If you’re anything like me, you probably have a fairy short attention span. At any rate, you don’t want to sit and scroll through a 20 page essay, right? Because of that, I’m going to break up my Engagement series into more pieces than I intended. There’s more to say about it than you might think, so in the interest of keeping you engaged (aren’t I funny?!) I’m going to do several topics over the next few weeks so that I can be as detailed as possible.
You may recall from last week that the prime purpose of social media isn’t for mass marketing. It’s for relationship building. Nowadays, a click is only the beginning: Buyers are more empowered than ever and are constantly being bombarded with information. With this plethora of choices, you need to stand out.
To do this, you need to add an Engagement Strategy to your marketing plan. Mapping out how you’re going to spend your time engaging with customers is going to save you a ton of time. After all, you wouldn’t go on a road trip without your GPS (or map, if you’re into that), right? You’d waste time, gas, and sanity! The same is true for social media. Adding engagement to your marketing plan may take up a bit more time than merely scheduling posts, but with the right strategy, I promise it will be worth it.
Your strategy should include a few things:
- Your goals for engagement marketing
- The amount of time you can spend engaging daily
- Which platforms your target audience uses
- Where you’re going to spend your time daily
- Projects you would like to spend additional time on
The first thing you need to do is decide just how much time you have to dedicate to engagement. If you spend 20 minutes per week scheduling posts, you may only have an additional 10-15 minutes per day to spare. Whatever your life is like, make sure you keep that in mind and stick to it. You don’t want to get too overwhelmed! That said, you do want to spend at least 5 minutes every day on some of the following tactics, so that you can go above and beyond basic social media marketing.
One of the things I really struggle with is not only finding the time to engage online but also not getting sucked into the black hole that is the World Wide Web. In the last month, I’ve been toying around with different ways to increase my engagement on Instagram, while still being a human being and interacting with people face-to-face. Let me tell you, it’s not exactly an easy task.
Something I’ve found to be really helpful was to only follow Instagram accounts that I cared about and pertained to my brand. That may sound harsh, but after one of my experiments (more on those later), I went on a mass unfollowing spree. I now only follow accounts whose posts I want to stay up-to-date on (like those of my friends, family, and brands I love) and accounts that inspire me (like @bossbabe.inc).
I think that many small businesses make a huge mistake when they follow every single one of their followers back, or follow thousands of random accounts that may or may not be in their market. This muddies up the account’s news feed, which is really the easiest, quickest, and (of course) cheapest tool you have to engage with your followers. However, if you are following thousands (or even several hundred) of accounts who post at least once every day, your news feed is going to be packed with content, most of which probably doesn’t apply to you or your business. This is daunting, annoying, and a waste of time. When you like the content that you see in your feed, you’re ultimately helping the visibility of your account, so follow who and what you love!
Now that you’ve mapped out how much time you can put into engagement, you can think about what your goals are. Hopefully I don’t need to go into too much detail here, since every brand’s goals are a bit different. If you can only spend 5 minutes per day on engagement, you don’t want to shoot for the stars and expect to get 1,000 new followers in a week or a month. That said, you do want to be ambitious! What do you want to accomplish this month, this quarter, and this year? It may be difficult at first but I promise, you can do this!
Hopefully you already have a general social media strategy, created either by you or someone like me. This strategy should include which platforms your target audience uses the most. If you don’t have a general strategy and/or don’t know which platforms to find your target market, you can either do a few Google searches (make sure the articles you’re reading are current), talk to current customers to get their opinion, or purchase a software to help (you can always e-mail me as well!). In general, you can find many younger users (30 and under) on Instagram or Twitter, “older” users (24 and over) on Facebook, and mostly female users on Pinterest.
Keeping your goals and timing in mind, you can decide which platforms you’d like to spend the most time on, as well as which tactics you’d like to use. For example, if your audience spends most of its time on Facebook, a bit of time on Instagram, and hardly any time on Twitter, you don’t want to spend a lot of time trying to build a community on Twitter. Instead of participating in a Twitter Chat, you may want to opt for sharing your followers’ content on Facebook or “liking” your followers’ photos on Instagram.
Community building tactics
- Research which hashtags or trends your audience is interested in, then use them
- If you’re using Pinterest, find influencers related to your brand and request to pin to any community boards they may have, then add a pin or two daily
- Review your notifications
- Is there anyone who loves or shares nearly everything you post? Interact with them and say thanks or share something they’ve posted that’s related to your brand. You don’t need to interact with followers like they’re your besties, but a little bit of love can go a long way.
- If someone reaches out to you, be it via private message or comment, respond! They took the time to reach out to you, so it’s always good to offer at least a “thank you” in response. That said, you don’t need to respond to EVERYTHING (especially as your brand’s engagement grows), but you do want to respond as much as possible. It makes your followers feel special!
- Personalize your account to remind followers that there’s a human behind the business
- Show your employees love, too
- We created a photo album on Facebook at one of my jobs to showcase our employees and any office fun we may have. These posts received the most engagement by far. Make sure to tag anyone in the photos (with their approval)!
- Let people know who’s posting to (literally) demonstrate that you’re human
- If you have one point-person for social media, tag their account on your profile
- If you and your colleagues take turns (or occasionally have guests posting), have them add a signature or their initials to the post
- Show your employees love, too
- Keep it as visual as possible
- People like to look at pretty or funny things, so avoid posting lengthy statuses in favor of posting videos or even memes
- This may go without saying, but please don’t spam!
- This also means don’t overdo it with general marketing messages; the occasional promotion is okay, but people will get tired of seeing too many of them.
- Avoid using paid following tools. These don’t build an engaged audience and any services that automatically comment for you definitely present as spam.
While you should do a little something to engage every day, you may also want to have a few projects to put additional time into, to really spike your profile’s growth. Hosting a contest or event are both great ways to do this that will not only grow your following but really help you to connect with your audience. If your audience loves to tweet, you can also partake in a Twitter Chat or even host your own. I promise, I’ll go into all of these ideas in further detail over the next few weeks.
A few final notes:
Keep in mind that your community wants to get to know you, so be relatable! To do this, keep your voice as friendly and personal as possible, while maintaining your professionalism. This means you don’t need to use “omg” and “lol” all the time, but throwing an occasional emoji into your comments or posts is always fun. Focus on keeping your audience entertained and most importantly, have fun!
Finally, don’t give up. Just like many things in life, engagement marketing takes time. If you’re not seeing the results you want, switch things up, but stick with it! You can do it, I promise!