Social media has its rightful place in the marketing sphere. Granted, not all businesses will generate sales directly through the platforms. However, they do have powerful potential for brand awareness, customer service, and connection to influencer communities. What is key for small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) is social engagement.
Why Target Engagement?
While boosting engagement is good for the short-term, ultimately you have a bigger end goal. This may be to increase webinar registration, eBook downloads, or video views. Social media is a top-of-the-funnel exercise. Your audience is active, but the challenge is to cut through the noise and get their attention.
Boosting engagement must impact commercial goals, otherwise it’s a vanity metric without real benefit. Social engagement is about connecting with people, and bringing them through the door.
1. Establish Brand Credibility
It’s tough to get off the ground in a competitive landscape. You must appear credible to your audience, and this is achieved by interacting with industry influencers, contributing to discussions, and reaching out to partners and stakeholders. Demonstrate an active mindset with social media, and build authority in your niche.
The goal is to build trust at this stage. Your brand must be viewed as an authority, portraying a sense of credibility, deep knowledge, and an understanding of its customer base.
2. Use Compelling Images
Aesthetically pleasing imagery is what grabs the attention of fans! All generations are naturally responsive to stimulating imagery.
Catch the eye and keep their attention with custom illustrations and unique photography. It’s not as expensive as you might think to create great visuals, and instantly sets you apart from the millions of others that are using stock websites to get their message across.
3. Make Room For Video
Video has emerged as one of the most effective tools for social media in our mobile-first culture. Just like creative imagery, video content provides compelling visual stimuli. Mobile video is exponentially growing as the preferred ad format, too.
Studies have shown that by 2020, video will make up 80% of online consumer internet traffic. It’s not limited to YouTube, either. Most social channels are now focusing on video integration. LinkedIn, for example, boosts the content of users who host videos on their platform. Live streaming has become commonplace, and this is an excellent way to build a profile as an entrepreneur.
4. Become A Storyteller
Storytelling is another effective tool for boosting social engagement. We’re wired to consume stories, and the narrative format will not die a death any time soon. For a story to resonate, it must have tension, timeliness, relevance, and anticipation. Keep stories tangible. Embrace external forces in your stories to give them fullness and validity.
For instance, what stories would appeal to your audience? What are their daily struggles? Do you want them to be motivated or feel inspired? These are important questions to ask when prepping to tell a story on social media.
5. Target True Conversation
Social media isn’t a one-way communication channel. This is the prime reason why so many SMEs and bigger businesses have failed in this arena. Don’t focus on narrow promotion. Discuss topics that your audience is passionate about or have questions. Social engagement is about proactively starting conversations, and getting involved in the ones happening around you.
Track brand mentions with a tool like Mention or BuzzSumo. React directly, whether it’s good or bad feedback. In other words, make people feel heard, and value those who take the time to connect.
6. Tap Into Influencers
Influencer marketing is a huge buzzword. This avenue is open to SMEs and startups, just as much as it’s open to big brands. Influencer marketing can be expensive in its traditional format. This has given rise to a new form of celebrity. Influencers have built an audience and are able to monetize their profiles by promoting a product or service.
However, there are ways that an SME can get a piece of the pie without investing thousands. You may target micro-influencers with complimentary samples or non-cash incentives. This opens up influencer marketing to smaller budgets.
In addition, you may take an influencer-focused approach to content. This involves including influencers with big audiences in your written, visual, and audio content. Seek interviews, take polls, and feature the great work of others with leverage. This will increase your reach and relevance.
7. Share The Love
There is so much incredible insight, research, opinion, news, and creativity out there. You can show off your own contributions, but don’t forget to feature other great content. Curate the most relevant and impactful stories for your audience to enjoy, and boost your standing in the industry.
Share the most helpful, entertaining, and educational work on your social platforms. Credit the creators and build long-lasting relationships with them. Collaborate on future content and speak to creators about their process. This will help you to craft better stories for your own audience. It also creates win-win scenarios for all involved.
Social engagement is critical for SMEs. However, it is also an increasingly competitive space. You need to cut through the noise to boost interaction and build an audience. This can be done with integrity. Tell impactful stories, tap into influencer audiences, and embrace all forms of visual media.
The above approaches can be boosted with modest paid promotion. In addition, this approach provides effective support when an SME gets the ball rolling. Budgets can be controlled tightly.
In conclusion, targeting can be focused on a narrow niche in all major social ad networks. Good luck!
Oren Greenberg is a growth marketer, and the founder of the Kurve consultancy in London. He helps startups and corporate innovations projects scale using digital channels. He has written for leading marketing blogs and has been featured in the international press.