Gaining steam on social media is undeniably an uphill battle these days. You have to contend with algorithms that make it nearly impossible to get discovered until you achieve a certain level of visibility.
Nevermind the fact that social media overwhelmingly prefers silly or opinionated content—two things that really don’t gel with the average business’s branding. Sure, you can gain thousands of shares by posting ridiculous cat videos, but there’s a slim chance all that attention will aid your business goals.
Put simply: if you aren’t on social media, you will have an incredibly hard time gaining brand recognition for your business.
So how can you get traction and grow your audience on social these days? The key is engagement; the social networks want to see that your content actually matters to your audience.
How do you get engagement? Start with these six tips below:
#1 Talk About Your Audience, Not Your Business
No one logs into social media to talk about you! Okay, that may be an unfair exaggeration, but our point is that most people enjoy social media because it’s all about me, me, me.
You can use that tendency to your advantage and stand out from the crowd by creating content that’s more engaging. Instead of talking about your business, talk about your industry in a way that people can relate to. Suddenly, you’re not just promoting, you’re conversing.
Here’s an example: consider a post written by a local dry cleaner that says, “Our new power cleaning process can bust the deepest stains! Come in today and mention this post for $5 off.”
While the offer may be tempting and the service may be useful, people may tune them out. Instead, the business can say,
“Have a piece of clothing hiding in your closet because you can’t remove a stubborn stain? Bring it to us! With our new power cleaning process, your favorite outfits can find new life. Get $5 off your service when you mention this post!”
The difference is all about perspective. When you write content, don’t just subtly hint at relevance to your audiences. Instead, write things for them that subtly steer them towards your business services.
Flipping your thinking around can be a quick path to more consistent conversions.
#2 Be a Niche News Station
Another way to branch away from overpromotion, and to easily find topics to create content about, is to be a font of news and information for your industry.
A restaurant can discuss exciting new culinary movements. A healthcare provider can offer self-care tips and the latest studies on which health practices are most effective. A local gym can share stretches and exercises people can do at home to start feeling better.
When done right, this content earns your audience’s interest without your business appearing like it wants something in return.
#3 Participate in the Conversation
What if your brand were a really helpful person? That’s the approach many of the most successful social media marketers take when they’re building an audience.
Every community has active conversations happening online – in groups, forums, and by hashtags. Find them and participate.
When building your initial audience pool, try to be very active in Facebook groups and public discussions. Avoid coming across too opinionated and don’t promote, but don’t be shy about being involved.
By being a helpful participant in the conversations happening, you build brand awareness for free, become more relatable, and the default option to turn to when your prospects need something!
#4 Aim for Emotion
The smartest marketers know that content that stirs emotions gets more engagement and shares, and ultimately creates a stronger connection to your brand.
Any product or service can be used to create a positive emotional impact on prospects and customers.
Consider Gatorade’s mini film “The Boy Who Learned to Fly,” which earned the sports beverage company 15.3 million views and over 68,000 “likes” on YouTube. It told a powerful story that ranged from exciting to tragic to joyous in just seven minutes.
But you don’t have to produce a multi-million dollar Hollywood-style production to have the impact you’re looking for.
Get to the emotional core of what your product or service offers, and then start small by telling stories about your customers the highlight the emotions you want to connect with.
If you’re an event caterer, you’re offering strong memories and good times. If you’re an IT and cybersecurity services provider, you’re providing reliability and peace of mind. If you’re a dry cleaner, it’s making your customers feel confident and sharp!
Look for simple opportunities to consistently add emotion to your content and watch your engagement and visibility improve.
#5 Ask Questions
There is probably no more powerful social media marketing phrase than “What do you think?”
The best content creates a conversation, and questions are the best way to get a conversation started. Asking for opinions is a surefire way to get your audience talking.
The beauty of asking others for their opinion is that it can be done in just about every post. If you’re a cybersecurity company talking about the dangers of weak passwords, you can ask people for some of the worst passwords they’ve ever seen. Or, if you’re a restaurant writing about the best foods from around the world, throw in a question on your post asking your audience about the best meal they’ve eaten abroad.
Soliciting opinions is easy, and it can reliably earn engagement.
#6 Really Get To Know Your Audience
The most important factor in creating content that engages is empathy. Really knowing and understanding your audience is what will allow you to create content that stands out.
All of the tactics above work well on their own, but you turbocharge their effectiveness by doing the work of truly understanding your audiences. Unfortunately, there’s no shortcut to this – you just have care enough about your audience to put in the work.
There are six powerful tips to creating more engaging content; the secret to growing your audience fast. You won’t get it all exactly right straight out of the gate – but don’t stop!
Write down your strategy, measure your results, and experiment to find better performance over time.
Sherm is founder and CEO of invision studios llc. Starting as a typesetter back in the days before GUIs, he's morphed into whatever area of expertise is necessary to help small businesses grow. From graphic design; to web design; to web development; to search engine optimization (SEO), social media marketing, reputation marketing and adwords/pay per click advertising, he and invision studios can do it all.
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