How to Build Real Social Media Engagement in 2019
by Cydney Hatch • August 20, 2019
Have you ever been to a dinner party where one of the guests was totally into themselves? It might have been painful listening to them drown on about themselves, their home in Malta and how they graduated from Harvard Business School and know the industry in and out…
We all know someone like this guest—people who talk without listening, who seem to think that what they have to say is as fascinating to everyone else as it is to them, and who don’t seem to understand that listening is an important part of communicating and connecting to others.
Well, just like that dinner guest turned you off into getting to know them, as a business you need to ensure you are a pleasant guest in the social media “dinner party.”
Too often, I see businesses grabbing their proverbial megaphones making all of the content they create about themselves and—like the annoying dinner guest—they leave without engaging with the other dinner party attendees or in this case, people online! As a business, you need to dig deeper into your social media efforts and focus on creating content and an attitude that is engaging.
So, if you want to be the dinner guest everyone wants to know because you are engaging, fun and inclusive, this is the article for you. In this article, you’ll learn how to get your audience to engage with your social media efforts far beyond likes!
What is Social Media Engagement and How Do You Measure It?
Now, before we hop into social media engagement tactics to try, we first need to understand quality social media engagement.
In simplicity, the way your people interact with you on social platforms is social engagement. These metrics are crucial for measuring the effectiveness of your social media campaign and accomplishing goals such as generating leads and sales.
The hard thing is, social media makes you hyper-focus on numbers. Whether it is the number of likes or followers one thing is for sure: engagement is what matters, not numbers.
On Facebook, for example, engagement metrics are calculated based on the number of likes, comments, shares, and clicks your posts are generating (AHEM, not followers). Facebook’s algorithm then uses page engagement to determine which news feeds your posts will show up in and the overall reach of your posts.
Instead of stewing over vanity metrics, which many businesses do, gauge your true social engagement by tracking:
- Likes: The number of people who click the like button on your post.
- Comments: The number of people who comment on your posts. These are visible on your page, found under the post the user commented on.
- Shares: The number of times a user shares your post on their own page. This will show in their timelines as well.
- Clicks: The number of times a user clicks on an image or link in your post. This will take users to the link you choose.
- Reach: The number of people who have seen your post in their timelines. For boosted posts (Facebook Ads), you will be shown the organic and paid reach.
If you are seeing an overall increase is engagement, post reach and website visits from Facebook, you are doing pretty good, my friend! Don’t get caught up in that stuff on Facebook! It’s not a popularity contest!
Now that you understand what true social engagement is, let’s look at a few social rules to follow!
Rules for Social Media in 2019 and Beyond
We will get to the engagement tatics, I promise! But, I here to help you develop a solid plan, so to start, we need to set some ground rules.
When it comes to creating meaningful social media engagement, there are a few rules you need to follow. Without these rules, social media will be a BUST! Let’s take a look:
Take Time to Get to Know Your People
Believe it or not, awesome social media engagement is made before you even start creating content!
Well, to be successful, you need to get into your target audience’s head before you even decide on things like the post copy, content schedules, images and design.
Instead of trying to strong arm your content based off your brand’s ideas, you need your audience to tell you what they want to see from your social account!
Too many businesses make the mistake of guessing at what their customers want on social media. And when they don’t engage, the same businesses are left scratching their heads wondering what went wrong?
It’s because they didn’t take the time to ask their audience!
To counter that, you need to spend time immersing yourself in your customers’ needs, desires, and paint points. By listening to your customers, you’ll be able to open up the doors for TONS of social media tactics that’ll engage your audience.
Have a Plan in Place
On top of having target audience research and development, you need to have a solid plan in place.
Having a solid goal is crucial for any business strategy—social media or otherwise.
What you want to accomplish with your social media strategy depends entirely with what your business has to offer and what best suits your brands. However, you should be able to clearly articulate what your followers gain from interacting with your brand on social.
For example, if educating people is where your brand really shines, then your engagement strategy should focus on sharing resources, answering questions or giving advice.
You should also clearly outline how you use engagement on social media to positively impact your business.
Some more examples of good social media engagement goals:
- Getting feedback about products or campaigns
- Finding and nurturing leads
- Providing information that helps move customers from one point in the buying journey to the next
- Changing brand perception
All are great examples of how your business can define their goals and ultimately benefit from social media engagement.
