Want to improve your engagement on social media? Wondering how to keep the conversation going with your followers?
In this article, you'll discover how to get your audience to engage with your social media posts, videos, and live videos.
The 3 Rules of Social Media Engagement
Before jumping into the tips, let's make sure you've got the right baseline. There are three rules of engagement you must follow. Without this foundation, nothing else will work.
I know, I know… You've heard it before. And that's because it's true. You must consistently create quality social media content for people to want to engage with you.
It's a trust thing. Why would they show up for you if you're not showing up for them? It's also a habit thing. Creating a habit with your audience is the key to success.
If you and your friends make plans to have dinner “sometime this week,” what are the chances you'll all show up at the same day and time? Very slim, right? This is why there's a defined day, time, and place when we make plans in real life.
The same must be true of your content. You're making plans with a group of people. They'll put it on their schedule and their calendar to show up Monday at 8 AM if (and only if) you're consistently showing up at that time, too!
Ask Specific Questions
Too often, marketers think they're asking for engagement when, in fact, they're not. If you're not getting super-specific with your request for people to comment, chances are they won't.
If you say something like, “Let me know what you think about that,” it's not going to drive a lot of action. Instead, you want to say, “Do you think I'm right or wrong about this? Leave a comment right now and tell me—let's discuss it!”
People are busy and distracted. Yes, they're probably multitasking while watching your video or reading your post. So be sure to take their distraction into account and give them specific instructions.
Include an Element of Fun
It's time to kill the professional attitude. I'm all for a professional look (quality matters), but never a professional attitude. Avoid the stiff, old-school business way of talking and being. That's so 1970.
What works today is personality. A sense of fun and your unique personality is what will drive engagement more than anything else because people don't engage unless they enjoy the content or feel something about it. Learning is good. Having fun while learning is even better!
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6 Tips for Social Media Engagement
Okay, now that we've got the foundation down, let's move on to ways you can increase your engagement even more.
#1: Create a Club-Like Experience
The intrigue of a club is the exclusivity factor, right? Well, your community should feel like a club. When people feel special, they're more likely to show up and engage. Make people feel like they're a part of something bigger than themselves.
One way you can do this is to name your audience. Jill and Josh Stanton at Screw the Nine to Five do a fantastic job with this. Their community is called Scroupies (Groupies of The Screw). Jill will refer to Scroupies in her content, as you can see in the post below. The community will refer to themselves as Scroupies. And it lends itself to more conversation because they have an identity… and those who aren't a part of the insider club yet feel the need to join in.
Another way you can create a club-like experience is by repeating themes throughout your content. I often use the phrase “YOUniquely You” in my content. It's a recurring theme I use to help people integrate their unique personality into their content and stop being afraid of being fully authentic.
What happens is people identify with a theme, so over time, you don't have to say anything—people will bring the theme up themselves in comments. They'll educate new viewers. They'll use the theme conversationally. See how having an insider club experience will get you more natural engagement?
#2: Encourage Conversation With Audience Triggers
To get the kind of engagement that comes on its own (in other words, you don't have to work so hard for it), you want to tap into audience triggers. These audience triggers have nothing to do with pain points, as you might be thinking. They also have zero to do with the topic of your content or your primary value.
Triggers tap into personal likes/dislikes of your audience. They turn valuable, educational content into a conversation piece.
Let's look at some examples of audience triggers you can use in your social media marketing.
Feature Pets in Your Social Media Content
Everyone loves dogs or cats, right? Same for babies. They trigger an “awwww” response from your audience. It has nothing to do with your content (unless you're a dog trainer), but it will get people to say something!
This Wirecutter tweet featuring a “terrible deal” on a small black cowboy hat for pets generated a ton of engagement. In fact, some users not only opted to purchase the hat but also posted pics on Twitter of their pet wearing it.
If you're struggling to get engagement, bring your dog on screen and ask your audience what pets they have. Ask for pics. People love to talk about their pets.
As you take it deeper, your pet can become a vital part of your audience conversation. Abbey the Chihuahua, my dog, is a staple. People know everything about her, from how she came into our lives to the fact that she can't walk on hardwood floors so I've laid out rubber flooring throughout my house. They ask about her when she's not on camera.
They even ask for an “Abbey Cam” to watch her sleep! She's not the reason they started watching my videos, but she certainly helps engagement because she's a personal touchpoint.
Use Visual Themes in Your Social Media Content
Every Tuesday the theme around our content is “Taco Tuesday.” We have bots set up in our live streams so people can earn “tacos” (a non-monetary currency) just for watching us. The more they watch, the more tacos they earn. People are always talking about the number of tacos they have, and they compete against each other.
We use tacos as visual aids anywhere we can. If we were to teach math, we'd surely say something like “1 taco + 1 taco = 2 tacos” instead of just “1 + 1 = 2” because your triggers should be woven into everything you do!
