As of this year, about 81% of the United States population uses at least one social media platform. That number is growing by roughly 5% per year. At this rate, 100% of the United States will have a social media profile on at least one platform by 2021.
Businesspeople searching for the ideal marketing channel to engage prospects should look no further than social networks. Social media provides companies with ample information to create messages targeted to valuable niche audiences, and given the statistics, its inevitable that the audience you are trying to reach is on at least one social network. But it is no longer enough to just show up. To stand out online, companies need to create an engaging social presence. This article will look at 10 ways to create a compelling social presence online.
1. Know your audience well
There are countless unique social media audiences online. This means that, if you want to create a powerful social presence, you must first understand your audience.
When a brand is trying to reach a specific subset of the population, marketers start by creating a customer persona. Think of a persona as a way of summarizing a groups demographic and psychographic tendencies. Armed with this information, it is much easier to create compelling campaigns that engage the target audience.
Similarly, as someone trying to create an engaging social presence, it may make sense to get to know your target audience first. What are their likes and dislikes? How do they prefer to consume media? What social media platforms do they use most, and what motivates them to use those platforms? These are just some of the questions to consider before building a social presence.
2. Study the competition
If youre just getting started, it may be difficult to know how to best engage followers. To accelerate your social media growth, study direct competitors who have already made good use of social media. What do they do that engages followers?
Take the 2 images above as an example of what can happen thanks to good competitive research. Nike and Adidas are well-known fitness apparel competitors. It is likely that they both watch what the other company is doing on Instagram, perhaps by using some kind of Instagram analytics tool.
Both pieces of content are similar in composition and description. Its probable that one social media manager saw that the content resonated with followers and decided to make something similar.
3. Vary media formats
A big component of social media platforms is content freshness. Usually, when people hear this term they think it refers to how frequently content is posted. While it does matter when you post content, freshness also refers to the format the content is posted in. At one point, all Instagram posts were images. Then the platform brought video and carousel content on board, and they instantly became popular. Currently, Instagram Stories are gaining traction.
As a social media manager, you must constantly vary the media formats you are using in order to keep users engaged. Failing to do so will slow the growth of the channel and can make followers bored with what you are sharing.
4. Master the eccentricities of each social media platform
No 2 audiences are alike, and the same is true for social media platforms. If you are using more than 1 social media platform, it is important to understand the unique qualities that make the platform appealing to users. Once identified, master those unique qualities to ensure that your content is taking full advantage of the platforms strengths.
For example, you wouldnt use Twitter to share a lot of photo or video content (Instagram and Snapchat are better for that). Likewise, you wouldnt use LinkedIn to share highly personal updates (Twitter and Facebook are better for that). Stay on top of platform changes to ensure that your content is as engaging as possible.
5. Provide unique value with behind-the-scenes content
Again, if you are managing multiple social media platforms to promote the same brand, be sure to give followers a reason to follow you on each of those platforms. Recycling content is a surefire way to create a boring social media presence.
One way to offer followers a unique experience is to provide them with a peek behind the curtain. Show them what day-to-day life at the company looks like. Social media platforms like Instagram and Snapchat are ideal for sharing behind-the-scenes content that makes followers feel like they have unique access to a brand they care about.
Salesforce does a good job of knowing when and where to share behind-the-scenes content. In the example below, Salesforce uses Twitter for sharing content and promoting products.
Whereas on Instagram, Salesforce shares behind-the-scenes content that shows people what it is like to work at the most valuable SaaS (software as a service) company in the world.
6. Make use of user-generated content
User-generated content (also known as UGC) is a great way to re-share engaging content that also provides your followers with social proof. Car companies are adept at re-sharing UGC to create an engaging social media presence.
In the example above, Porsche re-shares an example of UGC. The company shares UGC so frequently that they use the hashtag #PorscheMoment to help followers see all of the photos shared over time.
7. Test influencer marketing partnerships
According to a study by Ogilvy, 74% of consumers turn to social media for guidance when making purchasing decisions. Influencer marketing harnesses the power of trusted social media celebrities to help prospects make the best purchasing decision. It is a great way to engage with prospective customers.
While influencer marketing can sometimes be hard to measure, using a checkout code or tracking links can help brands test the immediate financial impact of working with a social media influencer. At the very least, influencers who have experience creating engaging content for a specific audience can give you advice on how to better engage with followers.
9. Produce live video segments
According to Livestream, 80% of survey respondents say they would rather watch a branded live video than a blog post. This new interest in livestreaming explains why platforms like Twitter and Facebook have invested heavily in producing livestreaming products for users.
For those interested in creating engaging social media content, livestreaming is the way to go. The platforms tend to reward livestreaming content by alerting followers when you go live.
10. Interact with commenters
There is no better way to encourage followers to engage with content than by interacting with those who do. Liking or replying to a handful of comments from followers is a great way to encourage other followers to engage with content in the future. This process can create a virtuous cycle that helps to consistently increase the engagement rate. I personally built a Calendar tool to help with this, check it out.
There are many different tactics that you can employ to create engaging social media content. Knowing your audience, varying content and mastering each social media platform will provide you with a good start. It is also a good idea to study the competition, and to consider employing influencer marketers and user-generated content.
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