Almost every brand has a social media account. In fact, 90% of brands consider social media to be part of their overall marketing strategy. Most brands know how important social media is for generating leads and driving sales. The problem is that they neglect one important factor - social media engagement.

The mistake that most brands make is forgetting that the customer is key to the success of any marketing strategy. To be successful on social media, you need to encourage conversation between you and your audience. It is very easy to churn out branded content regularly without engaging the customer.

Your biggest goal on social media should be to increase engagement from your target audience. In this article, we break down the steps you need to take to get started.

Let's dive in!

1. Determine your target audience

Before you start creating any content for social media, you need to first define who your target audience is.

Your target audience is the specific group of people you want to reach with your social media marketing message, and attract to your e-commerce website or product's landing page. These are a group of individuals that are most likely to engage with your content. They are also united by a common need, demographics, or behaviour.

It is your audience that will determine the social media marketing strategy to use. If you create content that isn't suited for your audience, you'll end up seeing little to no engagement. To increase social media engagement, you should create content your audience would love. It is your audience that should determine your social media copy, how frequently you post, the kind of content you promote, etc.

The businesses that get it right on social media use the platforms as a means to solve their customer's problems. And you cannot pinpoint your customer's needs and pain points when you don't have a clear view of who they are.

Hint: Your target audience cannot be everyone on social media. Do not try to satisfy the general social media population. Your task in defining your target audience is to identify those individuals that absolutely need the product or service you are offering.

The more you understand your target audience, the more engagement, higher conversions, and better ROIs you'll be able to receive for your marketing efforts.

2. Deliver value

Since 2004, social media has been growing exponentially and the reality is that it hasn't reached its peak after 17 years. More and more brands and individuals are creating new social media accounts every day.

Reports from Emarsys show that they were 3.5 billion social media users in 2019. This number equates to about 45% of the world's population.

What does this mean to you as a business owner or marketer?

There is a ton of competition on social media. On Facebook alone, over 2.5 trillion posts have been created to-date and 500 million stories are shared on the platform daily. This is a lot of content!

The only way you can stand out from this sea of content is to deliver immense value.

Your content on social media should address your audience's needs and pain points. If you want to increase social media engagement, your content should stand out from the crowd. Create content that users cannot just ignore. Your content should draw them in and make them think "wow, that was amazing!"

Remember that you are not just competing with other brands for the attention of customers, you are also competing with their friends and family. Social media real estate is gold and if you can show your audience that you care about them, they would be happy to engage with you in return.

3. Timing

Timing on social media is very important. How you handle timing is in two parts. The first is posting content at the right time and the second is setting aside time to handle reactive engagement.

It is important that you publish content at the time your audience is most active. The more people that see your content, the higher the engagement you would receive.

Pinpointing the time when your audience is most active online is not difficult. Using a social media scheduler, you can monitor these metrics and optimise your posting schedule for maximum engagement.

The second part of timing is handling reactive engagement.

Being reactive on social media is responding in real-time to current events, viral news, and other issues happening at the moment.

Although it is better to be proactive on social media, i.e, handling issues before they arise, there is also a need to be ready to deal with issues as they occur. Being reactive shows your audience that you are relevant and care about their needs. As a result of this, you would see increased levels of engagement. The best way to be proactive is by using a social media monitoring tool that helps you track your online mentions and connect with the people who are interacting with your brand.

As with every aspect of the marketing mix, it takes forward planning and a solid strategy (which includes time management) to be able to handle issues as they arise.

Every week, set aside time to plan how you would react to upcoming events. You can also use a social monitoring tool like Hootsuite and Sprinklr to monitor mentions of your brand on social media.

4. Incorporate visual content

Incorporating visual content into your social media strategy is one of the fastest ways to increase social media engagement. A study showed that tweets with images receive 150% more retweets and engagement than tweets without images.

Another report from Wishpond showed the average Facebook posts see 120% less engagement than posts with images.

Humans are visual beings. We get drawn in by beautiful images and videos. Majority of people on social media would prefer to watch videos or view images than reading blocks of texts. The reason why social media platforms like Snapchat, Pinterest, and Instagram are thriving is because these platforms are based on visual storytelling.

Research shows that when people hear information, they are most likely to remember about 10% of it after three days. However, if a relevant image is paired with that information, people can remember up to 65% of the information. That is the power that visual content has!

For example, Nike is a brand that understands the effect that visual content can have on social media.