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Capitalize on Made-Up Words From Your Community
We do multiple types of live streams on different platforms, from educational to news to tech reviews, and so on. One type of stream we do is called IRL “In Real Life,” where my partner, David, and I live-stream on Twitch for hours on end sharing our daily life and taking our audience on adventures.
Well, we're a couple. And sometimes couples argue (or really bicker), right? We don't hold back on streams!
Our audience has taken to identifying the location of the argument or what we're arguing about. If we're in the car, they call the arguments “carguments.” If we're arguing about caffeinated vs. decaf coffee, they'll type “coffeeguments” in the chatroom.
The thing is, when your audience starts to get “triggered” and you notice their reaction to something you said or did, it's up to you to tap into it. A one-time reaction can become a recurring trigger and theme that leads to massive engagement, but only if you respond to it encouragingly.
#3: Use Emotional Cues
People—human beings—operate on emotion. When we feel, we act. Consider why storytelling is the oldest form of communication. Consider why charities will show you heartbreaking imagery before asking you to donate.
At its core, engagement is all about emotion. Nothing will happen… you'll get no engagement… without getting emotional.
Now I don't mean that you have to tap into your inner Barbara Walters and make people cry. It can be a simple thing. Make them laugh. Talk about something that angers them. Tell a sad story. Whatever you do, make them feel something.
#4: Gamify the Conversation
Gamification is an incredibly easy, fun way to exponentially increase engagement.
A woman once asked me what to do in a situation where she was super-frustrated. She was doing videos and going live on social media, but there was a ton of noise all the time outside her window and door. She lives in San Francisco and they often use her apartment building for shooting movies.
One day, she said they were chopping up a couch with a chainsaw right outside her door. She was beside herself, feeling like she was coming across as so unprofessional. I saw the perfect gamification situation!
I suggested she play it up. When it happens, ask the audience, “Okay, what do you think it is this time, a fire truck or a couch being cut in half?” The first person to get it right wins! She turned the answers into a bingo card for her audience. How fun is that?
You can play trivia with your audience and use the content topics as answers. You can have the audience guess the answers to what you're talking about. There are lots of ways to gamify a video so you're asking for engagement in a situation that people want to take part in.
#5: Invite Sharing of Expertise
The ideal scenario for an engaged community is where people talk to each other, not just to you. Encourage people to talk among themselves… meet someone from the same city or talk about a common interest, for instance.
The more that conversations create connections among your audience, the more engagement you'll get, and the more loyalty you'll have because you're now a connector!
You have a ton of smart people in your audience. You're not the only knowledgeable one. So invite people to share their own knowledge, thoughts, and opinions in your content in addition to what you're saying.
People love this because they feel like you actually care and aren't self-serving. Asking people to comment, not just about what you said but inviting them to share their expertise, will get you more comments, engagement, and loyalty.
#6: Don't End the Conversation
One of the biggest mistakes people make when it comes to getting engagement is they stop a potential conversation before it gets started. When someone comments on your content saying, “Great video!” or “Great article!”, what do you tend to say?
But, what if instead you say, “Thank you! What was your biggest takeaway?”
Instead of cutting the conversation off, you're now encouraging conversation. You're engaging with people so they'll be more likely to engage with you in the future because they feel like you actually care.
Bonus Tip for Live Video Engagement
This bonus tip works primarily for live video. After all, it's the most engaging form of social media marketing content you can create.
When you go live, you're likely to have new viewers every stream so ask them to identify themselves. All you have to say is, “If you're new, let me know in the comments!”
When they say they're new, spend a moment saying hi specifically to them! Learn something about them, like where they're from, for example. Then have a quick conversation (“Oh, I've always wanted to go to Italy!”). Ask a question about them. Make them feel like you care about them as a person, not just another viewer.
When they return next time, recall what you learned. “Welcome back, Sarah! If I remember correctly, you're from Italy, right?”
By the way, it's okay to get it wrong! If you mess it up, they'll at least appreciate that you tried.
It might feel a bit overwhelming to think about remembering everyone's details so just do it with one person next time you go live. Write down the name of the person and their city. Keep it by your computer for the next time you go live.
Then try it with another person. And then another. Soon, you'll realize it's not that hard.
The more you try to make people feel special, the more engagement you'll get. Not to mention you'll create loyal viewers who will want to participate in everything you do.
We know that social media platforms require engagement to get traction from the algorithm (heck, Facebook has been very outspoken about this!). If you're beating your head against the wall because you're creating content people want, but still not getting comments or interaction, try these six advanced techniques for increasing engagement with your social media marketing.
What do you think? Which of these engagement tips will you try? Do you have others to add to this list? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
More articles on social media marketing:
- Find a step-by-step plan for developing a social media marketing strategy that really works.
- Learn how to build a community in a changing social media world.
- Discover how to incorporate social proof into your social media marketing.
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