Traditional advertising was based on the model of reaching thousands or even millions of people at one time, through print, radio, and ultimately television. There was little to no interaction with these consumers and the brand relied solely on gaining traction in the marketplace through recognition.
With the advent of the internet, advertising has evolved and the main thrust of a successful campaign today often hinges on content marketing. Through this the brand aims to position themselves as an expert in their field by offering educational, informative or entertaining material.
An important element of this type of marketing, particularly via social media, is being able to generate interaction between the business and the buyer. Consumers are no longer willing to be marketed to, they have questions that they want answered, they want to be able to carry out their own research and above all they want to feel that they are communicating with people, rather than a faceless company.
Just as employee engagement, as defined by BergHind Joseph, is so important for the success of a company, so audience engagement on social media is so vital for the ultimate success of a brand.
The first step to building engagement with consumers is to make sure that you are on the social media networks where your target market hangs out. The second step is to make sure that your profiles are set up to be visually appealing and welcoming places to visit. The Pink Group provides an overview of the key social media networks and guidance on establishing your presence there.
5 Steps to Engagement
Once you have built the infrastructure of your social media profiles follow these 5 steps to help build your engagement:
1. Entertain the Senses
Visual media works particularly well on social media for generating interaction with your audience, particularly images, video and music or audio. Research has shown that on Facebook, photos receive an 87% interaction rate from followers and the next best is a paltry 4%. On Twitter, photos can boost retweets by 35% and this can make a huge impact on getting the word out about your business. Ultimately the more likes and shares your media has, the more potential it has to reach a wider audience.
2. Offer Incentives
Games, polls, giveaways and competitions garner a great deal of interest across social media and fans are highly engaged in the outcome because of their own personal involvement.
3. Ask Questions
You many not think that answering questions would be high on people’s agenda on social media, but in fact this can be an excellent way to start conversations. You can pose general questions, but asking for about feedback about your brand and products or services can also go down well. You just have to remember that you may not like everything you hear. However, it can provide valuable insight into whether you are meeting your customers’ needs.
Monitoring how well your status updates, tweets and pins are received in terms of likes and shares can give you valuable insight into what works best for your business. Also, keep an eye on whether your company is mentioned elsewhere on social media and whether it is in a positive or negative light. You can use ‘listening’ tools for this, as well as seeing what is said about your competitors, your main keywords and the search terms for your industry.
5. Be Present
As we said at the start, consumers today want to feel that they are interacting with people and not just a brand. Therefore, as well as generating content on your profiles you also need to be present to answer questions and to interact with comments that are added to your updates.
Being present is the final and probably key element of engagement and it is vital to retain a thriving social media presence. Even a simple thank you for commenting, demonstrates to your audience that you are watching and listening and nothing fosters engagement in an audience faster than recognizing that they are being heard.