Engagement is an essential social media goal. In a survey from Awareness, 78% of respondents indicated that engagement is their top priority for social media marketing, second only to revenue generation at 51%. If you’re involved in social media, your goals are likely very similar. You know that building your connections on social media, facilitating conversations and responding to your audience is key to making social media marketing work.
Wouldn’t it be great to know exactly when, where and what to share on social media to reach your marketing goals? I would love to be able to show you an exact formula for social media engagement, but unfortunately that doesn’t exist. Social media involves humans, and humans bring unpredictability into the mix.
What I do have for you is a simple set of principles. When used, these “rules of engagement” will increase the likelihood that your social media presence will lead to your conversion goals – traffic, sign ups and sales.
Rule #1 – Understand your audience.
In order to reach your audience with your writing, you have to know what makes them tick. That’s why social media content creation is a little different for each organization. Understanding how your audience wants to engage with you on social media can help the writing process immensely.
Look back over your past three to six months of social media interaction. Dig into your Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn stats. What types of posts engage your audience? Pay close attention to the major statistics and collect a “best of” swipe file for your brand. Copy into one document any posts that prompted major interaction from your audience.
Once you’ve compiled this list, take a look at the updates and see if you can find any common threads.
Here are the two most popular posts from my personal account during a week’s period (from the Buffer dashboard):
Considering the amount of other content I posted within those seven days, and the fact that these two updates got the most positive social response, it’s clear to me that statistics are something that my audience values. I’m going to make it a point to share more stats, facts and figures with my marketing-oriented audience. And in my other social media adjacent writing like blog posts, I may put those numbers and percentages further up in my writing (hint: look at what I did in the first paragraph).
If your brand hasn’t been active on social media, or you aren’t finding any clear themes with your audience interaction, try looking at your major competitors and see how specific social media updates are performing.
In addition to your social media activity, you can also take a look at your blog and website traffic to get a sense of what is most interesting for your audience.
Rule #2 – Encourage your audience to engage in the conversation.
This rule is an umbrella of several different strategies you can use to encourage your audience to engage with you. In addition to posting their most preferred types of content (as you saw in the step above), you can use several other strategies to encourage your audience to engage with you.
Encouraging conversation can be as simple as adding “give us your feedback!” below a blog post. Another simple way to boost engagement on Twitter is to add “please RT” or “retweet” to your updates. I know it sounds too simple to work, but studies shown that this little addition really works. Sometimes, when you ask for it you get exactly what you want and what you need.
In addition, you can use your social media writing to highlight your audience. Give the spotlight to those who have commented on your content by retweeting or sharing their comments. Create a blog post based out of a conversation you’ve had on Twitter, or link to a LinkedIn group discussion from your brand’s Facebook page.
When other followers read the conversations going on, or your spotlights of other followers, it creates the impression that your brand is fostering a community – a community that they want to be part of. Highlighting others makes the social media writing process easier, and it helps foster a sense of community with your followers.
This is easier to do with Facebook, Google+ or on your blog, but it can be accomplished with Twitter as well. Try hosting a tweetchat, using Storify to curate and create a story using tweets from others.
Asking for engagement and curating customer feedback encourages your contacts to engage with your brand, which – over time – will increase your overall engagement numbers.
Rule #3 – Watch your words.
The selection of your words on social media can make a big difference in your engagement. Although you don’t want to belabor every single update, you can learn to incorporate terms that are scientifically proven to be more effective for engagement on Twitter and Facebook. I found a nice little collection in the Science of Social Media presentation that Dan Zarrellla put together a few years ago. Although I’m sure there are newer statistics, I’ve found mentioning post, please, media, how to and check out to be effective on Twitter for clickthroughs, replies and retweets. How, why and most work well on Facebook.
I keep a short list of these in Evernote for social media updates, and then look back to my previous shares to see what has worked best.
Social media writing takes time, practice and evaluation to get just right. With these rules in mind, and some digging into your current state of social media, you can start locking down the topics, writing style and even specific words that make a difference in your engagement.
Do you find any types of updates or even specific phrases that produce better results for your brand on social media?