I know, I know…you’ve heard it before. And that’s because it’s true. You must consistently create quality social media content for people to want to engage with you.
It’s a trust thing. Why would they show up for you if you’re not showing up for them? It’s also a habit thing. Getting your audience in the habit of looking for and engaging with your content is the key to success.
If you and your friends make plans to have dinner “sometime this week,” what are the chances you’ll all show up at the same day and time? Very slim, right? This is why there’s a defined day, time and place when we make plans in real life.
The same must be true of your content. You’re making plans with a group of people. They’ll put it on their schedule and their calendar to show up Monday at 8 AM if (and only if) you’re consistently showing up at that time, too!
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask
Sometimes, businesses simply are afraid to ask for engagement.
It feels awkward, forward and cheap to some, but if you craft engaging calls to action, you dismiss those feelings greatly.
If you haven’t used calls to action in your posts before, it might be time to think about what actions you’re asking your followers to take when they are engaging with your posts. At the end of every single post, you should be able to clearly see what action a viewer should take. If not, it’s time to reshape the post messaging and work it towards a business goal.
Repeat after me, EVERY POST SHOULD POINT BACK TO A BUSINESS GOAL.
So, be intentional with each post you put on social and include some engagement piece for your followers:
- Ask for a double tap
- Pose a question
- Invite people to share their opinion
- Have them tag a friend
- Promote a share
- Invite them to engage with an interactive post
- Share a social quiz
- Post a poll
Whatever the ask is, be sure to include an engagement beyond just viewing the post to boost your algorithm odds!
Include an Element of Fun
It’s time to kill the stiff attitude for businesses, FOR-EV-AH!
I am all about having quality content in both copy and images but never a stuffy professional attitude when it comes to social media. Avoid the old school business way of talking and being…that is so 1950!
In today’s world, people expect businesses to have a personality.
A personality could be anywhere from Wendy’s savage responses to something simple as being warm and personable. Having a defined and clear personality for people to engage with will drive engagement more than anything else. After all, people don’t engage unless they enjoy the content or feel something about it.
Don’t Be Slothful
Social media continues to change on a daily basis, so when we are managing social media pages, like Facebook, we need to learn how to pivot when a new change impacts the way we are reaching our clients online. Social media is not a passive avenue to reach customers. You have to be engaged at least once or twice a day to be actively apart of your target audiences social media experience for the day.
Some of the ways you can actively be on top of your social engagement is to utilize:
- Perfect timing: The more engagement a post receives, the more likely social algorithms are to reward it with reach. By posting when your followers are most active, you instantly increase the likelihood of getting likes and comments.
- Response rate: There is nothing worse than waiting a week later to hear back from a business about a comment or question you posed to them. If people are taking the time to engage with you, take a few minutes to comment back, thank them, or even hop over to their feed and return the favor.
- Community building: It’s easy to mindlessly scroll and post but what would it look like if you logged in and spent 20 minutes encouraging people you follow/people who follow you? Set a timer and have the intention of fostering community. Reach out to your followers and like their photos, leave comments, etc.
- Hashtags: While comparing Facebook to Instagram might be apples and oranges, posts on the latter with hashtags receive 12.6% more engagement than those without them. For every post you publish, you have many opportunities to use great hashtags to gain more eyeballs to your posts! In fact, a study of over 200,000 brand posts on Facebook found that content with one or two hashtags had 593 interactions, on average.
Social success really comes down to being actively involved in your own content and the people you are wanting to reach. Look for ways you can be more active, not passive.
15 Ways to Build Real Social Social Media Engagement in 2019
Now that you have a solid foundation with social rules and metrics to understand, let’s take a look at social media engagement pieces you can try this year:
1. Give People Some Incentives
In a world where Candy Crush dopamine rushes and the attitude of instant gratification is central, people need to feel incentivised!
It’s easy to share a promotion but are you including compelling and fun incentives to participate? You might be surprised at how even just a small rewards will prove a deliverable size of lure to your posting!
For example, GLAMOUR magazine created a huge day of discounts for website visitors to get 12 hours of exclusive discounts. On top of the discounts, they allowed customers to see which brands are involved in the discounts so people could get excited!
Like them, give offers a facelift and get people involved. Whether it is having them submit designs for your new limited edition top to a photo contest, make engagement fun and worthwhile to people.