The brand uses amazing images to get the attention of their audience and its working for them. According to the social blade, they rank in the top 20 brands on social media with over 98 million followers.

Visual content also works well in highly-visual industries. For example, real estate social media posts are especially effective, as properties that photographed well can help drive leads to viewings.

With the rise of technology, it has become incredibly easy to create high-quality pictures and videos.  You do not need a big budget before you can deliver quality visual content, especially if you use a DIY graphic design tool like Easil that allows you create stunning visuals in minutes.

Alternatively, you can use platforms like Iconscout to source free, high-quality icons and illustrations for your social media posts.

A crucial aspect of creating visually engaging social posts is to preview them as they'd appear prior to posting. Using a social media collaboration tool can help you vet your posts and get feedback from your team to ensure that each post is visually optimal.

Other social media tools like Ray Social Feeds For Twitter by Ray Creations helps you integrate your Twitter feed directly into your website. You can also display feeds from any Twitter user, hashtags, or search terms. All this would go a long way in increasing your social engagement levels.

5. Ask your audience for feedback

A great way to increase engagement is by asking your followers to share their opinions. Encourage your audience to leave feedbacks and reviews as comments on social media posts.

Many of your followers would be happy to tell you what they think about your product or service. The more followers that give their feedback, the more engagement you get.

Note that most social media platforms have rules that apply to feedbacks and reviews. Most sites are against offering customers rewards in exchange for a review. They are regulations because offering rewards for reviews would lead to a ton of false reviews even from people that have never used the product before. Offering a reward for customer reviews or feedback can get your social media account banned.

The right step is to just ask your audience for their feedback and remind them that you would love to hear their thoughts. The feedback and reviews on your page should be organic.

For example, if you're using social media for recruiting, ask your applicants for a few words of feedback.

6. Make use of live videos

Live video is gradually becoming the next big thing in the marketing world. In fact, reports show that live streaming would be worth $70.05 billion by 2021.

Live videos works because it gives the audience the opportunity to interact with their best brands at the exact moment they are reaching out.

The best part of live videos is that you do not need capital to get started. It is the cheapest way to increase engagement and interaction with your customers. Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, periscope, and a host of others make it very easy to set up live streaming.

The platform you choose for live streaming depends on your target audience. After you have identified the platform where your audience is most active, then you can start live streaming.

This works particularly well for streaming events and conferences. You can amplify the impact of your physical events by live streaming them, and engage audiences sitting at home with live polling tools like Poll Everywhere.

Alternatively, you can create versatile video content for social from marketing campaigns you're already running. For example, you can make the most of your live events by using video capture and streaming equipment that lets you share the event with the world and record it for future uses like sales decks or customer onboarding.

7. Host contests and giveaways

Another smart way to increase social media engagement is by holding contests and giveaways. This strategy works because the participants get to win a prize. The idea of receiving a reward for their efforts would cause them to engage with your content.

Contest also helps you to increase user-generated content for your brand. For example, participants of the contest would have to take a photo related to your brand and share it using a unique hashtag created for the contest. Not only does this strategy help you improve engagement, but it also magnifies your brand reach.

Holding contests provides a ton of opportunities. For example, your contest rules might require the participants to like or follow your page before they can win the prize. This would help you increase your following as well.

Love One Today promotes a delicious way of life by eating avocado. To improve engagement online, they launched the AvoFruitFull contest.

All their audience needed to do was submit photos of their own creative avocado creations. The photo with the most likes won a prize.

Another great way to drive growth through contests is to engage with influencers to promote your contests and giveaways, which will allow you to reach a larger audience. You can easily use online services to find TikTok & Instagram influencers to reach out to via email.

8. Use jokes and humor

Most people on social media are there to have a good time and not get barreled with branded content. If most of the content you post on social media is just promoting your product or service, you would end up losing their attention.

When you use jokes and humor in posts to entertain them, you would increase their engagement with your content. In fact, social media users are 49% more likely to share a funny posts than an important one. Using humor in social media marketing increases the likability of your brand, increases trust, and improves brand recognition.

Old Spice is an example of a brand that uses humor a lot on social media. Their posts are very hilarious and they receive a ton of engagement because of it.

Wrapping Up

In this article, we've covered 8 effective ways to increase social media engagement. Start implementing some of these tips today in your social media strategy to increase engagement. It takes time and effort, but with a solid strategy, you'll start seeing the results.

If you're new to the game, consider consulting with a specialised digital marketing agency to formulate the right strategy before implementing your social campaigns.