The value of social media in the field of marketing is not just about brand presence or improved sales. The value lies in engagement. No platform has so far allowed different brands and companies to directly engage with the audience as well as social media does. An industry report by Social Media Examiner showed that confidence in social media continues to grow with 83% of marketers integrating social media into their marketing strategies. However, only 37% of marketers say they know how to measure ROI from their social media marketing efforts. In short, they are not sure if they are doing the right thing. While there is improvement in sales, a lot of marketers do not know how to feel about their social media strategy. Case in point is the 43% of marketers who are clueless about what Facebook is doing for them.
But let us not be too hard on ourselves. Social media marketing is a tricky subject as much as it is extraordinary. Gary Vaynerchuk of VaynerMedia said “There is no ROI in anything if you don’t learn how to use it.” So let us take this opportunity to learn about social media and what it is all about — that thing called engagement.
No, it is not enough that you get a lot of likes and shares. The question remains: is the audience engaged? Do they care? Do you matter? Here are steps to a better social media engagement:
It’s the audience, not platform
When you map out your social media strategy, remember to focus on your audience, not on the platform. Remember that “social” means people. Adobe consultant Sam Haseltine reminds marketers that the audience changes far less frequently than social platforms. Say for instance, many social networks have so far mushroomed but Facebook is still the popular choice. That should make the job easier. Think about the audience and where they could possibly be. You should be where they are.
Let relationships be your capital
As your audience is the focus, then lasting relationships must be your biggest capital. Social media platforms should be used to build relationships and all your social activities must be bent on earning and deserving people’s trust and loyalty. You must reach out to people, cater to their needs, start conversations, and make them feel special.
Always be proactive
Let us zero in on building relationships even more. Here is a tip for effective social media management: never underestimate the power of being proactive. People want answers, solutions, and information and they want it fast. Social media should not be a passive experience. Brands should know how to reach out and connect.
Take feedbacks seriously, reply to the comments, answer their questions, and learn how to turn criticism into advocacy. You may not realize it but even negative feedbacks can be golden opportunities. This is your ticket to social media conversion as shown in NM Incite’s “State of Social Customer Service Report.” It revealed that 71% of consumers who get a quick and effective brand response on social media end up recommending the brand to others.
Do not forget to “listen”
Social media monitoring or social listening involves keeping an eye (or an ear) on what people are saying about your brand, tracking competitors and industry leaders, and other issues that concern you. This gives you the chance to identify opportunities and gain insight on your customers.
Create shareable content
With tons of content flooding social media every minute, it is a challenge to make yours stand out. It all boils down to content. For people to be aware of your brand, for them to engage with you, for them to trust you, and for them to be converted, you have to faithfully craft competitive social media content. When you share other’s content, choose them carefully. You have to keep your messages simple, be consistent, and be truthful. Make your content so interesting that your audience will feel the need to share it. Keep your audiences hooked.
It’s okay to get emotional
Actually, it is not just okay, it is necessary. First, you have to figure out how you want the market to see you. Do you want to come off as funny, helpful, current, trendy, interesting, or aspirational? The key here is to tap into your audience’s emotions. The group CoSchedule studied a database of over a million headlines and found that posts with emotional headlines got shared the most. They call it the Emotional Marketing Value (EMV).
No size fits all
Social media marketing is not like a white t-shirt that seems to go with anything. Social media is an ever-evolving medium and you must know how to roll with it. There is no single strategy that will work for all brands. In the same way, no single content can work across all social networks so if you are about to copy-paste, stop now. You have to understand how each platform works and see how it can help your brand.
Timing is everything
There is no point in posting content when no one gets to see it. You have to know the activities of your target audience so you will know what content to post and when to post it. If your followers are young professionals, it is pointless to publish content at a time when they should be sleeping.
Experience through videos
Make sure that publishing videos is part of your social media strategy. People love videos, as shown in a Nielsen survey that reveals 28% of people worldwide have multi-screen habits. They have the TV on while watching YouTube. Videos have truly changed the user-experience so do not get left behind.
And the contests still have it
Running online contests seems to never go out of style. After all, winning never goes out of style. However, be responsible when running promos and adhere to every social network’s rules. Be creative with your contests to increase social media engagement. Don’t just settle for retweet-and-win or use-this-hashtag-and-win promos. Create something that will really involve your followers like capturing the best photo or designing a t-shirt for your campaign.
“Thank you” goes a long way
Learn how to say thank you. This can be done in different ways. You can just reply a quick “thank you” for following or sharing your content or you can go further and impress them by re-tweeting them, following them back, or sharing their content. And yes, it can also be in the form of a discount voucher. However you do it, what matters is you say “thanks” and mean it.
There are tools to measure social media metrics like likes, shares, and re-tweets. But keep your eye on the ball: what truly matters is engagement. It is being part of your audience’s daily lives and regular conversations. Social media engagement is much more difficult to come by than a like or a share but it’s definitely worth it.
Anna Rodriguez is a manager and a passionate writer. She also has varied background in real estate brokerage, investing, online marketing and social media management. She owns Homey Guide Blog. Follow her at @annrodriguez021