Successful marketing in 2018 depends on creating an omnichannel customer experience that is integrated across platforms, and that includes leveraging social media engagement as a means of reaching customers. People spend hours every day on their phones and on social media, and if you’re not capturing at least some of their attention, that means that they’re engaging with someone else’s brand or business instead of yours.
This article discusses the importance of social media engagement for your business, explains exactly what social media engagement is, how and why it benefits businesses that make it a core part of their marketing strategy, and even offers some social media engagement tactics and ideas that you can use to start promoting your channels and generate more buzz around the products and services that your company offers.
What is Social Media Engagement?
In the past, businesses that wanted to communicate with their customers did so by purchasing television, radio or print advertising. These mediums facilitate a one-way conversation: the company prints a message and spends money to get their message in front of customers, customers read the message and respond to it by visiting the store and making a purchase.
Social media has fundamentally changed the way that communication works between businesses and their customers, essentially creating a public forum for communication between the business and all of its customers. Communication between businesses and their customers is now a two-way street, enabling customers to engage with their favorite brands in completely new ways.
Social media engagement is a measurement of how effectively a company is creating interactions with its customers in the social stream. It can be measured in many ways – likes, mentions, shares, views, comments, subscriptions, etc. – and correlates with the number of people who are forming a relationship with the brand. Social media marketing strategies reflect the reality that customers must market to customers where they are – according to the Global Web Index, 30% of all time spent online is now allocated to social media interaction. With the average person spending just under two hours per day on social media, social media engagement is essential to make sure your brand is capturing enough attention.
Why is Social Media Engagement Important for Businesses?
Whether you are on social media or not, it’s an inescapable truth that your customers are paying attention to their social media accounts for up to two hours or more each day. Establishing a social media presence, building a following and engaging them effectively with quality content is a big effort, but what benefits can you expect to glean from your investment in social media? Here are just a few ways that social media engagement can have a positive effect on your business:
Social Media Engagement Offers Social Proof of Your Business
Social media engagement isn’t simply the number of Instagram followers you have or the number of “Likes” you’ve accumulated on your business Facebook page, although those things do make a difference when it comes to how your business is perceived by a prospective customer. If someone visits your business page and sees that you’ve got a large fan base, that offers the same kind of social proof as a celebrity endorsement or a testimonial from a satisfied customer. When someone visits your page and your business looks popular, people think “Well, if all of these people are happy customers, maybe I’ll be a happy customer too!” – making them much more likely to purchase your product or service.
Social Media Engagement Expands Your Marketing Reach
Social media platforms are global, meaning that fans and customers of your business can engage with you from anywhere in the world. In the past, even businesses that could operate globally were restricted by the difficulties of advertising to a global customer base, but social media allows companies of any size to reach potential customers wherever they can be found. With the right tools in place, your social media channels can be set up to turn those views into appointments and visits to your business, which will result in more sales.
Social Media Engagement is More Cost Effective than Traditional Advertising
One of the limitations of traditional advertising me if you send a printed flyer to 500,000 people or 5,000, while it costs the same amount to print and mail each one, it will be much more expensive to print 500,000. On the other hand, social media engagement campaigns that produce a lot of shares can generate a lot more views and publicity for your business than a paper flyer ever could – all for a one-time cost. A single person sharing or re-tweeting a message from your company could reach hundreds or even thousands of people for virtually no cost! Businesses that miss out on this with social media strategies that don’t generate engagement are losing a major opportunity.
High Social Engagement Boosts Brand Awareness
Each time an individual interacts with your brand on social media, overall awareness of your brand is increased. If a customer likes your Facebook page or one of your posts, friends and followers of that person will see that engagement, followers of your brand may see that engagement, and overall awareness of your brand increases. A study conducted by Market Path found that 83% of companies see brand awareness as a central goal of their social strategy, while just 11% were using social media to provide customer service.
How do Businesses Promote Social Media Engagement and Social Sharing?
It’s clear that social media engagement can boost brand awareness, expand marketing reach and ROI, and provide social proof that drives new customers to your business. Here are some strategies that brands can use to boost social media engagement and start enjoying its benefits:
Offer Incentives for Social Sharing
Offering an incentive that triggers a social share is one of the best-value social media marketing initiatives. This idea can work differently depending on your business, and here are some examples:
- A restaurant offers its guests 10% off of their bill if they take a picture of their meal and post it on Instagram.
- A clothing retailer offers a customer 10% off of their bill if they provide their e-mail address and phone number for the store’s mailing list and SMS “sales alert” service.
- A salon offers a discount for customers who book an appointment using their automated online appointment booking service and share it on social media.
Effective incentives offer an immediate benefit that requires the customer to promote the business for free to their social media following. For added effect, ask the customer to include hashtags that will help expand the reach of their post.
Deliver Quality Content
The best way to build engagement with your existing followers is by creating content that they want to engage with. This could mean an informative or appropriately controversial article that sparks a conversation between your followers or an offer of coupons for your business. Either way, delivering quality content depends on understanding what your customers want from you and how you can provide genuine value. If your customers know that you regularly advertise exclusive promotions and coupons on your social media page, they’ll stay engaged to make sure they don’t miss out.
Give and Take to Boost Engagement
Advertisement used to be a one-way communication channel from the business to the customer. Now that the conversation has opened, it’s important for businesses to join in and show that they are listening to their customers by participating in discussions on their own platforms and those of their followers. If someone posts a positive review of your service on social media, take the time to thank them and invite them back in. If someone posts something negative, apologize and offer to make it right. Doing so shows that you’re willing to play give and take, and that you’re responsive to feedback from your customers.
Promote Your Platforms In-Store
If you’re wondering how to increase social media engagement, a great place to start is in your physical store where you already have the customer engaged with your brand and associates. You can offer business cards with links to your social media accounts, list the information for your social profiles and Twitter handle on your store bulletin board or even set up a space in your store where customers can take an attractive selfie for Facebook or Instagram.
Social media engagement is more than just the accumulation of followers across social platforms. It’s also a measurement of how many people are paying attention to and interacting with your brand on a daily basis. Businesses that focus on building their social media engagement can benefit from better marketing reach and ROI, and a greater brand awareness that makes it easier to attract new customers. Search engines may also be paying attention to social signals and hash tags, even using them as inputs to determine search rankings for a business’ website. Businesses can boost their social media engagement by delivering quality content, engaging with and servicing their customers and offering exclusive promotions and services like automated online appointment booking through their social channels.