Social Media Engagement: How to Raise the Bar

At its core, social media is meant to be two-way communication. It affords us an opportunity that no other media does: to interact with our customers and understand what they think, feel, like. The problem is that many companies approach social media as if it’s a one-way broadcast medium, and then wonder why their engagement metrics are low.

To take advantage of what social media offers—and be successful at it—we need to set aside our typical sales and marketing tactics and adopt a “help, educate, inform, and entertain” approach. We need to communicate with them, not at them. 

Below are six tips for increasing your social media engagement. Think of them as a philosophy for your overall social media strategy and let them direct your tactical decisions (editorial calendar, types of content, your responses, etc.). 

Don’t be THAT guy: loud, obnoxious, always talking, never listening.

Social media is like a big party, and you don’t want to be the guy that everyone ignores or avoids. You want to be the other guy. The one everyone gravitates towards who is listening to the people around him, asking questions, telling stories, making them laugh. 

If you want someone to play in your sandbox, you need to play in theirs.

As John Donne wrote, “no man is an island.” If you want people to like, share, comment, and otherwise engage with your content, you need to be out there doing the same thing with the content other people are posting. It’s about joining in a two-way conversation, generating good will, and building a relationship with your followers. People respond positively to attention (it’s human nature). Your followers will notice and begin to share your posts, too. 

Approach everything from your customer’s perspective. It’s not about what you think is important. 

Ask yourself, what does your audience want? What is important to them? What do they need? If you start with them, you’re more than halfway there to being successful. That’s why I like the phrase “A is for audience.” It’s a reminder that everything you do should be with them in mind. Considering your customer’s perspective, also includes avoiding things that would bore, aggravate, or otherwise annoy them—but social media pet peeves is a topic for another blog post! 

People care about their needs—not your marketing messages. 

There’s a lot of overlap in the various tips, but each is designed to get you thinking about your audience and how you communicate with them in a slightly different way and creating the kind of “place” they want to hang out at. If you’re responding to them, sharing content that meets their needs, and showing that you care, why wouldn’t they want to engage with you?

Don’t be an RSS feed. In other words, add value. 

If all you’re doing is sharing article titles and their associated links, you’re not giving your followers anything that they can’t find elsewhere. Be more than a content aggregator. Share your insights. Give them a reason to click. Tell them why they should pay attention. In other words, add to the conversation. 

Never underestimate the power of listening. It’s the greatest communication tool you have. 

I deliberately saved the best for last, because listening is a critical element of each of the other tips in this post and should be central to your social media strategy. Listening is why people gravitate to the other guy, and it’s how you find sandboxes to play in, uncover what your customers think and need, and how you find valuable content to share that’s not just yours. 

How does all this translate into your day-to-day activities? 

Instead of just publishing post after post on your company, products and events, you’re asking and answering questions; liking, commenting, and sharing content from others; and publishing posts that are interesting, interactive, and varied and that help, educate, inform, and entertain. This can take a lot of forms, but here are a few examples:

  • Hosting games, contests, and other interactive activities
  • Sharing customer, employee, and partner stories 
  • Celebrating holidays and posting humorous content, like jokes and comics
  • Acknowledging “the elephant in the room” (like natural disasters or the current pandemic)
  • Including photos, GIFs, embedded videos, or other visual elements in every post
  • Posting demos and other how-to posts
  • Offering discounts, freebies, and other offers
  • Responding to comments and posting polls

Bottom line: don’t forget to let your humanness show through! And, yes, this goes for B2B accounts, too. Whether you’re B2B or B2C, you’re communicating with people, not buildings, and those people want to know that there are people behind your social channels.