Knock knock! It’s time to reframe how you think about social media engagement. Since the dawn of social media, we have considered the number of likes on a post to be the main indicator of its success. The more a post garnered likes, the more we judged it to be a “good” piece of content.
However, the definition of engagement has evolved. Likes don’t mean as much as they used to. Likes don’t necessarily lead directly to sales—overall organic engagement is a better leading indicator. Instead of likes, the real metric to focus on is the number of people talking about your brand.
What is social media engagement?
Social media engagement measures all the public likes, shares, and comments a brand earns through social media efforts. While engagement is often considered critical in evaluating social media performance, it’s only one piece of the larger marketing puzzle that drives results and sales.
Today, brands have started looking deeper at more quality interactions—going beyond likes to explore how shares, comments, and saved or bookmarked content drive organizational success. One way of describing this philosophical shift: How people talk about your brand is more valuable than whether they just like a post.
Engagement is valuable. A share indicates an enthusiastic agreement with your post—enough that they’re willing to endorse your content across their networks.
If you’re curious about how to increase social media engagement for your brand, here are some practical steps.
1. Create a brand identity
In 2020, small business owners and major corporations have had to rapidly pivot their strategies, change their content schedules, and develop new, innovative concepts to sell their goods and/or services. These two articles are helpful in determining your brand voice and avoid coming across as out of touch:
2. Create valuable content people will want to save
Since likes are no longer a great standard for engagement, you may be asking, “How do I create bookmark-worthy content?” Think about your audience. What they’ll want to read again later would be valuable to them. Your content should provide great value. Checklists and infographics work great for this.
Ellevest highlights this perfectly:
By including a checklist design, Ellevest has created a resource their followers can refer to when they want to act on the tips.
Tweet TIP: Add a call to action at the end of your post to boost social media engagement. You can ask your followers to share or save a post for later.
3. Start conversations
Storytelling allows your reader to see themselves in your brand. Speak simply, but do it in a way that doesn’t alienate a specific population. For example, if you are a woman-owned brand, you wouldn’t want to assume all your followers are mothers and use language only mothers can relate to. It’s important to take advantage of the power of surveying your audience. Become a better listener.
One way you can build engagement through social media is by focusing on your post copy or captions. Build your personality and add some heart to your content marketing. Create education. Sell information, know-how, and inspiration.
Instagram favors longer-form captions that really build the story around what a brand is selling.
This Instagram post by Jenna Kutcher effectively shows how a story resonated with her followers:
Tweet TIP: Speak human and your audience will thank you. Remember to keep things simple and conversational.
4. Add an element of fun
We’ve mentioned this several times on previous posts, but it’s a recurring theme because it’s important! Post statistics and people start to listen. Post memes and they will share. Chubbies, a clothing company, uses a comical tone in their Instagram posts to pull audiences in with their humor. Memes work really well for them.
Here are a few more creative ideas to help you engage your audience in a fun, human way:
- Create quizzes
- Offer advice
- Run polls
- Have Q&A sessions
Tweet TIP: Listen to your audience, then act. Keep track of what resonates with your audience and double down on that type of content.
5. Be vulnerable
Content marketing isn’t about a quick sale. It’s about building a relationship. Consumers are smarter today. They buy from you after they get to know you. So how do you get to know someone? With honest, open, and transparent conversation. Authenticity helps create stronger bonds with your audience, making them want to take time out of their day to save, share, and comment on your content.
We all crave human connection, even more so in the climate of a global pandemic. Switch your thought process to caption first, image second and you may see your brand engagement skyrocket.
Humans of New York has been able to grow organically to 10.7 million followers—all they’ve done is communicate human stories. This has allowed audiences to feel seen through the captions, ultimately driving the social following we see today.
6. Build a mailing list
This may seem surprising, but having access to your customers outside of social media can help build trust. In fact, taking your relationship off Instagram and into their inbox is one of the best ways to establish a deeper connection with your social media audience.
Newsletters are a great way to communicate with your audience, especially if you provide insightful content that resonates with them and makes them crave more. Creating a thriving and healthy mailing list allows your brand to communicate in a personalized way with your customers and deliver the right message at exactly the right time—a huge contrast to social media algorithms, where you have much less control over when and where your content shows up in feeds.
By building a mailing list and showing up regularly in your customers’ inboxes, you can build loyalty and trust that makes your brand human across digital spaces.
Time to level up your social media engagement
If you’re going to do anything, make sure you’re consistent. There’s no denying social media’s importance for a brand in ultra-competitive digital spaces. On top of that, consider which social media engagement metrics you’ll want to anchor to. Plan for and learn what likes, shares, and comments tell you about your content marketing efforts and your audience. Use those learnings to iterate and scale your content.
At the very least, these tips should inspire you to think creatively about what your brand shares and look beyond likes to increase audience engagement.
The next time you’re developing or refining your social media engagement strategy, try incorporating these tips and see how your audience responds. Speaking human will go a long way.