Did you know that Team Edgar hosts daily Facebook Lives? Join us daily as we chat about social media, marketing, business, and entrepreneurship. Here’s a recent Edgar Live on how to increase engagement and grow your audience on social media.
The Importance of Social Media Engagement
We have heard over and over again on so many different channels that meaningful social interaction is what’s weighed most heavily in the algorithms, so if you are a business who’s not engaging with your customers or producing content that prompts them to engage with you, you’re missing huge opportunity growths for your business to gain new followers, and to get your existing followers to trust you and to become those raving brand advocates, because truly when you have that human-to-human connection and people have a conversation and talk back to you on social media, it becomes a place where they bond with your brand and get those touchpoints that are so important into making purchase power a really easy decision for them.
If you have had extremely low engagement during this time, you’re not alone, sometimes you do have to pivot your strategy a little bit to have the goal of people responding to you because people are consuming content right now, they just need that permission and that call to action that you are prompting them in order for you to see that engagement go up, so we’ll talk about some strategies now.
Focus on Doing Less Better
You want to create space for what matters most, and that’s the engagement of your followers, so don’t think you have to continue to produce content on your stream that you had planned out for the entire quarter. You can produce content right now that is strictly related to what’s resonating in people’s lives, and make space for engaging with people in real-time.
Perhaps your sales might drop, perhaps things are changing a little bit, but what doesn’t have to drop is the engagement. You’re controlling what you can control, and you’re doing the things you can do right now in order to boost that engagement up. Get in the right mindset that you get to have this opportunity to engage with your followers. It’s not, “Oh, I have to go post on social media,” it’s “I get to go post on social media, and I get to go talk to people who my product or service can help serve in a stronger way.” Having that mindset creates a social media space where your energy can truly be felt by your followers on the other side of the screen.
If you’re writing these social media status updates from a place and a mindset of serving your community, you’re going to get stronger results. It’s not about closing a sale on social media, it’s about opening up an opportunity for someone to have a better life with your product or service. When you flip the script like that, it becomes so much easier to promote your product or service, and to sell to people who need it, so make sure you are opening up a conversation so people can self-select into knowing the opportunity to use your product or service is really exciting for them.
Beating The Algorithm With Engagement
The reason that engagement is so important is because of these numbers here:
- The lifespan of an Instagram post on average is 21 hours.
- A Facebook post has a shelf life of 5 hours.
- A Tweet will only last 18 minutes
So with these numbers, we can sometimes get a little bit down and thinking, “Why am I producing this content if it’s going to have such a short-lived time?” Well, the good news is you can improve these numbers through engagement.
If people are actually engaging with your content, that means commenting and sharing mostly, what the algorithm is going to do is it’s going to reactivate that post in a bigger pool of your followers. It’s going to test it in a small pool of followers, if it gets great engagement, that’s a signal to the algorithm saying, “This is relevant content for the people who are following this page, let’s show it to more people,” because remember, the algorithm has an ability to keep people within their platform. The networks want to keep you on Facebook, they want to keep you on Twitter, so if they’re seeing people are on there having a discussion and being really social, because it’s social media, after all, the algorithm’s going to get a little bit more love to that post and those numbers, those abysmal numbers we looked at, will actually be improved quite a bit.
How To Increase Social Media Engagement
Create audience personas
If you don’t have an audience persona, and you don’t know who exactly you’re talking to, it’s going to be really hard to get that engagement, because if you’re having a conversation with someone in real life and it’s not targeted to who they are, you’re not really taking into account their stage in life and you’re not taking into account why you’re having that conversation, it’s not going to go over that well, it’s the same way on social media. You need to ask yourself, “What am I saying, to whom, why am I saying it, and in what way?” Every single post should have a lens filter with these questions being asked so that it creates the consistency on your social media feeds, and people get really excited knowing that content was created just for them.
Whoever aligns the best with customers these days is going to win attention on social media. It’s important you sit down and write out your ideal audiences in a way that you’re giving them a character, so a name, an age, qualities about them. That’s how you’re going to get your posts to resonate with people the most.
