Business owners use social media as a means to an end, a way to bring more paying customers to their website. This happens in many ways, but they all come back to one thing; customer engagement. If a user on social media is not engaged, they aren’t going to care about your business, they won’t see your posts and they’ll never visit your blog. You need to engage your customers and keep them active, happy and interested in the things you have to say. When you lose their interest, you lose their value.
The main reason you want to engage with your fans is a little thing called Edgerank. Rather, the algorithm that supplanted Edgerank, but has maintained the name among marketing circles. The algorithm, called Edgerank for simplicity, maintains over 100 factors based on your connection with another person. These factors range from important social signals to minor signals like searching someone’s name. All of it combines into one ongoing calculation that determines how often your posts are seen on that other person’s news feed, and vice versa. Engagement is a shorthand term for the major influencers of Edgerank; the way you tweak the algorithm to ensure your posts show up more often. The higher your engagement, the more visible your posts will be. So, how do you increase engagement?
1. Ask questions of your fans.
People love talking about themselves and their opinions. They love expressing themselves. That’s why the easiest way to encourage engagement is to ask them about themselves. There are a number of different types of questions you can ask. Take this list and use it to create questions for any subject:
- Ask for a specific answer. “What is your favorite piece of software?”
- Ask a yes or no question. “Is Photoshop your favorite piece of software?”
- Ask a timely question. “It’s Photoshop’s birthday! How have you used PS in the past?”
- Ask a controversial question. “Do you think Photoshop is an overrated and overly expensive piece of software?”
- Ask about a piece of media. “What do you think of this image, made with Photoshop?”
- Ask a trivia question. “True or false: Photoshop is the most popular image manipulation program.”
- Ask a user’s preference. “Do you prefer Photoshop or Gimp?”
There are others, of course, but this basic guide should cover just about any question you could need to ask.
2. Create incentives that require taking action.
Have a coupon to give out? Create a Facebook giveaway or app that hides the coupon behind a bit of social engagement. Make that coupon only available to people who like your page or share a specific post. App templates are prevalent and easy to use, so you have no excuse to not make use of this simple tactic.
3. Treat posts as you would Twitter.
That is, keep them short. The longer a post is, the less readers will care to finish reading. If you’re keeping your posts under 50 words – or even within the Twitter character limit – they’re easier for readers to read and digest. Use this guideline to optimize the posts you write for maximum engagement. It helps when you’re automatically posting to both Facebook and Twitter, as well.
4. Create a fill-in-the-blank post.
This is another variation on asking questions of your users, but it’s worth a post of its own. The mad lib or fill-in-the-blank post is a viral style that, done properly, can be the most engaging post you’ll ever make. To run with the Photoshop example, try “If I had to Photoshop an image, it would be ___.” Users share their answers, and you don’t have to care or read them; just know that their act of posting increases their engagement and makes their posts more visible.
5. Say thanks for valuable comments.
Second only to wanting to express themselves, people want to feel appreciated for doing so. When a user makes a particularly insightful comment, thank them for the comment. Make the occasional status post thanking everyone for their participation. Thank users for their engagement and they will feel appreciated, which helps bring them back to continue to be engaged.
6. Use eye-catching images or video previews.
The eye is naturally more attracted to colorful images than to boring text. Image optimization for Facebook is an art all its own, but you can follow a few guidelines. Post images that are interesting and relevant to your post. Try to make sure they’re vibrant and eye-catching. Don’t forget to upload them first so you can optimize their descriptions and include another call to action.
7. Leverage crowdsourcing.
A twist on asking for user opinions, the crowdsourcing option is to ask your users for help. Even if you don’t need the help, asking your users to solve some problem for you – or for each other – helps those users feel valuable and needed. This can be further enhanced if you compile the best answers to share later. Plus, who knows? Maybe you’ll find something truly useful in their suggestions.
8. Post at the right time.
The debate rages online about what the best time of day or best day of week is to post your content. The truth is, there’s no one solid answer for that question. It varies depending on your location and the location of your followers. It varies depending on their jobs and other demographics. Just monitor your audience, measure their active and peak hours, and share content just before the majority of them show up for the day.
9. Post 1-3 times per day.
One post per day is fine. If you can handle more, go for more. Try to avoid posting more often than three times each day. Some larger companies can get away with it, but chances are you’re not one of them. Frequent posting means your posts get lost in the rush. It means you have a harder time promoting one out of many. It also might gain you a reputation as a spammer, depending on the content of those posts.
10. Ask users to like and share.
“Like this post if you can’t wait for Friday!” See how simple that is? It’s an incredible and powerful tactic to just ask for what you want in today’s world. Post a picture of a beach and a few people will like it, because they like the picture, or the location, or what it represents. Post a picture of a beach and tell people to “Like if you can’t wait for summer,” and you’ll have far more interest on the same picture.
11. Make a point of public customer service.
Companies have reputations to maintain. Customer service helps do that. Public customer service can be a viral storm of social activity, when done properly. Consider an example like Samsung from May of 2012: http://mashable.com/2012/08/30/samsung-dragon-phone/. This is an example of several ways Samsung engaged customers; a creative reply to an interesting post and an unexpected reward for a viral engagement included.
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