Social media channels like Twitter, Instagram Facebook are great for posting updates on your business, keeping followers in the loop on the latest industry trends, and reaching out to new people. Data shows that Facebook influences an incredible 52% of consumers online and offline purchases, so it’s clear to see why social media is such an important tool for small businesses.
But with so many businesses vying for attention and new algorithms making it harder for your posts to show up on timelines organically, small businesses need to work harder than ever to create content that’s as engaging as possible.
In today’s blog, we’re going to show you how.
Humanise your brand
Perhaps the simplest way to make your social media content more engaging is to humanise your brand.
No, we’re not saying that you need a mascot, but giving your brand a personality can help you to connect with followers and make it easier to create content that speaks to people.
The best brands on social media have a clear voice and personality – and they’re not afraid of having fun. Just take a look at Burger King UK and KFC after the latter’s recent chicken shortage.
By giving your brand a clear voice and personality, you’ll be more relatable, and people will be more likely to engage with you and your content.
Another great example of giving your brand a personality on social media is Wendy’s.
The fast-food chain isn’t afraid of speaking out (like publically trashing its competitor McDonald’s), and it speaks in the way it’s customers speak. It joined the ‘how many retweets for X’ train, and offered one of its followers a lifetime supply of chicken nuggets if they reached 18,000,000 retweets.
— Wendy's (@Wendys) May 9, 2017
Unfortunately, the #NuggsForCarter campaign didn’t hit the required 18 million retweets, but it did become the most retweeted post of all time and won awards like the Clio Award for Public Relations.
We’re not saying that you need to offer your customers food for life, but having fun and messing around can be a great way to make your brand more engaging and interactive.
Quirky brands often do well on social media, too, because people want to share content from brands they know and love, and they prefer talking to brands that appear as ‘real people’ rather than as a corporation.
You could make it your mission to show off the team behind your brand and get employees to sign off on tweets using their initials.
If you want to take it one step further, then you could consider branding your online presence around yourself.
Use your own name when signing off on posts, use I instead of we and show off what you’re doing in the office with selfies and regular updates.
Whatever you choose to do, own your decision and be confident in your strategy and brand. If new people join the team, then give them a briefing and consider creating a social media style guide for consistency.
Engage with real-world events
Now that you’ve created a persona for your brand, use it to engage with real-world events like television shows, breaking news stories and awards ceremonies.
If you run a bakery, for instance, then tweeting along to MasterChef and The Great British Bake Off makes sense. You can share your expertise and thoughts on contestants, interact with your followers (who are likely to be engaged in the same sort of television shows and interests as you) and have the chance to appear in timelines when people search for the hashtag or related content.
If you’re attending a sporting event or awards ceremony, for example, you could tweet along live and provide a running commentary. Live videos, photographs and quotes from nominees can help to position your business as an authority figure and news source, and you’ll likely garner some attention from other businesses who want to share your content to their audiences.
Another way to engage with real-world events, and get your followers to interact with your brand, is to take part in Twitter hours. These events are designed for networking – just find a Twitter hour that’s relevant to your niche, tweet using a hashtag and join in the conversation. We’ve put together a full list of UK Twitter hours that’s regularly updated, so be sure to bookmark it.
Use polls and ask questions
Forcing interaction by asking questions and creating polls is another way to get customers on your side – and it can send your content viral if you ask the right questions.
Ever popular on Twitter and Facebook is the ‘like for X, share for Y’ posts, so try to emulate this for your own brand and create ‘talking point’ content that will start discussions and conversations.
Only 55% of people can read this! Retweet for Yes, & Like for No😁👍🏻 pic.twitter.com/h8s9iAUhnM
— Annie's Anfield (@annelizawalsh) February 20, 2018
If you run a coffee shop, for example, you could create a ‘like for tea, retweet for coffee’ post with attractive images from your cafe.
The opportunities are endless, and every time someone likes or retweets, your reach will be widened and more people will find out about what you do.
Make sure that you capitalise on the success of a poll or question – retweet and like everyone who interacts, respond to comments and tweets, and follow it up with a competition (see #9).
Go ‘live’ and show off your business
Live video is time-consuming, costly and stressful, especially if you’re not a natural in front of the camera. But it’s hard to deny just how valuable live video content can be, especially for small businesses who have to compete against juggernauts such as Amazon and eBay to stay afloat.
If you want to put your brand in front of customers and get them to engage with products and services, then live video is a great way to stand out.
Whether you decide to run a weekly live show where you showcase some of your latest products, or you host a one-off live chat where users can ask questions about your products and services, live content can convert.
If you’re thinking about experimenting with live video content as part of your social media strategy, then consider these points before you get started;
- Go live at a reasonable time: If most of your customers work typical 9-5 jobs, then go live at lunchtime or when they’re home from work. Make your stream as convenient and accessible as possible to maximise engagement rates from potential customers.
- Tease your stream: Nobody will tune in to your live video if they don’t know it’s coming, so post teasers and reminders so that your audience know when you’ll be on the air.
- Draft up a script: To make sure that your content is a fresh and fast-paced as possible, create a draft script that you can follow, and consider some cue cards if you’re struggling on what to say. Remember that viewers can click off of your stream whenever they want, so you need to give them a reason to stick around and share your content.
- Don’t be salesy: Avoid selling your products and services directly in your live stream, and instead show off ways they can be used, tutorials and advice on your services, and offer something free and valuable that readers can take away and think about.
- Brand your video: Be consistent with your branding throughout – buy a cheap video backdrop featuring your logo, print off some cue cards, and keep your video as clean and simple as possible to put all of the focus on your products and services.
- Get friends and colleagues involved: If there’s no interaction with your video, people won’t want to get involved, so ask friends and family to share and ask questions to get the conversations started. The more interactivity, the more people will see your stream.