Create a Content Map
Make a content map to improve your engagement, know what direction you’re trying to move people in. You want to be someone who is creating some easy progression for your followers, because if they’re confused about what they’re supposed to do after they read a post, they’re going to keep scrolling. Our attention spans are so short on social media. If we’re not super clear about the direction our content is leading people, it gets very hard for our followers to try to have to guess that.
So if you’re someone who is categorizing your social media status updates, which we 100% recommend that you do, make sure you’re seeing how these categories fit together in that ideal audience persona’s day. See what you can do to help them move from getting a productivity tip in the morning perhaps, move them into their lunchtime where they can read one of your blog posts, move them down to a space where they can answer one of your engagement questions, and continue to move throughout their day with them in the content that you’re creating. Map out their day and map out how your content is going to fit into each of their days.
This can become a really fun thing to do if you have Post-it Notes that you can stick all over your wall and create this journey and actually kind of watch what your follower does throughout the day, and put which categories would align the best with what they’re doing. Often, we can just whizz past it, thinking “Of course, content is king, I just need to create more content.” But, really, we need to step back and zone in on these things here to increase engagement.
Watch what your followers do on the networks. Go into your Facebook Insights and see the other pages that they like. Go onto your Twitter Analytics and see what other interests they have. They are telling you about themselves in these areas. If you’ve never used the Insights in Facebook or your Analytics in Twitter, there’s a plethora of information in there, because we aren’t going to force our followers to consume content they don’t want to consume, that’s not what social media is all about, social media’s all about giving them content they’re excited to consume.
Go and see what they are actually talking about on their own personal profiles. If someone follows you on Instagram, click onto their handle and go to their profile to see what they do and to see what they’re interested in. Use the language that they’re using in order to talk about their day and pain points, and take into their life experiences so they resonate with that content. Go to where they are, go research them on that granular level, and bring it back to the basics of developing your audience persona.
Rules for Engagement
Show up when your followers are online, not when it’s convenient for you to post. (Don’t be afraid to automate this! Edgar’s schedule easily allows you to choose the times you want your content to publish) That way if you’re driving, or homeschooling your children right now, you don’t have to stop to post because you know the majority of your followers are online during that time, the automation tool will do it for you.
If you don’t know when your audience is online, again, go to your Facebook Insights, click on “Insights” from the top navigation menu, there’ll be a button on the left-hand side that says “Posts,” this will give you a graph to show you exactly when your followers are online, the day and the times that they are most active, so you can start putting your time slots, or start reminding yourself to post during those times.
If you don’t have a lot of data, if you’re a new brand, or if you just want to experiment, these are some aggregate numbers here of each and every network and when the best times to post are. Check out this post to learn the best times to post for each network.
Have a Call to Action and Start Conversations
Tell your followers what you want them to do with that piece of content. Ask people for their opinion on something that you’re making or something that you made, talk about a really great success or a really big struggle that you had this year. This is cool, because you can essentially become someone’s mentor if you’re sharing your successes and your failures, and you can actually be that go-to person for your followers. They’ll DM you, or they’ll post in your comments more often, asking you questions about things, because they know and trust that you are an expert, and that will boost your engagement rates.
Your DMs actually do go into the algorithm, if you have more of your followers DMing you these platforms, the algorithm sees that as a signal, it’s kind of a dark signal in the shadowy sort of social media world, but that’s where it’s moving towards a lot these days too, so make it known in your public posts that you’re open for DMs to ask questions about things.
The Texting Effect
This rule of engagement is pretty self-explanatory. You know when you find something online and you want to share it with your best friend? You’re sharing it with them is because it makes you think, “This is so you.” Think about what your followers would want to share to their own social media pages. If you want someone to share something, it has to say something about their own personal values. This goes back to the basics of knowing your audience persona and who you’re talking to, so they look at the content on your page and say, “This is so me.” Think about what content will get your audience sharing on their wall so you can reach their audience as well.
If you want more engagement, conversational writing truly is the new business writing. You don’t want to write above your follower’s head using jargony terms, just use the terms you would use if you were speaking to that person who is sitting next to you at a dinner party.
