It takes around five minutes and no initial investment to set up an account on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, which makes social media a very accessible and attractive tool for businesses. This also means that it is a very crowded space to compete in for customer attention. Social Media can be a powerful tool to reach your business’ audience, but it must be used intentionally to be effective. From examining the most successful practices in social media marketing, it can be found that user engagement is an essential element.
CHOOSING A PLATFROM TO ENGAGE USERS
Before even creating your social media account, you must choose which networks will be most effective. Every social media channel is different, with its own audience, guidelines, post types, and personality. Twitter promotes interaction with users and can be an effective customer care tool, depending on the audience of your business. Instagram is a great way for businesses to be more artistic and creative, while Facebook is effective in sharing multiple types of content like videos, pictures, and articles. Understanding both the nature and the audience of each network can help a business choose where to focus its efforts.
Once you decide which platform to focus on, a great way to post content that is appealing to users is giving them the opportunity to contribute to your social media marketing. Through user-generated content, users can submit their own content that your business can share and post through your own account. This content allows users to connect with other people like them. User-generated content was found in a study by the Social Media Advertising Consortium to be trusted more than any other form of content by 50% of those surveyed. It makes your own customers the face of the brand, promoting a level of engagement that is hard to match through other types of posts.
This works especially well with Instagram where the content involves engaging visuals that your business can easily find by using a custom hashtag that filters the content. A custom hashtag is a great advertising tool to expand awareness for your marketing campaign and pick posts to feature on your own account. Vans did this with their #MyVans marketing campaign, allowing customers to “show us how you style your favorite pair”.
FACILITATING DISCUSSION THROUGH ENGAGING QUESTIONS
Social media differs from other mass advertising platforms because it allows the audience to interact with the content in a way that print, radio, or television ads do not. Users can comment and respond to content and tag your business in their own posts as well. This opens a great opportunity for your business to engage customers in a conversation or discussion surrounding your product/service or a relevant topic. Engagement driven questions can be asked on any of your social media platforms, especially Twitter which allows users to reply and quote Tweets with ease. The questions have to be chosen carefully as they need to actually drive engagement.
When posing a question to customers, you need to think about what will be relevant to them, make the user feel strongly enough to spend the time replying, and have some sort of potential result or answer given from your business in response. In the example below, Jayson Stark, an American sportswriter and author who covers baseball, engages his Twitter followers by asking them for questions before he appeared on ESPN. His followers most likely have an interest in baseball, they were given the chance to ask an expert a question about this field, and they possibly got it answered on ESPN. This has all the elements of an effective engagement driven question.
RESPONDING TO USERS
When users take the time to engage with your business, you need to take the time to acknowledge their thoughts. No matter the social media network, your brand voice should be customer focused and consistent. Even as your Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook account might have different audiences and ‘feels’ to them, make sure that your responses are an accurate representation of your brand and your business. Address questions in a way that not only lets users know that you are a consistent brand, but there are humans beyond the social media profiles and you care about what they have to say.
Facebook business pages allow customers to review your business, which can bring up great talking points, both positive and negative. When dealing with negative feedback, make sure to respond quickly and take care of the issue without deleting the comment from your page. This transparency is important to build trust with users and show that your business is committed to making sure every customer has a great experience. The example of dealing with negative feedback from Honda of Thousand Oaks shows how businesses can follow-up on negative reviews with an authentic apology and solution.
Using social media marketing to stimulate user engagement will make your business able to interact with customers in a way that builds your following and your brand. Through choosing the most relevant social network to focus on and using these strategies to engage users, your posts will make your social media a success!
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