Social media thrives on interaction; are you doing all you can to engage your audience?
Did you know that Playbuzz.com gained more than 50 million unique monthly visitors within just 10 months of launching the site? How did they do it? Two words: Interactive content! Social networks have been around for quite a few years now, and they are buzzing with activity more than ever. Making it in the unforgiving environment of virtual social hoops and loops continually inspire action and engagement.
Since your e-survival depends on it, we have put together a list of seven creative ways to improve your social media engagement.
1. Ask Questions (Creatively)
The best and most straightforward way to strike a conversation is to ask questions. However (it being so obvious) you need to be creative. The secret to success is not in the question but in the way you deliver it to your audience!
For instance, if your business is all about food, asking people “What’s your favourite dish?” is a good place to start. How can you make these questions stand out in the crowded news feed?
- Ask for Advice. Asking for your audience's opinion or view on matters of importance is a nice way to stir up interest. It also shows them that you care. For instance, Andrea Beltrami often asks her readers what would be the best name for her new workshop or webinar.
- Make it visual! Ask a question in the form of an attractive graphic. For example, Zomato, restaurant-discovery platform, not only asks its followers question via simple, fun graphics but also often offers multiple options.
- Get quizzical. Sometimes people do not know what describes them or captures them the best. Offering a quiz to answer the hard questions can get the attention you crave. In fact, quizzes are already one of the most used forms of interactive content with shocking engagement results. They are playful yet versatile which allows you to attract any audience. A great example is the quiz 'Which Marketing Automation Tool is right for you?. Online marketers are always looking for new information, and this quiz offers you valuable insights as well as fun deviations from the usually lengthy articles.
2. Organize Contests
Social media contests have been around since the dawn of this digital phenomena. Nonetheless, they maintain their status as one of the top methods to drive engagement on social media. On average, contests help result in a 34% growth of your fan base.
However, not all contests are created equal. There are a few things you need to keep in mind if you do not want your attempt to crush and burn.
- Be clear about the rules. There is nothing more upsetting than enigmatic and unclear rules that make the users feel cheated.
- Choose a reasonable deadline. Make sure you allow enough time for promotions as well as for people to complete the required tasks. Too much time is as bad as too little. Make sure your contest stays at the top of their minds.
- Pick a relevant prize. Generic flashy prices attract irrelevant leads. Offer prices that are appealing to your target audience. You might attract fewer people, but those that do participate are more likely to stick around. For example, offering a free iPhone or iPad will most certainly get you attention. However, if these products have very little to do with your business, the attention you gain is unlikely to turn into relevant leads.
- Make people ACT to participate. The whole point of the contest is to boost engagement. Do not just aspire for people to follow you. Engage them in a way that will inspire them to act and react. Make things fun. For example, make your contest an information scavenger hunt by including your old posts, blog content, or website! The scavenger hunt can be spread over a week or in the form of a clever quiz, allowing you to merge asking questions with the contest incentive.
An excellent example of a creative contest is the superpower quiz by AWeber. The company combined consumer compulsion to take personalized online quizzes, current pop culture and the alluring power of competition in one post.
3. Tag People in Curated Content (write curated articles)
If you share someone else’s content, give them credit for it. It is incredibly simple, yet greatly efficient.
Firstly, here's the kind of content you can curate:
- Created by industry experts. If you tag them in the post, they are likely to leave a comment to thank you for the share. It is a perfect way to get noticed.
- Created by your followers. User-generated content is gold. If you tag them and give them recognition for featuring your product or brand in some way, they will thank you. Most likely, they will even share it further to let everybody in their circle know that they were referenced. This will inspire other customers to create similar posts.
Secondly, here is a couple of ways you can go about it.
- Tag the original author/publisher. Every time you share someone else’s content and do not tag them; you are missing out on a large share of audience you could attract.
- Write curated articles, referencing multiple pieces of content along with links and mention of the author. E.g. “Top Articles on…” or “Must Read Articles to Help you…”. Tag everyone you refer to in the article in the social media post or the comments below it, if possible.
For instance, Lotus Leggings shares Instagram photos of their happy customers every month generating a delightful amount of likes and shares.
Another smart user of the curating strategy is Andrea Beltrami. She wrote an article “Killer Strategies For Upping Your Visual Social Media Marketing Game” that features the best articles written on the topic. When posting it, she gave a shout out to all the authors she mentioned in the piece and generated a lot of thanks and shares:
4. Q&A Sessions A.K.A. Get Real
It is very likely that your customers have some questions that are related to your products, services, or policies. Instead of giving them the usual bible of endless terms and conditions filled with “IFs” and “THENs”, give them a forum to voice their questions.
- Set up a quiz or a poll to find out what people want to know from you, rather than answering what you think they want to hear.
- Go Live. Set up a weekly live Q&A session where you can address concerns and questions of your customers immediately. Plus, giving your company a human face will make your service feel all the more personal. Video content is already killing it online; live-streaming will further increase your chances of interaction.
- Get creative with your broadcast. It does not have to be just about questions and answers. You can conduct fun and interesting interviews with industry professionals or even your own employees.
5. Connect with a Social Cause
It’s no secret that emotional content is far more effective than something purely rational. A social cause is the ultimate emotional incentive and can give your brand an extra dimension.
- Be true to your values. While the social cause you choose to fight for does not have to be connected to your industry or brand directly, it is best to fight for something you care about. Users can smell fakery.
- It is not just about money. Raising money for a cause is important, but it is not the only way to go about. Sometimes, caring and raising awareness can have greater effect and importance. Ask people to share personal stories, show support, promote acts of goodwill.
- Let your customers decide. To make things even more interactive, use a poll or quiz to find out what causes your audience wants to support or in what way.
Take for example NFL’s campaign against Breast Cancer. The cause is in sharp contrast with the sport, but that makes the campaign all the more compelling. And the social media are blowing up with activity.
6. Post about Current Events
As far as content goes, keeping up with what is going on in the world will never disappoint. Whether it is about holidays, a major concert, movie releases, pop culture scandal, or a political issue (careful there), use it to your advantage.
If you join the already buzzing conversation, you can ride the way and get a bit of action even if you did not create it. Again, Zomato provides some amazing examples of how to playfully use current events to promote your brand.
7. Emotional Headlines
Finally, engagement does not depend only on the content. Before the user gets to the core, he or she needs to crunch through the headline. A headline, as well as your social media intro text, can significantly affect your social shares and traffic.
How do you create an attractive headline with a solid emotional appeal?
- Embrace “How to”, lists, and question titles. These three title formats tend to perform very well on any occasion, and different versions with slight tweaks can be used almost every time you share a piece of content on social media – just be sure to adjust it to your target audience.
- How To ______ That Will (help you, enable you, make you) ____?
- X Ways To _____ To ______ (desirable outcome)____?
- What Is the Best _____ That Will ___ (desirable outcome) ____?
- Use “power” words. Power words [pdf] are words that inspire an almost immediate emotional reaction. For example, the words: unique, obsession, soar, secrets, free, unlimited, expert, astonishing, promising, etc.
- Get funky with emoji. Emojis are part of the social network culture and therefore never seem out of place. Use them smartly to grab attention (even entertain) and make the user click to find out more.
To Sum It Up…
There are plenty of ways you can inspire people to take action on your social media profiles. The more creative you get, the better engagement will sprout out of it. Think outside of the box and when you are stuck do not hesitate to ask your audience for help!
In the end, the true secret lies in never sticking to just one technique. Instead, try layering several incentives together and keep your user hooked all the way from the headline to the final stage!