Pay Attention To Your Customer’s Journey
Your audience is interacting with your brand in different ways and typically you’ll end up having audiences in three different phases.
- The discovery and awareness phase for people who are just discovering that there’s a product or service that can solve their pain point.
- The consideration phase for people who know that there’s a product or service out there, but they’re considering which brand to buy from, or they’re considering if it’s worth purchasing and spending the money on it, or if they should continue to live their life in a subpar way without your product or service, how rude.
- The decision-making phase is when they are ready to pull out their credit card and they are ready to buy because you’ve convinced them.
You need to consider creating different content to meet people in each of these phases. You don’t want to only have sales content, because that’s going to miss the people who are a little bit colder leads, and who need some more nurturing and educating in your product or service industry.
- In the discovery and awareness phase, posts are going to be things like your blog posts, your thought leadership tips and quotes and lead magnets to capture people’s emails.
- In the consideration phase, you want to start letting people know about your pricing page, the product itself, how it was designed, the features of it, any sort of promotional deals that you might be running to give people a discount.
- In the decision-making phase, you can create sale posts and offer coupons with an expiration date.
This boils down to you attracting the right people in that discovery and awareness phase, and engaging with them so they know there is as a human behind the brand and then converting people in that decision-making phase. Consider making content, buckets of content for each of these phases. Having your categories set up if you’re using a software like MeetEdgar, makes it really easy in order to think through this as well, because you can make categories that are ones for your awareness brand, that are ones for the consideration phase, and that are ones for the decision phase, and rotate through these at different cadences on your social media schedule, again making sure your content is reaching each bucket of followers that you have.
Have an Opinion
Everybody wants to see things that are unique, and they want to have a really strong knowledge that your brand and their values match really well, so if you’re afraid to have an opinion because you don’t want to repel some people and you want to keep your audience really wide. You’re doing yourself harm when you’re not niching down so deeply and you’re not taking a stance and having an opinion because your content becomes generic, and it becomes really easy just to pass by.
Think about some things that perhaps are a little controversial in your industry that you think strongly one way or the other on, and don’t be afraid to share that, because that’s how you’re going to create a really strong community on social media. You need to be unique in the things that you’re putting out there to get people to talk back to you. If you’re the only person saying something out there about something, people are going to link back to you and they’re going to start sharing your content, and they’re going to start commenting on it because it’s a unique perspective.
Share Your Unique Experience
The best way to be unique is to share your personal experience. You are the only you out there, so if you want to get rid of any competition in the marketing space, what does that boil down to? It boils down to sharing you, because no one else has your story, so share your story in a really great way on social media, and people will be excited to be a part of that story, and you’ll get rid of any competition because no one out there has a story quite like you.
Teach what you know, and teach what you are learning. On social media, educational content is some of the most consumed content. People want to be entertained and educated more than anything, and you want to make sure that you’re not someone who’s just talking down to your followers. You want to be on this journey of learning with them. We do this a lot here at MeetEdgar because we know that social media changes on a daily basis. We keep you up to date, but we’re also just learning along with you.
It helps make sure that we’re keeping our finger on the pulse of what our audience is going through, and it really helps resonate with your followers because they can see in you what they’re going through. They seem the same journey they’re going through in you, and that creates a really strong human bond.
So you really want to make sure that you’re just staying a few steps ahead of your followers. You don’t have to be 100% of an expert on something to teach it, you just need to be a few steps ahead of where they are, and again, if you’re staying a few steps ahead and you’re actually letting them know the learning journey that you’re on, it’s going to help that content resonate and it’s going to be more likely that they’ll start asking questions about what you’re doing, boosting your engagement rates.
Teaching is such a cool sales strategy as well. If you’re teaching people how to do something, why to do the thing you’re teaching, it becomes a really great opportunity for you to then say, “Oh, okay, by the way, I’m teaching you the how and why, but you can actually get our product or service in order to do this for you.” So you’ve given them all of the tools in order to do it themselves, but your product or service is something that you can offer them in order to make their life a little bit easier and still get that goal accomplished, but you’re still going to build that trust that you know what you’re talking about through the educational portion first, so think about how you can educate in order to inform sales in this way.
