If you're like us, you'll be sitting in a lawn chair this fourth of July, hot dog in hand, and looking up at exploding fireworks wondering, "Wow…Those are incredible…that reminds me of the importance of sparking social media engagement…."
Okay, maybe we exaggerate a little, but hopefully you get our point. Social media engagement isn't like the big bang; it doesn't explode out of nothing. It needs to be instigated, cultivated, and maintained. There are many ways to do it and most of them are pretty simple. Better yet, the end-results speak for themselves: engaged followers, a strong brand, and high-quality leads. So let's take a look at some ways to spark social media engagement, shall we?
Ask for opinions. The simplest and most-cost effective option out there. All it takes is a simple "What do you think?" to open to proverbial social media floodgates. For example, last month was Father's Day. Many successful brands posted a photo of a staff member's father with the comment "What's your favorite memory of your father?" People love talking about themselves and sharing their opinions. Give them a platform.
Newsjack content. Much like the aforementioned approach, newsjacking content involves taking a newsworthy item applicable to your brand, posting it, and asking for comments. For example, you may set up a Google Alert for auto news and come across an article looking at how auto customers are increasingly looking for cars that perform better in inclement weather. Summarize with a simple, "What's the number one thing you're looking for in a car?"
Talk about your customers. Profiling your customers will build a connection with followers. Let's say you sold residential solar panels to a family last year. Your sales team checked in with them and wouldn't you know it, they're thrilled with their investment. They cut their electricity bill by 20 percent. Create a customer testimonial and link it to social media with commentary like, "The Johnsons in Stockton saved 20 percent in their electricity bills last year — what was the main reason you joined the solar revolution?"
Use images. Research shows that you'll get more Likes by posting an image and text rather than simply posting text. As a bonus, create and post infographics that include useful information that will resonate with followers.
Run a social media contest. They're easy to set up, affordable, and can generate cross-promotional opportunities. For example, if you're a brick-and-mortar outlet, your contest can encourage followers to show up at specific store.
Create news. We all know that your content — like blog posts — can be used to generate social media chatter. Go the extra mile by actually creating news. Poll your customers and publish the results. Crunch sales figures, identify trends, and share the results with followers, always making sure to ask them to comment.
Respond strategically. Sometimes you'll be responding to, rather than instigating, social media engagement, and your response can trigger even greater engagement. However, it's important to remember that not all comments are the same. A simple question posted by a follower should be answered 100 percent of the time. Compliments should also be acknowledged. Complaints, on the other hand, can get a bit more complicated. Check out our social media guidelines so you can intelligently address complaints without exacerbating the issue.
What strategies have helped your brand spark social media engagement? What kind of content resonates the most? What's particularly difficult about this process?