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Marketing

9 simple ways to increase your social media engagement

From improving your ‘organic reach’ to incorporating chatbots into messaging apps, we show you how to boost your social media engagement.

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Social media engagement is crucial to your brand’s success but it is frequently done poorly. ‘Engagement’ means much more than ‘reach’; engagement is active and collaborative. While the number of ‘likes’ is always important, quality wins out over quantity every time. From improving your ‘organic reach’ to incorporating chatbots into messaging apps, we’ve listed nine essential tips for improving your brand’s social media engagement.

1. Prioritise organic reach through new posts and videos

Organic reach has been a major buzzword in social media circles for a while now, and with good reason. Not only does organic reach create a more genuine and stable connection between your brand and potential clients or customers, but it’s free! Organic reach refers to the connections made between your brand and social media users without paid distribution. A great way to pursue organic reach is through frequently making new posts and updating your social media profile.

Video – particularly live video – is also an excellent tool in increasing your organic reach. A recent Social Media Examiner study found that Facebook Live videos receive almost ten times the reach of other content on the platform. A great example comes from Smirnoff, who asked fans to post selfies to their Facebook site. Through Facebook Live, Smirnoff used the selfies to create personalised cocktails, generating 2.8 million impressions and 239,000 views.

2. Community management

Connected to the above point on organic reach is community management. Social media allows you to have direct conversations with your biggest fans and those who haven’t heard of you, so why not make the most of it? A connection built through social media will be stronger and more durable than other forms of advertising.

"Engagement’ means much more than ‘reach’, it’s active and collaborative."

Social media engagement is far more direct: use the reply button to respond to a comment or simply ‘like’ what a fan has written. Don’t be shy either – with the right planning and direction, brands like Wendy’s and dbrand have become legendary for their ‘roasting’ of other brands, predominantly on Twitter. Take Wendy’s almost daily takedowns of McDonald’s, and use of memes – more on that below.

Plenty of brands use social media but using it effectively as a way to engage with both fans and those with complaints, is much less common.

3. Generation meme

In the past, memes might have been written off as lame jokes that rise and fall too quickly to bother with – but that’s certainly not the case anymore. The importance of memes is now being realised, with sites like Reddit, Imgur, Twitter, and KnowYourMeme.com (plus 4chan for the brave) incredibly valuable for keeping an eye on what’s trending – and what’s about to.

Millennials spend over 200 minutes online every day – and they’re more ‘ad averse’ than ever. Your team needs to know what the kids online are doing. Timing is crucial. You have to catch the wave at the right moment, or you may do your brand more harm than good. Think Gangnam Style in July 2012, not July 2018! Unless your brand can do perfect irony or have fun working with old memes like the Philadelphia Eagles. In short, it’s not easy to do, but the right bent of humour can work wonders if your finger is on the pulse.

A great example came early in 2018 from Heinz, who decided to weigh into an online debate about whether the tomato was a fruit or a vegetable. The exercise reached four million people, while they had 80,000 plus examples of active engagement.

4. Chatbots and Messaging Apps

Messaging apps like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp are also becoming increasingly legitimate tools of engagement for businesses. Messaging apps now have over five billion active users; people use them more than social networks. And while you need to be always available, having a 24-7 presence on social media does not require round-the-clock staffing. Chatbot technology has improved significantly in recent years with the integration of AI. It’s a great way to speak directly to your customers, providing them with information and answering simple questions in FAQ style, or you can try more ambitious goals as well. Open source tools like Rasa offer zero-cost ways to start building a chatbot. Messenger ads can also be used to send key updates about your brand.

5. Website social media integration

Years ago, no business was legitimate without a website. Today, the same applies for social media pages. And while plenty of smaller businesses forego a website for a social media page, the best approach is to integrate your social media presence with a kick-ass website. Use your website to boost your social media presence and use your social site to link people to your website where longer content, blogs, and useful, detailed information can help or entertain.

6. Remarketing

Did you know that 69% of online shoppers never actually make it to the checkout page? Whether they’ve decided against the purchase, found something elsewhere or got distracted, it means there’s a huge potential to try and change their minds. That’s where remarketing comes in. Remarketing allows brands to know who has been browsing their site and what they’ve been looking at – offering it to them again, perhaps at a discount or with other perks like free shipping. Ever had a look at a pair of shoes but decided not to buy, before seeing the exact same pair pop up again later on in the day when you’re checking your Facebook? That’s remarketing.  

7. Create ephemeral content daily

Social media is, well, more social than traditional websites – so why use it like a traditional website? Creating ephemeral content – i.e. Insta stories – is a great way to keep your brand on the tip of people’s tongues. Not only are they cheaper, the low-budget production actually resembles what is being shared daily across social media. This gives it a degree of closeness and influence of a ‘word of mouth’ quality, which is difficult to achieve using big budget productions.

8. No shortcuts

Facebook likes are valuable and can give your brand a great deal of legitimacy. They can also be bought, which means that without true engagement they can be completely meaningless. Facebook has sophisticated algorithms which seek out and delete fake likes. An AdExpresso experiment into the impact of bought likes showed that they had zero impact on improving engagement. Zero. The focus – as we said above – has to be winning true hearts and minds through an excellent engagement strategy, not lazily purchasing likes which will probably be deleted anyway.

9. The Facebook ad campaign that works for you

The first step of any brand’s social media strategy must be to identify their audience. From there, a campaign can be developed which targets this audience specifically and effectively. An example is selecting a daily or lifetime budget for your campaign. A daily budget will put a cap on how much will be spent on advertising through each day of the campaign, perfect for brands with a limited marketing budget. A lifetime budget will put an overall cap on spending, but will give Facebook’s targeted algorithms space in which to weave their magic. Unlike daily budget ads which will be always there, lifetime budget ads will appear during times which make sense for your audience. In the long run, they might actually save you money.

What has worked for you to improve your brand’s social media engagement?

Simon Pilkington

is a digital marketing expert at Hello Social, one of Australia's leading marketing agencies. He likes to write about Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and all things social to guide small business owners through the jungle that is social media and help brands to increase their visibility in sales.

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