If you would be excited for the promotion, so will they!
2. Be Socially Active and Thoughtful
Social media is all about the efforts you put into it, and mostly it’s what you can give to your audience.
Now, before you start thinking that statement means you should be sprinkling promos like confetti, know that it’s not about giving things away. It’s all about creating value.
You want to give your target audience content that’s valuable to them more than you ask them to buy what you’re selling. They key is to give the same type of social engagement you want for your own account:
- Leave meaningful comments on posts (beyond passively liking posts)
- Create awesome customer review feedback
- Promote occasional sales and discounts
- Engage or host in-person events
- Share behind the scenes images
- Visit your top fan personal pages and send promo codes to their inboxes
- Promote client made content
- Free shipping
- Membership clubs
Just like you would for a healthy personal relationship, to be successful you need to give more than you want to receive. Do not make social media a one-way street and expect people to follow! Give, give, give!
3. Be Socially Relevant
Pop culture reaches almost everyone in some way.
Sure, maybe you’ve never seen an episode of Rick and Morty or you might not fully understand what Covfefe truly means, but your audience might. Marketers can reach their target audience on a deeper level using pop culture, which often involves something the individuals in your audience love. The key is to recognize that love and use it creatively, turning pop culture craze in your favor.
For example, at Disruptive we recently used the “Y U NO” meme to creatively express the ease of a marketing term called remarketing.
So in the below picture, we took a popular social meme and turned it into an engaging, funny and informative post that was made our audience feel like we understood and related to them in a humorous way…even if the reference isn’t the hottest trending thing right now.
You may worry that by the time you publish your content, interest in your pop-culture references may have fizzled, but with practice, you can make pop culture work for you by strengthening personal connections with your audience.
In reality, content moments are everywhere—you just have to know to look for them. Sometimes that means being part of breaking news. But it also means tapping into broader trends and cycle for opportunities…timing is key here.
By jumping on big, current trends, you’re able to instantly connect with your audience since those events are likely top of mind for them already.
4. Be True to Yourself: You Won’t Be Everything to Everyone
As a business, of course, you want to be a thought leader and an authority to reckon with online, but you need to stay relevant and focused on people who are actually willing to invest in your business, not the whole social world!
You need to focus on being profitable, not popular!
In personal relationships, this rings true as well because you want to have quality friends over a quantity of friends, right? You cannot be everything to everyone, so when you stretch your Facebook ads and content to a wide range of people, you become bland and irrelevant.
Serve a small group of people in a highly profitable way so that they tell their friends and amplify your brand. This type of growth, although it will take longer, will be more meaningful for your business. Jump through the hoops to get genuine engagement from people who will actually buy from you.
Think about creating buyer personas and truly manage the type of content those people want to see and engage with. If they are photo people, you better have photos all over your social business pages. If they are video content people, your engagement will rise if you speak to them that way!
The masses, unless you are a huge corporation, will not pay the bills, so ensure that you are focusing your efforts on your target audience.
5. Create Eye-Catching Lists
People love reading and creating lists.
Many trending content posts and popular publications use this tactic to draw in readers. I mean, almost every Google search pulls a content list of some type.
Since online attention spans are low, people love being able to quickly skim through helpful and engaging material. If you are stuck on how to implement this social idea, do not fret! There are many ways you can create meaningful lists for your business.
For example, if you are a business or lifestyle coach you can create social/blog posts like:
- 10 Things to Look for in a Business Coach
- 25 Best-Kept Secrets to Entrepreneurial Success
- 15 Ways to Start a Productive Day
- 20 Reasons Why You Need to Hire a Business Coach
To ensure reading ease, be sure to provide visual help to readers by numbering, spacing and using varying font types. To comply with reader preference, making bite-sized lists of meaningful content can really be a popular marketing idea for your business!
6. Be Involved: Create Bridges
Let’s be honest, no worthwhile business relationship can endure without mutual respect, interaction and consideration. With that said, if you are not communicating with your customers, you are missing out on great opportunities to grow. Customers want to interact and be a part of the conversations your business is having, instead of being told to simply “buy” or “not buy.”