- Be responsive: Look out for questions in the chat and respond as quickly as possible. It’s this responsive approach that makes a live video so attractive to consumers.
Nobody said that live video was easy, but starting as soon as possible will allow you to build up your confidence and test the waters. There’s no harm in trying, even if your first stream flops.
Create video content
We don’t need to remind you about visual content marketing and its benefits. Visual content like images and videos get up to 40 times more shares than any other types of content, so it’s worth spending a little more time putting together something visual to enjoy increased engagement.
When creating visual content think about the social networks that you’ll get the most interaction from.
According to HootSuite, brands see a per-follow engagement rate of 4.21%, which is an incredible 58 times higher than Facebook and 120 times higher than on Twitter.
Instagram is the platform for visual content, so focusing your efforts here makes sense.
Video content has been rising in popularity and effectiveness for years, but its appeal has never been greater.
Recent changes to Facebook and Twitter’s applications have made it easier for users to ‘binge-watch’ content, so the more high-quality video you create and share on these platforms, the more engaged your followers – and people who don’t follow you – will become.
Speak to customers
One mistake that many small business owners make with their social media management is to sit and wait for people to start engaging and interacting with them.
Unless you’ve got thousands of followers and you’re posting fresh, original content to your channels every day, you’re unlikely to go viral and drive traffic to your website.
The whole point of social media is interactivity, so don’t be afraid to reach out to customers and followers and have a chat.
Make an effort to scroll through your timeline a couple of times a day on Twitter and Instagram and interact with your followers. A comment on their new image or a retweet of their post can go a long way and put your business and brand in the eyes of your customers, and that constant reminder and engagement will keep you at the front of their minds when they’re looking to buy new products and services that you offer.
Track your brand name
You might be surprised to learn that 96% of people who discuss brands and businesses online don’t follow the brands’ accounts, nor tag them in their complaints or messages.
That’s why it’s so important to go beyond your own social media channels and monitor conversations from your customers and potential customers by using a tool such as Mention.com.
Such brand tracking tools check for mentions of your business and brand name on every social network and give you the power to respond and put things right. This takes engagement to the next level.
If you’re low on funds or you don’t want to spend unnecessary money on brand monitoring tools, then there are ways that you can monitor mentions on your own.
On Twitter and Instagram, set up saved searches of your brand name and check once a day for updates.
Whenever someone tweets or posts an image that relates to your business, you can engage with that user and like their content, and even retweet it if you think it’s appropriate and valuable to your business.
You can also take monitoring to the next level if you have the time or you’re prospecting for new clients.
Rather than searching for your business name on social media, you can plug in keywords like ‘massage therapist’, ‘accountant’ or a competitor’s name, and follow and engage with people who are looking for products and services that you offer.
Of course, this can be time-consuming and might not pay off in every niche, but for some businesses, it works.
Offer customer service
In 2018, customers expect their favourite brands to be active on social media, and that extends to small businesses, too.
As Lithium discovered, 78% of people who complain to a brand via Twitter expect a response within an hour, so it’s essential that you have an active presence and you’re engaging with your customers as quickly as possible.
Respond to all of your comments – both positive and negative – as this will show you’re proactive, listening and ready to help.
Worried you’re getting too many customer service-related queries on Twitter and want to take it elsewhere? Follow the approach multinational firms take: turn on ‘accept direct messages from all’, and open a second Twitter account that’s exclusively used to answer support enquiries.
Encourage user-generated content
User-generated content is one of the best ways to promote your business and encourage engagement from your followers.
You could run a user-generated competition, where members of the public have to tweet in pictures of them using your products, or you could film customer testimonials and post them on your social networking channels to demonstrate your appeal.
Posting user-generated content on social networks taps into the ego of your followers – not only will they be able to see real people using your products, but if they’re featured, they’ll want to share and tag their friends in posts.
This boosts engagement and further persuades other customers to get involved and share their own user-generated content. And so the cycle continues…
User-generated content also creates brand advocacy.
If you can find hardcore loyalists of your products and services and get them to spread the word about your brand, more customers are likely to appear and share their own stories. All of this creates content that you can promote on your social media channels and increase click-throughs, shares and the overall appeal of your brand online.
Host giveaways and competitions
If you’re struggling to build traction on your social media channels, competitions and giveaways can be a great way to introduce people to your brand.
Offering a free prize for people who like and share your page or retweet your content is a great motivator for people to interact with you, and it can introduce you to new people who could become potential customers down the line.
Businesses offering tangible products and services have it easy – just offer a voucher or a free product from your business.
Choose a product that’s desirable, of value and likely to attract the attention of social media users who want a freebie.
Nobody’s going to retweet your giveaway if the prize is only worth a couple of pounds, so be generous and think of it as an investment.
If you work in a nondescript industry or don’t have products or services that you can easily give away, then follow trends and buy something that potential customers would want.
For example, you could buy an iPad or Apple Watch and offer that as a prize to a follower who retweets your content. The possibilities are endless, and the better your prize, the more traction you’ll build.
Before we wrap up, a quick point about giveaways. You should always follow through with your giveaway and choose a random winner, even if your competition doesn’t bring in the desired results. Advertising standards are enforced on social networks, and failing to follow procedures and scamming potential customers will not only damage trust but cause serious legal issues.
If your current social strategy is to throw content onto your channels and hope for the best, then it’s clear that you’ve got work to do.
By taking a step back from your current strategy to analyse and evaluate, you’ll likely learn the error of your ways and see that a consistent, well-thought-out campaign will be more effective.
Try out some of the techniques we have mentioned in today’s post and see whether they work for you. Oh, and be sure to let us know how you get on in the comments below!