You know social media marketing as a piece of the puzzle, a digital channel designed to drive brand awareness and conversions. But what if we told you that it’s much more than that?
We’ve now reached 3.5 billion global users across social media platforms, and that growth isn’t slowing down anytime soon. From Facebook to Weibo, these platforms have become a core part of how we communicate with each other and the businesses we engage with.
Simply pushing out messages to that audience will fall on deaf ears. Instead, you need to prioritize social media engagement.
Think of it as more than just one of many metrics to measure your success. Instead, consider social media marketing and social media engagement as synonyms for each other. They’re one and the same; successful marketing can only be possible when engagement is front and center.
As you start reading this guide, keep that idea in mind. From ways to improve it to measuring your success, let’s dive into the nature and nuances of social media engagement as it exists today.
First Things First: What, Exactly, is Social Media Engagement?
Social media engagement, at its core, is the way in which your audience and followers interact with your social media marketing efforts. It’s the way they like, comment on, and retweet your content.
What we’re talking about here is actually in the name of the channel itself. Too often, businesses forget what makes social media so unique, which is the social part of the equation. It’s possible to succeed in this medium only if you prioritize its social nature.
For the short term, that means building a content strategy designed to get those likes and comments. Long-term, you have to make sure that these engagements turn into relationships with followers who keep coming back for your content for more. That means responding to questions and finding more relevant content over time.
3 Hidden Benefits of Social Media Engagement
With a basic definition out of the way, let’s talk about the importance of the concept. Sure, facebook post likes and comments are a good thing. Of course, it’s more complex than that. Social media engagement has become so important that marketing on this channel couldn’t exist without it for three reasons:
1) Engagement Increases Content Reach
Every social media channel you likely use for your business functions based on algorithms. The newsfeed of your audience, even your followers, prioritizes content from friends and businesses they have recently interacted with.
It’s all part of the effort on behalf of social networks to make themselves as relevant as possible. The thinking here from a platform like Facebook or LinkedIn is simple:
- Users stay longer on my platform if they see more relevant content.
- Users probably determine content to be relevant that’s similar to content they’ve engaged with in the past.
- That content probably comes from the sources they’ve interacted with in the recent past.
- Showing content from sources they’ve interacted with in the recent past is more likely to get interaction again.
- Content that gets engagement is probably relevant for other users, and will start showing up in their newsfeed too.
2) Engagement Allows You to Meet (and Exceed) Audience Expectations
- Asking a general question about your business before they become a customer.
- Seeking a resolution for a problem, like a missing part in the product package.
- Complaining about problems with the product at hand.
- And much more.
3) Engagement Helps You Learn From Your Customers
It might come in the form of comments under your posts. You might find that certain types of content get shared far more frequently than others. And of course, you may begin to hear consistent questions and complaints that prompt you to investigate the underlying problem. Either way, you can use engagement as a learning opportunity.
4 Most Important Types of Engagement
You need to prioritize them. Now, let’s define what them actually means. As you build your social media strategy, you will come across four types of engagement that are important to build a strategy around.
- Superficial Engagement. These are the easy ones. Think likes on Facebook, or hearts on Instagram. They matter in that they count as engagement, but will not impact your reach or customer satisfaction nearly as much as the below. Still, they’re a good introductory metric to track.
- Deep Engagement. This type occurs when your audience cares enough, they want to interact with it. It includes anything from comments to shares and retweets; basically, an action that requires an actual, tangible action for your audience.
- External Engagement. Clicks on links that you share are a type of engagement, but they’re a little different from both of the above. Here, your audience is taking a step that takes them off the network. They’re important for your business, but some networks (like Facebook) actually discourage posts with external links.
- Reverse Engagement. As mentioned above, this type turns it around. It describes any content shared by your audience that you interact with; replies to comments, direct messages, and more. The goal here is not improving your reach, but engaging with other users to make and keep them happy.
6 Proven Ways to Improve Your Social Media Engagement
1) Know Your Audience
2) Respond to Questions and Concerns
3) Keep Your Content Visual
- Pictures work better than plain text
- Video works better than pictures
- Live video works better than previously recorded footage
4) Share User-Generated Content (UGC)
5) Ask Questions
- Probe their personality by asking them to share their opinion.
- Test their knowledge through a quiz or trivia question.
- Post a poll that builds engagement while allowing you to learn about them.
- Test it out. Even simple questions will get surprising results if you just try them.
6) Prioritize Engagement Analytics
How to Measure Your Social Engagement
- Define your goals. Whether it’s general brand awareness or customer retention and service, your core goals for social media will impact how you measure engagement.
- Build analytics for each channel. Engagement on Twitter is very different from engagement on Instagram. An overarching analytics solution makes sense, but you still need to pay attention to each outlet individually.
- Find your engagement metrics. For customer service, that might be your reply rate to each comment or message that mentions you. For brand awareness, it might connect more to total number of shares or retweets.
- Use the right tools. In addition to network-internal analytics, that might include apps like Hootsuite Analytics or Sprout Social. This list of social analytics tools is a great start.
- Keep improving your metrics and analytics strategy. Over time, you’ll find what works and what doesn’t. Just don’t lock yourself into a single process that you never intend to change.