Today, customers expect responsiveness and inclusion in brand initiatives. This is where interactive marketing comes into play! So, in your social posts, look for ways to spark conversation:
- Ask questions
- Create real-world social events
- Gather opinions
- Share interactive polls and quizzes to gather information
- Engage with comment conversations
- Reward loyalty and shares
By being interactive, your audience will be more likely to engage because they feel like you are actually responding and appreciating their efforts to engage! Look for ways to create content bridges between you and your target audience!
7. Get Wacky
Did you know there is a National:
Kiss a Ginger Day…
Hoodie Hoo Day…
or Eat an Eskimo Pie Day?
No? Well, there are many fun calendars out there for weird, wacky, and lesser known special days you can use for creative and unique content!
By featuring some of these holidays in your content—a lot of which trend on Twitter and other social media platforms—you can have some fun while creating unique content that will fall into trending feeds, resulting in new traffic. Check out one of these calendars here.
8. Be Creatively Multi-Faceted: Break Comfort Zones
Many brands make the mistake of putting themselves in a small box by creating content that is solely about what they sell. For example, if you are running a Facebook page for your soap shop, should you exclusively post content relating to soap?
It’s easy to share content that is comfortable like that, but most of the time, posts that are solely about products are shallow in content value. This limits your ability to dive deeper with your intended audience!
So, it’s important to show more aspects of your business beyond face value.
Looking at the most popular social posts from 2017 as highlighted by Buzzsumo, this sort of content makes people click without fail:
- Heartwarming stories
- Shocking or surprising statistics
- How-to guides and supportive content
- Opinion pieces that take bold stances
So, for better social engagement, think of a few facets of your business you can share and rotate those on a weekly/monthly basis. This can be sharing products, how to’s, customer stories, social media polls, reviews, video etc. By mixing up content this way, your Facebook feed becomes multidimensional and interesting to your audience.
If you need some more ideas of ways you can dive deeper into your business content, consider thinking about:
- Real-world events you can easily relate to your business (hint, ask for opinions)
- Facts and stats that relate to your target audience and your business/products
- Emotional marketing tactics that make target audience members “feel” something in relation to your business
- Visual content (it kills on social)
- Create guides and downloadables with helpful information relating to your products/business
- Promote customer pictures and content to be featured using hashtags and share them on your page
Share what you’re comfortable with and look for ways to break out of your business box in a relevant and creative way! This allows people to engage with content that is more meaningful for both them and your business!
9. Take the Words Out of Their Mouths
Taking customer feedback, reviews and photos and shaping them into helpful content is a great way to not only engage customers and inspire more conversation, but it also helps drum up simple content that helps create a positive brand image!
92% of consumers trust peer reviews more than business-generated content, so this can be a helpful way to humanize your business brand.
10. Be Honest: A Fair Exchange is Not Robbery
Honesty is the best policy, right? Just like you would expect honesty from your loved ones, your business is being held to that same accountability by your audience.
As consumer confidence on social media is rocky, you need to ensure you are creating relatable transparency to fill in the gaps. Personalization will be key as people are sick of being constantly bombarded with ads and content online.
Ways you can do this are:
- Promote a name and face to a business that promotes feelings of connection
- Use more behind the scenes and transparent content
- Be upfront about what is paid and what is not
- Create funny responses to mistakes when appropriate—it humanizes your business!
- Create ads that seem likes like ads through storytelling and creative ad copy
- Use influencer marketing responsibly and honestly
- Share milestones and progress
- Be transparent and apologize for mishaps or problems
By being honest with your audience, people will automatically develop trust in your business. That virtue alone will be a huge differentiator for businesses in 2019 and onward!
11. Connect with the Community
Businesses are in communities and communities have their own culture, social relevancies and interests, right? To connect, why not tap into the interests of the locals?
This genius marketing idea is beautifully portrayed by salad business Sweetgreen in Washington DC, where they created a campaign around things that greatly mattered to the locals: politics. The campaign had the slogan “Make America Healthy Again” which was put on bumper stickers, hats and tote bags.
Since D.C is a politically charged city full of walking and active people who frequently wear hats and use tote bags, this was a perfect marketing fit! This marketing campaign promoted their business all while connecting with the city’s careers, culture, social scene and people.
To achieve this same effect for your own business, you can’t just slap your logo on a sticker and hand it out to people. Instead, you need to make a customized and relevant piece for your location. Think about how it can communicate/connect to your city like the SweetGreen example.