Test Different Headlines
Headlines really are just another way of how you’re talking about your blog content. Making a headline-generating machine a part of your blog process is going to help your blog content really skyrocket on social media. So what is a headline-generating machine? It means once you’re done writing a blog post, you sit down and you write 20 different potential titles and headlines for that blog post. I’m not kidding, 20 is a great number to do this with, it sounds like a lot, but it’s not only going to let you find the best one, it’s going to let you repurpose the ones that you’re not using as different ways to introduce that same blog content on social media multiple times.
Not all your followers see the content you’re posting, and not all your followers have the opportunity to engage with that content if they do see it, so repeating a piece of evergreen content that is going to add value to your followers no matter what time of year they see it, is still a strong strategy to take to increase engagement and traffic to your blog, and utilizing these different headlines you came up with just adds a little variety to it because you never know what language is going to resonate with one segment of your audience over another.
Each and every headline might hit someone in a different way, resonate in a different way, and if you’re not testing, and if you’re not using different language, you’re never going to know what’s working best. For example, at MeetEdgar we have found when we ask questions in front of our blog posts, we get a lot more click-through rates. Click-through rates are a great sign of engagement, so this is one way you can boost your engagement, by utilizing different language and A-B testing the headlines, and if you are not doing a headline-generating machine yet, I promise you it is going to be life-changing for the titles of your posts going forward.
Find Your Followers, Don’t Wait For Them To Come To You
Go to your followers and don’t expect them to come to you. Engage in these Facebook groups, make your brand name known then. Offer so much value in the comments of an Instagram post to someone who might be asking a question that it piques their interest to click on your handle and go over to your profile where they can start following you. Go to where they are, don’t expect them to just find you, engage out there in comments, in groups, in comments on Instagram posts, do these things now so that your followers recognize your brand across all these networks.
Search hashtags on Twitter or on Instagram in their Explore feature that you know your ideal clients would be hanging out in. This can be an interesting one because you want to make sure that you’re searching for things where they would be rather than what your tool is. So if I were to hop onto the Instagram Explore feature and I wanted to look for some research on the audience for MeetEdgar, which is small business owners, I’m not going to type in “Social media automation tool,” which is what we are, I’m going to type in “Marketing tips for small businesses” or something like that, “#MarketingTips,” that’s going to show me people who are actually in that sort of audience group, rather than just hashtagging my tool. You want to hang out in the hashtags of where your audience would be, rather than what your product or service is.
Everybody likes to build relationships with people and brands who are active, you have to show up first, and you have to comment on stuff first before you can expect any of your followers to do the same. Research icebreaker questions and interview questions online, you can get hundreds of questions that you can go ahead and add to your MeetEdgar library using our bulk import feature, or just post them out on social media if you’re not using a scheduler, but make sure that you realize that these questions asking people what their favorite book is or where they traveled to last might not be directly related to your product, but if you’re doing this, your followers are going to have that personal connection with you.
The algorithms look for meaningful social interaction. A successful post with lots of interactions is a signal to the algorithm that the next post you share is going to also get a bigger reach, so a little hack here is you want to share a post with one of these questions or one of these, “Oh, me too, I feel that way” resonating moments where people are going to comment back to you, you want to share that post, and then the one directly after it, consider sharing one that’s going to lead people to your site, or to be a little more sales-related because that post will be opened up to so much bigger of an audience portion on social media if the one before it got huge engagement rates.
Don’t post and ghost! When you’re hopping on social media, spend 10 to 20 minutes afterward in the hashtag explore page, commenting on people’s posts, looking through your comments from past posts in order to respond to people. This has the added benefit that if you’re responding a few hours later, it’s another signal to the algorithm to bump that post up because it’s getting more engagement, and it’s likely it’ll appear in other people’s feeds.
You don’t want to show up on social media as a broadcasting brand, you want to show up as an engagement brand. So you could really reclaim two hours of your day by planning ahead and using a tool like MeetEdgar.
You can learn more tips and tricks for engaging social media feeds in our free course Social Brilliant! This course teaches you the exact steps our founder, Laura Roeder, used to build her brand and business on social media! Access the course for free!