When I tell people that I’m a social media consultant, I generally get one of two responses. “Wow, you get paid to mess about on Twitter all day?” This from my son. “I post on social media all the time but it isn’t working.” This often from small business owners.
So ignoring my son for a moment, let’s think about why social media may not be working for your small business. Let’s assume you are posting fantastic, relevant highly visual content, targeted at the right people and posted at the right times on the right channels. (If you aren’t, contact me, I can help, my details are at the bottom of this article.)
If you are doing all those things, that’s great, but you may be overlooking one of the big tools of social media: engagement. By this I mean the quantity of likes, shares, retweets, comments and click-throughs your social media content attracts.
Engagement is important because it demonstrates how successfully you are reaching out to your followers and encouraging them to get involved with your brand. Alongside the feel-good factor, there are some really solid business reasons why engagement is important. Your engaged followers are more likely to look at your website. If they aren’t already customers engagement tactics may persuade them to buy, and if they are, you can encourage repeat purchases and recommendations. Ultimately engagement tactics play a part in developing advocates who raise awareness of your brand amongst their own followers.
So some suggested tactics to improve your engagement levels, which can be applied across Twitter, Facebook or Instagram:
- Ask questions of your followers about your product or service. How do your customers use your products, what’s their favourite among your product range? Involve followers in product development if it’s appropriate, such as choosing names or selecting from shortlist of colour options.
- Ask questions about other things. Ideally, keep it relevant to your brand – it’s easy but a bit bland to say “What are you doing at the weekend?”
- Research shows that user-generated content has a major impact on purchasing decisions. If you have a product, ask for your followers to share photos or videos of them using it. You could turn it into a photo competition with a giveaway to encourage entries. Service businesses may have to work a little harder, but there will still be a way to encourage user-generated content.
- Experiment with other techniques that generate engagement including asking users to tag a friend as part of a competition entry (check the rules on your chosen platform though, Facebook doesn’t allow this), Q&A sessions, polls and surveys, Facebook Live or Twitter hours. Not every tactic will suit every business, so it’s worth seeing what else is happening in your industry and adapting it, or trying something completely new.
Big brands can afford to leave it at that. But if you are a small business and you simply post on your own channels, you run the risk of missing out on all those people who don’t find your channels. You won’t be able to reach out to other companies, brands or individuals who may be relevant to you and make genuine connections with them.
If you are a small business or sole trader, you need to get away from your own channels and be really proactive. For example, you can:
- Spend time liking and sharing the content of others and following interesting and relevant accounts. Comment on content from other businesses where there is a good fit with your own. Do these things from your business account, rather than your personal account for maximum impact.
- Join groups and forums where your skills are relevant and be active on them.
- Comment when you like someone’s blog post.
- Recommend great products or services that you have used.
Finally, find time to measure engagement. Each platform has its own metrics, and you can track the success of your engagement efforts. Find what works well, adjust things that don’t suit your followers and try again. This is social media: to improve your own engagement rates, you need to engage and be social with others.
For help with your social media strategy, planning a social media campaign or ongoing help with your channels, Contact Jenny