As of 2019, 73% of small businesses across the country invested in at least one social media platform. Billions of people use social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter on a daily basis, so for businesses to be able to hop on board and actually connect with customers can make a big difference.
But, it’s no longer enough to simply run ads on a platform and expect instant results. The average person is exposed to around 5,000 ads per day. It’s become far too easy to tune those ads out or scroll right past them on a computer or mobile device.
Instead, social media needs to be about engagement. It is ‘social,’ after all. Reaching out to your followers, encouraging interaction and conversations, and answering questions are all great ways to stand out from your competitors and to measure success on social media. In fact, some companies rely on engagement to determine the success of a social media campaign, including “how often the company’s social media posts are actively engaged with by other users, e.g. clicks, likes, and shares.”
So, why is social media engagement so important, and how can you encourage it on your platforms?
Gaining a Following
It’s hard to engage with people when you don’t have a large enough following to make anything happen. Thankfully, engagement can actually help to build your audience on platforms like Facebook and Instagram.
Even if you’re a beginner, you can still create a successful social media strategy that will boost your follower count and allow you to start seeing more interaction from fans and customers.
On Instagram, for example, you can grow your following by trying things like:
- Using hashtags
- Posting consistent content
- Posting relevant content
- Responding to followers as much as possible
Another way to gain a bigger audience across multiple platforms is to create a brand campaign that will connect with your audience. Take the current state of the world into consideration. Talk about what people are talking about, and respond in a way that relates to your brand. There is certainly no shortage of conversations to be had in the world right now, and by staying relevant and giving your brand a voice, more people may start to notice your business and become followers.
As you start to attract more followers to your platforms, it’s important to encourage engagement as much as possible. The more you do, the more likely those followers will stick around.
Because people are inundated with so many advertisements each day, many are desperate for the feeling of human interaction from a business. By regularly engaging on social media, you’ll show your followers that there is, indeed, a real person behind the screen. But, you can’t engage on social media without first having a website. Not just a website but a well-built, easy-to-navigate site. Potential customers need a home base to turn to so they can learn more about your business, your brand, and your values. Social media is a great way to post quick, everyday thoughts and encourage interaction with followers. But, your website should be a one-stop-shop of information and great products that people can go to.
You can also encourage engagement by showing some “behind the scenes” shots of the actual people who work for your company and what they’re doing on a daily basis.
When followers and potential customers feel like they’re being heard and they feel like they can trust your business because you have actual people working for you, they’re more likely to shop with you. They’re also more likely to talk about your business to other people, and word-of-mouth advertising simply can’t be beaten.
It might sound somewhat easy to engage with your followers on social media. But, it’s about more than just offering flat responses whenever you have the time. Unfortunately, making mistakes on social media can do some real damage to your business, and may cause followers to share their negative opinions with others.
Thankfully, most common mistakes are easily avoidable when you know what they are and you’re willing to put more time and effort into your overall social media presence. So, what are some of the mistakes you should avoid?
The biggest issue is having an unoriginal tone. Remember how many advertisements people see each day? Most people see thousands of social media posts each day, too. If the language you use isn’t original, captivating, and consistent, your business is going to get lost in the mix since nothing will be helping you to stand out from your competitors. Some other common rookie mistakes are:
- Posting way too much content/spamming
- Creating a one-way engagement platform
- Branding inconsistently
- Lacking mobile optimization (in 2017, 95% of people on Facebook accessed the platform via a mobile device)
- Ignoring negative reviews or complaints
When you decide to use social media for your small business, it’s a good idea to think of it as a conversation starter, rather than another way to advertise to potential customers. Show your followers what your brand is really all about, ask and answer questions, and allow yourself to be more of a friend to your followers, rather than just another business that doesn’t stand out from the rest.