The top 6 ways to increase social media engagement

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What exactly is engagement in social media and why is it important?

The research and advisory firm, Forrester defines engagement as “The level of involvement, interaction, intimacy, and influence an individual has with a brand over time.”

The traditional marketing model of consumers’ decisions has been what is known as the marketing funnel: from awareness, to consideration, then preference and action, and finally, loyalty. But that model has become obsolete. In this socially-networked era, instead of a clear path from awareness to transaction your customer’s behaviour has become a complex network with alternate entry and exit points driven by external influences such as recommendations, peer reviews and competitive comparisons. In this new world, your most valuable customer isn’t necessarily the one who is buying regularly from you, but rather the one who is advocating for you; they are doing this via social media.

Photo Credit: Marketing’s New Key Metric:
by Brian Haven for Forrester Research.

The Social Marketing software developer, Wildfire, did an analysis to find out the statistics behind these social network advocates. They identified three types of social media users:

Joiners: users who participate in your social campaign, but don’t spread the word about it beyond their own interaction, such as redeeming a coupon. For the average brand, Joiners make up 83% of users.

Sharers: users that participate with a branded campaign, then spread the word about that campaign by electing to share it with their network of contacts. They make up 15.4% of users.

Advocates: users that participate with a branded campaign, share about it, and have enough clout within their network to influence friends to convert into participants as well. They make up only 1.5% of users.

What Wildfire also found was that the world’s most talked about super brands did remarkably better than the average, 265% better in fact. Your task is to emulate the super brands by supporting your Advocates and upgrading your Joiners and Sharers.

So how do you go about doing this? Here are six best-practices you should be employing:

1) Run multiple engagement applications at a constant rate.

Be creative and give your users a variety of ways to engage with you and different things to do when they get to your social pages. This will encourage them to spend time on your page and to return to it. Think about what engages you: videos, games & useful widgets, information, humour, reviews?

2) Use every available opportunity to stimulate interactions with clear calls-to-action.

You can’t rely on your visitors to like, share or comment on your content without asking them to do so. People need to be reminded what they need to do. You can stimulate discussion by asking for readers to contribute their tips and stories.

3) Images!

On Facebook the type of content that gets most exposure is pictures. So wherever possible use images – in your news feeds, on your timeline and in your profiles.

4) Keep your interactions seasonally relevant.

Social media hinges on being “real-time”, stale content will struggle to stand out in the whirl of up-to-the-second news. Make your campaigns directly relevant to what is going on today, this week and this month such as national holidays, stories in the news, sporting events, premieres or new music releases.

5) Mix campaign types and create new offers on a consistent basis.

Wildfire found that the type of content that users will engage with themselves isn’t necessarily the same content that they will promote to their friends and colleagues. For instance, people like to take advantage of give-aways but are less keen to let other people know that they are doing so. Somewhat predictably people are more likely to share things that show them in a good light or give them the opportunity to show off such as quizzes, personality tests and contests. So what this means is that you need to offer a variety of formats to generate user activity.

6) Extend your social communities across a variety of platforms.

Don’t limit your online social engagement to one or a few networks. There is a plethora of networks out there catering to every imaginable interest and taste; make sure you have a presence on all of the main ones and search out the specialised and obscure ones too which potentially may have more loyal consumers. Think laterally: your main business might not be photography for example, but contributing photographs of your business to image banks might get you noticed by the people who use them.

And finally - Give to Get. Don’t wait for people to come to you and comment on your content, go out to them and comment on theirs - you’re more likely to get the favour returned.

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