- What matters to our neighborhood?
- Is there a funny pop culture thing that has taken hold we can playoff?
- What is this city known for?
- What are the jobs most people hold?
- What are common merchandise items people in our communities use or wear?
- What are slogans, features or other things we can tweak to be cheeky?
It is all about making localized visual marketing opportunities! To further your efforts, ask people where you want content to pop up, where you can be involved etc.
BONUS: Use Hashtags to Connect With Your Community
Many times you can poach events and places that connect with your target audience and community through hashtags. Say you are a hyperwellness company that works to promote recovery through cryotherapy and IV drips and your target audience is people who do fitness events like Ironmen, marathons, spartan races etc.
By looking at the annual list of events in your state and or surrounding areas, you can see if they have hashtags specific to the events and start pumping out content that will speak to the people attending the events. Be the proactive solutions in those hashtag fields as people might want to use your services to help train or heal after the event!
Like that example, hashtags can be used in a lot of creative ways to drive engagement and introduce your business to engaging people you want.
12. Be Sociable and Follow Up
I find that many businesses are really great about responding to comments but many lack responses that progress conversation (also, just to mention, you should be responding to all comments that people leave on social media!).
For example, let’s say you are a small bakery cafe in Virginia who is launching new food items this fall. To get the word out about the new food, you share out a new cranberry cookie picture on social media and someone comments, “Wow, this looks amazing.” What do you say?
Most businesses make the mistake of saying nothing or they say something along the lines of “oh thanks” but you lose some much opportunity with responses like that.
Instead of stagnating the conversation, progress it with something like:
“Are you a Cranberry fan? What is your favorite Cranberry food recipe?”
“Cookie Fans Unite! What is your favorite fall baked good? Hopefully, you come try ours on November 12”
“Thanks so much, Would you pick this Cranberry cookie or our new Pumpkin Spiced Cookie?
Creating thought-provoking responses like these prolongs the conversation. This will help you not only gain insights into your target audience, but algorithms will reward people with meaningful conversations!
In simplicity, if a business moves responses beyond saying quick responses of “thanks”, people notice. People want to engage with businesses that engage with them.
13. Start a Facebook Group
Facebook Groups are a great way to increase social media engagement and Facebook is putting a lot of its funding behind the creation of meaningful communities.
Groups tend to be a lot more social than pages as they are more exclusive and people can share more content. By having a group, you can allow your customers to communicate with each other. This will allow them to get to know other people in their niche as well as giving you the opportunity to learn more about your audience.
In a Facebook Group, you should be actively posting as much as you can to strengthen the relationship you have with your followers. If they show up for you, you need to show up for them! Be sure to stay valuable to the community and you will be solid!
14. Post Multiple Times Daily
Many people treat social media posting like a chore and therefore only post once a day because it’s a check off the list of things to do.
NO, NO, NO…
This will not work in 2019!
In the early days of social media, you could post once a day and be “relevant”, but in today’s ever-competitive world, you need to be posting at least 2-3 times a day! This can also differ by industry. If you are an apparel business, I would recommend 4-5 times a day!
You want to find a balance of posting enough throughout the day to keep the engagement going but not over posting where you are overwhelming your audience. Look to post at the best times your target audience is online. To do this, try to post every two hours over a week’s time and you will quickly see when people are online consistently for your brand.
15. Use Emojis
According to OPUSFidelis, using emoticons can increase social media engagement.
Different emoticons can increase engagement by a different amounts. A smiley face can boost interaction by 25%, whereas a grimacing emoticon can increase engagement by 138%. Those who use emoticons in their social media posts tend to see an increase in likes, comments, and shares.
Social Media Engagement: Things to Try Out
If you are going to be successful on social media in 2019 and beyond, you need to focus on cultivating engaging content and attitudes towards your target audience.
There’s no question that you need engagement for algorithm traction, but if you are beating your head against the wall because you are feeling ghosted by your audience, the tips above will help!
If you need help on how to creatively strategize your social media content and connection I would love to chat with you! I truly believe if you connect with people like you do friends, you will be successful!
You are not alone and this is a big hurdle for a lot of businesses, if you try some of the above you can find better success for social.
What do you think? Which of these engagement tips will you try? Do you have others to add to this list? Share your thoughts in the comments below.