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How to engage your audience in Social Media Marketing

How to engage your audience

What is engagement?

Engagement is when your audience interacts with the content you post on social media by following your business profile and commenting on, “liking” or sharing your posts. Lots of engagement means people are interested in what you are posting.
From each type of engagement, you can also gain useful audience insights. These can be used to shape your future social media activity. For example, whilst lots of shares and “likes” may suggest content is popular, becoming a “follower” shows a higher level of commitment from a user, as they’ve requested to see more of your content in the future.
Top tip: Your business profile could have high levels of engagement but for all the wrong reasons. A controversial opinion shared on social media may gain a high number of comments and shares but could damage your reputation. To prevent this, always make sure that your content is accurate and demonstrates your area of expertise.

Why is engagement important to your business?

The more engagement you have with your audience, the stronger your relationship. If users are interested in your business, and its content, they’re more likely to engage with you on social media.
For example: Manish recently started using social media to attract new members to his gym. As he always tracks and reviews his engagement activity, he starts to recognize the names of people who like and comment regularly. When he runs classes, he also starts to see their names appear on his class list. His social media presence helped convert these passive readers to active participants.
The more a user engages, the more likely they’ll purchase.
Users that engage with you are likely to have your business front of mind, which means they're more likely to purchase from you, and more likely to recommend your business to friends and family.
For example: Deepak is looking to buy a new cricket kit. His brother recommends Kumar’s Sports Store, and suggests he follows their profile page. Deepak does, and he loves the range of cricket-related content they share – he even comments to share his opinion, which Kumar’s respond to. He feels as if he’s really got to know the business, so pops in to buy the entire kit.
High engagement can naturally help grow your reach.
Each time your audience shares, likes, comments or follows your profile, their friends could also see your content.
For example: Anusha follows her local bakery and regularly likes and shares their posts. Subsequently her friends see the bakery on their feed too. Like Anusha, they’re also amazed by its great photos of delicious cakes and pastries, so they start to follow it too.

How can you engage your audience?

You've most likely already created great customer relationships and know how to capture your customers' interest in the real world. In earlier lessons, we also explored your target audience – understanding their needs, interests and ambitions. This is a really good place to start when building your social presence, and we've got some great tips to help you keep your business at the top of your audience's mind.

Step 1. Post often

Your followers will stay interested if they hear from you on a regular basis, and the more you post, the more likely people are to see your content.
The “recommended number of posts per day” is a bit of a myth. Some marketing experts advise sharing content at least once a day and some say as often as 2-3 times per day across your social platforms. The key is to find what's right for your business. As long as you have something worth sharing, it’s fine to post. However, you should be wary of spamming your audience, as this can create a bad user experience.
Think about the social channels you're using. One may be very fast moving and suit a business that is able to publish quick, small pieces of content. Another may be slow-paced and suit a business that is more likely to publish once or twice a week. Really think about how you can keep up with the pace of the channel you're active on.
As you post, make sure to look out for comments. Set your notifications on each platform to alert you when someone comments. It’s important that you try to respond to all comments, even the negative ones, as it lets your audience know you value what they have to say.
Top tip: Always make sure that the content you're sharing is relevant to your followers. Simply posting for the sake of it, or posting sales-heavy content, can be off-putting. This could easily lead to people unfollowing your profile and potentially harm your reputation.

Step 2. Post interesting content

To really drive engagement, you need to focus on sharing interesting and relevant content. Offering your audience unique articles, videos and stories will encourage them to keep coming back for more. So, always try to go beyond simply promoting your business or products.
For example: Jai owns a seafood restaurant in Goa. He often posts about changes to his menu and opening times, but was receiving very little engagement. After sharing a few pictures and short video clips of his staff picking the best lobsters and cooking up a storm in the kitchen, he began to notice a spike in activity. He also noticed that people engaged more with his informational posts when they were mixed with more personal stories.
Posting content that is exciting and intriguing to your audience can lead to high levels of engagement. We'll cover off how to create great content in much more detail over the next few lessons.

Step 3. Show your personality

It's common for businesses to feel they need to be professional and formal when talking to customers online, but remember that your customers love what makes you unique – and that's you.
Showing your own personality, expertise and opinions creates a much more enjoyable and authentic experience, and it’s this that can help to differentiate you from your competition.
For example: Jai recently shared a short video of his kitchen staff picking the “catch of the day”, and to show his funny side, he included a clip of his sous-chef, Rohit, getting nipped on the finger by a crab. Showing this “real life” humour led to an increased number of shares.

Step 4. Use images and video

To easily capture your audience's attention, share images and video. The more exciting and engaging they are, the more likely people are to stop and look while scrolling through their feed on their smartphone or computer.
Make sure you always have your audience in mind, and constantly be asking yourself: what content would be most interesting and engaging to them?
Top tip: While it's tempting to post adorable pet photos or funny memes, if these aren't relevant to your business they may just irritate your followers. Remember to keep your content appropriate to your business and interesting to your audience.

Step 5. Encourage audience participation

On social, all conversations are two-way. Your content should never be talking at your audience. In fact, the best posts often encourage interaction. To grow engagement through participation, ask your audience to comment with their thoughts underneath a post, to “like” if they agree or disagree or to leave another reaction indicating how they feel. It’s quick and easy.
As long as you’re posting useful information and sharing valuable content, there’s nothing “spammy” about gently urging your followers to help grow your business awareness.
For example: Jai’s regular “catch of the day” posts aren’t receiving as much attention as he’d hoped. This time he shares two very different dishes made using his catch of the day. He asks his audience to vote for the one they want to see on tonight’s menu: “Like for option one, and share for option two”. He sees a huge uptake for the second option, his Kerala Prawn Curry, and notices a few more table bookings are made the following week.

Let's recap

  • Engagement is when your audience interacts with the content you post on social media by following your business profile and commenting, “liking” or sharing your posts
  • The more engagement you have with your audience, the better your relationship – meaning they're more likely to make a purchase
  • The more interesting and relevant the content you post on your profile is, the more engagement you’re likely to receive
  • Your personality can set you apart from your competitors, so make sure your content reflects you and your business
  • Encourage audience participation on your posts, by asking them to comment with opinions, “like” or share
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