer/reader to share their opinion or it can provide them with the power to change something about the brand. Encouraging your audience to share their thoughts and opinions makes them more invested in your brand.

What your company or brand is doing to encourage engagement on social platforms?

Jessica Rogers
This monthly Social Media MBA column is contributed by Jessica Rogers. Jessica is a Dallas based Adjunct Marketing Instructor at Texas A&M University- Commerce and Full time Faculty at Southern New Hampshire University. She is currently working on her PhD in Business with an emphasis on Marketing; her dissertation research is focused on Social Media. Jessica teaches both undergraduate and graduate level courses in Marketing, including Social Media, and has 16 years of field experience in business and marketing before starting her teaching career in 2009. Jessica holds a BS in Business Administration and an MS in Marketing. +Jessica Rogers
Jessica Rogers

@DrJRogers

Social Media Marketing Professor @SNHU COCE; Adjunct @tamuc -Wife/mommy/PhD'16. #68/Top 100 Mktg Profs on #Twitter. Lover of #smm & hot wings; fluent in sarcasm
RT @iabcdallas: RT @fondalo: Ready for the #Social #Holiday Season? My Secret to #Christmas #ContentCuration http://t.co/5EmMhnuurM - 2 hours ago
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