Six Tips to Engage Your Audience in a Social World

Social media is no longer a nice-to-have in this day and age — it’s essential to your brand, your marketing, and your outreach success. It’s a cost-efficient marketing channel that can effectively reach your audience. But it’s even more than that: It’s a great way to keep a pulse on your industry, clients, and competitors.

I can go on and on about how to best use social media, but a lot of that is going to depend on who you can dedicate to it. Regardless of the number of people or the amount of time you commit to your social media efforts, there are a few important things to keep in mind.

Quality Over Quantity

socialmedia_insert1While it’s great to have a ton of followers, that’s not the be-all and end-all. You have to also consider the engagement level of the followers you do have. Having people that like, share, and comment on your posts is just as important as having thousands of followers who may not necessarily interact with you at all. That’s not to say you shouldn’t strive to gain more followers, because it does affect how others see you as a leader. Just don’t make that your only focus.

Be Thoughtful and Realistic

Quality comes into play with the number of social media platforms you engage in too. You want to be thoughtful and realistic about which channels you’re on. First, think about where your audience and competitors are — this will give you a good idea of where you should be. From there, be practical about what you can actually support. It’s better to excel with a handful of channels than struggle with too many.

It’s Not All about You

To maximize opportunities to engage with your audience, give them content they need and want. Sometimes it will be relevant to a specific product or service you offer. But more often, it’s simply information that your audience can use, no matter who is the originator. This increases the chances that they will continue to follow you and maybe even share your posts.

Be a Part of the Conversation

socialmedia_insert2Similarly, social media is a two-way street. If people ask questions, comment, or share your posts, make sure you acknowledge the interaction. Respond to questions and comments quickly, and thank people for sharing. Go a step further to identify relevant hashtags, as well as industry leaders and influencers, to monitor conversations about you and your clients’ industries. Insert yourself into the conversation by sharing or retweeting content from others, offering your opinion and expertise by commenting on posts (whether the authors of these posts follow you or not). This allows you to keep an eye on past, current, and future clients — and keep tabs on your competition.

A Picture Really Is Worth a Thousand Words

Using images and video in your posts (or any communication products) is critical to engaging with followers:

  • It’s Pure Science — Your brain processes images faster than words. In fact, MIT found that you can process entire images that your eye sees for as little as 13 milliseconds. This makes it easy for your audience to quickly process information.
  • It Increases Shareability — The more engaging and attractive your content, the more likely someone will be to share it. Here’s another stat to illustrate (pun intended) my point: visual content is 40 times more likely to be shared. Every time your message is shared with others, you extend your reach to a new audience you otherwise may not have access to.

Measure, Adjust, Repeat

socialmedia_insert3As with any marketing activity, make sure you’re measuring the effectiveness of your social media. The beauty of digital analytics is that you have access to real-time data relatively quickly. You can be more agile and do more testing. All of this allows you to quickly see what works best in terms of engaging your audience — for example, the best days and times to post, the kind of wording that resonates best. Many social platforms have their own built-in analytics. If you’re using Hootsuite, Sprout Social, or another tool to post your content, it will also provide analytics.

Engaging your audience on social media is critical to its success. Post relevant, easy-to-process content. Make sure you’re responding in kind. See what’s working, what isn’t, and adjust over time. It’s that simple.