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Mastering Social Media (2 of 3) - Keeping Your Audience Engaged

Keeping Your Audience Engaged
Social media is a great tool to have, but only if you’re actually using it to benefit your marketing efforts. In this series, we’ve been exploring how you can make the most of it. In this installment, we’ll explore some different ways to encourage your audience to interact with your social media posts.Social media is a great tool to have, but only if you’re actually using it to benefit your marketing efforts. In this series, we’ve been exploring how you can make the most of it. In this installment, we’ll explore some different ways to encourage your audience to interact with your social media posts.

Why Marketing on Social Media is So Tough

Social media can be a tricky animal to tame. On the one hand, it is clearly a great means of sharing content to your audience. According to the Pew Research Center, the median American uses three of the major eight platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, Snapchat, WhatsApp, and Pinterest, vast amounts of them using YouTube and Facebook as can be seen in this graphical representation of their findings.

Majority of Americans now use Facebook, YouTube

In addition, there is also a measurable tendency for users to overlap in their use of different platforms. As this next graph shows, there’s a high likelihood that if someone uses one social media platform, they more than likely use another. This is especially apparent where Facebook is concerned, as the percentage of people who also use Facebook is at its lowest with YouTube users with “only” 80 percent also leveraging the social network.

Substantial ‘reciprocity’ across major social media platforms

On the other hand, it can be especially hard for a business targeting other businesses to be as engaging as these platforms demand. How often have you thought to yourself, “Oh, I wonder if they’ve posted anything in a while?” before navigating to the page of a business you might work with? Chances are, it isn’t very often, which is a problem for that business. After all, they’re probably trying to market as well, and if they aren’t appealing enough for you to go out of your way to see what they’re doing or to click on the links that pop up on your feed, their marketing isn’t effective enough to do them any good. You need to make sure that your use of social media doesn’t have you in the same boat.

Fotolia 57561573 SThis is all without mentioning how many businesses, large and small, are already making use of social media.  a result, social media is a highly competitive place, as you are not only struggling to be seen among your audiences’ many contacts, but also against other businesses trying to do the same as you are. If you want to be seen among the cacophony and information overload, you need to stand out by being the more (or ideally, most) engaging option.

But How?

There are assorted ways that you can give an engaging boost to your social media, and from there, your company’s reputation. The better you look online, the better the impression a prospect will have before they even reach out to you. The key is to convey a sense of professionalism and expertise.

Before we go on any further, one thing needs to be made clear: “professionalism” doesn’t necessarily mean “austerity.” Your social media is where your company culture can really shine, so don’t feel that you can’t share a silly staff picture on Instagram or showcase a company holiday party for fear of ruining your marketing. If that is the culture your prospects should expect of you, showcase it. This is also a great tool for separating out clients who you can work together with effectively from those who will just make you miserable. It isn’t uncommon for a skilled potential employee to be passed over in a job search just because they wouldn’t be the right fit for that position, for that particular company. View your social media presence as the job interview your client conducts - informative in both your professional capabilities and in your personality.

Of course, including certain elements and discussing certain topics on your social media accounts can be extremely helpful as well.

What To Include:

Augmenting your content on social media doesn’t have to be challenging. Put yourself in the shoes of one of your audience members… what would you find most engaging for a business to share? Take that into consideration as you create a social media strategy.

Here are some other suggestions as to what to include on your business profile and in your activity to encourage a greater level of engagement.

Visual and Emotional Content
We have been anything but shy in describing the benefits that visual content, including images and videos, can deliver to your ability to catch your audience’s attention. This kind of content both catches your audience’s attention and leaves them invested in the message you have to share, creating a stronger impression and putting you at their top-of-mind whenever that topic comes up again.

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The same can be said of content that reaches your audience on an emotional level as well. Most business owners have very similar feelings and, to a point, fears concerning their business and its success. If the content you share out acknowledges these fears and feelings, your audience will be able to see you as a kindred spirit. More importantly, they’ll see you as someone with experience in dealing with such matters - an impression you want to cultivate among your audience.

Basically, show them the stuff that will tug at their heartstrings or give them a nervous sweat, and they’ll be more likely to listen to what else you have to say.

