Did you know that there are over 1.82 billion social network users worldwide?
That number is expected to increase to approximately 2.33 billion by 2017. Those numbers speak for themselves, being active on social media is a crucial part of your marketing plan today.
Social media is one of the most effective ways to increase exposure of your brand which is why 8 out of 10 small to medium businesses use social media in order to drive the growth of their business. However, not all of those businesses are getting the most out of it, or doing it properly at all in fact. Some businesses will obtain impressive and significant results with social media and while others achieve none and see it as a waste of time.
The difference between them is simple, it’s called engagement. What engagement represents is a two-way dialogue between brands and customers. More technically, it determines what percentage of your audience is viewing your content, sharing it, and ultimately looking forward to seeing more of your content.
Increasing engagement becomes easier with larger budgets, however it can be a problem if you’re a small business with a tight budget. We’ve put together a list of actionable tips you can apply today to your social media marketing in order to grow engagement organically, for free.
Make Use of Free Social Media Listening/Monitoring Tools
As you may have heard before, online reputation can make or break your brand. Thankfully there are tools that can help monitor what people are saying about your brand online. Here are some that offer a free version to get started:
Social media and visual content go hand in hand. In fact, using images or graphics has huge advantages for social media. Research has discovered that images can bring up to an 85% interaction rate on Facebook and could increase retweets by 35%.
Below is an example of a Twitter profile that used an image to highlight a blog post that was being shared on the platform.
Not a professional graphic designer? No worries, get started with a free service like Canva, just make sure you keep your branding in mind when designing images and banners for social media.
Include Contests and Giveaways
What’s great about contests and giveaways is that they boost engagement on the social media platform of your choice because they use gamification and of course, the fact that they can get something for free always helps . For example, you can ask followers to fill-out an entry form, like your page or share their favorite story about your brand for a chance to win a free product or subscription from your brand. Giving away something is key.
Post About Current Events
Another way you can create valuable content is by leveraging current events. Oreo did this during the 2013 Super Bowl, when there was a major power failure.
Their technique worked so well that they managed to generate over 10,000 retweets in one hour.
Another example, Papa John’s Pizza posted about the March Madness basketball finals on their Facebook page. They asked fans to pick the winning team, and received more than 50 comments within a few hours.
When you create content connected to current events that people are already talking about, it creates real engagement and a deeper connection with your fans and their behavior.
Ask, And You Shall Receive
Asking your followers and audience questions is another way to get them active on social media. You could ask them to give you advice, content ideas, what they would like to see from your brand in the future or just a general question like “What are plans for the weekend?”. Another idea would be to hold frequent Q&As on Google Hangouts, Twitter, Reddit, etc. for a more behind the s
When you ask a question on your social media page, you turn it into a community and encourage your customers to respond and share their opinion, it means you value their ideas. The best way to raise your engagement is to make your followers feel important, after all everyone likes feeling important.
Repurpose Your Content
Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest are just four of the numerous social media networks out there. Moreover, they all serve different demographics and have different features. This is the reason why you should repurpose your content to fit the preferences of the specific social media audience you want to reach. For example, you could create a how-to-list for LinkedIn and convert that into an image to share on Facebook. You could even just update or republish one of your most popular articles. The point is that you can use the same idea and awesome content to reach different audience across various mediums.
Calls to Action
Calls to action are important, but you need to be careful about how you’re using them. That’s because Facebook no longer appreciates promotional posts and has lately started to penalize posts that directly ask for ‘Likes’ & ‘Shares.’ In the eyes of Facebook, promotional posts lower the quality of the user experience.
Here’s an example of a post that Facebook considers to be too promotional.
However, not all social media platforms think like Facebook.
Twitter, for example, doesn’t mind as much if you ask for people to retweet your content , basically the same thing of asking people to share your content on Facebook. In fact, asking people to retweet your content on Twitter has the power to dramatically increase your engagement levels.
As you can notice, the phrase ‘RT’ generates on average 73.48 retweets, and it works much better than asking people to ‘PLS RT.’
Not every question is equal, however. Some words work better than others when it comes to constructing your questions.
Another tip is to keep an eye out for questions asked on your social media profiles, people expect answers quickly as you can see in the image below.
Encourage User-Generated Content
User-generated content (UGC) is a brilliant way to get your fans talking on your page. It’s the most convenient way to get engagement.
Starbucks’ #WhiteCupContest is an excellent example of a successful UGC contest. In 2014, they launched the first #WhiteCupContest, where customers were asked to design the cup, take a photo and share it on social media using the hashtag. The campaign received more than 4,000 entries in just three weeks.
Connect With a Social Cause
Even if a social cause doesn’t directly relate to your brand, you can still promote it on your page and find a way to connect with it, if not then just supporting one your company believes in should be enough.
Estée Lauder is a world-renowned beauty product manufacturer. When they conducted a Breast Cancer Awareness (BCA) campaign, it made them a socially aware and sensible brand. The call to action of the campaign was “Hear our stories. Share yours.” And that’s what their fans did.
They asked their audience to visit BCAcampaign.com to hear from breast cancer survivors and share their own stories. When they started the program, hundreds of people shared their stories on the platform.
If there’s a cause your company supports, create a campaign or just spread the word on your social pages. Fans are likely to engage with socially responsible content.
Conduct Polls and Surveys
People are often willing to provide you their opinion, and this is particularly true on social media networks. This means that conducting polls and surveys about your services, products, and brand in general are great ways to engage your followers and obtain valuable information about your customer base as well as feedback from your audience.
It also shows them that you care about their opinions, which in turn helps to build trust and loyalty, further strengthening your brand identity and reputation.
Use survey creation sites like SurveyMonkey to easily create polls to post on your social media profiles.
If used properly, social media has the power to dramatically change the way you acquire customers. Using social media is not as hard as it sounds, you just need to understand how to play the game in the proper way.