If Facebook were a country, it would be the third-most populated on earth (beaten only by China and India). WhatsApp would be #5, Google+ #7, LinkedIn #9, and Twitter #10. (#Socialnomics 2014 by Erik Qualman) So, while you can’t exactly pick up the phone and chat to the nearly 1.5 billion folk living in China, you can be talking to the one out of every five people on earth who use Facebook.
Social media has given us unprecedented access to personal conversations with billions of potential customers, followers and influencers. Stop. Read that sentence again carefully: ‘conversations’ is the key word here. If you’re just talking at your consumers, rather than to them, you may as well sign out for good. At risk of sounding like your mother: “Open your ears!”
Here, a quick list of five easy ways to get your audience to engage on social media - and one sure-fire way to send their fingers running for the ‘unfollow’ button.
1. Time it right
Timing really is everything. “Make sure you are interacting on your social feeds when your audience is,” advises The Web Advisors’ principal, Trisha Larsen. “There are general best practices (click here for a super-handy infographic on when to post where), however be sure to check your own social metrics for specifics to your community.” TWA’s resident metrics expert Chris Elder advises that you “Use FB insights, Twitter Analytics and Google Analytics to see when your website traffic spikes; post when you see your audience is most likely to be present.”
2. Ask, and answer, questions
People love to share their opinions. So let them. Ask questions of your audience - you may even garner some useful answers. Also, allow them to ask you questions: arrange a Q&A session using tools like Google hangouts and Twitter chats, or even just make use of a simple Facebook post that asks your audience what they want to know about your company or product.
3. Be visual
The most shared content of all? Anything visual. Historically photos have taken the prize for best stats, but coming up quickly are videos. Need proof that one pic is worth more than 1000 of your words? Tweets with images receive 18% more clicks, 89% more favorites and 150% more retweets. (BufferSocial) Selfies don’t count. #justfyi. Meanwhile, over on Facebook, Socialbakers.com looked at the top 10% of posts made by more than 30,000 Facebook brand pages and found that posts with photos saw the most engagement, accounting for an enormous 87% of total interactions. As we mentioned, video is also a winner for great social media engagement stats. Last year the amount of video from people and brands in Facebook's News feed increased 3.6X year-over-year, and globally, video posts per person on Facebook grew 75% over the year. (Facebook)
4. Listen up
The power of using your dormant listening skills bears repeating. “You can't engage if you don't see/hear what people are saying,” reminds Trisha. There are a bunch of really great listening tools out there to make this easy for you - way easier than, say, trying to tune into your wife/boyfriend/mom/dog with any real enthusiasm. Two of the best? Asked separately, both Trisha and Chris came up with the same answer: “Hootsuite and Google Alerts”.
5. Give stuff away
Everybody loves free stuff. Host contests, competitions and giveaways on your social media sites - the prize doesn’t need to be big, it just needs to fit your audience profile.
6. Stop selling
“Beware of ABS (always be selling),” warns Chris. “It works great as a sales person but on social media it’s the worst possible tactic.” You know that guy at the dinner party who only talks about himself? All. Night. Long. Don’t be that guy. Don’t be constantly selling yourself, your product, your company. Nobody likes that guy at the dinner party. Nobody likes that guy on social media. The only difference is, whereas at the dinner table there’s not much anyone can do about that guy without looking like a total ass-hat, on social media they can squash that guy like a bug. Unlike. Unfollow. Delete.