Offers, Incentives, and CTAs
Your social media is also an excellent place to advertise any special offers you are willing to make to your audience. Whether you’re sharing a downloadable resource or inviting your audience to view a specially-reserved video, mentioning it on your social media accounts is a great way to spread the word about it. Having said this, you will want to be careful about how you phrase this offer.Fotolia 107718550 S

People love free stuff. Obvious, sure, but no less true for it. However, making something free not only removes all cost from it, advertising this freeness also removes all perceived value from it, too. As a result, unless you are offering something as a free bonus in addition to something else, you’ll want to avoid tossing around the “f” word on your social media account. Instead, provide a signup link without mentioning any price at all, and don’t ask for any payment upon signup. That way, you aren’t cheapening your offer by removing its value, and you aren't scaring away potential contacts with an entry fee.

You don’t always have to offer them something in order to get a response. Sometimes, you can incentivize them with just a well-worded call-to-action, or again, a reminder of the reality they face without your assistance.

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Properly Timed, Timely Posts
Time plays a big factor in social media activity, as when you post can make almost as much of a difference as what you post. Where is your audience actually located, and are you factoring any time differences into your posting schedule? After all, it doesn’t make much sense to post something like “7 Great Spots for Coworkers to Get Lunch” when it’s 3:45 in the afternoon for your audience. While some may have their interest piqued, many more will still be fighting of the post-lunch digestion drowsies and will be in no way ready to consider food again. Likewise, depending on your target, 2 AM probably isn’t the ideal time for any social media that is meant for the average business owner.

It is important that you consider when you post things and what you are posting at that time from your audience’s perspective. You also need to have some insight into when your particular audience is active on social media to make the best decision as to when your social media will prove to be optimally effective. Like we said above, if most of your target audience is active during the later hours of the day, posting in the early morning may not net you the engagement  you’re looking for. That’s why you also shouldn’t be afraid to do some experimentation, posting the same content at different times to judge what is more effective, and when.

Consider your potential to theme what you’re posting based on the current season or upcoming holidays, or even relevant current events. Everyone likes a festive holiday video…

… a goofy Super Bowl Party…

...or seeing what other events your company attends or hosts...

               eventpuppy wedding14372109 10157673558155647 7616080737005351653 o incorporating these kinds of messages in your content will only make you more approachable in their eyes.

Valuable Conversations and Questions
Speaking of being approachable, one of the quickest ways to be seen as such is to take the first step and invite your audience to you. After all, your social media is more than a billboard, there needs to be some social aspect to it. Take advantage of your opportunity to open a dialogue with your followers. This dialogue has to offer something valuable with your followers, otherwise they won’t value it enough to pay attention to what you are trying to say.

comment sectionOf course, there are many ways that you can offer value. We personally find our company culture to be an effective way to get our audience’s attention, which we can then direct to the services we have to offer. We don’t share so many Crock-Pot Thursday videos just because they’re fun to make (although they really are)!

No, we share them because they are engaging, and they catch the attention of our audience. So while they may not focus on the services we offer, they do showcase the kind of people our audience would have the opportunity to work with (and the meals they’d be welcome to share, to boot). In addition, we’ve found that demonstrating our goofier side helps to break the ice a bit, bringing a higher level of comfort to the business relationships we form.

This comfort allows us to jumpstart our relationship with our contacts and clients. Having received a better view of us as people, they are more ready to approach us with questions and learn more about our services. This means we are able to prove our value as a provider of IT services, faster...all because we play with our food, so to speak.

However, in order to have these conversations, we have to be receptive to them.

Be There
If you want people to engage with you, you have to engage with them right back. Think about it from their perspective--are you going to waste your time reaching out to a company that can’t be bothered to respond? Of course not. Your prospects feel the same way.

To counter this, you need to be receptive to opportunities to engage, and as we mentioned above, broadcasting that readiness with assorted calls-to-action and requests for input. Remember, it takes two people to have a dialogue, so you and your audience both have to participate.

Check back soon for the next installment in this series, where we’ll discuss how to turn your committed social media visitors into committed website visitors! In the meantime, tell us: what was your most popular social media post, and why do you think that is?

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