Everyone tells businesses that they need to have a better presence on social media, but mere ‘presence’ is not something that can be considered successful in the world of social media. If you have tried being active on social media and haven’t seen much comments or shares, you will know what we mean. It can be a bit demoralizing as well to know you are spending so much time on social media to promote your company and it isn’t working. You don’t need to increase how active you are on social media. You need to increase the engagement level of your social media posts. It doesn’t matter what social media you use, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or anything else, you need more people to engage with your posts. Having a social media page does not equal marketing, having a social media page just means that you exist. To properly market your company you need to do something on social media which makes people talk.
What is Engagement?
Engagement basically means that people are interacting with your posts. The most important part of social media is that it is social. Being social, by definition, means interacting with other people around you. Engagement means that people like what you post, people comment on it or talk about it, and people talk back to you. Engagement is the real metric by which you can judge your social media success. Engagement is a two way street. Not only do the people have to talk to you, but you have to talk to them as well. Once you are having conversations with customers through your social media pages you will have created true engagement. This isn’t that hard to do and is easier to do for small businesses. Small businesses have an advantage over big businesses when it comes to engagement.
The Small Business Engagement Advantage
Small businesses are inherently better positioned for social media marketing and engagement. Social media posts both remove the limitations that small businesses usually face and enhance the abilities of small businesses. When it comes to marketing on television, radio, or in print media, big businesses will always win over small businesses. Big corporations can outspend small businesses easily and steamroll the competition.
Level Playing Field
On Social Media, the playing field is level. Sure, most social media websites have ways for advertisers to pay for exposure, but the real success stories are posts that engage people. The more people you engage the further your message will reverberate. If you run a small fast food joint you can outplay McDonald’s by having better social media posts than them. Sure, you may not be able to beat them nationally, but you will easily be able to beat them locally.
Large corporations are at a huge disadvantage; they cannot tailor their social media posts for different cultures. McDonald’s has 62 million likes on its Facebook page. Facebook has an option to personalize the page according to countries, which helps them customize posts according to the country of the visitor, but that still doesn’t help a lot. McDonald’s has to make posts which will be understood and enjoyed by all of their viewers. This means they have to be extra careful which leads to their posts being bland and uninspiring. People do not really engage with McDonald’s on Facebook, because it is just a corporate bland Facebook page. A small fast food joint can make jokes and talk about events happening in the local area, which gives them a huge advantage over national chains. It also allows customers to feel connected with the brand, because the brand is talking about things they can relate to.
Why Engagement is the real metric of social media
Engagement is what counts on social media. The main thing is that without social there is no such thing as social media, which means you need to have engagement to succeed. This isn’t the only reason however; engagement also has a direct effect on how many people see your posts and their perceptions of your brand.
When someone tweets out to you or comments on your Facebook page the activity is displayed to all of their friends. So if someone has 500 followers on Twitter and they send you a tweet, the 500 people will see it on their feed. If someone has hundreds of Facebook friends, many of them will see that they commented on your page. Every person that engages with you ends up spreading awareness about you to their friends. If people do not engage then only the people who are following your social media pages will see your posts. With engagements you create new customers instead of just providing updates to existing customers.
The biggest gain from engagement is the trust you gain from customers. You can do all the marketing in the world and people would still have doubts about you. Word of mouth, on the other hand, works better than anything else. If you saw your friend talk to or about a company you will trust that company because you trust that friend. If you see the advertisement for a new restaurant you might not be tempted, but if a friend told you that there is a great new restaurant then you will want to try it. Social media engagement sends this trust through the internet. Once you have people engaging with you their friends will see you as someone worth talking to and doing business with.
Boosting Your Engagement
Now let’s get to how we can increase our engagement. You just have to amend your social media strategy a bit and you will be good to do.
Don’t Be Boring
This is the biggest sin of social media; too many companies post things that are of interest to no one. Worst enough, many small businesses post straight up advertisements or press releases, which just drive people away. You need to understand what interests your audience and what doesn’t. No customer wants to hear updates about your corporate functions because they simply do not care about your company. This isn’t because you are doing something wrong, people care about updates from their loved ones because they love them, and it is unreasonable to expect the same level of care for a company.
No Press Releases
For example, if your company moves to a new and bigger office, there is a bad way to post it on social media and a good way. The bad way to post it would be a text update like “We are very glad to be growing at the pace we are growing, and this new office is just a step we are taking in completing our vision….” Do not do corporate buzzword talk in social media updates. The right and best way to post about a new office would be a picture of the people in your company settling into their new space. It humanizes the change and actually feels personal.
Engaging Updates are the Key
It is easy to come up with engaging posts. If you do any repair or maintenance work you can post before/after pictures of things you work on. If you are in the fashion and style category post updates about fashion trends. If you are in a B2B industry then post about B2B related issues and events. If you are in the food industry, then post pictures of delicious meals.
Don’t be a business, be a brand
What does your brand signify? A brand is a business with character. What are the character traits of your brand? Are you a funny company? A proactive company that cares about people? A company that is sentimental about local issues? Your brand needs to have a voice of its own. Most companies go with light humor, which is perfect, because it is inoffensive yet fun. Make jokes where appropriate and talk to people.
Be the Voice of Authority
You can even play the expert. One fantastic thing to do is become the voice of authority and a place that offers help. If you run a carpet cleaning company, give people tips on how to clean their carpets. Be open to questions and give out expert advice. This will make people think of you as the authority on carpet cleaning and they will think of you the next time they need their carpets cleaned. Something similar is possible for almost every industry out there.
The final and the most important part is that you do not just post updates on social media, you start a conversation. Once you post an update people might respond to it by commenting on it or tweeting back. You have to look at these responses and reply accordingly. If you are not an active participant then people will slowly stop engaging with you. You do not have to reply to each and every comment but you have to reply to the most relevant ones.